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Bill Capping the Use of Rubber Bullets, Tear Gas Awaits Gov. Newsom’s Signature

A police reform bill calling for stricter standards on how law enforcement officers across the state use rubber bullets and tear gas for crowd control has been approved by both the California Senate and Assembly. 

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Bangkok, THAILAND - August 7, 2021: Riot police block road to 1st Infantry Regiment by container and crackdown protesters by tear gas, rubber bullets, water canon./ Shutterstock

A police reform bill calling for stricter standards on how law enforcement officers across the state use rubber bullets and tear gas for crowd control has been approved by both the California Senate and Assembly. 

The legislation, Assembly Bill (AB) 48 introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), is awaiting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature. He has until October 10 to sign or veto it. 

“During the nationwide protests in 2020, many reports showed peaceful protesters and bystanders being seriously injured, even permanently maimed, by dangerous projectiles,” said Gonzalez, who represents California’s 80th Assembly District located in southern San Diego County. 

“This bill will protect Californians’ right to safely protest by establishing statewide standards that help minimize the overuse of these dangerous weapons, while directing law enforcement on how and when they can deploy projectiles in truly life-threatening situations,” she continued. 

AB 48 prohibits the use of kinetic impact projectiles – i.e., rubber bullets and plastic bullets – as well as chemical agents like tear gas by any law enforcement officer or agency “to disperse any assembly, protest, or demonstration.” It also prohibits their use solely “due to a violation of an imposed curfew, verbal threat, or non-compliance with a law enforcement directive.”

Under current law, a peace officer is allowed to use reasonable force to arrest or to prevent the escape of a suspect — or to subdue that person if there is resistance. Existing law requires the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to provide instructional courses and training to law enforcement officers on the use of force. 

POST is the state agency responsible for setting basic standards for hiring and training for police officers in all 58 counties. 

In addition, AB 48 requires officers to be trained on the safe use of kinetic projectiles and chemical agents for situations where any person’s life is threatened or instances where a person faces serious risk of injury.

In these situations, according to the bill, officers would be required to employ other de-escalation techniques before using projectile weapons.

Also, the officer must provide prompt medical assistance to any person injured. The bill prohibits aiming these weapons at the head, neck, or other vital organs.

Across the country, on average, officers receive about 50 hours of firearm training during the police academy. They receive less than 10 hours of de-escalation training, the Brookings Institution reported in April 2021.

The California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), which represents over 16,000 members employed by municipal, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, has publicly registered disagreement with parts of AB 48.

“This bill is a near-exact replica of last year’s failed AB 66, which CPOA opposed,” said Shaun Rundle, CPOA deputy director. 

AB 66 was also authored by Gonzalez.

CPOA is in favor of limiting the use of less-than-lethal force but has safety concerns about officers being struck by — or targeted with – life-threatening items such as frozen water bottles, bricks, and laser pointers.

“Restricting the use of less-lethal options limits the tools that are at an officer’s disposal to protect public safety,” the California State Sheriffs’ Association said in a statement opposing AB 48. 

“However, by restricting when an officer may use those tools, their response to a particular situation may end up being guided by choices about practices that may be acceptable or unacceptable to some instead of what measure is most appropriate in the context of the event,” the statement continued. 

Last year, Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, introduced another police reform bill, Senate Bill (SB) 731. 

Although that bill did not make it to the Senate floor for a full vote, SB 731, which proposed a statewide process to disqualify bad officers and block them from being hired by other agencies, resurfaced as SB 2 last December. The updated version of the legislation passed in the Senate with a 28-9 vote last week. It has been sent to Governor’s desk for signature or veto.

According to the State Sheriffs’ Association SB2 could be an obstacle in hiring, recruiting, and maintaining employees.

Bradford, on the other hand, says the legislation is timely and necessary. 

“We want to be intentional about what we are doing here in California when it comes to police reform,” Bradford told the Senate Judiciary Committee about SB 2 last April.  “That’s what this bill does. It’s intentional in what we are trying to achieve. This is a fair measure and far better than any that exist today.”

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Activism

Moms 4 Housing Hold Sit-in Demanding County Supervisors Extend Eviction Protections

All formerly unhoused mothers, the Moms are risking arrest to demand that newly elected Supervisor Lena Tam uphold a previous vote for a strong package of permanent tenant protections for renters in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County as the end of the COVID Eviction Moratorium looms. Participants in the sit-in, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.

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Participants in the sit-in, which began Tuesday afternoon, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.
The Moms are prepared to hold this sit-in for 60 hours — for the 60,000 tenants who need these protections, which are set to expire.

By Post Staff

Moms 4 Housing held a sit-in in the nonviolent civil disobedience tradition of Martin Luther King Jr., to demand that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors uphold their original vote to pass permanent Just Cause eviction protections for the 60,000 tenants living in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County.

The Moms are prepared to hold this sit-in for 60 hours — for the 60,000 tenants who need these protections, which are set to expire.

All formerly unhoused mothers, the Moms are risking arrest to demand that newly elected Supervisor Lena Tam uphold a previous vote for a strong package of permanent tenant protections for renters in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County as the end of the COVID Eviction Moratorium looms.

Participants in the sit-in, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.

The Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP), ACCE and EBHO, along with other local activists, are mobilizing outside of the Alameda County Administration Building to stand in solidarity with Moms 4 Housing, an organization focused on uniting mothers, neighbors, and friends to reclaim housing for the Oakland community from the big banks and real estate speculators.

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Activism

Following More Mass Shootings Democrats Introduce Assault Weapons Ban

On January 22, a gunman opened fire on a crowd celebrating the Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, California, killing 11 and wounding 9. The Democrats’ proposed Age 21 Act would make it illegal to sell or buy an assault weapon to anybody under 21, bringing it in line with the legal age for purchasing handguns. President Joe Biden has publicly stated his support for the legislation.

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The assault weapons prohibition “passed the House last year with bipartisan backing, but was blocked by Senate Republicans
The assault weapons prohibition “passed the House last year with bipartisan backing, but was blocked by Senate Republicans.

By Stacy M. Brown,NNPA Newswire

Two proposals aimed at curbing the spread of assault rifles were submitted today by Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein of California, and Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

The Assault Weapons Ban seeks to prohibit the commercialization, distribution, production, and importation of assault rifles and other firearms designed for use in military operations, as well as high-capacity magazines and similar devices.

On January 22, a gunman opened fire on a crowd celebrating the Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, California, killing 11 and wounding 9.

The Democrats’ proposed Age 21 Act would make it illegal to sell or buy an assault weapon to anybody under 21, bringing it in line with the legal age for purchasing handguns.

President Joe Biden has publicly stated his support for the legislation.

Biden said that the number of mass shootings declined during the decade that the Assault Weapons Ban was in effect.

“In the 10 years that the Assault Weapons Ban was on the books, mass shootings went down,” Biden remarked.

“After Republicans let the law expire in 2004 and those weapons were allowed to be sold again, mass shootings tripled,” he declared.

Both houses of Congress were urged to take quick action by the president.

According to Biden, “the majority of American people agree with this rational measure.”

“There can be no greater responsibility than to do all we can to ensure the safety of our children, our communities and our nation,” he insisted.

In the House of Representatives, Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline said he plans to introduce a companion bill to the Senate’s Assault Weapons Ban.

Feinstein said assault rifles “seem to be the unifying denominator in the seemingly endless number of horrific shootings.”

“Because these firearms were created for maximum efficiency in mass murder,” the senator noted.

“They have no place in our society or educational institutions. It’s time to take a stand against the gun lobby and do something about getting these lethal weapons off the streets, or at the absolute least, out of the hands of our youth.”

Blumenthal added, as the gunman at the Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park demonstrated just days ago, assault weapons are designed for one and one purpose only: to murder or hurt human beings.

“These military-style combat weapons – built for the battlefield and designed to maximize death and destruction – have brought bloodshed and carnage to our streets and continue to be the weapon of choice in countless mass shootings,” Blumenthal said.

“Guns don’t respect state boundaries, which is why we need a national solution to restricting the ownership and use of assault weapons. Now is the time to honor gun violence victims and survivors with this commonsense action.”

Rep. Ciciline argued that it is long past due to reinstate an assault weapon ban and remove these “weapons of war” from civilian areas.

The assault weapons prohibition “passed the House last year with bipartisan backing, but was blocked by Senate Republicans,” Ciciline noted.

“We need to come together to enact this commonsense, effective, and proven policy to reduce gun violence and save lives. I thank Senator Feinstein for her partnership in this fight and look forward to introducing the House companion bill in the coming weeks.”

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Activism

With a 97.3% Strike Vote, More Than 500 Richmond Educators Rally Before School Board Meeting

“We don’t want to strike, but we will if it means doing what is best for our students. Over 90% of all union members who participated in the strike authorization vote are ready to meet this crisis created by a board and management team not working in the interests of the district. We are hoping our actions through the fact-finding process will show WCCUSD that we are serious about fighting for the best resources for our students. They deserve the best, and nothing less,” UTR President John Zabala said.

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Educators across the district have weathered crisis after crisis: from budget cuts due to poor financial management, to building new virtual learning systems during the pandemic, or giving up countless prep or non-contractual hours to ensure students are with a credentialed adult every day
Educators across the district have weathered crisis after crisis: from budget cuts due to poor financial management, to building new virtual learning systems during the pandemic, or giving up countless prep or non-contractual hours to ensure students are with a credentialed adult every day

By Post Staff

United Teachers of Richmond (UTR) held a rally urging West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) officials to reach a “fair settlement” and avoid a strike.

Teachers, school psychologists, school nurses, school counselors, program specialists, librarians, and speech-language pathologists are calling for a settlement that includes community schools, shared decisions, and competitive compensation that keeps outstanding educators in the community — and brings the next generation of educators to the district.

The rally was held at Lovonya Dejean Middle School, 3400 Macdonald Ave. in Richmond.

“We don’t want to strike, but we will if it means doing what is best for our students. Over 90% of all union members who participated in the strike authorization vote are ready to meet this crisis created by a board and management team not working in the interests of the district. We are hoping our actions through the fact-finding process will show WCCUSD that we are serious about fighting for the best resources for our students. They deserve the best, and nothing less,” UTR President John Zabala said.

In mid-November last year, the Legislative Analyst Office of California announced additional guaranteed, ongoing funding for the 2023-24 school year. The district intends to only provide less than half of the percentage of ongoing permanent funding it receives from the state for educator compensation, according to a statement released by the UTR.

Despite that projection of continued funding by the state, the school district declared an impasse in negotiations with UTR. Educators across the district have weathered crisis after crisis: from budget cuts due to poor financial management, to building new virtual learning systems during the pandemic, or giving up countless prep or non-contractual hours to ensure students are with a credentialed adult every day.

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