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SC Senate Gives Final OK to Confederate Flag Removal

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William Cheek, left, Nelson Waller, center, and Jim Collins, right, protest proposals to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse on Monday, July 6, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. The General Assembly returns Monday to discuss Gov. Nikki Haley's budget vetoes and what to do with the rebel flag that has flown over some part of the Statehouse for more than 50 years. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

William Cheek, left, Nelson Waller, center, and Jim Collins, right, protest proposals to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse on Monday, July 6, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. The General Assembly returns Monday to discuss Gov. Nikki Haley’s budget vetoes and what to do with the rebel flag that has flown over some part of the Statehouse for more than 50 years. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

JEFFREY COLLINS, Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina Senate gave final approval Tuesday to a bill removing the Confederate flag from a pole in front of the Statehouse, sending the proposal to the House, where it faces a less certain future.

The banner at the Capitol came under greater scrutiny over the last few weeks after authorities said a gunman, motivated by racial hatred, opened fire inside a black church June 17, killing nine people. The suspect was photographed several times holding a Confederate flag and burning an American flag, and one of the slain was state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, who was the head pastor at the church.

Tuesday’s 36-3 vote came after a day of debate in which several white senators said they had come to understand why their black colleagues felt the flag no longer represented the valor of Southern soldiers but the racism that led the South to separate from the United States more than 150 years ago. Senators then stood as Pinckney’s widow came in the chamber. Each member came up to talk to her and offer condolences.

Two of the three senators voting against the bill were the only people to speak Tuesday. Republican Sen. Lee Bright called the vote an attempt to revise history.

“At the end of the day, it will not change anything. What we will have done is take people that respect their Southern heritage, and we will have kicked them in the teeth,” Bright said.

Debate in the House will likely begin Wednesday, and it’s far from clear when a vote may be taken. Republicans met behind closed doors Monday and struggled to reach a consensus on what to do next.

One idea being floated is to keep the pole and put a different flag on it: the U.S. flag, the South Carolina flag or a flag that may have been flown by Confederate troops but is not as divisive as the red banner with the blue cross and white stars.

A survey of lawmakers by The Associated Press, The Post and Courier of Charleston and the South Carolina Press Association showed two-thirds of House members want to bring the flag down, but the survey didn’t include specifics.

Democrats, meanwhile, say both the flag and flagpole must go, House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said.

“It will become the new symbol,” Rutherford, D-Columbia, said of any flag that goes up beside the monument to Confederate soldiers. “It will be the new vestige of racism.”

Business leaders and Republican Gov. Nikki Haley agree. If the bill passes and Haley signs it, the flag would be lowered and shipped off to the state’s Confederate Relic Room, not far from where the last Confederate flag to fly over the Statehouse dome is stored.

On Tuesday, Pinckney’s desk was draped in black cloth, as it has been since he and eight others were fatally shot during Bible study at Emmanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston.

Lawmakers interrupted their brief debate Tuesday to welcome Pinckney’s widow, Jennifer.

“This state loved Sen. Pinckney,” state Sen. Gerald Malloy, a Democrat, said moments before the chamber took a break so members could walk to the back rail and greet his widow. “This state loves you and your girls, and they love the entire Pinckney family. We keep our arms wrapped around you and this family forever. It’s the least that we can do for our brother, Clementa.”

On Monday, the Senate rejected three of its own amendments. One would have put a different Confederate flag on the pole. A second would only fly the flag on Confederate Memorial Day, and the third would leave the flag’s fate up to a popular vote.

Sen. Danny Verdin, a Republican who was a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans before his election in 2000, voted against the bill. He said he doesn’t want people living today to suffer the same fate of being forgotten as Confederate ancestors are now facing.

“It concerns me, if we don’t continue to show that reverse and respect for those and their emblems and their monuments who have gone before us — those who come after us might treat us the same way,” Verdin said.

___

Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.

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

Activism

Moms 4 Housing Hold Sit-in Demanding County Supervisors Extend Eviction Protections

All formerly unhoused mothers, the Moms are risking arrest to demand that newly elected Supervisor Lena Tam uphold a previous vote for a strong package of permanent tenant protections for renters in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County as the end of the COVID Eviction Moratorium looms. Participants in the sit-in, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.

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Participants in the sit-in, which began Tuesday afternoon, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.
The Moms are prepared to hold this sit-in for 60 hours — for the 60,000 tenants who need these protections, which are set to expire.

By Post Staff

Moms 4 Housing held a sit-in in the nonviolent civil disobedience tradition of Martin Luther King Jr., to demand that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors uphold their original vote to pass permanent Just Cause eviction protections for the 60,000 tenants living in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County.

The Moms are prepared to hold this sit-in for 60 hours — for the 60,000 tenants who need these protections, which are set to expire.

All formerly unhoused mothers, the Moms are risking arrest to demand that newly elected Supervisor Lena Tam uphold a previous vote for a strong package of permanent tenant protections for renters in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County as the end of the COVID Eviction Moratorium looms.

Participants in the sit-in, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.

The Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP), ACCE and EBHO, along with other local activists, are mobilizing outside of the Alameda County Administration Building to stand in solidarity with Moms 4 Housing, an organization focused on uniting mothers, neighbors, and friends to reclaim housing for the Oakland community from the big banks and real estate speculators.

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Activism

Following More Mass Shootings Democrats Introduce Assault Weapons Ban

On January 22, a gunman opened fire on a crowd celebrating the Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, California, killing 11 and wounding 9. The Democrats’ proposed Age 21 Act would make it illegal to sell or buy an assault weapon to anybody under 21, bringing it in line with the legal age for purchasing handguns. President Joe Biden has publicly stated his support for the legislation.

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The assault weapons prohibition “passed the House last year with bipartisan backing, but was blocked by Senate Republicans
The assault weapons prohibition “passed the House last year with bipartisan backing, but was blocked by Senate Republicans.

By Stacy M. Brown,NNPA Newswire

Two proposals aimed at curbing the spread of assault rifles were submitted today by Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein of California, and Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

The Assault Weapons Ban seeks to prohibit the commercialization, distribution, production, and importation of assault rifles and other firearms designed for use in military operations, as well as high-capacity magazines and similar devices.

On January 22, a gunman opened fire on a crowd celebrating the Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, California, killing 11 and wounding 9.

The Democrats’ proposed Age 21 Act would make it illegal to sell or buy an assault weapon to anybody under 21, bringing it in line with the legal age for purchasing handguns.

President Joe Biden has publicly stated his support for the legislation.

Biden said that the number of mass shootings declined during the decade that the Assault Weapons Ban was in effect.

“In the 10 years that the Assault Weapons Ban was on the books, mass shootings went down,” Biden remarked.

“After Republicans let the law expire in 2004 and those weapons were allowed to be sold again, mass shootings tripled,” he declared.

Both houses of Congress were urged to take quick action by the president.

According to Biden, “the majority of American people agree with this rational measure.”

“There can be no greater responsibility than to do all we can to ensure the safety of our children, our communities and our nation,” he insisted.

In the House of Representatives, Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline said he plans to introduce a companion bill to the Senate’s Assault Weapons Ban.

Feinstein said assault rifles “seem to be the unifying denominator in the seemingly endless number of horrific shootings.”

“Because these firearms were created for maximum efficiency in mass murder,” the senator noted.

“They have no place in our society or educational institutions. It’s time to take a stand against the gun lobby and do something about getting these lethal weapons off the streets, or at the absolute least, out of the hands of our youth.”

Blumenthal added, as the gunman at the Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park demonstrated just days ago, assault weapons are designed for one and one purpose only: to murder or hurt human beings.

“These military-style combat weapons – built for the battlefield and designed to maximize death and destruction – have brought bloodshed and carnage to our streets and continue to be the weapon of choice in countless mass shootings,” Blumenthal said.

“Guns don’t respect state boundaries, which is why we need a national solution to restricting the ownership and use of assault weapons. Now is the time to honor gun violence victims and survivors with this commonsense action.”

Rep. Ciciline argued that it is long past due to reinstate an assault weapon ban and remove these “weapons of war” from civilian areas.

The assault weapons prohibition “passed the House last year with bipartisan backing, but was blocked by Senate Republicans,” Ciciline noted.

“We need to come together to enact this commonsense, effective, and proven policy to reduce gun violence and save lives. I thank Senator Feinstein for her partnership in this fight and look forward to introducing the House companion bill in the coming weeks.”

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Activism

With a 97.3% Strike Vote, More Than 500 Richmond Educators Rally Before School Board Meeting

“We don’t want to strike, but we will if it means doing what is best for our students. Over 90% of all union members who participated in the strike authorization vote are ready to meet this crisis created by a board and management team not working in the interests of the district. We are hoping our actions through the fact-finding process will show WCCUSD that we are serious about fighting for the best resources for our students. They deserve the best, and nothing less,” UTR President John Zabala said.

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Educators across the district have weathered crisis after crisis: from budget cuts due to poor financial management, to building new virtual learning systems during the pandemic, or giving up countless prep or non-contractual hours to ensure students are with a credentialed adult every day
Educators across the district have weathered crisis after crisis: from budget cuts due to poor financial management, to building new virtual learning systems during the pandemic, or giving up countless prep or non-contractual hours to ensure students are with a credentialed adult every day

By Post Staff

United Teachers of Richmond (UTR) held a rally urging West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) officials to reach a “fair settlement” and avoid a strike.

Teachers, school psychologists, school nurses, school counselors, program specialists, librarians, and speech-language pathologists are calling for a settlement that includes community schools, shared decisions, and competitive compensation that keeps outstanding educators in the community — and brings the next generation of educators to the district.

The rally was held at Lovonya Dejean Middle School, 3400 Macdonald Ave. in Richmond.

“We don’t want to strike, but we will if it means doing what is best for our students. Over 90% of all union members who participated in the strike authorization vote are ready to meet this crisis created by a board and management team not working in the interests of the district. We are hoping our actions through the fact-finding process will show WCCUSD that we are serious about fighting for the best resources for our students. They deserve the best, and nothing less,” UTR President John Zabala said.

In mid-November last year, the Legislative Analyst Office of California announced additional guaranteed, ongoing funding for the 2023-24 school year. The district intends to only provide less than half of the percentage of ongoing permanent funding it receives from the state for educator compensation, according to a statement released by the UTR.

Despite that projection of continued funding by the state, the school district declared an impasse in negotiations with UTR. Educators across the district have weathered crisis after crisis: from budget cuts due to poor financial management, to building new virtual learning systems during the pandemic, or giving up countless prep or non-contractual hours to ensure students are with a credentialed adult every day.

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