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Berkeley Council Bans Tear Gas, Baton Strikes, Approves Investigation of December Protests

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Two months after Berkeley police injured peaceful protesters with batons, tear gas and projectiles, some 150 activists led by Berkeley High, Berkeley City College and UC Berkeley Black student unions, took the Black Lives Matter message to the streets Tuesday, marching from the Cal Campus to the city council meeting at Old City Hall.

 

The council got the message.

In a series of unanimous votes, the council approved a temporary ban on police use of tear gas, projectiles and over-the-shoulder baton swings for crowd control; asked the Police Review Commission to review both specific tactics used by police at the December protests and general crowd control orders; directed the city manager to write policy for police cameras; and affirmed Berkeley support for national Ferguson Action demands.

“This is what democracy looks like – when the people of Berkeley come out on the streets and demand their elected representatives take action,” said Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, speaking at a rally at Old City Hall before the meeting. Arreguin authored most the policies the council approved later.

Also addressing the rally, Berkeley High senior Kadijah Means talked about “what militarization looks like in our community.”

Kadijah Means, a student from the Berkeley High Black Student Union,  speaks at the rally on Feb. 10 in Berkeley.

Kadijah Means, a student from the Berkeley High Black Student Union, speaks at the rally on Feb. 10 in Berkeley.

“It’s not just about tear gas or AK 47s,” she said. “It’s about militarization as a mind-set. It’s about cops believing we’re not all part of the same community. Because if they thought they were part of the community, we wouldn’t have the unjust deaths that we do.”

Inside the council chambers, several dozen speakers lined up to urge council approval of measures to hold police accountable for their actions at the December demonstrations protesting police immunity in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York.

“‘I found myself, a Black woman, targeted by officers,’” said Associated Students of the University of California Senator Madison Gordon, reading a letter from an unnamed friend.

“‘I found myself bearing the brunt of a beating of a baton across my chest and torso…I was gassed and fell to the ground coughing…The system that promised to protect me, had failed me so horribly and for what? A peaceful demonstration to display my discontent for this system that continues to display violence and criminal acts on my people every day.’”

Andrea Pritchett from Copwatch said she had requested police operational plans for the demonstrations, but much of the response was blacked out.

“The police department is saying they redacted certain parts of the plan for security procedures,” Pritchett said. “They contain ‘intelligence information.’ My friends, that’s what a militarized police department does.”

Chamber of Commerce CEO Poly Armstrong, one of three speakers urging opposition to the measures, asked the council not to take crowd control tools away from police were they faced with another “civic uproar.”

“As the voice for business in Berkeley, Berkeley businesses would feel extremely uncertain if there were no way for police to protect the people of Berkeley and their businesses downtown,” she said.

The police chief was absent, though he generally attends council meetings when police matters are discussed. City Manager Christine Daniel told the Post he wasn’t asked to attend because he wasn’t required to give a report.

A police spokesperson told this reporter in December that aggressive police tactics responded appropriately to protesters, some of whom had thrown objects such as bottles at police. However, one public speaker called this “collective punishment.”

A unanimous council approved asking the city manager to write a plan within three months for implementation of police body and vehicle cameras, although some public speakers had expressed skepticism. In a recent Emeryville police shooting, the officer’s body camera was off and in the case of Eric Garner, the police officer who choked him was not indicted even though the choking was caught on camera.

The council unanimously affirmed the Ferguson demands that include strict limits on transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement and repurposing funds for alternatives to incarceration.

The council unanimously approved the Police Review Commission conducting an independent review of the December protests and a general review of related crowd control policies, with councilmembers underscoring the PRC needs to use its power to subpoena documents and testimony.

And the council approved the interim ban – to be re-evaluated after the independent review – on police use of tear gas, projectiles and certain baton strikes when dealing with mostly peaceful protesters.

Addressing the young people at the meeting, Councilmember Max Anderson said, “You’re part of a struggle along a continuum. You’re part of an effort to ensure the basic principles of this country are upheld.

“We’ve arrived at a point where an inordinate amount of power resides with the police department and their representatives; we arrived at this because we believed they would always have our best interests to protect and serve the general public. That hasn’t borne itself out. And you’re response is appropriate, courageous and has to be ongoing.”

 

Bay Area

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm Visits Bay Area

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) welcomed U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm last Friday to California’s 13th Congressional District for two events highlighting innovative responses to the global climate crisis.

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Jennifer Granholm

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) welcomed U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm last Friday to California’s 13th Congressional District for two events highlighting innovative responses to the global climate crisis.

Congresswoman Lee and Secretary Granholm, a former UC Berkeley faculty member, first toured the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to hear from the nation’s leading scientists about their efforts to discover new technologies, ensure a clean and sustainable water supply, decarbonize the planet and solve the climate crisis.

Following the tour and discussions with scientists such as Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna, Congresswoman Lee and Secretary Granholm joined East Bay mayors and other local officials at a solar-powered Berkeley home to promote the Department of Energy’s Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP+), an online tool helps local governments cut red tape on the review and approval of residential solar power.

State Senator Nancy Skinner, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, and other local leaders participated in the event at the home of Berkeley resident Pablo Diaz-Gutierrez. With the sky covered in gray smoke from the California’s massive wildfires, Congresswoman Lee, Secretary Granholm, and local leaders spoke about the importance of residential solar power at a time when threat of fire is causing shutdowns of traditional power sources across the state.

“Here in California, we’re experiencing the climate emergency first-hand. We have lost so many homes and lives – and entire towns – to wildfires over the last few years,” said Congresswoman Lee. 

“We know that these unprecedented fires are driven by climate change. We also know that communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis both here and around the world,” she said.

“Increasing access to residential solar in communities like Oakland and Berkeley – where certain neighborhoods have experienced generations of environmental racism – helps to keep us on the path to justice. I look forward to continuing to work with Secretary Granholm and President Biden to build back bolder and address the climate crisis with the urgency that it deserves.”

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Bay Area

Who Is Janani Ramachandran, Candidate for Assembly District 18? 

Social justice lawyer Janani Ramachandran is a runoff election for State Assembly District 18, which will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 31.

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Janani Ramachandran/ Photo Courtesy of Janani Ramachandran

Social justice lawyer Janani Ramachandran is a runoff election for State Assembly District 18, which will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 31.

Post columnist Richard Johnson conducted the following interview with the candidate, which has been edited for length and clarity.

(RJ): Tell us about your background and upbringing?

(JR): I am the granddaughter of immigrants from a small village in South India who immigrated to this country for a better life, education, jobs and health care. My grandparents were represented by labor unions that eventually led to stable jobs, higher living wages, health care and decent benefits. I am grateful to have been part of a family that was lifted out of poverty because of the strength of their labor unions.

When I went to my undergrad at Stanford, I worked at a community health clinic for a few years serving teen moms and immigrant mothers while providing Case Management services for many folks. A majority of my work there was with survivors of domestic violence. Many were on the brink of homelessness.

(Later), I lived in Oakland and attended Berkeley law school and continued to do a lot of direct Community Services representing elderly tenants who were facing eviction. I worked on restorative justice programs to address community violence, interpersonal violence, and continuing to represent survivors of violence.

All of these experiences got me thinking about the corruption in many parts of the system whether it is Oakland Calif., local governments or across the country. So, I joined the City of Oakland Public Ethics Commission to determine where the corruption really lies, to uncover bribery and lack of transparency. 

(RJ): What do you bring to the table that others are lacking?

Firstly, real compassion. You know, we have a lot of leaders working in politics but are faking it, because they want political power. They are driven by ego and greed.  I have provided Community Services my entire life.  I’m driven to do this, because I’ve seen the unintended consequences of our laws that are not written with the interests of us and not written with the interests of communities in Oakland.

(RJ): Can you name two main challenges that you feel passionate about that would benefit the people?

(JR): One thing is raising the minimum wage because $15 does not cut it for anyone, especially here in the East Bay. In Oakland, if you made $15 an hour, you would have to work 89 hours a week for a one-bedroom apartment. Our wages are too low, and I want to raise the minimum wage to $22 an hour.

The second thing is housing. A lot of my work as an attorney was representing elderly tenants in Oakland who are being evicted and/or survivors of violence. Many of these people are being evicted despite the global pandemic. So, our state does not put any priority on tenants. 

(RJ): Far too many legislators in office tend to renege on their promises that govern them.

(JR): Corporate money is a huge reason why people don’t keep their promises. Our own governor, Gavin Newsom, promised that he would implement a “Medicare for All” system that would be paid for by the government. This system will save lives and save our state money. The only people that it would harm are big pharmaceutical companies, or big health insurance companies. 

These are the very industries that are lining the campaign’s pockets of even our so-called progressive Democrats, including my opponent who insists she is for universal health care. 

To the contrary, she’s gotten over $200,000 from the healthcare industry and Big Pharma who do not want a universal health care system because it’s going to impact their profits. This happens time and again! 

(RJ): What do you put first in your life to help you remain on the right path?

(JR): I believe in God and I’m spiritual. This is important to me because my spirituality guides me to make sure that I’m not operating in greed, but I’m doing so for the service of others.

(RJ): What is your position on LGBTQA issues?

(JR): I support them as I am LGBTQ myself. I identify as a queer woman and as a lesbian woman.

(RJ): How has women’s liberation helped or hinder the community?

(JR): It’s important that genders are equal, and we need to start treating all genders as equal. Women do not make the same money, and we earn approximately .35 cents to the dollar. 

We need to make sure that we have equality. We need to make sure that women have paid leave to take care of family members, children and elders without having to risk their jobs.  We have so many women who are incarcerated for reasons unrelated and even though they’re Victims of Crime themselves. We need to unpack this and dive deeper and make sure we have equality in so many different ways.

(RJ): What is your position on providing living spaces, employment training and substance funding to those who have paid their dues to society by serving their time?

(JR): Absolutely, we need to make sure that we are providing all the required social, mental, housing and employment opportunities for those who are re-entering society. We need to make those pathways easier, not more difficult in the way that we have them.

(RJ): Will you support more family visits (for inmates? Will you support legislation that requires education and training for inmates?

(JR) Yes. We need to provide all sorts of services and opportunities for all inmates. I previously volunteered in the San Quentin Restorative Justice Project. I learned so much from and about these men. The programs offered prepared them to engage in a conversation about growth, learning and the restorative justice process with fellow inmates and leaders. These types of programs should be funded more and eliminated.

(RJ): Given the fact that we live in a divided country, one blue and one red, how can you help to bring people together in unification?

(JR): We need to return to compassion and empathy. We need to see humanity and each other right now. But I need to say this is not only the case in California. It’s not just about blue versus red. You know, it’s about Democrat versus Democrat as well. I’m going up against an opponent who slammed it and she was a fellow Democratic and woman of color who slanders, comes up with lies, and dirty-nasty smear campaigns that violate all sorts of ethics. So, we need to look within our own party.

(RJ): Since marijuana has been legalized, (why are offenders still incarcerated)?

(JR): I don’t understand why we still have individuals incarcerated for crimes related to marijuana and cannabis. They need to have an immediate pathway to release and to be pardoned. It is unacceptable that we haven’t already implemented that. 

(RJ): How do you see the role of the police? Do they truly serve and protect the communities?

(JR): I know we need to hold police accountable. We really do need to make sure that police are not getting away with committing crimes and with a sense of impunity. Last year, there were 1172 people killed at the hands of police. How many of their families got any sense of justice? How many of those police officers faced justice? Few cases have been fully investigated.

(RJ): What should the voters know about you that they don’t already know?

(JR): I’m real, I’m authentic. I’m not going to be someone who makes empty campaign promises while turning my back on the people. When I say I’m listening to the people, I am. When I am elected, I’m coming back to make sure that I continue to hear from you and implement the answers. 

I want us to march together, protest together and fight together because politics can’t be the answer alone. It has to be politics along-side social movements that create change. We have to work together, and I will continue to ask for your feedback, ideas and solutions. 

(RJ): How do you see the recall of Governor Newsome?

(JR): I oppose the recall. If we as voters decide that we’re not happy with what he’s doing, then next year is an opportunity for voters to vote him out. I think about what those hundreds of millions of dollars could have gone towards instead of being used on a recall: public education, recovery, supporting small businesses, raising the minimum wage.

(RJ): Back to religion, how can churches assist someone in your position?

(JR): I’ve had the honor of speaking at several churches in Oakland with pastors inviting me to address their congregation. I also spoke to their church members who reside in East and West Oakland to share my message and connect with folks. I really appreciate having the opportunity to speak at churches.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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African American Bay Area woman successfully launches natural hair care collection in the middle of the Pandemic

Joy Truth has plans for further product development of the collection with styling products and other hair treatments focused on curly hair health.

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ILC Products

On June 10, 2021, Founder Joy Truth debuted her new hair care collection, I Luv Curls. The hair care system is designed to inspire women to embrace their curls and “luv” their natural hair.

In the midst of the pandemic and on the heels of the passing of the CROWN Act, (Crown Act SB 188 Introduced in California by former Senator Holly J. Mitchell and signed into law on July 3, 2019 which prevents race-based hair discrimination and is currently on the ballot in 7 other states), Joy Truth saw this as the perfect time to launch her new products targeting women of color who are transitioning back to their natural hair.

“Launching and Innovating during a pandemic was divine order, it provided the time and focus that I needed. When everything shut down, the frolicking stopped, and I transferred that energy to my heart’s joy I Luv Curls.” Joy Truth commented, “I made a commitment to move forward despite what was going on around me.”

After blending numerous concoctions and conducting focus groups with friends transitioning from straightening their hair, Truth landed on the perfect ingredients that resulted in healthy, moisturized, shiny curls and coils. Currently the collection consists of three core hair care products and a heat activated deep conditioning cap. The A D D + C L A R I T Y clarifying cleanser is a gentle, botanical, clarifying, sulfate-free deep cleanser containing Peppermint Oil and Rosemary Oil. The A D D + M O I S T U R E ™ hydrating masque is a botanical, nutrient-rich, luxurious, deep treatment with moisture-locking humectants. The A D D + S T R E N G T H™ is a luxurious, botanical, protein-rich ayurvedic deep strengthening treatment. And finally, the ADD + HEAT microwavable deep conditioning heat cap enhances the masque treatments by slowly diffusing heat to infuse moisture and or strength deep within your hair follicles.

Joy Truth has plans for further product development of the collection with styling products and other hair treatments focused on curly hair health. This is not the first launch for this entrepreneur; A creative and visionary entrepreneurial leader whose passion for beauty and wellness led her to leave Corporate America and launch twin companies, Harmony Beauty Boutique and Harmony Yoga Pilates – a unique brand of personal care products and wellness services. Joy Truth’s mission is simple and bold to help you “Be a Better You!”

Born and raised in the SF Bay Area, Joy Truth holds a BS in Information Systems Management from the University of San Francisco, serves as the Vice-Chair of the Advisory Board of her alma mater, is a Christian Ministry Leader, and contributes to social impact causes that benefit women of color. She resides in Berkeley, CA, with her husband Neil, bonus son Jordan and their dog (Malshi) Zoe.

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Based in Berkeley, California, I Luv Curls is a company committed to the best results for your natural hair journey. In doing so, we educate and raise awareness of what textured hair needs, formulate and produce a necessary brand of Loving and Kind, Botanical, Ayurvedic, regimen driven hair care products that absolutely luv your curls! We transform your curl drama into a luv story. For more information, visit www.iluvcurls.com.

Press contact: Cindy Hill

Phone: (415) 715-4714

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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