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Police Allow Addicts to Turn in Drugs if They Seek Treatment

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Police Chief Leonard Campanello poses at his office in Gloucester, Mass., Monday, June 1, 2015. Gloucester Police are launching a new program this week, promising heroin addicts they won't be arrested if they bring their drugs to the police station. Chief Campanello says instead, addicts will be given help. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Police Chief Leonard Campanello poses at his office in Gloucester, Mass., Monday, June 1, 2015. Gloucester Police are launching a new program this week, promising heroin addicts they won’t be arrested if they bring their drugs to the police station. Chief Campanello says instead, addicts will be given help. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

PHILIP MARCELO, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — Heroin users seeking help for their addiction won’t be arrested if they turn over their drugs and needles to police under a unique policy launched Monday in the Massachusetts city of Gloucester.

Drug addicts — including those abusing morphine, oxycodone and other opioids — will instead be taken by an officer to the local hospital emergency room where they’ll be connected with substance abuse clinicians and, eventually, be referred to a treatment facility.

Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello says the program is about trying to change police strategies in the face of a nationwide drug abuse epidemic that’s hit Massachusetts and other New England states especially hard.

“It’s a conversation changer. That’s where we’re going with this,” he said Monday. “For police officers, it’s hard to give up a fight and think of another strategy, but we’ve made a conscious decision to do that because we did not see our supply-side war on drugs having an effect. This is getting at it from a different angle.”

Massachusetts has declared opioid addiction a public health emergency, with policy makers proposing a range of ways to combat the scourge.

Campanello says a citywide spike in drug overdoses this year prompted police to take the unusual step of developing the new police policy.

Gloucester, a historic fishing city north of Boston that’s now a popular tourist destination, has already matched last year’s total of four drug overdose-related deaths and dozens more people have been treated for drug overdoses, he said.

Daniel Raymond, policy director at the Harm Reduction Coalition, a New York-based group that advocates on drug-related policies, says the effort is unique in the country.

“What the police chief has done is cut right through the stigma and address people not as potential criminals but as people with problems,” he said. “I hope that other police departments see what Gloucester is doing and follow their lead.”

But Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett has warned the department it may lack the legal authority to promise addicts they won’t be charged with a crime. That authority, he suggests, rests with judges and prosecutors.

“While we applaud the general idea of your proposal, an explicit promise not to charge a person who unlawfully possesses drugs may amount to a charging promise that you lack legal authority to make, and on which a drug offender may not be able to rely,” he said in a letter to Campanello in late May.

The police chief says the department is on solid legal footing: the mayor’s office has vetted and supports the initiative.

Gloucester, like other police departments, also conducts gun buyback and prescription drug disposal days throughout the year, he notes.

And Massachusetts, like other states, has a so-called “Good Samaritan” law that prevents people from being arrested if they are seeking medical help for themselves or another person suffering from an overdose.

“This is not unprecedented,” Campanello said. “It’s ludicrous to think otherwise.”

Gloucester’s policy, which the chief says is in effect indefinitely, also gives officers the discretion to refer addicts they encounter in the streets or in the community to the new ANGEL program rather than charge them with a crime. However, those with outstanding arrest warrants and certain individuals with three or more drug-related arrests are ineligible.

As of Monday afternoon, Campanello reported no one had yet come to the police station to turn over drugs and seek treatment.

“All you can do is extend the hand of trust and say this is how far we are willing to go,” he said. “We can’t force people to come to the police station. But we want them to know that this can be a safe haven for them.”

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Activism

Zoom Town Hall Meeting to Stop State Takeover of Oakland Schools

The Zoom Town Hall, sponsored by the Oakland Post Salon & Oakland Education Association (OEA), will take place Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time (U.S. and Canada)

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Students, parents and teachers protested in January 2019 against the closure of Roots International Academy in East Oakland as the school board voted to permanently close the school - under the guidance of the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team(FCMAT) and Karen Monroe of Alameda County Office of Education. Photo courtesy of ABC7.
Students, parents and teachers protested in January 2019 against the closure of Roots International Academy in East Oakland as the school board voted to permanently close the school - under the guidance of the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team(FCMAT) and Karen Monroe of Alameda County Office of Education. Photo courtesy of ABC7.

By Post Staff

There will be a Zoom town hall meeting to learn about and take action to stop the takeover of the Oakland Unified School District by superintendent L. K. Monroe of the Alameda County Office of Education and the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT) on behalf of the State of California.

The Zoom Town Hall, sponsored by the Oakland Post Salon & Oakland Education Association (OEA), will take place Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time (U.S. and Canada)

Join the discussion as we seek answers to the following questions:

  • How did this happen?
  • Why is L. Karen Monroe, Alameda County office of Education, doing this?
  • What is the role of the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT)?
  • Why are they trying to force us to close more schools?
  • Why do they demand massive budget cuts when schools are awash in billions of dollars of state and federal funding?
  • What can we do to stop this?

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://bit.ly/saveOUSD

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

A short video that explains the issue can be viewed at https://bit.ly/noFCMAT

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Newsom Outlines Proposed State Budget With Medi-Cal Expansion, $45.7 Billion Surplus

Newsom’s budget proposal received plaudits from the Bay Area’s state legislators, who argued that it positions the state well to combat immediate issues while also investing in broader support for the state’s economy and environment.

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California Governor Gavin Newsom announces the state’s new plan of action against the rising omicron variant cases at Native American Health Center in Oakland on Dec. 22, 2021. Harika Maddala/ Bay City News photo.
California Governor Gavin Newsom announces the state’s new plan of action against the rising omicron variant cases at Native American Health Center in Oakland on Dec. 22, 2021. Harika Maddala/ Bay City News photo.

By Eli Walsh | Bay City News Foundation

Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled his proposed 2022-2023 state budget Monday, including a proposal to extend health care coverage to every low-income resident in the state.

The proposal would expand access to Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid, to all residents who meet the program’s income eligibility threshold, which varies depending on household size, regardless of immigration status.

Medi-Cal is already available to adults age 50 and up and people under age 26. Newsom’s budget proposal estimates it will cost roughly $2.7 billion annually once the expansion is fully implemented by 2024.

Overall, Newsom proposed a total budget of some $286.4 billion, with a $213.1 billion general fund, with funding focused on combating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and its effects, homelessness, the state’s cost of living and public safety.

The total proposal is roughly 9% higher than the 2021-2022 budget, Newsom said Monday during a briefing on the budget.

“The budget is not a reflection of me, but it is a reflection of what I believe are our values as a state,” he said.

The budget includes a $45.7 billion surplus, but only roughly $20 billion will be usable for discretionary spending as the state has obligations to reserve a certain amount of its budget to education funding and pension liabilities.

Newsom noted that he expects both the budget’s overall and surplus amounts to change during negotiations with the state Legislature this spring and by the time he issues his revised proposal in May, when the state will have more clarity on its total tax revenue.

At that time, the state will also have more clarity on whether its surplus will be large enough to send out stimulus checks as it has during the current fiscal year.

“My sense is … there likely will be substantial contributions back to the taxpayers,” Newsom said. “What form they come in, we’ll work with the Legislature, and to what degree in terms of total amounts of dollars will be determined in May.”

State Republican Party Chair Jessica Millan Patterson called on Newsom to avoid a “reckless spending spree” with the surplus, arguing that his policies are driving people to move out of the state.

“Democrats should take the budget surplus accrued from aggressively over-taxing Californians and work with Republicans to make wise investments that will restore the Golden State to a place where people come because of opportunity, not one they are rushing to leave,” she said.

The budget proposal includes some $2.7 billion to support increased COVID-19 vaccination and testing and bolster the state’s health care workforce. The funding would be split across the two upcoming fiscal years, with $1.3 billion for the 2022-2023 fiscal year and $1.4 billion for 2023-2024.

To combat climate change, the budget includes some $1.2 billion for wildfire prevention efforts, $648 million to bolster Cal Fire’s workforce and equipment and $750 million in funding for immediate drought response.

Newsom’s proposal also includes roughly $2 billion for homelessness services, mental health support and to clear encampments, which the governor called “unacceptable” and “inhumane.”

The homelessness funding builds on the $12 billion the state allocated in the 2021-2022 fiscal year budget.

The proposal also includes a slew of grants and tax credits both to support the construction of housing units across the state and to support small businesses that have struggled to remain open throughout the pandemic.

Newsom’s budget proposal received plaudits from the Bay Area’s state legislators, who argued that it positions the state well to combat immediate issues while also investing in broader support for the state’s economy and environment.

“With this budget proposal, California can invest in essential services like schools while addressing significant challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic, wildfires and the climate crisis,” said state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa. “We can walk and chew gum at the same time.”

Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, both argued that the proposed budget aligns with the Senate’s goal of utilizing California’s wealth to make the state more equitable for middle- and low-income families.

“I look forward to reviewing the governor’s plan and working with Pro Tem Atkins, legislative colleagues and the administration to create a 2022-23 budget that further moves toward an equitable economy for all,” said Skinner, the chair of the Senate’s Budget Committee.

The full proposed budget can be found at https://www.ebudget.ca.gov/FullBudgetSummary.pdf.

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Activism

MLK: Letter from Birmingham Jail

It was a King supporter who smuggled the nearly 7,000 written words, handing them over to King’s lawyers. The letter was then transcribed and printed partially or in full in several publications including the New York Post, Liberation magazine, The New Leader, and The Christian Century. It was also published by The Atlantic (August 1963) under the title “The Negro Is Your Brother.”

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Photo of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from his arrest in 1963. Photo courtesy of teachingamericanhistory.org.
Photo of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from his arrest in 1963. Photo courtesy of teachingamericanhistory.org.

By Tamara Shiloh

The year was 1963. Cries for equality and an end to injustice for Blacks in Birmingham, Ala., were silenced by the city’s mayor Eugene “Bull” Connor. Alabama Governor George Wallace, stood on the steps of the state capitol and declared: “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” This became the motto for those opposed to integration and the Civil Rights Movement.

Bombings targeting leaders of the Birmingham campaign triggered the Birmingham riot. Klan-led violence went unchecked. Massive protests for civil rights grew stronger.

In April, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from a cell in the city’s jail: “Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known.”

These exact words targeted Birmingham for the next phase in the struggle for equality. A change that no one could have predicted was coming.

King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference had joined with Birmingham’s Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR). Their collective goal was to form a direct-action campaign that would cripple the city’s segregation system.

The city’s merchants would be under economic pressure if Blacks refused to patronize them during the Easter season. ACMHR Founder Fred Shuttlesworth described the campaign as “a moral witness to give our community a chance to survive.”

Despite a state court’s injunction and absence of a permit, King led the Easter boycott of white-owned stores peacefully on Good Friday. He was arrested by local police along with Ralph Abernathy and a few other protesters.

During the eight days of solitary confinement, King began to pen his response to white ministers who questioned why he and protesters had chosen to stage their protests in Birmingham. He did so on the margins of the Birmingham News.

It was a King supporter who smuggled the nearly 7,000 written words, handing them over to King’s lawyers. The letter was then transcribed and printed partially or in full in several publications including the New York Post, Liberation magazine, The New Leader, and The Christian Century. It was also published by The Atlantic (August 1963) under the title “The Negro Is Your Brother.”

Those pieces of paper had become the “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” the most important written document of the Civil Rights era of the time. It is one of the most famous defenses of nonviolent action against racism.

While incarcerated, King’s request for a phone call to Coretta Scott King had been denied. Coretta contacted the Kennedy administration, forcing Birmingham officials to permit the call. Bail money was made available, and King was released on April 20.

The Birmingham campaign was successful. Local officials removed White Only and Colored Only signs from restrooms and drinking fountains in downtown Birmingham, desegregated lunch counters, released demonstrators who were jailed, deployed a Negro job improvement plan, and created a biracial committee to monitor the agreement

Desegregation was slow, but change had finally arrived in what was once known as “the most segregated city in America.”

To listen to the letter in its entirety: “Martin Luther King Letter from Birmingham Jail,” by MLK.

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