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Opinion: The Signs Say Black Lives Matter. Yet the Very People Who Are Supposed to Protect Us too Often, in too Many Places, Don’t Seem to Agree.

[George] Floyd’s murder sparked peaceful demonstrations in cities across the country, demonstrations that, in Minneapolis and a few other places, turned toward riots. Chauvin and his co-conspirators weren’t immediately arrested for the murder. Had Floyd, an African American, done this to a white person, he likely would have been jailed immediately, with a bond too high to reach.

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May 29, Oakland. Photo by Saskia Hatvany.

The murder of George Floyd was a lynching in broad daylight.

Three police officers stood and watched as a fourth, Derek Chauvin, knelt on Floyd’s neck. They watched for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, with Floyd unresponsive for 2 minutes and 53 seconds of that, according to the criminal complaint against Chauvin. They did nothing to stop the murder.

Their silence was as much an act of violence as Chauvin’s knee. And if there were no video recording of the murder, they likely would have upheld the Code Blue loyalty, and lied about what happened.

Floyd’s murder sparked peaceful demonstrations in cities across the country, demonstrations that, in Minneapolis and a few other places, turned toward riots. Chauvin and his co-conspirators weren’t immediately arrested for the murder. Had Floyd, an African American, done this to a white person, he likely would have been jailed immediately, with a bond too high to reach.

For too long, for too often, African Americans have been brutalized without consequence. Floyd’s plea for mercy — “I can’t breathe” — was an echo of Eric Garner’s last words. Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, too often the killers walk free. The signs say Black Lives Matter. Yet the very people who are supposed to protect us too often, in too many places, don’t seem to agree.

Instead of accountability, police have been given impunity. There were 17 complaints filed against Chauvin in his 19 years on the force. Only one resulted in even a reprimand.

Too few of the police live in the communities they patrol. Too many see themselves as enforcers, not protectors. There are only a few bad apples, we are told. But the Code Blue wall of silence protects the abusers, and too often rots the entire barrel. Young officers learn that if they want to advance, if they want better assignments, better pay, more security, they have to fit in. And the rot keeps spreading.

The demonstrations are necessary. The rioting understandable but regrettable. Already, the damage done to property, the exchanges with the police becomes the subject, not the agenda that is necessary to focus on the outbreaks of rage that are inevitable.

“In the final analysis, the riot is the language of the unheard,” Dr. King taught us, “What is it that America has failed to hear?”

In the last years of the Obama administration, peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrations occurred in cities across the country. In a stunning display of discipline and self-control, demonstrators protested police brutality and murders peacefully, shutting down major thoroughfares.

The Obama administration began an effort to encourage police reform. The sentence disparities between crack and cocaine — the “black” drug and the “white drug” — were reduced. Transfers of military weaponry to police forces were restricted. The Obama Justice Department entered into a series of consent decrees with more than a dozen police departments to encourage them to change their practices — to become more a guardian than an occupier. The consent decrees couldn’t root out racism, or dismiss the sadistic or the disturbed, but they could encourage a change in tactics, and perhaps in attitudes.

When Trump was elected, he immediately torpedoed the reforms, and terminated the consent decrees. He reopened the spigot on military weaponry and encouraged the police directly to get tough with offenders.

Last October, Bob Kroll, the president of the Minneapolis Police Union, appeared at a Trump rally to celebrate the president for freeing the police from the mild reforms of the Obama years. “The Obama administration and the handcuffing and oppression of police was despicable,” he told the crowd. “The first thing President Trump did when he took office was turn that around, letting the cops do their job, put the handcuffs on the criminals instead of us.”

Those trumpeting law and order offer African Americans neither.

Those peaceful protests were met with harsh reaction. The voices were not heard. And now, Minneapolis is in flames and the streets of America’s cities are filled with protesters.

What America has failed to hear — decade after decade — is the demand for equal justice under the law, the demand for equal opportunity, the call for basic rights — not only for African Americans but for all — the rights to a livable wage, decent housing, health care, a safe environment, a protective, not a dangerous police force. The suffering is real; the gap documented over and over, most recently as poverty, hunger and illness makes African Americans disproportionately the victims of the coronavirus.

This isn’t complicated. The solutions are known. From the Kerner Commission in 1968 on, the analyses have been done; the needed reforms detailed — and shelved. There is money enough for top-end tax cuts, for bailing out banks and CEOs, for waging endless wars across the world. There is never enough money to fund the gap.

And so the anger and frustration build, kindling ready to ignite. And time after time, an act of outrageous police brutality sets the kindling aflame.

The demonstrators are showing courage. We’ve also seen, in a few cities, police leaders show real leadership and wisdom. I pray that all also show caution. We demonstrate not only against the threat of Code Blue, but in the time of COVID-19. Masks, social distancing, care for one another are vital so the demonstrations for life don’t end up sacrificing lives to the virus.

In the midst of a pandemic, some march in the hope that America will listen. Some march without hope but because silence is no longer acceptable. Yes, Minneapolis needs to charge, try and convict the murderer and his accomplices. Yes, the Minneapolis police force needs to cleanse itself, inside and out. America too needs to listen and to change. We will come together, or we will surely come apart.

Commentary

COMMENTARY: Can You Name the Chief Justice of California’s Supreme Court? Get to Know Tani Cantil-Sakauye Before She Steps Down

If a judge’s job is to stay above it all and concentrate on the work at hand, then the fact that the chief justice of California’s State Supreme Court, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, is not exactly a household name testifies to her ability to have done her job exceedingly well — impartially. With hardly an objection. Without making the news.

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Chief justice of California’s State Supreme Court, Tani Cantil-Sakauye. (Photo: California Courts Newsroom)
Chief justice of California’s State Supreme Court, Tani Cantil-Sakauye. (Photo: California Courts Newsroom)

By Emil Guillermo

For the last 12 years, the chief justice of California’s State Supreme Court has been Tani Cantil-Sakauye, a history-making Filipino American, the first person of color and the second female ever to hold the position.

Of course, you can say her name, but just in case, here’s a pronouncer: Con-TEEL-Saw-ka-OO-yay.)

If a judge’s job is to stay above it all and concentrate on the work at hand, then the fact that Cantil-Sakauye is not exactly a household name testifies to her ability to have done her job exceedingly well — impartially. With hardly an objection. Without making the news.

That’s why I was shocked to hear Cantil-Sakauye’s announced her retirement on July 27 at age 62.

Cantil-Sakauye described the reaction from colleagues about news of her departure as “moans and groans and exclamations of concern and dismay and congratulations.”

But just marvel at what she’s left us. A state judicial environment where consensus is enabled in the pursuit of fairness under the rule of law.

Instead of a fragmented court constantly drawn into issues of rancor and division, California’s high court has been collegial and focused on its job. It’s a court that in Cantil-Sakauye’s words is now “solid and sustainable.” And perhaps that is the reason she has set a retirement date of January 1.

Appointed by then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, Cantil-Sakauye took her oath in 2011.

She’s guided the court system as its top administrator through budget cuts to budget surpluses, through COVID-19 shutdowns to ideological stagnation.

Once seen as a stodgy conservative bunch, with Cantil-Sakauye at the helm the high court has evolved into an institution shaped by Governor Newsom and his predecessor Jerry Brown, both Democrats.

People forget that Cantil-Sakauye was a Republican who worked her way up in her hometown of Sacramento, from a county prosecutor to cabinet positions under Republican Gov. George Deukmejian. She was a state appellate judge before her appointment to the state’s high court.

She garnered national attention in 2017 when she criticized federal agents for arresting immigrants in California’s state courthouses. Cantil-Sakauye saw it as eroding trust in the state courts and called it “stalking.”

Later in December 2018, she left the Republican Party after watching the Senate hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh and registered as an independent.

It’s hard to imagine Cantil-Sakauye is done in January when she’ll be just 63.

Biden and Feinstein think that 63 is the infancy of a career in elected politics.

But politics would be a natural thing for Cantil-Sakauye, whose inspiring origin story has voter appeal.

Consider how her Filipino-Portuguese father, Clarence Cantil, worked the pineapple plantations before coming to California. Her mother, Mary Gorre, a Filipina, was a migrant worker who followed the crops. Cantil-Sakauye grew up humbly and has said publicly that she remembers her mother’s savings guiding her principles about hard work being rewarded and providing the opportunities in the American Dream.

More dominant were phrases like, “There for the grace of God go you,” and “You listen to everyone because everyone has something to say,” the latter she admits has helped her in her work to this day. And perhaps that explains her conservative, but empathic nature.

After two years at junior college, Cantil-Sakauye went to UC Davis for her B.A. She also got her law degree from Davis, all while working as a waitress and blackjack dealer in Lake Tahoe.

At age 35, and already moving up the conservative ranks, she was Ms. Cantil-Gorre until she married Mark Sakauye, a retired Sacramento police lieutenant.

Her hyphenated name merges some major Asian American histories. The Hawaii plantations, the California fields, and her husband’s story, the son of farmworkers who became farmers and then were incarcerated in concentration camps. Cantil-Sakauye said the stories of her in-law’s struggles made her more of an immigrant rights advocate.

Could that be a hint of the future?

For now, we have four more months to notice and appreciate Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye as she winds down the historic nature of her tenure.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. See his work at www.amok.com

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Activism

Marin County Offers Booklet to Parents to Prevent Preteen Substance Abuse

Each middle school teen is different and there is no single right way to address their changes, experiences, and their transition to middle school. But the book endeavors to help parents more objectively understand and support their children.

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Top: Mother and daughter talking (From care.com). Bottom: English and Spanish covers of the booklet “Let’s Start Talking.” Go to letstalkmarin.org for more information, downloadable digital booklets, and video recordings of recent “Let’s Talk” community discussions.
Top: Mother and daughter talking (From care.com). Bottom: English and Spanish covers of the booklet “Let’s Start Talking.” Go to letstalkmarin.org for more information, downloadable digital booklets, and video recordings of recent “Let’s Talk” community discussions.

By Godfrey Lee

Marin County District Attorney Lori E. Frugoli recently distributed an informational booklet “Let’s Start Talking – A Parent’s Toolkit for Understanding Substance Use in Marin County Through the Middle School Years” at the San Rafael Elks Lodge 1108 on Tuesday, July 19.

The toolkit booklet was created with support from the Marin Prevention Network and the Marin County Office of Education. The booklet was also translated and published in Spanish under the title “Hablemos.”

The booklet begins by saying that although drug usage among 7th graders remains low, their substance abuse can increase as they grow older. Parents and caregivers can still lay the foundations to support preteens/teens as they grow and help prevent negative consequence from substances use. This involves knowing the facts, communicate openly, and focus on relationships and resilience.

Each middle school teen is different and there is no single right way to address their changes, experiences, and their transition to middle school. But the book endeavors to help parents more objectively understand and support their children.

The major life experience for middle schoolers is the start of puberty, where their bodies, brains, and social environments rapidly and dramatically change, along with their hormones levels and emotions. The booklet says, don’t joke about or dismiss the child’s puberty process as being unimportant.

Parents are still in charge and should also teach and model healthy coping skills. Accept the child even while they are investigating their own identities and their attraction to the other or their own sex.

Their adolescent brain is not fully developed until about the age 25, and they are still growing in its management of reasoning, decision-making, planning, and impulse control. Their peers become more important, their circle of friends may change, and need to become more independent from their parents.

All teens face a lot of risks. Social media gives a lot of unfiltered information that can be disturbing. Other risk factors include mental health issues, attention deficit disorders, trauma, bullying, family substance and drugs abuse, the family rejection of their same-sex identity and thoughts of suicide.

Teens can still be protected with parental monitoring and involvement, a positive self-image, community and school norms and behavioral expectations, positive coping and self-regulation skills, positive and healthy peer relationships, school and community connections, and a sense of belonging to a healthy group.

Peer pressure and social norms are powerful during the middle school age, and the child’s social relationships can tip the scale toward risk or protection. Parents or caretakers can still meet and know the child’s friends and their parents, and also ask questions concerning the safety of their children. Parents can also spend time with their teens to stretch their minds and find opportunities for their teens to meet and work together with other youths with similar interest in groups and clubs.

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Activism

Domestic Violence Group Honors Community Advocates from Around the State

The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (CPEDV), a coalition representing over 1,000 survivors, advocates, organizations, and allied individuals, was one of the organizations whose proposal for funding was omitted from the budget. Nonetheless, they remain dedicated to seeking recognition for individuals and organizations that are creating safe havens and providing services for individuals affected by domestic violence, the group’s leadership says.

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The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (CPEDV), is a coalition representing over 1,000 survivors, advocates, organizations, and allied individuals.
The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (CPEDV), is a coalition representing over 1,000 survivors, advocates, organizations, and allied individuals.

By Edward Henderson, California Black Media

As the ink dries on the California state budget recently signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, many special interest organizations are deep into planning for how they could use funds allocated towards their respective causes. While some have been left frustrated by the omission of their initiatives from the state spending plan, their important work in California communities continues.

The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (CPEDV), a coalition representing over 1,000 survivors, advocates, organizations, and allied individuals, was one of the organizations whose proposal for funding was omitted from the budget. Nonetheless, they remain dedicated to seeking recognition for individuals and organizations that are creating safe havens and providing services for individuals affected by domestic violence, the group’s leadership says.

At their annual membership meeting, they presented the ‘2022 Partnership Awards’, a ceremony honoring seven women who have challenged root causes of domestic violence and infused equity into how they’ve engaged survivors and communities.

LaRae Cantley (recipient of the Bravery Award) advises the nation’s largest U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD Continuum of Care,

LaRae Cantley (recipient of the Bravery Award) advises the nation’s largest U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD Continuum of Care,

LaRae Cantley (recipient of the Bravery Award) advises the nation’s largest U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD Continuum of Care, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), on the creation of their lived experience boards. With deep roots in Los Angeles, Cantley’s voice has been heard across the state and nationwide in her systems change work.

“I’m living proof of how the truth will bring a change about you,” Cantley reflected upon hearing the news of her award. “The organization I’m working with, the Full Frame Initiative, continues to pursue brave efforts as we partner to build a world where everyone has a fair shot at wellbeing.”

Dr. Amber Gray (recipient of the Equity Award) of Lake Elsinore started the Volunteer Services Unit at Gray's Trauma-Informed Care Services Corp

Dr. Amber Gray (recipient of the Equity Award) of Lake Elsinore started the Volunteer Services Unit at Gray’s Trauma-Informed Care Services Corp

Dr. Amber Gray (recipient of the Equity Award) of Lake Elsinore started the Volunteer Services Unit at Gray’s Trauma-Informed Care Services Corp, allowing individuals to earn volunteer hours while resourcing domestic violence agencies with the needed staffing. Her organization focuses on educating providers on the latest evidence-based trauma-informed care research. She has worked in violence prevention and intervention for 26 years.

Cat Brooks (recipient of the Partnership Award) of Oakland leads the Anti Police-Terror Project and Justice Teams Network

Cat Brooks (recipient of the Partnership Award) of Oakland leads the Anti Police-Terror Project and Justice Teams Network

Cat Brooks (recipient of the Partnership Award) of Oakland leads the Anti Police-Terror Project and Justice Teams Network, providing survivor-centered interventions designed to decrease criminalization and end violence cycles.

Colsaria Henderson (recipient of the Karen Cooper Beloved Community Award) of Newark is a leader in local, statewide, and national anti-violence, anti-poverty, and racial justice advocacy efforts.

Colsaria Henderson (recipient of the Karen Cooper Beloved Community Award) of Newark is a leader in local, statewide, and national anti-violence, anti-poverty, and racial justice advocacy efforts.

Colsaria Henderson (recipient of the Karen Cooper Beloved Community Award) of Newark is a leader in local, statewide, and national anti-violence, anti-poverty, and racial justice advocacy efforts. As Board President of CPEDV, she helps ensure that a diverse coalition strategically unites to promote the shared goal of ending domestic violence in California.

Yojo Kim (recipient of the Cultural Responsiveness Award) of San Francisco has provided consistent case management, emotional support, and survivor-centered advocacy for queer and transgender survivors of domestic violence at the Asian Women’s Shelter.

Lidia Salazar (recipient of the Equity Award) co-facilitates organizing work to end criminalization at Community United Against Violence, as well as programming and community-based training in Healing Justice that raises consciousness and allyship across the broader San Francisco Bay Area. Her work as an advocate for survivors of violence began 12 years ago in Los Angeles and includes leading a non-profit organization, managing programs, providing counseling to survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and hate violence, facilitating support groups, providing training for community members and service providers, and supporting the leadership of LGBT Black and Latinx survivors of violence.

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (recipient of the Bravery Award) was one of the founders of Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County in 1977. Jackson, who served in the California State Senate from 2012 to 2020, representing the 19th District in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, was a steadfast champion for survivors and a range of issues impacting women and girls while in government.

“I am most honored to receive this award from you today. Thank you so much”. Jackson said as she received her award. “I hope that someday, as a result of the work you’re doing, we can end domestic violence.”

Learn more about The Partnership and the work they are doing in California to fight Domestic Violence.

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