Community activist Derrick Sanderlin trained the San Jose Police Department on implicit bias, and then they shot him in the nuts. It's more complicated than this but no less painful. During recent protests against police brutality, the police have usually shown up and delivered brutality in 30 minutes or less. On May 29, Sanderlin tried to ease tensions between demonstrators and the police. He'd reportedly seen officers shooting rubber bullets at citizens, including women, at close range.

SANDERLIN: I really just couldn't watch it anymore. And just kind of made like a parallel walkover, put my hands up, and just stood in the line of the fire and asked them to please not do this.

Sanderlin is black and was making demands of police officers. This wasn't going to end well. Did he think he was a white woman offering them a Pepsi?

The police trained their riot guns at Sanderlin, who was unarmed and a reasonable distance from them. They still fired multiple times -- fortunately, with just rubber bullets, but unfortunately, those still hurt like a motherfucker. Sanderlin said one officer directly aimed at his groin. This is when he might've considered “implicit bias" too general a concept for the police to grasp and that he should've specifically trained them not to shoot people in the nuts.


Sanderlin received emergency surgery for a rupture, and a doctor informed him and his wife, Cayla, that he might never biologically father children. Yeah, the police were already killing our kids, but now they're just shooting black men in the nuts to get a jump on things.

"And I just started weeping at the thought of that. You know, we, we do want kids and we're very close to having kids," Cayla Sanderlin said.

Implicit bias or sensitivity training sounds like a reasonable response to police violence, but how useful is it in a system that actively trains people to become sociopaths (if they aren't already)? This is not an anti-police statement. It's a pro-human statement. We need to confront police training that turns people into killers who can disconnect entirely from brutal actions. Human instinct is to help an old man who's been pushed to the ground. Human instinct is to respond to the pleas of a human being begging for his life.

Cops have thrown women half their size to the ground and put them in choke holds. The police insist this is all in “compliance with departmental policy." This “policy" views every move a (black) civilian might make as a potential threat to an officer's life. And it doesn't matter if you're deaf, mentally ill, or just plain nervous.

George Carlin - Police Brutality www.youtube.com

San Jose cops also delivered rubber bullets to the stomach of man who'd moments earlier helped carry an injured officer to safety. Tim Harper had dared to ask why the cops hit a teenage boy in the head with projectiles. The officer who shot Harper -- without provocation -- was Jared Yuen, who was caught on video taunting protesters and otherwise looking like the “crazy one" from a war movie. Yuen is on desk duty now, pending an internal affairs investigation into his "aggressive behavior." I suppose he'll also receive “sensitivity" training and learn how not to kill people.

Man who helped injured San Jose police during George Floyd protest later shot with rubber bullet www.youtube.com

It seems like these protests escalate out of control because the police arrive as if they're on a tour of duty. The protests personally offend most cops, and no one's arguing that they should applaud people who think they suck. But it's hard to have peaceful mediations between opposing factions when one side is heavily armed.

President of the San Jose Police Officer Association Tom Saggau released a statement apologizing to Sanderlin, who rightly believes his work with the department has been in vain.

We are profoundly sorry for what happened to Derrick Sanderlin, a member of our community who has worked to help us become better police officers. As a father I am heartbroken at reports that Mr. Sanderlin and his wife are worried they may not be able to have children.

This week, San Jose police announced a cease fire against US citizens, so that's something.

[P]rojectile impact weapons will only be used in situations where a person is actively attacking an officer or another person or when an armed agitator poses a threat to officers or other peaceful protesters.

Gee, I kinda wish that had always been the rule. I know Sanderlin and his potential offspring do.

The Sanderlins have hired a lawyer and will likely sue the city and the police department. Let's hope whoever aimed for Sanderlin's groin, which was already prohibited, is identified, fired, and charged with assault.

[CNN / ABC7]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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