Aug 26, 2014

A Facebook post by Richmond Vice Major Jovanka Beckles suggesting Richmond’s police defend homophobia and violence against women has outraged local cops.

In a statement Tuesday, the Richmond Police Officers Association (RPOA) lambasted Beckles’ Saturday Facebook post as “irresponsible” and “offensive.” In her post (see below), the vice mayor, who is seeking re-election in November, criticized the RPOA for endorsing one of her political foes, Councilmember Nat Bates, who is running for mayor.

In the same post, Beckles accused Bates of being homophobic and a defender of violence against women and stated RPOA’s endorsement of him is “scary.”

beckles.8-26Beckles’ suggestion that police don’t enforce the laws protecting homosexuals and women sets back the progress RPD has made in the community, according to police officials. RPD has received praise in recent years for reducing crime through community policing. The RPOA called Beckles’ attempt to upend that effort for political gain “shameful.”

“Richmond police officers consider violence against women and sexual discrimination as serious issues in our community,” said police Sgt. Stina Johanson, an 11-year veteran who has worked in the past on domestic violence, sexual assault, child and elder abuse cases.

RPOA has endorsed Bates for mayor because he is a “retired probation officer who has always been a strong supporter of our work to combat domestic violence and crime against women,” Detective Hector Esparza said.

After evaluating all candidates in the November election, the RPOA “determined that Ms. Beckles has a history of acting irresponsibly on the crime prevention issues we take seriously,” Esparza said.“These recent irresponsible attacks and inflammatory remarks prove to us that we made the right decision in not endorsing her for re-election.”

The irony of Beckles’ accusation is that she and her fellow Richmond Progressive Alliance candidates have been touting RPD’s successes in reducing crime through community policing. The group’s top campaign issue is that its members should be re-elected because Richmond is “safer.”

“More police, more community involvement, better policing,” the group states.

The RPOA also noted that it is Beckles, not Bates, who is known to make hateful and offensive remarks. At least twice recently, she has cursed in a public forum. She also called constituents who she has not agreed with on issues “ignorant black people.”

In a letter Beckles e-mailed to a white constituent during a July council meeting, Beckles penned the statements “scum bag N—-” when referencing black council members and also stated, “all you Cracka’s deserve to die.” Beckles defended the statements by saying they were made in an attempt to oppose offensive remarks made against her sexuality by public members.

But members of the public and her colleagues questioned why Beckles, a mental health professional, thought the statements were necessary or effective.

Bates says Beckles’ lack of accomplishments on City Council leaves her no choice but to engage in “hateful” and “baseless” political attacks against him.

UPDATE 2:30 p.m.: Ms. Beckles responded via email Tuesday afternoon to the RPOA’s statement: “The article writer knowingly takes quotes and actions out of context. I have been a strong supporter of the Richmond Police who have done a great job with community policing.  However the Richmond Police Officers Association does not reflect the views of most of the great police officers.  The RPOA is famous for its dirty hit pieces in every election.”


  1. Mudslinging just begets more mudslinging. Wish both sides would just apologize and return to their corners!


    Nicole B | Aug 26th, 2014
  2. I’m totally impressed by the Standard’s Update at the bottom of the article on the Web where Councilmember Beckles gets her say. She may have to say it ten times but eventually everybody will have internalized the difference between RPD and RPOA; between our Richmond Police Department and the sworn officers’ professional association Richmond Police Officers Association. The news article in the Standard had made that clear, but you can’t make it clear enough. I’ve lived in this town long enough to be the first to tell you that both of those organizations, RPD and RPOA, do their best to uphold the law. That having been said, vigorously, the RPOA is entitled to their opinion like anybody else; and the RPD has no opinions, on anything, just doing the job.

    Richard Katz | Aug 27th, 2014
  3. I don’t mind a house publication being biased in favor of its sponsor, so when you publish articles that tell only the Chevron side of a story, I take it in stride. But what kind of chutzpah does it take to present this kind of biased political smear as a “news” story? Where is the balance, the nuance, the independent outlook? The wall between news and editorializing? People see right through this kind of propaganda. “It is Beckles, not Bates, who is known to make hateful and offensive remarks”? Really? A new low. What a pity Richmond can’t have a real news outlet.

    Abigail Bok | Aug 27th, 2014
  4. the new low you measured was in a QUOTE from the police officers association, no? The Standard didn’t say that, they quoted it. The Standard is, IMHO, making the RPOA look pretty bad by laying out that quote.

    richard katz | Aug 27th, 2014
  5. Now I know who I going to vote for. Nate Bates will be my choice. I should thank the Vice Mayor for that decision.

    john deluna | Aug 28th, 2014
  6. What in the world would qualify Beckles to be a “mental health professional” and what exactly
    does she do?
    She loves to do outrageous things at Council meetings so what does she expect??
    She may have toned her act down at the behest of the RPA, no doubt, but she still appears
    distant and uninvolved in the City’s business and is more concerned with being the RPA “homosexual agenda” spokesperson than ensuring that the City has a balanced budget

    Marilynne L. Mellander | Aug 28th, 2014
  7. When Ms. Beckles writes: “However the Richmond Police Officers Association does not reflect the views of most of the great police officers.”, just how does she know this? Has she spoken with every single police officer on the force is this just her opinion being stated as fact? When I read such unqualified statements like this it makes me question the validity of any other statement she might say or write.

    She also frequently writes unqualified comments on her own Facebook page. An example would be her comment on her own post from August 19 where she writes: “Good thing we have Team Richmond: doing the bidding for the residents of Richmond.” How can she write this when she hasn’t spoken with all of the people of Richmond and has even written in emails that she REFUSES to speak to people who disagree with her?

    I’m just having a tough time accepting anything she says as being factual. She might want to qualify her statements by telling us that these are her opinions but she doesn’t do that–she says things as if they are facts.

    Don Gosney | Aug 28th, 2014
  8. If the facebook post is authentic, that puts an end to the argument. Nat Bates has my vote.

    peter dycus | Aug 29th, 2014
  9. Wishing white people would would all die. How was this out of context? Also “ignorant black people.” What context will make sense out of these remarks?

    peter dycus | Aug 29th, 2014

About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.