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OPINION: Sacramento Mass Shooting Confirms What Experts Already Knew, But Media Won’t Tell

A 2020 study done as a part of the RAND Corporation’s Gun Policy in America initiative, revealed that of the 27,900 research publications on the effectiveness of gun control laws, only 123 (0.4%) were found to meet a base level of academic rigor. They also noted that the only reliable conclusion one could get from those 123 studies was that there is zero evidence that gun control laws have any effect on violence in general or gun violence specifically.

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Craig DeLuz. Photo courtesy of the author.
Craig DeLuz. Photo courtesy of the author.

By Craig DeLuz, Special to California Black Media Partners

In the wake of the horrific mass shooting that took place in Sacramento, California, politicians and media pundits have rushed to their soapboxes to proclaim, once again, that guns are the root of all evil and the cause of the recent violent crime wave that has gripped our nation. They share with whoever will listen their prognosis for ending crime as we know it.

“We need more ‘common sense’ gun laws,” they say.

But there are a number of underlying truths that they will dare not share with the public. Because if they do, it will become clear that they and their policies are not the solution. They are, in fact, the root of the problem.

Here are just a few of those truths they will not dare share:

We do not have a gun violence problem. We have a violence problem.

Guns have been a part of the American lexicon since the very beginning. For generations, society had a healthy relationship with the Second Amendment. Firearms were given their proper respect as tools to be used to feed one’s family, defend one’s home or fight for one’s liberty.

It is only recent generations that have concluded that violence is an acceptable way to address the myriad issues confronting them. The firearm is not the cause of this. In fact, it is not even the weapon of choice.

While it is true that 77% of homicides in 2020 were committed with firearms, 92% of all violent crimes do not involve firearms. The overwhelming majority of violent offenses — including robberies, rapes and other sex crimes — almost always involve other weapons or no weapons at all. And there is no doubt that the number of instances of all these offenses are increasing.

Guns are no more the cause of this violence than cars are the cause of drunk driving.

Gun control does nothing to reduce crime in general, let alone violent crime.

There is a popular saying amongst statisticians, “There are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics.” Politicians and the media have been using all three to push their false narrative about gun control laws. They would have you believe that studies support the idea that the best way to reduce violent crime is to pass more gun laws. But nothing could be further from the truth.

A 2020 study done as a part of the RAND Corporation’s Gun Policy in America initiative, revealed that of the 27,900 research publications on the effectiveness of gun control laws, only 123 (0.4%) were found to meet a base level of academic rigor. They also noted that the only reliable conclusion one could get from those 123 studies was that there is zero evidence that gun control laws have any effect on violence in general or gun violence specifically.

The recent increase in violent crime is directly linked to “Smart on Crime” (read soft-on-crime) policies

Violent crime was at an all-time high in the early 1990s fueled by gangs and the drug trade. This led to federal, state and local initiatives aimed at stemming the tide. Tough-on-crime initiatives were enacted that included, among other things, increased policing and mandatory minimums for a number of crimes.

Crime (especially violent crime) would go on the decline for the next 20-plus years.

Then in the 2010s, several states began instituting “Smart on Crime” policies that decriminalized a number of criminal offenses and let violent criminals out of prison. That wasn’t the intention of those who supported these policies. But that is, in fact, what happened.

Case in point: Back in 2018 Smiley Martin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for punching a girlfriend, dragging her from her home by her hair and whipping her with a belt.

But, sadly, under California law, these are considered non-violent offenses, making Mr. Martin eligible for a reduced sentence under Proposition 57. So, instead of sitting in a jail cell serving the fifth year of a 10-year sentence, he was walking the streets of Sacramento with a modified automatic pistol.

This story is not the first. It is not even unique to Sacramento. Just a month earlier, three children and their chaperone were killed by their father who should have been in ICE custody. But under California’s Sanctuary State policy, David Mora Rojas, who was locked up for assaulting a highway patrol officer was released from police custody, was free to kill his children.

While the media and politicians deny the correlation and instead seek to blame guns; the increase in crime, especially violent crime, directly corresponds with the change in our criminal justice policies.

This is about race. But not in the way you think it is.

Gun control has always been about keeping “Those People” from being able to own firearms. Following the Civil War, Southern states enacted ‘Black Codes’ making it illegal for newly freed slaves to own guns. In the 1870s, California would pass laws preventing the sale of firearms and ammunition to Native Americans (then referred to as Indians.) In the 1920s, California acted again, prohibiting the sale of firearms to the “Chinese” or “Mexicans.” Then in the 1960s, California would pass the Mulford Act, eliminating the ability to openly carry loaded firearms in public as a way to disarm the Black Panther Party.

The truth is that the gun debate has always been rooted in racism. However, those who push these policies are the true victimizers.

Consider that the last gun case to be heard by the U. S. Supreme Court (McDonald v. Chicago) was brought by a Black man who simply wanted to be able to defend his home from the ravages of gang and drug violence. This underscores two very important, yet often overlooked truths:

  • Policies that release habitual criminals into our neighborhoods lead to the victimization of people in those communities. These policies disproportionately impact people of color.
  • Gun Control Laws only serve to restrict the ability of law-abiding citizens to own or possess firearms they may need to protect themselves and their loved ones. These laws also disproportionately affect people of color.

We are often told that young Black and Brown men are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. But it is rarely noted that young Black and Brown men are disproportionately the ones pulling the trigger. The sad fact is that people who seek to victimize others (Black, White, Latin, Asian, etc.) tend to go after people who look like them.

So, while it is noble to try and reduce the number of young Black men in our criminal justice system, we cannot ignore that in doing so, we have put Black men, women and children at risk of being their victims.

At the same time, we are limiting the ability of these very same folks to be able to defend themselves from the very danger we have put in their path.

To any objective observer, these truths are self-evident. Most of the media and political elite have proven themselves to be anything but objective observers. If we are to ever address the scourge of violence in our streets, it will only happen when we all come to grips with these and many other truths.

Craig DeLuz is president of 2ANews Corporation and hosts a daily news and political talk show “The Rundown.”

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Activism

Protest of Palestinian American Journalist’s Killing by Israeli Police Draws 500 in S.F.

“If you were a Palestinian anywhere around the world who watched the news since the late ’90s, you grew up with Shireen Abu Akleh,” said Sabreen Imtair, a San Francisco State University student and Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) member in an interview during the protest. “A lot of people are saying they lost a household member. We are really feeling her loss right now.”

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Protesters march down 16th Street in San Francisco on May 14 to speak out against the Israeli killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, 74 years of occupation, and USA support of Israel. Photo by Zack Haber.
Protesters march down 16th Street in San Francisco on May 14 to speak out against the Israeli killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, 74 years of occupation, and USA support of Israel. Photo by Zack Haber.

By Zack Haber

Starting at noon on May 14, over 500 people rallied and marched in San Francisco’s Mission District to protest the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and 74 years of Israeli occupation of Palestine.

“If you were a Palestinian anywhere around the world who watched the news since the late ’90s, you grew up with Shireen Abu Akleh,” said Sabreen Imtair, a San Francisco State University student and Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) member in an interview during the protest. “A lot of people are saying they lost a household member. We are really feeling her loss right now.”

Abu Akleh, who had worked for the Al Jazeera news network for 25 years as one of the most prominent journalists reporting in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, died of a bullet wound on May 11 while covering an Israeli army raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.

She was wearing a blue vest with large white letters stating “PRESS.” During Abu Akleh’s massive funeral on May 13, Israeli police beat people carrying her casket.

“We’re not even able to bury our dead in peace,” said AROC organizer Sharif Zakout during a speech at the San Francisco protest. “It’s disgusting.”

AROC, Palestinian Action Network, Palestinian Youth Movement, and Jewish Voice For Peace organized the San Francisco demonstration. It was one of at least 60 such actions occurring between May 14-16 around the world to remember Abu Akleh and to mark Nakba Day, an annual commemoration for Palestinians that began after 1948, when the British government formally stopped recognizing the state of Palestine and recognized Israel in its place.

This sparked the Arab-Israeli war when Zionist military forces expelled over 750,000 Palestinians and captured 78% of Palestine’s land.

In an interview at the protest, Lisa Rofel, a member of Jewish Voice For Peace, spoke out against Israeli occupation and explained why the Jewish group was present.

“We’re here because we strongly support the Palestinian struggle for liberation from Israeli occupation,” Rofel said. “It’s an occupation which has been vicious, cruel and inhumane and now has turned into military rule over almost every aspect of Palestinians’ lives. We also demand an end to U.S. complicity in that occupation.”

According to a report by Congressional Research Service, the Biden administration has allocated over $3.8 billion in military financing and missile defense funding to Israel this year.

During the demonstration, a diverse array of people that included elders along with young children, marched about a mile-long route carrying signs, banners, Palestinian flags, and art as they chanted in English and Arabic. Over 18 marchers carried one giant Palestinian flag together.

Some protesters carried signs stating 55 journalists have been killed by Israeli forces since 2000, a figure The Palestinian Journalists’ Union cites.

Other protesters carried signs calling attention to Ahmed Manasra, a 21-year-old Palestinian who has been imprisoned since he was arrested at age 13 after being with his cousin, who allegedly stabbed two Israeli settlers in Pisgat Ze’ev.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, UN bodies and the International Court of Justice considers Pisgat Ze’ev an illegal settlement.

Chris Gazaleh, a Palestinian American artist based in San Francisco, made some of the art for the rally by creating signs inspired by Palestinian architecture and Arabic calligraphy to represent cities that Zionists ethnically cleansed during the 1948 Nakba.

During a speech at this year’s San Francisco Nabka rally, Rivka Louissant, a Haitian cultural worker who organizes with the an anti-war and anti-racism coalition ANSWER, spoke about how people and organizations are increasingly supporting an end to Israeli occupation and the struggle for Palestinian autonomy.

“Support for Palestinian rights and BDS is more popular than ever,” Louissant said. “The public is waking up to the evils of imperialism.”

In April of last year, Human Rights Watch accused Israel of “crimes of apartheid,” and in February of this year, Amnesty International described Israel as an “apartheid system,” and characterized its treatment of Palestinians as “a crime against humanity.”

Some local politicians have recently shown support for Israel. During a speech at the rally, AROC organizer Sharif Zakout criticized San Francisco Board Supervisor Rafael Mandelman for his recent visit to Israel for the Israel Seminar in light of Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing. Zakout characterized the seminar as “a propaganda trip.” The Israel Seminar is organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council, which has taken a public stand against the BDS movement, and has refused to denounce Israeli attacks against Palestinians. Photos from the trip, posted on May 15 and 16, also show Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, and San Mateo Councilmember Amourence Lee.

“We are here today to say the Bay Area does not put up with that BS,” said Zakout to cheers from the protesters. “We stand with oppressed people everywhere. From Haiti to Palestine to Sri Lanka, we stand by resisting all state violence, colonialism, occupation and warfare.”

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Activism

Reparations Task Force: What to Expect in the Committee’s First Report

California’s AB 3121, signed into law in 2020, created the nine-member task force to investigate the history and costs of slavery in California and around the United States. AB 3121 charges the Reparations Task Force with studying the institution of slavery and its lingering negative effects on Black Californians who are descendants of persons enslaved in the United States.

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Six of the nine members of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans. From left to right are Don Tamaki, Jovan Scott Lewis, chair Kamilah Moore, vice-chair Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, Dr. Cheryl Grills, and California State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
Six of the nine members of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans. From left to right are Don Tamaki, Jovan Scott Lewis, chair Kamilah Moore, vice-chair Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, Dr. Cheryl Grills, and California State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media

The California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans will submit its first report to the California Legislature in June.

The 13-chapter document will detail the committee’s findings so far and include recommendations related to them.

Task force member Donald K. Tamaki said the “comprehensive report connects the dots between past racism and its current consequences.” He also inferred that the report presents a “landmark opportunity” to shape the national conversation around reparations.

“I think the report will not only attract California publicity but will also be looked upon nationally,” Tamaki said before the task force approved the report. “With the report, we can go out to the people to develop an allyship and (generate) support for it.”

As prescribed in Assembly Bill (AB) 3121, the report will establish how California laws and policies have disproportionately and negatively affected African Americans. The report will be available to the public.

The California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Enforcement Section formulated the document based on hearings, expert testimonies, and evidence accumulated since the panel first convened on June 1, 2021.

One of the DOJ’s duties is to facilitate task force consultation with various experts on California history and reparations. The department also provides administrative, technical, and legal assistance to the panel.

The preliminary report opens with an introduction that leads to chapters focused on enslavement, racial terror and political disenfranchisement, among others. It also covers a range of topics documenting historical injustices Black Americans have endured, including housing segregation, separate and unequal education, environmental racism, and others.

Titles such as “Pathologizing the Black Family;” “Control over Spiritual, Creative and Cultural life;” “Stolen Labor and Hindered Opportunity;” and “An Unjust Legal System,” among others, frame the testimonies and historical accounts recorded during the task force meetings.

Task Force Chair Kamilah Moore wrote the foreword. Her introduction is an overview of the task force’s activities over the last year.

“This interim report will catalog all those harms we’ve discussed throughout those two-day virtual meetings since June of last year,” Moore said in an online Blk TLK Platform discussion in April. “It will also have some preliminary recommendations for the legislation to adopt.”

The first report was supervised by Michael Newman, the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Senior Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Enforcement Section (DOJCRE).

The task force voted to describe the first presentation, the “Interim Report.”

Tamaki said about 10 DOJCRE attorneys — including Deputy Attorney General Xiyun Yang, DOJCRE Legal Assistant Francisco Balderrama and additional DOJ staff members created the report.

In a collaborative effort, the diverse DOJCRE team, Newman added, consulted with the task force to determine edits, make clarifications in terminology, modify corrections, and implement recommendations.

“It was a labor of love for everyone who worked on it,” Newman said during the task force meeting held in San Francisco on April 14. “I also want to thank all of the (task force) members and the community’s input in producing an incredible record.”

California’s AB 3121, signed into law in 2020, created the nine-member task force to investigate the history and costs of slavery in California and around the United States. AB 3121 charges the Reparations Task Force with studying the institution of slavery and its lingering negative effects on Black Californians who are descendants of persons enslaved in the United States.

The group is tasked with studying and developing reparation proposals for African Americans and recommending appropriate ways to educate Californians about the task force’s findings.

After the task force decided on March 30 that lineage will determine who will be eligible for compensation, the panel approved a framework for calculating how much should be paid — and for which offenses — to individuals who are Black descendants of enslaved people in the United States.

An expert team of economists identified 13 categories that would be the basis of the method used to calculate damages and determine what constitutes harms and atrocities. A second report is due by July 2023 when the task force two-year charge is expected to end.

Members of the task force include Moore, a Los Angeles-based attorney, reparations scholar and activist; vice-chair Dr. Amos Brown, a civil rights leader and respected Bay Area pastor whose journey to leadership started under the tutelage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s; Cheryl Grills, a professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles; and Lisa Holder, a nationally recognized trial attorney.

Rounding out the panel are Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena); Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles); San Diego Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe; Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis, chair of the Department of Geography at the University of California Berkeley; and Donald Tamaki, Esq. is an attorney best known for his role in the reopening of the Supreme Court case Korematsu v. the United States, which led to the conviction being overturned of Fred Korematsu who refused to be taken into custody during the imprisonment of Japanese Americans in World War II.

For more information, visit https://oag.ca.gov/ab3121#

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Activism

Council Unanimously Declares Oakland a Pro-Choice Sanctuary City

Said Council President Sheng Thao: “The passage of this resolution makes Oakland the first City in California to declare itself a Sanctuary City for Abortion Access and is the first step we will be taking to expand abortion access to anyone who needs it. Healthcare is a human right, and the City of Oakland stands firmly behind anyone exercising their right to reproductive care.

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Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, Council President Pro Tem Sheng Thao and council President Nikki Fortunato-Bas. (Photos: City of Oakland/oakland.gov)
Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, Council President Pro Tem Sheng Thao and council President Nikki Fortunato-Bas. (Photos: City of Oakland/oakland.gov)

By Post Staff

The Oakland City Council unanimously passed a resolution declaring Oakland a Pro-Choice sanctuary city, backed by Council President Pro Tem Sheng Thao, Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, Council President Nikki Forunato Bas, as well as Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice California, and Assemblymember Mia Bonta.

This resolution was passed on Tuesday, May 17, introduced by Thao, Bas, and Kaplan. The resolution puts Oakland on record as a city that celebrates abortion-access and reaffirms the city’s support for Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify Roe v. Wade into federal law, and advocates for more state and county funding to be provided to reproductive care providers in anticipation of an influx of out-of-state patients.

Said Council President Thao: “The passage of this resolution makes Oakland the first City in California to declare itself a Sanctuary City for Abortion Access and is the first step we will be taking to expand abortion access to anyone who needs it. Healthcare is a human right, and the City of Oakland stands firmly behind anyone exercising their right to reproductive care.

“This resolution says to women across the country, who are under attack, that your rights will be protected here.”

Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas said, “With this resolution, Oakland reaffirms loud and clear our fierce commitment to our values of freedom, justice, and honoring each person’s dignity and sovereignty to choose what is healthiest and safest for their body. I am proud to co-author this effort and committed to working with my colleagues and urging other jurisdictions not only to protect abortion access, but to significantly expand the inclusiveness, capacity, and quality of reproductive health services for all who need them in our community.”

Vice Mayor Kaplan said, “Make no mistake, the Supreme Court is threatening to turn back the clock. They are threatening our rights and fundamental liberty. The laws that guarantee the right to reproductive freedom are the same laws that ensure the right to contraception, the right for LGBTQ+ people to be allowed to live and love as we choose, and privacy and racial justice. Let us continue to move forward, not backwards.”

Added Dr. Jessica Hamilton, associate medical director of abortion services for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, “The news of the SCOTUS leak has been heart-wrenching for those of us on the front lines. No patient or physician has ever asked for a politician to be in the exam room with them.

“Since SB 8 (the heartbeat bill) went into effect in Texas in September, we have watched California remain a beacon of hope for people seeking abortions. At Planned Parenthood Mar Monte alone, between July 2021 and April 15, 2022, we have provided care abortion care to twice the number of patients from out of state than we did during the same time period the previous year. The reversal of Roe could drive up the number of out-of-state patients whose nearest abortion provider would be in California to 1.4 million! And while no patient should have to travel for care, at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, we have been building capacity and are ready to support this increase in patients seeking care in California, especially in major transportation hubs and sanctuary cities like Oakland,” she said.

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