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OP-ED: Faith Leaders Call for Accountability Over

A demonstration is planned for Tuesday May 24 at 11:30 a.m. at the Board of Supervisors on Oak and 12th streets in Oakland to protest a culture of death at the jail and this dysfunctional incarceration system. Join us in our call for accountability. The U.S. Justice Department recently found our county jail violates Constitutional rights and subjects the 40% of persons in custody who need mental health services to “unlawful harm.”

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Negligence, Deaths at Santa Rita Jail

Alameda County’s Santa Rita jail, run by Sheriff Gregory Ahern, has been the target of multiple lawsuits over jail conditions and has had the most in-custody deaths in Northern California: at least 58 in-custody deaths since 2014, including 19 suicides.

We lift up the names of the two most recent to die in Santa Rita – Marcos Garibay and Larry Roberson. Their families are among many who have been given conflicting and incomplete information about their deaths by the sheriff.

A demonstration is planned for Tuesday May 24 at 11:30 a.m. at the Board of Supervisors on Oak and 12th streets in Oakland to protest a culture of death at the jail and this dysfunctional incarceration system. Join us in our call for accountability.

The U.S. Justice Department recently found our county jail violates Constitutional rights and subjects the 40% of persons in custody who need mental health services to “unlawful harm.”

The sheriff has also evaded a county ban on collaboration of local law enforcement with ICE.

The county continues to hemorrhage millions of taxpayer dollars on settlements and legal fees for this mismanagement – the most recent costing upwards of $300 million. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department needs a major transformative intervention.

Assembly Bill 1185, recently enacted by the California state Legislature, authorizes civilian oversight boards and a full-time Inspector General with subpoena power to investigate sheriff’s departments and jails. Our communities can gain accountability for brutal practices by the sheriff and assist supervisors in exercising their legal and fiscal authority to oversee this county department.

Sopath Mey, speaking for her Cambodian immigrant family, told us of her cousin Soto’s medical crisis and death in Santa Rita in January 2020:

“To this day we don’t understand how he died in custody of the jail and the sheriff. Did he get medical care he needed? … Our family has no resources for an investigation … The sheriff is also the coroner, which raises serious questions. Independent oversight without conflict of interest could tell us learn what happened so we can have peace of mind.”

A sheriff’s oversight coalition initiated by Faith In Action East Bay and Oakland’s Coalition for Police accountability including dozens of organizations and clergy of diverse faiths – ACLU of Northern California, Alameda County Public Health Commission, SEIU Local 1021, Oakland Education Association, Brotherhood of Elders, National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, and working closely with the League of Women Voters – researched essential principles for effective independent civilian oversight:

  • A community selection panel process that is open and transparent to create a representative oversight board insulated from politics and the sheriff’s influence.
  • Legal counsel for a civilian Oversight Board and Inspector General that is fully independent of the County Counsel’s conflicts of interest representing the sheriff in lawsuits against the county.
  • A dedicated funding stream to ensure adequate staff of investigators working with an experienced, full-time Inspector General.
  • Access to records and testimony, regular public meetings and reports to the community and the Board of Supervisors (BOS.)
  • Elected officials – including the sheriff – must be held accountable. Civilian oversight with subpoena power can conduct independent investigations and recommend necessary change to the Board of Supervisors – who have the ultimate power of budgeting tax dollars.

Working with a full-time inspector general, they will investigate jail deaths, in-custody conditions, conduct of the sheriff’s deputies and can help identify alternatives to the county’s current cruel and costly mass incarceration of individuals with mental health challenges.

We must bring the sheriff’s operations into alignment with constitutional law enforcement, our community’s ethical values and the public trust.

Let Supervisors know you support the community coalition calling for strong oversight of the Sheriff – email the Board at cbs@acgov.org.

Rev. Dr. George Cummings, executive director, Faith In Action East Bay

Cathy Leonard for the Coalition for Police Accountability

Regina Jackson, Oakland Police Commission*

Rev. Dr. James Brenneman, president, Berkeley School of Theology*

Rev. Ken Chambers, West Side MBC & co-chair Interfaith Coalition of Alameda County*

Rev. Dr. James Hopkins, co-chair, Faith In Action East Bay; Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church*

Rev. Derron Jenkins, associate minister, Allen Temple Baptist Church, Oakland*

Rev. Andrew Loban, rector, St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, Livermore*

Fr. Aidan McAlaneen, pastor of St. Columba Catholic Church

Rabbi Dev Nolly, senior rabbi, Kehilla Community Synagogue, Oakland*

Rabbi Judith Seid, Tri-Valley Cultural Jews*

Rev. Jeffrey Spencer, senior pastor, Niles Discovery Church, Fremont*

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Oakland Post: Week of May 15 – 21, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of May May 15 – 21, 2024

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Oakland Post: Week of May 8 – 14, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of May May 8 – 14, 2024

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S.F. Black Leaders Rally to Protest, Discuss ‘Epidemic’ of Racial Slurs Against Black Students in SF Public School System

Parents at the meeting spoke of their children as no longer feeling safe in school because of bullying and discrimination. Parents also said that reported incidents such as racial slurs and intimidation are not dealt with to their satisfaction and feel ignored. 

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Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church. Photo courtesy Third Baptist Church.
Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church. Photo courtesy Third Baptist Church.

By Carla Thomas

San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church hosted a rally and meeting Sunday to discuss hatred toward African American students of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD).

Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church, along with leadership from local civil rights groups, the city’s faith-based community and Black community leadership convened at the church.

“There has been an epidemic of racial slurs and mistreatment of Black children in our public schools in the city,” said Brown. “This will not be tolerated.”

According to civil rights advocate Mattie Scott, students from elementary to high school have reported an extraordinary amount of racial slurs directed at them.

“There is a surge of overt racism in the schools, and our children should not be subjected to this,” said Scott. “Students are in school to learn, develop, and grow, not be hated on,” said Scott. “The parents of the children feel they have not received the support necessary to protect their children.”

Attendees were briefed last Friday in a meeting with SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne.

SFUSD states that their policies protect children and they are not at liberty to publicly discuss the issues to protect the children’s privacy.

Parents at the meeting spoke of their children as no longer feeling safe in school because of bullying and discrimination. Parents also said that reported incidents such as racial slurs and intimidation are not dealt with to their satisfaction and feel ignored.

Some parents said they have removed their students from school while other parents and community leaders called on the removal of the SFUSD superintendent, the firing of certain school principals and the need for more supportive school board members.

Community advocates discussed boycotting the schools and creating Freedom Schools led by Black leaders and educators, reassuring parents that their child’s wellbeing and education are the highest priority and youth are not to be disrupted by racism or policies that don’t support them.

Virginia Marshall, chair of the San Francisco NAACP’s education committee, offered encouragement to the parents and students in attendance while also announcing an upcoming May 14 school board meeting to demand accountability over their mistreatment.

“I’m urging anyone that cares about our students to pack the May 14 school board meeting,” said Marshall.

This resource was supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library via California Black Media as part of the Stop the Hate Program. The program is supported by partnership with California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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