We ‘Ced weighs in on police brutality in Merced

July 16, 2018 /

By Jim Kuhn [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

On Mar. 12, William Colbert was arrested and beaten after trying to get iced tea from the ampm on Olive Avenue and G Street in North Merced. Colbert was subsequently charged with two felony counts of resisting arrest, a misdemeanor count of assaulting an officer, and a misdemeanor count of vandalizing a police car. On Jul. 6, the Merced County District Attorney’s Office released audio from the 9-1-1 call the night of the arrest and beating. The Merced Sun-Star used a public records request for video footage of the arrest and beating, but the request was denied by the city of Merced, citing an ongoing investigation. The South Merced Community Council held a news conference on May 9 demanding answers for the brutal attack.  (Ed. note: The links may have triggering/traumatizing content for some. Please proceed with caution.)

At We’Ced Youth Media, we asked our youth cohort two questions:

How do we feel that this is something that’s happened in our community, and still happens, but no one is talking about it?

What can we do to raise awareness of police brutality in Merced?

Below are their answers.

Sunny Virabutsady, 12

I feel bad about what’s happening to people of color because of the police. People are being treated less humane and when police disrespect people it makes them rebellious. In ghetto areas, the police are even worse, for example: two friends and I went to a 7-eleven in bad area and officers pulled over a black man. I don’t remember exactly why but I think it was because he was either riding with no lights or he was a suspect, but me and my friends walked over to see what’s wrong and an officer asks us with a mean tone, “Where are your parents and why are you guys out this late?” Me and my friends thought to ourselves, “what is wrong with this guy?!” But we reply, “they’re at home and we just wanted chips.” The officer then asks for our addresses: “Where do you guys live?” I wasn’t going to give the officer my real address because I don’t trust him, so I gave him a fake one but then he replies, “GET YOUR ASSES HOME!” Not all cops should be trusted.


Cyana Price-Gilkey, 14

I really didn’t think police brutality happened in Merced, but since it’s evident that it does, I’m kind of shocked. It’s everywhere now and there’s too much racism in the world. I’m ashamed and scared to walk out my house because of my skin color. It could bring attention to those who target people like me. It’s 2018! We should have change! I think we could bring awareness to the issue of police brutality in Merced by telling the truth and warning youth that people of color are being harassed like this. Merced police shouldn’t be doing this. Every youth has a voice and they should use it even though they might not listen, it might bring us together.


April Navarette, 21

It’s shocking how this is going on in our community and people are not stepping up to help. Another thing this story didn’t say was if there were other people around during the situation and if they did anything. I think as individuals we have the power to step up for what we believe in. If we see something that’s not right, we have to be the ones to change it otherwise nobody will. I think that the community should be aware of everything going on, not just how the other people want us to see it.


Gabriela Morales, 18

I feel like it is crazy that this is happening and how people ignore logic but embrace panic. I wish people would want to talk about it because they know it’s bad. Our community must come together and see what is happening to make change.

We can raise awareness in Merced by sharing the media that is released on the issue on social media and hopefully it will motivate people to do something about it and get exposed to the issue of police brutality.


Nanci Morales, 18

It’s sad that these issues are in our community because nobody talks about it and if people don’t voice their opinion no justice happens. Youth should voice their opinions along with adults because justice must be achieved.


Stephanie Gurtel, 16

Police brutality is ever present in Merced. I feel this way because with a lot of people there is an obvious racial bias. At my age, I myself am scared of the police and am so uncomfortable when I see a cop car or a police officer no matter the circumstances. I have friends of every race and many of them are in fear of police officers. That’s especially shown in my black and brown friends. Police officers like the ones at my school are even known to have racial bias to the students and be rude. These officers are given power and they abuse it. No one talks about it. I feel like if we just talk about it and spread the word or just try not to ignore the police brutality here it could help. We should educate each other on it and try to unlearn racial biases if anyone has them.


Victor Seguin, 19

It’s sad that even after everything that’s happened all around the country we still refuse to believe that it could happen here in Merced. This incident should have shined light on how the law enforcement in Merced have acted and continue to act and it should not be tolerated. We should spread this incident around so that more media attention is given to it and hopefully it helps change how law enforcement treat everyone in Merced.


Layla Ornelas, 16

I feel that this is a problem in our community because it happens whether people want to see it or not. It happens in our school, stores, and workplace at times. In this day and age many people go to call someone when they feel threatened and the first that comes to mind is the police, who may not be the best choice. We can raise awareness by actually talking about it and not making it seem taboo.


Aaliyah Jensen, 16

To me, it’s not surprising. People think that because we’re such a small town things like police brutality can’t take place. It happens a lot and no justice is served. The D.A. and the Sheriffs office are all in correlation together. We just need to let people know that acts of injustice can happen anywhere and we as a community members will not stand for it.

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