Families of Loved Ones Killed inside Santa Rita Jail Confront Board President Richard Valle, Demand he Defund Alameda County Sheriff


June 14, 2020

Press Contacts:

Kitzia Esteva; Causa Justa :: Just Cause, 415 235-0717

Amber Akemi Piatt; Public Health Justice Collective, amberpiatt6@gmail.com, (510) 473-2248

Ashley Chambers; Ella Baker Center, ashley@ellabakercenter.org, 510-285-8227

Families of Loved Ones Killed inside Santa Rita Jail Confront Board President Richard Valle, Demand he Defund Alameda County Sheriff

President Valle bizarrely chants “Black Lives Matter” at protestors while refusing to take action to affirm Black life, defund the jail. 

Photos by Brooke Anderson here

Livestream here, including President Valle comments at (minute mark)

Oakland, CA—After months of public outcry to prioritize community health over incarceration for Alameda County residents, families of loved ones who have been killed inside Santa Rita Jail joined community members and advocates in a mobilization today, June 14 and confronted Alameda County Board President Richard Valle to defund the county’s Sheriff’s office. Just last month, President Valle cast the deciding vote to increase the Alameda County Sheriff Office’s already bloated budget by $108 million per year in spite of the severe economic shortfall due to the pandemic and the Sheriff’s history of systemic health and human rights abuses against county residents.

President Valle, initially attempting to wait out the protest down the street, eventually was pressured to come speak to the families of murdered loved ones. When asked whether he would rescind his vote, and cancel the $318 million dollars he slotted for the jail, President Valle initially dodged the question. Then, he bizarrely started to chant “Black Lives Matter,” pumping his fist in the air, and ignoring the questions from family members. After his chants fell on deaf ears, President Valle refused to agree to rescind his vote. 

The crowd responded by demanding President Valle replace his words with actions. Jose Jaime, the father of Christian Madrigal, who was killed by Sheriff’s deputies after he was taken to Santa Rita Jail when his family called for help because he was having a mental health crisis, asked President Valle why he decided to increase funding for the sheriff’s office, he shamelessly responded that it was for mental health care. 

“Jails don't give mental health support,” said Jose Jaime, Christian Madrigal’s father. “My son needed help, not the harm that ended up taking his life. If Richard Valle truly wants to help families, he’ll rescind his vote and fund mental health care professionals, not cops — he’ll help our loved ones.”  

Another family echoed this demand. “You still have a chance to change your vote. To provide an additional $106 million dollars on top of the $383 billion to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office is insane,” said Reanna Reyes, sister of Raymond Reyes. “You are funding murders; you are funding corruption. These funds need to go to social services and mental health of incarcerated people and our communities. 90% of the people who died in Santa Rita Jail were in solitary confinement and struggling with their mental health.”

“The nerve. To first turn a blind eye to the murders being carried out at Santa Rita Jail, and send millions more dollars to the unaccountable sheriff,” said Jose Bernal from the Ella Baker Center. “But then to look into the faces of the families of Dujuan Armstrong, Christian Madrigal, and Raymond Reyes and shout Black Lives Matter, while doing nothing to protect Black lives. It’s shameful.” 

As a brass band played and a street mural was painted in front of President Valle’s house, neighbors joined the protest, including one whose sister Chila Amaya was murdered by Union City Police Department  in 1998. President Valle (who was then on the City Council of Union City) voted to name the officer who murdered her Officer of the Year.  

Loved ones of Christian Madrigal, Dujuan Armstrong, and Raymond Reyes — who have all been killed inside Santa Rita Jail — have demanded justice for their sons and accountability of the Sheriff’s office, which is responsible for at least 47 in-custody deaths in the past five years.

Community members and advocates with Decarcerate Alameda County are urging the county to release people from Santa Rita Jail, invest in community health, and divest county spending from incarceration and policing.

For more information and updates, visit ellabakercenter.org/SRJwatch.