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City to spend millions on homeless outreach, cleanup

WAVE NEWSPAPERS — The City Council June 28 approved millions of dollars to be spent on an enhanced homeless-outreach and street-cleanup operation recently touted by the mayor as an overhaul of efforts to combat illegal dumping and providing hygiene services for the homeless.

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By Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — The City Council June 28 approved millions of dollars to be spent on an enhanced homeless-outreach and street-cleanup operation recently touted by the mayor as an overhaul of efforts to combat illegal dumping and providing hygiene services for the homeless.

The council allocated more than $6.5 million to the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation to cover costs of hygiene and health services, cleanup teams that will target high-need areas, bathroom and shower stations and more.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week the revamping of trash-cleanup efforts and outreach to homeless communities using “cleaning and rapid engagement (CARE) teams would shift the city from simply reacting to complaints about dumping to pro-actively responding to high-need areas.

Each CARE team will be assigned to a specific location — at least one in each council district — to provide cleanup services and help sanitation workers “build stronger relationships with homeless Angelenos in desperate need,” the mayor said.

The teams will receive specialized mental health training and deliver public health resources, including daily trash collection and mobile restrooms to homeless communities.

The plan will increase the number of city sanitation teams from 20 to 30, creating 47 sanitation jobs. The program will also include training of some homeless people who will be paid for taking part in cleanup efforts.

Illegal dumping in Los Angeles has been linked to more than just homelessness. Earlier this month, 85 businesses in the downtown area were cited by county health inspectors for not having proper waste receptacles in violation of the county’s health code.

While hailed by many for its proactive approach to combating street trash, the program is not without doubters. Some activists said this week they’re concerned about the city’s inclusion of police officers in the CARE teams.

“There is still an intensity and an intentionality around police enforcement connected to the plan,” Pete White, the executive director of Los Angeles Community Action Network, said June 27 at a City Hall news conference.

White was joined by representatives of various groups that make up the Services Not Sweeps coalition, which called for a decrease in the amount of police presence during the scheduled sidewalk and street cleanups, saying it could intimidate some of the homeless.

Enrique Zaldivar, the director of Los Angeles Sanitation and Environment, told a City Council committee June 26 that police presence is necessary at times during outreach and cleanup efforts.

“We have had incidents where our workers have been threatened, and in some cases there have been assaults, and we have to be mindful of that,” Zaldivar said.

Jane Nguyen, with the organization KTown For All, said her organization has worked with homeless activists for about a year, observing cleanups and speaking with local leaders. She said she saw one person’s tent removed in the middle of winter during a past cleanup effort.

“I was told that we will not arrest our way out of the homeless crisis, but I can tell you what I’ve witnessed, and people are constantly traumatized by sweeps,” Nguyen said.

Officials with L.A. Sanitation said the goal will be to build trust with the homeless community while providing public health protection services, and the LAPD will be “in the background to provide safety for the team members.”

City Councilman Gilbert Cedillo, who sits on the Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee, made his own suggestions for striking a balance between protection and enforcement.

“There are community groups that have street credit with the homeless … and that’s probably a lot cheaper than LAPD’s cost to have them make the distinction of what is trash and what’s not,” Cedillo said. “We should engage and have a constructive conversation with those groups and redeploy LAPD where their presence plays a constructive role and we have not developed, per say, inflammatory relationships.”

This article originally appeared in the Wave Newspapers.

Activism

Ask County Supervisors Not to Spend Millions in Tax Dollars on Oakland A’s Real Estate Deal

Please attend the meeting Tuesday, October 26 and express your opinion; call or e-mail your supervisor and Keith Carson, president of the Board of Supervisors, through his chief of staff Amy Shrago at (510) 272-6685 or Amy.Shrago@acgov.org

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A rendering of the proposed new A’s ballpark at the Howard Terminal site, surrounded by port cranes and warehouses. Image courtesy of MANICA Architecture.

The East Oakland Stadium Alliance (EOSA) and other groups are asking local residents to attend and speak at next week’s Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting to oppose a proposal to spend county residents’ tax dollars to pay for the Oakland A’s massive multi-billion-dollar real estate deal at Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland. 

Please attend the meeting Tuesday, October 26 and express your opinion; call or e-mail your supervisor and Keith Carson, president of the Board of Supervisors, through his chief of staff Amy Shrago at (510) 272-6685 or Amy.Shrago@acgov.org

The Stadium Alliance urges community members to “let (the supervisors) know that Alameda County residents don’t want our tax dollars to pay for a private luxury development. This proposal does not include privately funded community benefits and would harm our region’s economic engine – the port- putting tens of thousands of good-paying jobs at risk.”

 

“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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Community

Marin County Sheriff Sued for Illegally Sharing Drivers’ License Plate Data

This practice has violated two California laws, endangers the safety and privacy of local immigrant communities, and facilitates location tracking by police.

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An example of ALPRs (www.pasadenanow.org)

Marin County Sheriff Robert Doyle has been sued for illegally sharing millions of local drivers’ license plates and location data, captured by a network of cameras his office uses, with hundreds of federal and out-of-state agencies, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), over a dozen other federal law enforcement agencies, and more than 400 out-of-state law enforcement agencies.

This practice has violated two California laws, endangers the safety and privacy of local immigrant communities, and facilitates location tracking by police.

The suit seeks to end the sheriff’s illegal practice of giving hundreds of agencies outside California access to a database of license plate scans used to identify and track people, revealing where they live and work, when they visit friends or drop their kids at school, and when they attend religious services or protests.

The lawsuit was filed in Marin County Superior Court by the ACLU Foundations of Northern California, Southern California, and San Diego and Imperial Counties, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and attorney Michael T. Risher representing community activists Lisa Bennett, Cesar S. Lagleva, and Tara Evans, who are longtime Marin community members.

License plate scans occur through Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs): high-speed cameras mounted in a fixed location or atop police cars moving through the community that automatically capture all license plates that come into view, recording the exact location, date, and time that the vehicle passes by.

The Marin County Sheriff’s Office scans tens of thousands of license plates each month with its ALPR system. That sensitive personal information, which includes photographs of the vehicle and sometimes its driver and passengers, is stored in a database.

The sheriff permits hundreds of out-of-state agencies and several federal entities, including the Department of Homeland Security, to run queries of a license plate against information the sheriff has collected. The agencies are also able to compare their own bulk lists of vehicle license plates of interest, known as “hot lists,” against the ALPR information collected by the sheriff’s office. 

“In the hands of police, the use of ALPR technology is a threat to privacy and civil liberties, especially for immigrants. Federal immigration agencies routinely access and use ALPR information to locate, detain, and deport immigrants. The sheriff’s own records show that Sheriff Doyle is sharing ALPR information with two of the most rogue agencies in the federal government: ICE and CBP,” said Vasudha Talla, immigrants’ rights program director at the ACLU Foundation of Northern California. “Police should not be purchasing surveillance technology, let alone facilitating the deportation and incarceration of our immigrant communities.”

California’s S.B. 34, enacted in 2015, bars this practice. The law requires agencies that use ALPR technology to implement policies to protect privacy and civil liberties, and specifically prohibits police from sharing ALPR data with entities outside of California. 

The sheriff also violates the California Values Act (S.B. 54), also known as California’s “sanctuary” law. Enacted in 2018, the law limits the use of local resources to assist federal immigration enforcement.

“The information unveiled through this lawsuit shows that the freedoms that people think they possess in Marin County are a mirage: people cannot move about freely without being surveilled,” said Bennett. “Our county sheriff, who has sworn to uphold the law, is in fact violating it by sharing peoples’ private information with outside agencies. This has especially alarming implications for immigrants and people of color: two communities that are traditionally the targets of excessive policing, surveillance, and separation from loved ones and community through incarceration or deportation.”

The Marin County Post’s coverage of local news in Marin 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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Community

The 157th Session of the AME Church’s California Annual Conference: Not Just Business as Usual

For the 157th time in history, the African Methodist Episcopal Church in California met to report at the call of their bishop, the Right Reverend Clement W. Fugh, which, for the first time was held both on-line and in person from Bethel AME Church at 916 Laguna St. in San Francisco. 

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Bishop Clement W. Fugh, Presiding Prelate of the 5th Episcopal District, ready for the 157th Session of the California Annual Conference

For the 157th time in history, the African Methodist Episcopal Church in California met to report at the call of their bishop, the Right Reverend Clement W. Fugh, which, for the first time was held both on-line and in person from Bethel AME Church at 916 Laguna St. in San Francisco. 

The renowned presiding elders, Rev. Dr. Harold R. Mayberry and Rev. Dr. Vernon S. Burroughs, middle managers of this portion of Bishop Fugh’s charge, shared the accounts of their respective territories at the AME Church’s California Annual Conference via prerecorded videos at the meeting hosted by Churches of the Sacramento Valley. 

The lead congregation from the valley was Murph-Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in North Highlands, CA, which is pastored by Rev. Dr. Carieta Cain Grizzell, whose spouse Rev. Martin Grizzell is also known for his past ministry in the Bay Area. The venue church is served by the pastoral team of Rev. Robert R. Shaw and his partner, Assistant Pastor, Rev. Ann Champion Shaw. Murph-Emmanuel and Bethel A.M.E. Church were acclaimed by Bishop Fugh for their cooperation in this session of the California Annual Conference.  

Bethel A.M.E San Francisco looked like a television set had grown into the sanctuary, complete with multiple lights and cameras. There was a technical team (in person and on-line) primarily made up of young adult members of AME churches under the purview of the bishop. The meeting was a clear, joint effort of both clergy and lay people, more than in past years. Though the California Annual Conference has long made a point of including non-cleric church members, young and old, the COVID-19 pandemic circumstances have clearly advanced the Conference’s inclusivity.  

“The Word of God is Colorblind,” said Bishop Fugh during the retirement portion of the Annual Conference which honored the retirement of the host pastor. The diversity within churches of the California Annual Conference was on display at this 157th session of this historic meeting and it was clear that the leadership encourages the welcoming of all who would like to join with the church. 

There was an apparent focus on meeting safely, with limitations on those allowed to join in person. Attestations related to COVID-19 were required of registrants and a screening process was administered at the venue. The bishop commended the venue leadership and church for the dignity that was maintained during the process. 

Registration for Zoom attendance was also a painless process and open to whomever desired to attend the Webinar. The conference was accessible on Facebook as well as YouTube. The bishop also encouraged churches to make attendance as safe as possible while keeping the process simple and focusing on a quality worship experience. Bishop Fugh set a goal for represented churches to reopen their sanctuaries by the first Sunday of November. 

This session of the California Annual Conference carried with it the long-standing traditions of the first Christian denomination founded in response to social injustice over 200 years ago. The ministries reported primarily using pre-recorded videos this year as it all followed through decently and in order. Indeed, there was a genuine spirit of love during the conference.

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