SACRAMENTO, Calif. - On June 2, 2020, Sean Monterrosa, a 22-year-old Latino American man, was fatally shot by a Vallejo police officer – Jarrett Tonn. Sean was a California community college student with a life-time of potential. The whole community including his classmates, faculty, and administrators have been affected by this tragic incident. But this is not the first time we have seen California community college young men of color murdered by police – including most recently Andres Guardado, 18-year old Latino LA Trade Tech student was also killed June 2020 and Stephon Clark, 22-year old Black Sacramento City College student was killed March 2019, and we are sure there are more.
These incidents are why the SSCCC is calling for action within our system. As the largest training network for California police—more than 80% of police officers in California receive training at a California community college, according to the Foundation for California Community Colleges. In the Anti-racism: A Student Plan of Action Report published by the SSCCC in September 2020, the SSCCC called for curriculum changes that “Ensure that the community college curriculum is responsive to all cultures in an effort to foster cultural appreciation, awareness, acceptance, and value.” This includes police training curriculum.
Additionally, the SSCCC also supports the Monterrosa’s Family three demands. It is important for impacted families and communities affected by these murders to find justice so that they can begin to heal. As the sisters of Sean, who are also California community college students, say, “Impacted families shouldn't always have to put their bodies on the line to receive a minimal acknowledgment. We are turning our pain to power and hope that we can build a bridge between elected officials and impacted families to ensure tragedies like my brother's case no longer occur.” Michelle and Ashley Monterrosa. Their following three demands are requests to hold the Vallejo Police Department accountable: 1) Appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Sean’s case and the corrupt and violent policing practices of Vallejo Police Department; 2) Fire, arrest, and charge officer Jarrett Tonn; and 3) Investigate every Vallejo police officer involved in the destruction of evidence.
“The SSCCC stands in support of all our 2.1 million students. Our Action Plan was intended to break down racial barriers and bring forth meaningful reform. Incidents like the killings of these young men of color shows the importance for change within our broken system. As Chancellor Oakley said in a witnessLA article in response to the killing of George Floyd, ‘We need to take a hard look at what we are teaching our students, what that curriculum signals to our students, and how we can change that.’ It’s time to take an intentional look at our policies, curriculum, and current practices and begin the hard road to ending systematic racism in our higher education institutions. Students, like the Monterrosa sisters, are raising their voice to call out these injustices and hold accountable those in power that have the influence to make change.” SSCCC President Stephen Kodur
The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation, composed of 73 districts and 116 colleges serving 2.1 million students per year. The Student Senate for California Community College works to promote and safeguard access for current and future students to California public higher education in accordance with the Master Plan for Higher Education through system participatory governance, legislative and policy advocacy, and regional support and development and is the official voice of California community college students statewide.