Connect with us

African American News & Issues

California’s Black Lawmakers Call for Converting Protest Momentum into Change

Published

on

Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber. Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

As mass protests continued across the state Tuesday, the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) called for lasting change in race relations — as well as reform in social justice policy — in California and around the country.

Standing 6 feet apart and wearing masks to protect against the spread of COVID-19, the lawmakers held a news conference at the state Capitol to address what they described as a “pandemic of hate.”

Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), chair of the CLBC, condemned the destruction and looting that sidelined the demonstrations in California and across the nation. The protests erupted about a week ago after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, on Memorial Day.

“The issue we’ve faced for over 400 years is the enslavement, mistreatment, and often the efforts of genocide of the African in this country,” said Weber, in a powerful statement that condemned the brutal death of Floyd.

In their statements, caucus members echoed Weber. They made the case that sustainable social and economic change in America starts with acknowledging that racism and injustice toward African Americans today is linked to slavery, and it can be traced to the decades of segregation and discrimination that followed.

She also said it is important not to limit the public conversation to the loss of property without addressing the deeper problems.

Weber offered emotional historic examples of public lynching of African American men and the separation of enslaved women from their children. It’s a part of U.S. history, CLBC members said.

CLBC leaders also highlighted victories such as the passage of police reform legislation.

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill, AB 392, into law that Weber authored. The groundbreaking legislation limits when police can use deadly force.

The legislation, which was fiercely opposed by police unions in California, is now being lauded by activists, policymakers and law enforcement experts across the country as one of the strongest and most effective actions taken by any state to reduce police shootings.

Another bill the CLBC supported, Senate Bill 227, which would have changed the way officer-involved shootings are investigated was signed into law by former Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017 but has since been declared “unconstitutional” and overturned by the California Court of Appeal.

State Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) authored the bill and said the fight for criminal justice reform is met with strong police union resistance in the Legislature and continues in the courts.

Weber also spoke about CLBC’s history of fighting for equality, civil liberties and economic justice for Blacks that has ended up benefiting all Americans. 

  “We have kicked down doors of opportunity for everyone only to have them run over our back, and snatch those opportunities off the table and forget from whence they have come,” said Weber.

One of Weber’s latest bills is ACA 5 co-authored by Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson). It would give voters a new chance to weigh in on affirmative action, which was banned when voters passed Proposition 209 in 1996. 

Supporters say ACA 5 would remove roadblocks to opportunities for women and people of color. Some opponents argue that the policy is discriminatory. Weber says, as of now, she doesn’t have the two-thirds majority votes needed to pass the measure.

Throughout her eight years in the Assembly, Weber says she’s faced resistance to efforts to improve conditions for African Americans.

It becomes painful to continue the conversation. Weber said she’ll keep on advocating for equality and called on allies to share in the responsibility.

Standing with the CLBC were members of the Progressive Caucus, the Latino Caucus, the LGBT Caucus, the Asian &Pacific Islander Caucus and the Women’s Caucus.

“We know that the solution lies in the changing of this nation,” Weber said, urging allies to take up the banner and fight along with African Americans.  “The battle that is so essential,” she said.

Members of the CLBC are Assemblymember Shirley N.Weber, (D-San Diego), the chair; Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Los Angeles), the group’s vice chair; Sen. Holy J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles); Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), secretary; Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Sacramento), treasurer; Assemblymember Chris R. Holden (D-Pasadena); Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Los Angeles); Assemblymember Autumn Burke (D-South Bay, Los Angeles); Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-South Los Angeles); and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento).

Activism

California Elected Officials, Civic Leaders React to George Floyd Verdict  

“The hard truth,” Gov. Newsom said in an April 20 statement, “is that if George Floyd looked like me, he’d still be alive today.” Newsom made the remark after a Hennepin County jury found Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 45, guilty in the murder of George Floyd.

Photo by: Antonio Ray Harvey.
Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-LA), Tecoy Porter, President of National Action Network Sacramento, Western Region, Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), vice-chair of the CLBC, Senator Steven Bradford (D-LA ), chair CLBC, Assemblymember Chris Holden ( D-Pasadena) Assemblymember Kevin McCarty ( D-Sacramento) and Secretary of State Shirley Weber. Photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

“The hard truth,” Gov. Newsom said in an April 20 statement, “is that if George Floyd looked like me, he’d still be alive today.” Newsom made the remark after a Hennepin County jury found Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 45, guilty in the murder of George Floyd.
The jury convicted Chauvin on two counts of murder, homicide and one of manslaughter for pinning his knee on the neck of Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds on May 25, 2020.
The California governor joined other Golden State officials to speak out about the verdict and the enduring problems of police violence against unarmed citizens, particularly African American suspects.
“No conviction can repair the harm done to George Floyd and his family, but today’s verdict provides some accountability as we work to root out the racial injustice that haunts our society,” the governor continued. “We must continue the work of fighting systemic racism and excessive use of force. It’s why I signed some of the nation’s most progressive police reform legislation into law. I will continue working with community leaders across the state to hear concerns and support peaceful expression.”
Sen. Steve Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, took to Twitter to comment on the verdict.
“I’m overwhelmed to tears over this verdict: Guilty. #GeorgeFloyd did not have to die that day. His family is still healing from this trauma. We must continue to fight for justice in this country, for all of us,” he tweeted.
Earlier in the day, the California Legislative Black Caucus held a press conference to address police brutality and lethal force by peace officers in California and across the country.
“There may be calls about a crisis. There may be calls about an emergency, but they are not calls intended to initiate death. They are not calls for lethal force. They are calls for issuing de-escalation and resolution.” said Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles).
Kamlager, along with her colleagues – including Assemblymember Mike Gipson, who Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) appointed Chair of the Select Committee on Police Reform – spoke at the briefing. They called on their peers to pass the C.R.I.S.I.S. Act, or Assembly Bill (AB) 2054, legislation that proposes for communities to rely on social workers to intervene in some public safety incidents instead of police officers.
The bill was first introduced last year but died in committee.
California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber also attended the Black Caucus press conference.
“You know it’s really hard after 410 years in this country to continue to raise the same issues over and over again,” Dr. Weber said. “When I look and begin to analyze it I realize that all we’re asking is to have what everybody else has…to be treated fairly – to be treated as a human being, to be treated just.”
President of the NAACP California-Hawaii Conference Rick L. Callender said justice was served in the Chauvin case.
“It was very clear that our very right to breath was on trial,” Callender told California Black Media. “For too long, African Americans have been subjected to the knee of injustice choking us out – in so many different ways. This verdict demonstrates that a badge is never a shield for accountability.”
Speaking from San Diego, Shane Harris, founder and president of the People’s Association of Justice, a national civil rights alliance that started in California, said the Floyd verdict represents a starting point for re-imagining policing in America through federal legislation.
“The reality is that there is a Derek Chauvin in a police department near you, and the question is whether our local, state and federal governments will step up to protect the next George Floyd from being killed in our country,” he said. 

“Chauvin had multiple complaints against him during his career on the Minneapolis Police force, but the city and the department failed to act,” he said “We will not have an Attorney General like Keith Ellison in every state going forward to press for justice like he did, which is why I call on the U.S. Senate to urgently bring the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 to the Senate floor now, pass the legislation and send it to the President’s desk to sign immediately.”
After 12 hours of deliberations – as people across the country and around the globe waited in anticipation – the jury returned with the verdict that held Chauvin responsible for second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
The jury consisted of six Black or multiracial people along with six White individuals. Chauvin’s attorney requested bail, but the presiding judge denied it, and Chauvin was taken into custody.
Under Minnesota laws, Chauvin could receive a sentence of up to 40 years in prison.
California Congresswoman and Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) drew some criticism on social media for a statement she made regarding the verdict. Her critics chided the Speaker for thanking Floyd for his “sacrifice,” a man who they point out was unwittingly murdered by a police officer.
Standing with members of the Congressional Black Caucus in front of the U.S. Capitol, Pelosi said, “Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice. For being there to call out to your mom, how heartbreaking was that, call out for you mom, ‘I can’t breathe.”
“But because of you and because of thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice,” the Speaker said.

Continue Reading

Activism

Post Salon Speakers Say Oakland Can Mobilize to End State Overseers’ Control of Schools

“We will not give up on the demand to protect majority Black schools from closures or on the demand that school closures is not a justified action at all for this board to be taking.” 

Avatar

Published

on

The Oakland Post Community Assembly held a Post Salon last weekend on the role of the nearly. 20-year reign of the Oakland school district’s state overseers and their devastating impact the education of  students and families 

Frankie Ramos, doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley and OUSD parent, hosted the meeting, laying out the goals of looking at who the state-imposed trustee and the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team are and what can be done to get rid of them.

“One of the challenges we are facing is trying to understand who really is in control, who really has power in our school district; there are forces behind the scenes that are definitely exerting power,” she said, and our communities need a “plan for getting out of their control so we can get back on track so Oakland students can thrive.”

Dr. Nirali Jani, professor at Holy Names University and a former Oakland teacher, said efforts to seize control of the school district began in 1988, a year after the first Black majority school board was elected in Oakland. The takeover was not accomplished until 2003, stripping the school board of its power and replacing the superintendent with a state receiver

“State takeover is a targeted attempt for corporate penetration and privatization of public land,” she said, and is  part of a “business plan” utilized to take over schools and other public institutions across the country.

In Oakland, the state gave billionaire Eli Broad and his Broad Foundation free hand to implement corporate strategies in the school district. 

Post Publisher Paul Cobb was a school board member at the time of the takeover. He said the state was supposedly coming in to help the district achieve financial stability.

But state control was marked by “unbalanced budgets” and “no audits” of how they spent district money, he said. “OUSD partially emerged from state receivership  in 2009, but it was $89 million in debt, much more than the original $37 million (in 2003).”

He said the state overseers, are pushing a “replacement strategy” to close schools. “We are witnessing the removal of Black and Brown populations from the schools” and the city, he said.

He said the community should call on Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is facing a recall and “is available to be pressured by all of us” to audit FCMAT.

The community can make similar demands of Rob Bonta when he becomes state attorney general and also ask candidates for Bonta’s soon to be vacated Assembly seat to step up and fight for the independence of the local school district, he said. 

Pecolia Manigo, OUSD parent, executive director of the Parent Leadership Action Network (PLAN) and an organizer for the Justice for Oakland Students coalition, explained that the coalition has been working for several years for “Reparations for Black Students” to  reduce and end the harm OUSD has caused Black students for generations.

The coalition won 15 of its 16 demands, but the school board backed down when threatened by state Trustee Chris Learned, dropping the demand to stop closing mostly Black schools. 

“One of the biggest demands was ensuring that majority Black schools were not targeted for closure,” she said. “This is a board that chose not to take a courageous stand, (instead) choosing to put (Black schools) on the chopping block to balance the budget.”

“We will not give up on the demand to protect majority Black schools from closures or on the demand that school closures is not a justified action at all for this board to be taking.” 

School Board Member VanCedric Williams said, “We have  to challenge the status quo. The status quo is just not acceptable anymore…we must force the district to pivot toward racial and social justice. We are a social justice city, and we have to call on our elected leaders” to join with us.

Jackie Goldberg, member of the Los Angeles school board and a formerly in the state Assembly, said  state takeover districts are targeted racially and  “an entirely undemocratic method of solving a problem,” putting people in charge who nobody elected and “nobody decided should here.”

She said, “These people are not committed to the districts, they are not from the districts, they don’t care about the district, they are getting paid very large amounts of money, and they are political appointees.” 

“This is a political issue, not a fiscal issue. It will be framed by the state  as an economic fight but it is not.”

She suggested Oakland could start a statewide coalition to demand an end to FCMAT and state trusteeship as a way to solve districts’ financial problems. 

School Board Member Mike Hutchinson said the district is under state control because of the terms of 2003 state loan and of AB 1840, a recent law that gives the district some money but with strings attached 

“We are actively working on that plan to pay off the loan early” and can refuse to take the AB1840 money. “We can be free of (both)  AB1840 and the state loan in the next four to six months,” he said.

Continue Reading

Activism

Bay Area Officials and Leaders React to the George Floyd Verdict

Almost 11 months ago, the world watched as Officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on the back of George Floyd’s neck. He kept it there for eight minutes and 46 seconds, but it felt like an eternity. The systemic injustice from hundreds of years of racism and mistreatment of Black Americans was put into plain view on video, and the country and the world erupted in protest.

Avatar

Published

on

By

Photo Credit: Christy Price

San Francisco Mayor London Breed, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) and the Greenlining Institute President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann issued statements in reaction to Tuesday’s triple guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, ex-Minneapolis police officer for killing George Floyd in May, 2020.

Mayor London Breed’s statement:

“This verdict does not bring back the life of George Floyd. It can’t replace the years of his life that were robbed from him, nor the life experiences and memories that would have been made with his friends and family. What this verdict does reflect is that the tide is turning in this country, although still too slowly, toward accountability and justice.

Almost 11 months ago, the world watched as Officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on the back of George Floyd’s neck. He kept it there for eight minutes and 46 seconds, but it felt like an eternity. The systemic injustice from hundreds of years of racism and mistreatment of Black Americans was put into plain view on video, and the country and the world erupted in protest.

While we’re now months removed from the height of those protests, the need for action is as critical as ever. This is about more than prosecuting the officer who killed George Floyd, though that is an important step. It’s about fundamentally restructuring how policing is done to move away from the use of excessive force. It’s about shifting responses to non-violent calls away from an automatic police response to something better equipped to handle the situation. It’s about reinvesting in communities in which years of systematic disinvestment has made it nearly impossible for people to thrive. It’s about changing who we are as a country.

That’s what we’re trying to do in San Francisco. Our Street Crisis Response Teams, consisting of paramedics and behavioral health specialists, are now often the first responders to non-violent 911 calls relating to mental health and substance use. 

Our Dream Keeper Initiative is redirecting $120 million to improve the lives of Black youth and their families through investments in everything from housing, to healthcare, to workforce training and guaranteed income. And our sustained, multi-year efforts to reform our police department has resulted in a 57% reduction in instances of use of force and a 45% decrease in officer-involved shootings since 2016.

While this tragedy can never be undone, what we can do is finally make real change in the name of George Floyd. Nothing we can do will bring him back, but we can do the work to prevent others from facing his fate in the future. That is the work we need to do. It’s ongoing, it’s challenging, but if we are committed, we can make a real and lasting difference in this country.”

OPD Statement 

We all must recognize that this moment is about accountability, justice, and reform. We must be compassionate, empathic, and forgiving, the Oakland Police Department declared in a statement released on Tuesday. 

All sides must unite as one community to effectively communicate. Together we will work towards rethinking policing in America. 

In unity, we will move towards finding solutions for the safety of all people, notwithstanding your age, race, religion, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability. 

We stand as one community grieving and healing as we move towards finding real solutions to effect change as we seek to strengthen police and community relations. 

We extend our deepest condolences to George Floyd’s family and all communities. 

Greenlining Institute President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann:

“Today, we experienced a small measure of justice as Derek Chauvin was convicted and the killing of George Floyd was recognized as the criminal act it was. But we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that one conviction of one cop for a killing the whole world witnessed on video will change a fundamentally racist and dysfunctional system. The whole law enforcement system must be rethought and rebuilt from the ground up so that there are no more George Floyds, Daunte Wrights and Adam Toledos. But even that is just a start.

“Policing doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Systemic racism exists in policing because systemic racism exists in America. We must fundamentally uproot the disease of racism in our society and create a transformative path forward.” 

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending