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.SJPD Defends Their Cinco de Mayo Traffic Decisions

City police, CHP defend traffic restrictions during Cinco de Mayo

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On May 8, San Jose police officials defended their “zero tolerance” policies enforced over the Cinco De Mayo weekend, saying that the Police Department’s “proactive policing” in place for 20 years continues to boost public safety and minimize criminal activity.

The statement released by Police Chief Anthony Mata included crime statistics that identified 115 arrests, 407 citations and seizure of six firearms associated with May 5-7 patrols.

The report followed complaints from two local legislators that a decision by Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol to close multiple highway off-ramps in San Jose during the weekend were “racist targeting” and unnecessary violations of citizens’ constitutional rights.

Senator Dave Cortese, D-San Jose, and Assemblymember Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, said in a statement: “Normal traffic controls are one thing—but shutting down major highway access on the pretense of fear of multicultural celebrations of Cinco de Mayo is racist targeting, and blatantly unconstitutional.”

Caltrans and the CHP said the ramp closures Friday through Sunday morning were necessary for traffic control and public safety during an organized Cinco De Mayo march through downtown San Jose.

The ramps were off northbound and southbound U.S. Highway 101 at McKee Road, Julian Street, Santa Clara Street and Story Road; southbound Interstate Highway 280 at McLaughlin Avenue; northbound I-280 at 10th and 11th streets; and northbound state Highway 87 at Auzerais Avenue and Santa Clara, Julian and Taylor streets.

Some city streets also were closed.

Patrol units last weekend were deployed “to minimize traffic gridlock, allow emergency vehicles access to roadways and proactively ensure public safety,” said the police report released May 8. “City street diversions only occurred when it was deemed necessary to lessen the impact of vehicular traffic in areas already impacted with significant pedestrian and vehicular congestion.”

“Due to ongoing staffing shortages to the department, operational plans also included leveraging the use of road closures and other traffic diversions to limit further traffic congestion and to prevent delays in response times to address any criminal activity. Similar closures and diversions have been utilized during other major events that draw large crowds throughout the city. The purpose is to ensure traffic continues to flow and community members can celebrate these events safely.”

During what it said were normal operations, city police units “observed several misdemeanors, felonies, reckless driving incidents, sideshow activity and other quality of life crimes that required enforcement action in order to keep the peace” over the Cinco de Mayor weekend.

“Historically, the Police Department has gotten numerous requests from residents and business owners concerned about unsanctioned gatherings and activities that would occur when people would arrive in San José from outside the city during Cinco de Mayo weekend,” the police reported. “In past years, the Police Department took a reactive approach to gridlock traffic, violent crimes and vandalism by responding to calls for service and taking enforcement action where appropriate. This approach actually resulted in large numbers of arrests and citations, and did little to alleviate the concerns.”

About 20 years ago, SJPD began a more proactive approach that relied on traffic diversions. “In the years since this strategy has been utilized, we have seen a reduction in violent crime and gridlock traffic,” the report concluded.

barry holtzclaw, managing editor sanjoseinside
Barry Holtzclawhttp://sanjoseinside.com/
Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with Weeklys Publishing since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.

3 COMMENTS

  1. So once again SJPD is trying to justify their racist actions with the road blocks during the annual CINCO DE MAYO celebrations which should be considered UNCONSTITUTIONAL!! There was no way to get to SAN PEDRO SQUARE in downtown San Jose that was hosting its 1ST ANNUAL CINCO DE MAYO BLOCK PARTY because of all the unnecessary road closures, they actually created more chaos with the road blocks then a single street of traffic congestion!! They do not do this type of traffic diversion for any other cultural events, they are lying! There are no sideshows in downtown San Jose another lie!! LOW RIDERS don’t do sideshows!! If the police presence was placed strategically along Santa Clara street they could reduce the so called crime, vandalism which only has occurred as a rebellion towards the harassment by SJPD! Like any other large sporting event or concert, their are some who may have had to many drinks and that is on an individual bases that the police have to contend with! It’s their job to keep the community safe but to categorize all people of color as potential criminals is unjust and unconstitutional! We have a right to drive down any street in America this is not Nazi Germany, and to suggest that there might be problems is an assumption that has not yet occurred!! There is cause for concern ok I get that, but what are police paid to do, address the crime as it occurs and get the bad guys please! However, to assume every car is a bad guy and completely shut down streets to downtown and freeway off ramps is absurd and of a ignorance mindset!! SJPD has got to come up with a different approach other then cause chaos of their own doing and inconvenience an entire city for fear of potential issues that may or may not arise!! The police presence that was on hand was a little excessive in my opinion but if that is how they want to patrol the festivities that is fine, but the method of shutting down an entire city core where businesses are hoping for crowds of people to consume their goods and enjoy the restaurants etc., that actually stock up for this annual gathering, the SJPD tactics have had an adverse effect on the economy of these businesses, that don’t have any customers because the brainiacs at SJPD decided to shut down the Main Street in downtown San Jose simply because something might happen!! They use the excuse of traffic congestion and the safety concerns, but their is gridlock on our streets and highways Monday through Friday and there is no special road closures or concerns of safety vehicles then!! They lie to justify their biased tactics and simply don’t like to see the people of color celebrating!! And they are upset with the repel of the no cruising zone and this is their way of getting back at the low rider community!! It’s petty and pretty obvious because it’s only on Mexican celebrations do they feel the need to cause this chaos!!

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  2. I am happy to see the SJPD stand behind their decision which was based upon data and not emotion. Law and order and public safety has a place in our civil society and therefore must always be a priority. Nicely done, SJPD. As for Mr. Cortese and Mr. Kalra… here is a quote my father used to share with us all of the time. It might be something you want to practice rather than jump on the “everything is racist” bandwagon. “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

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    • Hey Paul! I’m glad they printed our responses side-by-side, as my response was based upon data. I am including the full letter I sent, hopefully you can fill in some of the data I have pointed out as being missing.

      “ Dear Metro,

      I’m sure SJPD can easily and quickly dispel the accusations of racism in implementing their Cinco de Mayo Weekend crackdown! I’m sure that the 115 arrests and 407 citations mirror the demographics of San Jose at large, instead of (hypothetically) targeting ethnic groups from a certain region of the city.

      I’m sure the road closures prevented gridlock instead of directly causing it, when thousands of unwitting drivers were sucked into a terrifying 4-mile-long maelstrom with zero notice or signage. I called SJPD, CHP, Caltrans, none of the dispatchers knew about the highway closures other than those for the games at Levi’s/Paypal stadiums. Both your article and a Mercury News article miss 7th Street being closed, which makes it seem like there wasn’t an iron curtain set up around DTSJ, clogged with people trying to take closed exit after closed exit.

      From an editorial perspective, I’m sure you didn’t just reprint the edited, undated and unidentified fear-mongering police propaganda picture, parroting every police talking point they gave you underneath it. Who says this picture wasn’t from the nightmare aftermath of this past year’s 4th of July celebrations in Discovery Meadow?

      Also from an editorial perspective, I’m sure you talked to members of the lowriding community about their first Cinco de Mayo since the cruising ban was ‘repealed’! Nowhere in your article is a cruising ban even mentioned!

      I’m sure there was a reason that the closures continued for the whole weekend instead of only being on Friday when the march was, which was the sole justification as stated by CHP- other publications commented on this, but you did not! From a May 4 Mercury News article:
      “Officials said in a news release that the closures were “needed for traffic control and public safety during (sic) organized Cinco De Mayo march through downtown San Jose,” but they did not specify which event or events were being accommodated.”

      I’m sure anyone with any knowledge of SJ culture knows the obvious differences between lowriders cruising and sideshows, and would discuss the differences before they let an SJPD spokesperson lump them together to justify their agenda.

      I’m sure of it.

      -William Bohrer”

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