"Is Benicia a sunset town?" (2023)

"Is Benicia a sunset town?" (1)

I first heard about this particular incident involving this young person while listening to a recording of a town hall meeting on April 28, 2022. The pain in the then 16-year-old's voice was clear. It wasn't a perfect recording as he was telling the audience his story. He completely won my heart and attention. I contacted his mother, who had discussed my article with her son, and they both agreed to meet me at Ragg's Coffee Shop on a quiet afternoon. They were waiting for me at a corner table when I walked in. The young man who told me his story was physically a year older than at the time of the incident, but mentally older by several decades. His voice and demeanor was that of a mature, intelligent, kind young man who had been hurt but was determined to share his story so that others in the future would not have to suffer the same treatment. His mother was obviously supportive of her son and tried to balance her protective instincts with the need to make her son feel the pain of telling his truth. Although tears came to her as she told his story, she fought them back and gave him space. Later, when we spoke to me on the phone, we both cried. - Cherie Leigh

In 2022, Benicia organizers held a town hall-style meeting to raise awareness of the danger and trauma that can result from ignoring or downplaying a violent, racist depiction of "the game." | KTVU November 2.

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This is what a 17-year-old Latin American and indigenous Benicia has been experiencing for five years

I went to school in Benicia in 2017, but it wasn't until last year that I realized the dangers of labeling young people as different because of their skin color, sexual orientation or gender identity.

My awakening occurred on a Friday afternoon, on the eve of spring 2022. I was walking with my friend, a young black woman, on First Street. There was an excited tension in the city. There seemed to be more traffic and more noise which we attributed to young people looking forward to their holidays.

Escalation from game to attack

We were crossing First Street after eating ice cream when the occupants of a large white pickup truck caught our attention by revving their engine. As we watched them, one of the passengers, a white man, stuck his head out the window and started barking and yelling something unintelligible to my friend. He pissed me off and I told him to screw it up.

"Is Benicia a sunset town?" (2)

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, one of the passengers said to the others in the car, "Let's go get them!" The truck swerved sharply and aggressively so that it was parallel to us. They started yelling abuse, calling me "f—t" and my friend the "n" word.

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As we were nervous we tried to ignore them and leave as soon as possible.As we sped up we heard a metallic clank from the truck and it launched itself at us. I was hit in the face near the eye and hand, and my girlfriend was hit in the upper body. Little did we know at the time that he was shooting ice with a pellet gun. The pain was very real. The gun looked real to us too. The truck continued down First Street, but we could hear our original assailant yelling, "Hurry up and turn around so we can get those M-F-S."

We did not expect her return. Instead, we ran down a side street into the fenced yard of a private home, where we hid in the bushes behind the owner's vehicle. We were both hurt and scared. For about 45 minutes we could hear a truck looking for us on the road. When they finally gave up, we carefully made our way to the commercial building and found the elevator, where we hid again for over an hour, calling our families for help. Being in a state of shock, we struggled to locate the exact location but eventually my sister found us. He led us to mom and the police who were waiting at the Benicia senior center.

Mixed reactions from the police

The police took our statements and examined our cross-sections. We were badly bruised and bleeding. My traumatic memory of the interrogation that night is hazy, but I remember being troubled by the officers' lack of urgency or seeming empathy for what we were going through.

I later learned that the dispatcher initially tried to deny my mother's request for help. My mother was told that I had apparently participated in an annual "game or joke" that children played on each other on a certain spring break night each year. Mom had to convince the dispatcher that this incident was worthy of police intervention.

In the following days, the police were able to watch the incident on video. They recognized the truck's license plate and identified the owner and driver. Eventually that night they recognized several other youths in the van - one woman and the rest of the men. All white? all Benicia Unified participants. and all but one under 18 years of age.

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They also located the owner of the gun and the gun itself. Although the children were questioned, none of them admitted to being the screamer or shooter, and no one was prosecuted. The school district was notified, but because the incident occurred off campus and outside of school hours, no disciplinary action was taken.

The only follow up visit for us was a few weeks later. Our case investigator asked my mother and I if we would be willing to arrange a supervised meeting with the only young man over the age of 18. We agree.The meeting took place at the police station in the presence of the investigator and another police officer. The second child and I were invited to tell and "discuss" our story. No apologies were demanded and none were made.

When the case was over, the detective convinced my mother and I to sign a release letter renouncing further prosecution on the grounds that this young man's life would be ruined if we continued. We felt obliged and both signed a waiver. I regret it now. This young man and his friends enthusiastically participated in activities similar to Russian pogroms or KKK lynchings without suffering significant consequences.

A game for some, a nightmare for others

The so-called game is called “La Migra (Immigration) Night” and while the title has changed over time, it has been around for decades. I have since learned that this is the night when many upper class people, mostly white and mostly male, prey on the lower class students. They have been known to harass, kidnap and, in my case, attack other students of color or others who are different and/or appear weak and vulnerable, whether they are actually participating or not.

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"Is Benicia a sunset town?" (3)

Almost all students know this "game". Some of the lower classes willingly participate and accept the challenge of the hunt. Many others stay home overnight fearing the possible consequences of being "caught" and/or knowing that "acting" is morally, ethically, and legally wrong. I was unaware of this longstanding tradition as I was relatively new to the community and because Covid affected school activities for a significant period between my arrival here and last year. As of this afternoon last year, I learned that about 50-75% of upperclassmen white boys participate in stalking. And it's terrible.

While the night may be over for the young people in the van, it's not over for me. I suffer from PTSD symptoms and no longer feel comfortable attending school or national events, including proms. I have trouble going to school. I avoid walking down First Street now and have since that night a year ago. I can't enjoy or be a part of this beautiful community.

I feel like I live in onesunset city– a situation where it is not safe for people who are different or sensitive to be out at night.
I certainly don't think it's safe.

Share your story

If you want Sheri to hear and share her thoughts on "The La Migra Game",Contact them viaIndependent Benicia. Remember that it isyour storyIt is important that others listen, noYour nameunless you want to be identified.

Contact Sheri:benindy@beniciaindependent.com

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Leave them a voicemailBenIndy: (707) 385-9972

(This is not a live line. You will be taken directly to voicemail.)


Versions of the story have become available from other print and online sources, includingBenicja Herold. TheHeroldthere is no electronic version. To support our local paper, subscribe by email atbeniciacirculation@gmail.comor by calling 707-745-6838.


What is Benicia known for? ›

Benicia was the State Capital for 13 months before the legislature moved the capital to Sacramento. The building is now a State Park and a historic landmark open for tours. Benicia was home to a military Arsenal, which supplied weapons to U.S. troops in battles and wars beginning in 1849.

Is Benicia a good area? ›

Benicia is in Solano County and is one of the best places to live in California. Living in Benicia offers residents a sparse suburban feel and most residents own their homes. In Benicia there are a lot of parks. Many young professionals live in Benicia and residents tend to have moderate political views.

Is Benicia a city or a town? ›

A waterfront City of 28,000, Benicia is known for its small-town charm, history, and high quality of life.

What is the crime rate in Benicia CA? ›

One's chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime here is one in 1073, which is a violent crime rate of 1 per one thousand inhabitants. NeighborhoodScout's analysis also reveals that Benicia's rate for property crime is 16 per one thousand population.

Does Benicia have beaches? ›

Benicia Public Pier & Beach.

Is Benicia CA Safe? ›


Very safe. There are no safety concerns.

What is the racial makeup of Benicia? ›

Download Table Data
RacePopulationPercentage (of total)
Two or more races2,6799.51%
Black or African American9083.22%
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Is Benicia water safe to drink? ›

This is due to naturally occurring compounds such as organic carbon. This drinking water still meets or exceeds all State and Federal requirements for safe drinking water.

What are the safest cities in the Bay Area ranked? ›

15 Safest Cities In Northern California
  • Pleasanton. Population: 83,164. ...
  • Dublin. Population: 67,368. ...
  • Rocklin. Population: 70,219. ...
  • Daly City. Population: 106,855. ...
  • Hollister. Population: 41,438. ...
  • Morgan Hill. Population: 46,925. ...
  • Elk Grove. Population: 177,331. Violent Crime Rate: 2.2. ...
  • Martinez. Population: 38,543. Violent Crime Rate: 2.0.
Feb 18, 2023

What is the motto of Benicia? ›

Benicia, California
Motto(s): "We were once the capital, now we're drunk!"
Wikimedia | © OpenStreetMap Show Benicia Show Solano County Show California Show the United States Show all
Coordinates: 38°3′48″N 122°9′22″W
CountryUnited States
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What rank is Benicia city? ›

Benicia comes in as 17th out of 263 cities ranked. "This ranking reflects the amazing dedication of our police department staff and the commitment of this community to the safety of those who live, work and visit our city," said Chief of Police Erik Upson, Benicia Police Department.

Why is Benicia historic? ›

As one of the oldest cities in California, Benicia is home to a bevy of charming vintage architecture and historic landmarks, dating back to the gold rush, the Wild West, and the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.

What is the highest crime rate city in California? ›

Emeryville, a small city in Alameda County with a population of just over 10,000, tops the list of the most dangerous cities in California. The city has an alarming property crime rate of 165.71 per 1,000 residents and a violent crime rate of 11.24 per 1,000 residents.

Where is the least crime in California? ›

The safest city in California is Danville. Located in the San Ramon Valley, Danville has a population of 43,582 and an extremely low crime rate that is 78% lower than the California average. Danville offers suburban living in the bay area, removed from some of the nearby urban areas.

What area in California has the lowest crime rate? ›

Safest Cities in California
  • Rancho Santa Margarita.
  • Moorpark.
  • Danville.
  • Aliso Viejo.
  • Lake Forest.
  • Rancho Palos Verdes.
  • Mission Viejo.
  • Laguna Niguel.

What is the cleanest beach in California? ›

Malibu, Laguna, Crystal Cove, Doheny Beach, Carlsbad, and Pismo Beach are the cleanest beaches in California.

What is the bluest beach in California? ›

Coronado Beach is considered by many to be the prettiest Southern California beach. The clear blue waters, white sand shoreline, and iconic sunsets make Coronado Beach one of the most beautiful beaches in Southern California.

Is Vallejo California a safe place? ›

You have a 1 in 101 chance of being the victim of a violent crime in Vallejo. Statewide, the chances are 1 in 226.2. The Vallejo Police Department works hard every day to keep Vallejo safe with the 111 officers they have.

What is the tax in Benicia CA? ›

What is the sales tax rate in Benicia, California? The minimum combined 2023 sales tax rate for Benicia, California is 8.38%. This is the total of state, county and city sales tax rates.

How cold does it get in Benicia California? ›

Average Temperature in Benicia

The cool season lasts for 2.4 months, from November 28 to February 10, with an average daily high temperature below 60°F. The coldest month of the year in Benicia is January, with an average low of 42°F and high of 56°F.

Is Vallejo the most diverse city? ›

With its population nearly equally divide among the four groups, Vallejo, California tops the list as America's most diverse city for an overall score of 96.9.

What percentage of Vallejo is Hispanic? ›

27.5% of the people in Vallejo, CA are hispanic (33.3k people).

What City has the cleanest tap water in California? ›

According to the 31st annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting event in West Virginia, two California water districts provide the best tap water in America, but neither are in the Bay Area. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California finished first and Santa Ana, California, took second.

Does Benicia have hard water? ›

The City's water is generally “moderately hard” to “very hard”, in the range of 65 to 183 mg/L.

Where does Benicia get water from? ›

The State Water Project (SWP) supplies 75% to 85% of the City's water from the Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta and the Solano Project (SP) supplies 15% to 25% of the City's water from Lake Berryessa. Lake Herman has historically been used as an emergency water supply and temporary storage reservoir.

What is the 1 safest city in America? ›

Frisco, Texas

Frisco, Texas, part of the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex has been ranked the number 1 safest city to live in the U.S. It boasts the fourth-lowest violent crime rate and the sixth-lowest property crime rate.

Which Bay Area city has the highest crime rate? ›

Oakland. Oakland is one of the worst cities in California due to its extraordinarily high crime rates. Located in Alameda County, Oakland is a major commerce hub in the East Bay Area. With a population of 440,646, Oakland is the third-largest city in the Bay Area and the eighth-largest city in California.

What is the safest city in the US 2023? ›

100 Safest Cities in the US 2023: A Comprehensive Analysis
4Harrison TownNew York
96 more rows
6 days ago

What does Benicia mean in English? ›

Benicia is a girl's name of Spanish origin. With a name meaning "blessed one," baby Benicia is bound to feel fortunate and loved.

What are some fun facts about Benicia CA? ›

Benicia was the third site selected to serve as the California state capital, and its newly constructed city hall was California's capitol from February 11, 1853, to February 25, 1854. Soon after the legislature was moved to the courthouse in Sacramento, which has remained the state capital ever since.

How big is Benicia? ›

Does Benicia have good schools? ›

Benicia High School 2022 Rankings

Benicia High School is ranked #2,441 in the National Rankings. Schools are ranked on their performance on state-required tests, graduation and how well they prepare students for college.

What is the median household income in Benicia? ›


How many schools are in Benicia? ›

Benicia Unified School District contains 8 schools and 4,526 students.

What is the oldest Spanish town in California? ›

Spanish colonization of "Alta California" began when the Presidio at San Diego, the first permanent European settlement on the Pacific Coast, was established in 1769.

What is the oldest place in SF? ›

Misión San Francisco de Asís is the oldest surviving building in the San Francisco region and was the sixth church in the California group of missions during the 18th century. This historic structure features authentic adobe architecture and construction.

What is the oldest Spanish building in California? ›

Monterey, home of the Royal Presidio Chapel, is one of California's oldest and most historic cities. Originally founded in 1770 by Spanish Captain Gaspar de Portola and Father Junípero Serra, Monterey served as Spain's northernmost outpost in Alta California.

What city has the most murders in the US? ›

Chicago constantly makes the news as one of America's most dangerous and violent cities. With a population of 2,746,388, Chicago has a crime rate of 3,926 per 100,000 people, making it 67% more dangerous than the US average. In 2020, Chicago had 26,620 violent crimes, including 774 murders.

What state has the most murders? ›

The states with the highest murder rates in the United States are Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alaska, Maryland, Oklahoma, Mississippi and North Carolina, but it is the District of Columbia that has the highest murder rate in the US, with a rate of 49.2 murder per 100,000 people.

Does California have more crime than Florida? ›

Most Dangerous States In America

The most dangerous state in America is California with 3,498 homicides. Coming in the second position is Texas with 2,993 homicides. The third most dangerous state in the US. is Florida with 2,087 homicides. Ranking fourth in the country is North Carolina with 1,192 homicides.

Where is the poorest city in California? ›

Orange Cove ranks the poorest of California towns, study finds
StatePoorest TownPoverty Rate
CaliforniaOrange Cove47.8%
DelawareNew Castle6.5%
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Aug 20, 2020

Where is the least toxic place to live in California? ›

The American Lung Association also keeps track of which cities have the least air pollution. Only one California city ranked among the list of top 25 cities with the least amount of particle pollution: Salinas in Monterey County.

What city in California has the most murders per capita? ›

Emeryville tops the list of most dangerous cities in California. The city has about 12,000 residents and a crime rate of more than 18,000 per 100,000 people. With the highest violent crime rate in the state, it ranks 272% higher than the national average.

What cities in California are ranked by safety? ›

Due to their low crime cost per capita, six California cities were ranked among the safest cities in America. Those cities were Sunnyvale, West Covina, Jurupa Valley, El Monte, Rancho Cucamonga and Glendale. Researchers determined that the lower a city's crime cost per capita was, the safer it was.

What is Vallejo California known for? ›

Vallejo boasts a wealth of culture, attractions and events from the popular theme park Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, to museums, parks, music venues, art galleries and theatres, to the bustle of our historic downtown with its waterfront, shopping, nightlife and restaurants.

Is Vallejo being gentrified? ›

A new study suggests lower-income renters in Vallejo are being replaced by higher-income ones. The Apartment List study finds that more than half of Vallejo renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

What does Vallejo mean in Spanish? ›

Vallejos is a Spanish-language surname, roughly meaning "little valleys".

What TV show was filmed in Vallejo? ›

1. 13 Reasons Why (2017–2020) Follows teenager Clay Jensen, in his quest to uncover the story behind his classmate and crush, Hannah, and her decision to end her life.

What is the largest ethnic minority in California? ›

Hispanics (of any race) are the largest single ethnic group in the state.

What was the original name of the town of Benicia? ›

Vallejo deeded a half-interest in a large tract to Semple on December 22, 1846 with the agreement that it would be named after Vallejo's wife, Francisca Benicia Carillo de Vallejo. Her first name, Francisca, was the original choice.


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