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State’s Only Black Female D.A. Announces Decades-Old Cold Case Solved

During an emotional news conference, a representative of the three agencies said Jerry Lee Henderson murdered the Contra Costa Community College student inside her Richmond home. Chief Tirona said Henderson had died 11 days after the killing. He was identified through DNA left at the scene.

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Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton, California’s only Black D.A.
Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton, California’s only Black D.A.

By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media

Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton, California’s only Black D.A., recently joined the state Attorney General Rob Bonta and Acting Richmond Police Chief Louie Tirona to announce that they have identified the man who killed 28-year-old Meekiah Wadley in 1999.

During an emotional news conference, a representative of the three agencies said Jerry Lee Henderson murdered the Contra Costa Community College student inside her Richmond home.

Chief Tirona said Henderson had died 11 days after the killing. He was identified through DNA left at the scene.

“I know it’s been a long 22 years since this heinous crime was committed, and justice doesn’t always come swiftly,” said Becton, speaking at a news conference last week. “Today’s announcement is a major testament to the determination of our law enforcement partners, forensic scientists, and investigators who continued to work on this case for over 20 years and who never gave up the search for the truth.”

Investigators solved the murder using California’s familial DNA search program.

Becton, who is on the ballot for the June 7 primary election, joins former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and Sacramento County District Attorney Ann Marie Schubert as California D.A.s who have used this technique.

Becton, 70, was in the fourth year of a 22-year run as a Contra Costa Superior Court judge at the time of Wadley’s death.

In September 2017, the county’s Board of Supervisors appointed her Contra Costa’s 25th district attorney, the first African American female to hold the position. In June 2018, the graduate of San Francisco State University and Golden Gate University School of Law was elected to a full term.

Becton said her priority is keeping the streets of Contra Costa County safe from dangerous and violent criminals. She says she is committed to safeguarding communities from crimes that threaten health, well-being, and livelihood, and protecting seniors from financial abuse. She is also committed to providing positive outcomes for youth.

Becton wants to serve Contra Costa’s 1.1 million residents for four more years. To “effect change” and ensure a “fair” judicial system, she said in an interview with California Black Media (CBM).

“What I’ve come to realize, though what seems like a short time some days, we’ve gotten a lot done. But the truth is that there’s so much more work to do,” she said.

‘This truly is, in terms of building sustainable change that is going to last, is a blueprint. It’s just not something that is going to happen in a short haul. I am running for reelection to continue the important work that we have started.”

Becton removed juvenile justice fees that severely affected low-income families of color, created the Reimagine Youth Justice Task Force to discover alternative solutions to juvenile justice, and established “Clean Slate Day” to allow former offenders opportunities to clear their criminal records.

In addition, Becton set up the first Human Trafficking Unit to fight the sex trade, addressed racial disparities, advanced youth justice by establishing the county’s first diversion program, and held law enforcement and public officials accountable.

In April 2021, Becton announced felony voluntary manslaughter and felony assault with a semi-automatic firearm, and unreasonable force charges against Danville police officer and deputy Andrew Hall in the shooting of Laudemer Arboleda in 2018.

Becton said the cop killed Arboleda, who was reportedly driving six miles per hour, “without lawful excuse of justification.” Becton achieved a conviction in that case.

In October 2021, Hall, who is White, was convicted by a jury of assault with a firearm and sentenced to six years in prison on March 4.

Six weeks before Hall was charged for killing Arboleda, shooting him 10 times, he fatally shot a Black unhoused and mentally ill man. The killing of Tyrell Wilson by Hall is still under investigation.

“Deputy Hall’s actions were not only a crime, but they tarnished the badge, and they harmed the reputation of all the good, hard-working police officers that work for our community,” Becton said in a statement.

Months after a jury convicted a former Minnesota police officer of killing George Floyd. It was the first time a Contra Costa cop was charged and convicted in a police-involved shooting.

Becton gets flak for easing the court’s burden by not prosecuting every low-level, non-violent crime, including offenders arrested with small amounts of drugs that come across her desk in an effort to reduce the “footprint” of mass incarceration.

“It’s quite interesting now that I have a historic conviction of an officer in Contra Costa County. But I would say, all and all, that we have mutual respect. I have 25 law enforcement agencies in 19 cities that I work with,” Becton told CBM. “It’s a loud opposition from the Sheriff who may not like the fact that one of his got convicted. But I am not deterred by that. It won’t stop me from being collaborative with these agencies when it is important to bring their voices to the table.”

As District Attorney Becton leads a prosecutorial office of approximately 200 lawyers, investigators, and staff.

Becton was raised in East Oakland by her self-employed beautician mother and her airplane mechanic father. Her journey to be an attorney, judge, and elected official was inspired by a civil rights movement she was able to personally witness in the late 1950s and 1960s.

“My commitment is to keep our community safe but also make this a fair system for everyone. That’s my priority,” Becton said. “I’ve made it a point that not only our traditional justice partners are at the table but people in the community are at the table as well. They (all) help us in problem-solving.”

#NNPA BlackPress

San Francisco Committee Recommends Massive Reparations Payout for Black Residents

A reparations task committee was established by the state of California last year, and its report from that year detailed the incalculable harm that slavery had caused to African Americans. After George Floyd was murdered, the District of Columbia City Council announced it would create a task team to investigate compensation.

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The San Francisco committee recommended that low-income African Americans get an annual payment equivalent to the region median for at least 250 years, on top of the $5 million payout.
The San Francisco committee recommended that low-income African Americans get an annual payment equivalent to the region median for at least 250 years, on top of the $5 million payout.

‘Centuries of devastation and destruction of Black lives, Black bodies, and Black communities should be met with centuries of restoration’

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Each Black inhabitant of San Francisco, including those arrested during the racist war on drugs, should receive a one-time, lump-sum payment of $5 million from the African American Reparations Advisory Committee.

Assuming the city council approves the proposal, it would be the largest payment of reparations in American history.

In a study released this week, members of the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee noted, “We have ultimately established that the repercussions of numerous programmatic and policy actions by San Francisco’s administration have been generational and overlapping.”

Committee members asserted that most prominent period that illustrates how the city and county of San Francisco as an institution contributed to the depletion of Black wealth and the forced relocation of its Black inhabitants was the period of urban renewal.

Further, the committee concluded that “public and private entities facilitated and coddled the conditions that created near-exclusive Black communities within the city, limited political participation and representation, disinvested from academic and cultural institutions, and intentionally displaced Black communities from San Francisco through targeted, sometimes violent actions”

(San Francisco’s African American population grew rapidly between 1940 and 1963).

To address what the San Francisco Chronicle calls “a national racial reckoning,” the Board of Supervisors established the AARAC committee in December 2020.

According to the Chronicle, what happens next “will demonstrate whether San Francisco lawmakers are serious about tackling the city’s checkered past or are merely pretending to be.”

The committee’s investigation determined that segregation, structural oppression, and racial prejudice developed from the institution of slavery had a tremendous impact on the development of the city, even though California was never formally a slave state.

Throughout the 20th century, the Chronicle reported, “San Francisco was a Ku Klux Klan stronghold, prohibited Black people from residing in particular districts, kept them out of city employment, and bulldozed the Fillmore,” a historically Black neighborhood and commercial center.

AARAC chair Eric McDonnell told the newspaper, “Centuries of devastation and destruction of Black lives, Black bodies, and Black communities should be met with centuries of restoration.”

A tale of two cities emerges when one examines San Francisco, as one observer put it.

This committee’s actions are consistent with those of other jurisdictions, where similar bodies have advocated for reparations for African Americans.

Residents must have self-identified as Black or African American on public documents for a minimum of ten years and be at least 18 years old when the committee’s plan is approved to receive the compensation.

Additionally, individuals may be required to show that they were born in San Francisco between 1940 and 1996, have been residents of the city for at least 13 years, and are either a former inmate themselves or a direct descendant of a former inmate who served time during the war on drugs.

The Chronicle said that “to put that in context,” the state reparations task panel believes Black Californians may be awarded $569 billion for housing discrimination alone between 1933 and 1977.

Evanston, Illinois, voted to pay $400,000 to select African Americans as part of the city’s vow to spend $10 million over a decade on reparations payments shortly after the San Francisco committee was founded.

The government of St. Paul, Minnesota, has apologized for its role in institutional and structural racism and formed a committee to investigate reparations.

A report detailing the committee’s proposed financial compensation for African Americans was subsequently made public.

A reparations task committee was established by the state of California last year, and its report from that year detailed the incalculable harm that slavery had caused to African Americans.

After George Floyd was murdered, the District of Columbia City Council announced it would create a task team to investigate compensation.

Legislators in both Maryland and Virginia have expressed an interest in researching reparations.

Meanwhile, there has been no movement on a federal level on a bill by Texas Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee to establish a committee to investigate reparations.

The San Francisco committee recommended that low-income African Americans get an annual payment equivalent to the region median for at least 250 years, on top of the $5 million payout.

As an added measure, the city would establish a public bank framework and provide citizens with extensive financial education to ensure that those without bank accounts have access to equal opportunities, including increased access to credit, loans, financing, and other means of managing their money.

The committee also seeks to pay for a broad debt cancellation plan that wipes out all types of debt including student loans, personal loans, credit card debt, and payday loans.

“Given the history of financial institutions preying on underbanked communities — and especially given the vulnerability of subsets of this population such as seniors and youth — this body recommends putting legal parameters and structures in place to ensure access to funds and to mitigate speculative harm done by others,” the committee concluded.

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Activism

Call to Protect Geoffrey’s Inner Circle from Threatened High-Rise Development

Geoffrey’s, located at 410 14th St., is part of the city’s Black Arts Movement and Business District which was formed in 2016 by reso-lution of the Oakland City Council to protect Black-owned businesses and enhance a downtown district that would encourage the historic African American legacy and cul-ture of Oakland.

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By Ken Epstein

Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, a downtown Oakland Cultural Center that has featured live jazz and served music lovers and the Black community for decades, is now under threat from a proposed real estate development that could undermine the stability and future of the facility.

Geoffrey’s, located at 410 14th St., is part of the city’s Black Arts Movement and Business District which was formed in 2016 by resolution of the Oakland City Council to protect Black-owned businesses and enhance a downtown district that would encourage the historic African American legacy and culture of Oakland.

Now, the Oakland Planning Commission is considering a high-rise building proposed by out-of-town developers next to Geoffrey’s, which would jeopardize both the survival of the venue and the Black business district as a whole.

In addition to running a business that has been a crucial institution in the local community and the regional arts scene, Geoffrey Pete, founder, has utilized his business to offer meals for thousands of unsheltered individuals and hosted countless community events.

The following petition is being circulated in defense of Geoffrey’s and the Black Arts district (To add your name to the petition, email info@geoffreyslive.com):

“The African-American community in Oakland has been seriously damaged by developers and public offcials who are willing and sometimes eager to see African Americans disappear from the city. Black people comprised 47% of the population in 1980; now they make up only 20% of said population. In response to this crisis the 14th Street Corridor from Oak to the 880 Frontage Road was established as the Black Arts Movement and Business District by the City Council on Jan. 7, 2016, in Resolution 85958.

Tidewater, an out-of-town developer, is proposing to build a high-rise building at 1431 Franklin, which will damage the Black business district and the businesses in the area including the iconic business of Geoffrey’s Inner Circle at 410 – 14th St.

We demand that the Planning Commission and the City Council reject this predatory building proposal and proceed with plans to fund and enhance the Black Business District.”

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16th Annual MLK Day of Service on the Richmond Greenway

The 16th annual MLK Day of Service in Richmond honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  was held Jan. 16 with a day of service to the community and activities for families on the Richmond Greenway.

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“…Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The 16th annual MLK Day of Service in Richmond honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  was held Jan. 16 with a day of service to the community and activities for families on the Richmond Greenway.

The event was hosted by Urban Tilth and the City of Richmond. Event partners were Groundwork Richmond, Rich City Rides, Moving Forward, Hope Worldwide, The Watershed Project, Contra Costa Resource Conservation District, Building Blocks for Kids, City of Richmond, Cal Cameron Institute, Friends of the Richmond Greenway; and Pogo Park.

The celebration made possible with the support of the Hellman Family Foundation, City of Richmond, and hundreds of individual donors.

The day’s schedule included volunteer projects along the Richmond Greenway and a Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial and community celebration at Unity Park.

Among the community service projects were opportunities to take part in projects to transform and beautify the Richmond Greenway Trail, like tending to the Greenway Gardens, trash pickup, and planting native plant and trees.

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