Author: lafocus

Bishop Ulmer Receives Coveted Blessing of the Elders Award

Lisa Collins

“Within the United States, there is a legacy of African American pastors who faithfully adhered to the Bible as their guiding light. For generations, these spiritual leaders of large and small congregations have held fast to Scripture and its message of love, faithfulness, forgiveness, freedom, and God’s abiding strength. Because of these elders the Bible continues giving hope to our nation.”

Those words frame the purpose of the Annual “Blessing of the Elders” ceremony, presented by the Washington D.C.-based Museum of the Bible, a global, innovative, educational institution whose mission is to invite all people to engage with the transformative power of the Bible.

This year’s years prestigious honors were bestowed upon Bishop Kenneth Ulmer, senior pastor of the Inglewood-based, Faithful Central Bible Church.

“This award was special because it really was not about me. It was about the legacy of the African American church and the prophecy pulpits that helped navigate its course,” Ulmer stated. 

“It was also special because they came to Los Angeles to present it—the place the echoes the voice of such spiritual elders as Dr. E.V. Hill, Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray, Dr. Manuel Scott, Dr. Jerome Pleasant and Dr. Jerome Fisher.”

What makes the award most prestigious are the renown pastors who comprise the steering committee for the Blessing of the Elders ceremony, including renowned pastors Tony Evans and A.R. Bernard, tasked with blessing those elders in the African American community who through their faithfulness to Scripture have made exceptional contributions to help heal racial, political, and spiritual divisions and to inspire younger generations of pastors and leaders to follow their examples.

Said Ulmer, “The award produced a heighten sense of both honor and humility for the opportunity to partner with two of my friends of many years—Dr. Tony Evans and Dr. A.R. Bernard. These two ecclesiastical giants are gifts to the body of Christ. To share the project with them was a great joy.”

Ulmer was a supporter of the Museum of the Bible before receiving the honor. 

“Its vision and goal of telling the historical story of how the Bible was the driving influence of the African American church is one that I fully support,” Ulmer revealed. “I believe a Black Christian is one of the greatest miracles of God. This museum illustrates how the Black church impacted and influenced American history.”

Opening to the public in November 2017, the Museum of the Bible’s 430,000-square-foot building is among the most technologically advanced and engaging museums in the world. Showcasing rare and fascinating artifacts spanning 4,000 years of history, the museum offers visitors an immersive and personalized experience with the Bible and its ongoing impact on the world around us.

 

Issa Rae Partners with AMEX’s & the U.S. Black Chambers ByBlack Initiative

Staff

American Express—in a joint campaign with the U.S. Black Chambers (USBC)— has announced the expansion of ByBlack with the first national certification program exclusively for Black-ownership designation. First created as a directory of Black-owned businesses, ByBlack provides businesses an approved accreditation trusted by customers and enables consumers and other companies to easily find U.S.-based Black-owned businesses.

“The success of Black-owned businesses benefits the communities they anchor and in turn, the country at large,” said USBC President Ron Busby.  “The Black business community generates more than $150 billion in revenue but has even larger potential. We are continuing to expand ByBlack across the U.S. to help further propel the growth of Black-owned businesses….”

Actress Issa Rae is one of the entrepreneurs benefitting from the program, having certified her business, Sienna Naturals, with the hopes of reaching more customers, and encouraging other Black businesses to do the same.

“We have only scratched the surface of the collective power of Black businesses, so I am excited to join American Express and the USBC to shine a light on the opportunities ByBlack presents,” Rae said. “ByBlack is a powerful platform that connects Black business owners with new revenue streams and helps all of us find and shop at standout businesses.”

The no-cost certification process takes just thirty minutes to fill out online. Businesses need only provide proof of identification, that their business is 51% Black-owned, and is controlled by a Black owner. For more information, visit https://usblackchambers.org/certification.

 

Rev. Jesse Jackson is Back at Home; Says the Shot Protected Him from Death

A month after being hospitalized for COVID on August 21 and subsequently treated at a rehab facility for Parkinson’s, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, 79, is back at home. The civil rights leader was released from the hospital on Wednesday.

“Thank God for leading the way to get me again to walk again on my own power, talking,” said Jackson, who along with his wife, had initially been admitted to a Chicago hospital after having tested positive for the coronavirus.

“The shot protected me from death,” Jackson stated.

Though Jackson had been vaccinated. His wife had not. She was released from the hospital earlier this month.

“Both my parents are ever so thankful for all of the prayers, cards and calls they have received during this very trying period of their lives,” reported son Jonathan Jackson in a statement.

“We know it is a miracle that both of our parents are COVID-19 survivors, and we thank God for his healing. We also pray for the millions of people who have been infected with this virus and pray they too will also overcome. Our father continues to stress the importance of being vaccinated, wearing masks and obeying the COVID-19 protocols including social distancing and the washing of the hands.”

 

Senators Fail to Reach Deal on George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Stacy M. Brown/ NNPA Newswire 

Talks to enact the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act were halted on Wednesday after a bipartisan Senate negotiations team announced it failed to reach a deal.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) called off the talks. No further discussions are in the works.

“Unfortunately, even with this law enforcement support and further compromises we offered, there was still too wide a gulf with our negotiating partners, and we faced significant obstacles to securing a bipartisan deal,” Sen. Booker stated.

“The effort from the very beginning was to get police reform that would raise professional standards, police reform that would create a lot more transparency, and then police reform that would create accountability, and we’re not able to come to agreements on those three big areas,” the senator remarked.

Lawmakers had worked toward a measure following the police murder of George Floyd in May 2020.

Optimism about a deal peaked in April when a jury convicted former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin of Floyd’s murder.

Floyd’s killing led to global protests and corporate awareness of the call that Black lives matter.
Introduced by California Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act addressed a range of policies and issues surrounding police practices and accountability.

The bill sought to lower the criminal intent standard to convict a law enforcement officer for misconduct in a federal prosecution.

In addition, the measure would limit qualified immunity as a defense to liability in a private civil action against an officer, and it would grant administrative subpoena power to the Department of Justice in pattern-or-practice investigations.

Notably, the measure establishes a framework to prevent and cure racial profiling by law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels.

It restricts the use of no-knock warrants, chokeholds, and carotid holds.

“On behalf of the families of George Floyd and so many others who have been impacted by police violence, we express our extreme disappointment in Senate leaders’ inability to reach a reasonable solution for federal police reform,” Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump wrote in a statement.

“In the last year and a half, we have witnessed hundreds of thousands of Americans urging lawmakers to bring desperately needed change to policing in this country so there can be greater accountability, transparency, and ultimately trust in policing,” Crump continued.

“People – including many police leaders – have raised their voices for something to change, and partisan politics once again prevents common-sense reform. We cannot let this be a tragic, lost opportunity to regain trust between citizens and police.

“We strongly urge Democratic senators to bring the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to the floor for a vote so Americans can see who is looking out for their communities’ best interests and who is ready to listen to their constituents so we can together put the country on a better, more equitable path for all.”

 

Let’s Talk Black Education: Governor Newsom Should Close the Vaccination Loophole for School Employees

Let’s Talk Black Education

By Dr. Margaret Fortune, President/CEO of Fortune School

Governor Newsom Should Close the Vaccination Loophole for School Employees

The honeymoon is over in communities where the Delta variant has taken hold.  Since back to school, I’ve spent weeks filling in for principals, supervising children, checking children’s temperatures and providing them masks, directing traffic in the parking lot, picking up garbage, wiping down cafeteria tables — all of which are required to run safe schools in these times. I’ve talked to other heads of schools that can say the same thing or something similar since the start of this school year. The same culprit continues to affect us all — COVID-19. However, normally we have a village to manage these tasks. Now, we don’t.

 

Staffing shortages are severe and there are no substitutes to be had.  Further aggravating the situation, are public health rules that require paid school staff who test negative for COVID-19 but remain unvaccinated to stay home for 10 days at a time, when they are exposed to someone who tests positive.  It leaves the rest of us — including the students — without a teacher, cafeteria worker, or janitorial staff. We have to throw on five or six hats in order to ensure that our students are educated. 

 

Necessary? Yes. Sustainable? No. 

 

Governor Gavin Newsom took a good first step when he required school employees to be vaccinated, but he left a gaping loophole. He allowed school staff to test-out of being vaccinated by committing to take a COVID test twice a week.  Then he put the burden on schools to become COVID testing centers overnight for the employees who refuse to get vaccinated.  

 

The result is that these staff who refuse vaccination have to be benched for two weeks every time they get exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Imagine, if you will, being a part of a 40-person team and every week there are 10 people who are forced to quarantine for two weeks, leaving 30 team members to do the work of 40 during that first week. That’s one person doing their job and the additional work of three coworkers. These types of staffing outages are debilitating schools across the state. There are news reports of schools having to shut down classrooms for lack of staff.  

 

Some major school systems with the political clout have taken matters into their own hands. Los Angeles Unified, for example, has closed the loophole and is requiring all school employees to be vaccinated.  The state of California should do the same.  

 

California has over 6 million students who can’t afford for us to agree to anything less than 100% vaccination for school employees.  

 

Yes, the policy could force out educators who refuse to get vaccinated but, they won’t be working anyway if they get exposed to a positive case.  Essentially, the unvaccinated have become hard to employ in a school setting.  They can go out at any time and take down our schools with them. 

 

We can’t risk that.

 

Editor’s Note: Dr. Margaret Fortune is the President/CEO of Fortune School, a system of nine, K-12 public charter schools with over 2,300 students focused on closing the Black achievement gap by preparing students for college.  She is a State Delegate on the California Democratic Party (CDP) State Central Committee where she also is an elected member of the Executive Board of the CDP Black Caucus. Fortune is Treasurer of National Action Network (NAN) Sacramento and has been an education advisor to two California Governors.  She is a graduate of the UC Berkeley and Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government.

 

Actress Tanya Fear Reported Missing in Los Angeles

Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire

In one of her last social media postings, actress Tanya Fear retweeted a tribute by Courtney B. Vance to the late Michael K. Williams.

“Michael has found peace,” Fear tweeted. “He was a giant of a man. Only my faith sustains me in times like these.”

The September 6 social media post was among the last anyone has heard from Fear. The actress has been reported missing in Los Angeles.

Reports suggest that concerns continue to grow for the 31-year-old star of “Doctor Who.”
Fear’s family reportedly hasn’t heard from her since Thursday, September 9.

The hashtag #FindTanyaFear continues to trend while family and loved ones pray for the best.

“Please, please, please share if you have mutually in the LA/Hollywood bowl area,” a Twitter user describing themselves as Fear’s cousin wrote.

“My cousin is missing, she has no family in the US, and we’re all really worried.”

A poster circulating on social media says she went missing in the “LA/Hollywood Bowl area.”

Fear played the role of Dr. Jade McIntyre in a 2018 episode of Doctor Who. She also appeared in the films “A Moving Image,” “Kick-ass 2,” and “Spotless.”

 

Jobs, Mental Health, Gun Violence: Cal Leaders Discuss Helping Black Men and Boys

 

Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media

The California Assembly’s Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color held a meeting last month that brought legislators face-to-face with community organizers to discuss investing in African American and other youth of color in a “post-pandemic California.”

Introducing the various panelists, Committee Chair Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), who is a member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, spoke about the bipartisan nature of the committee’s goals.

He said people from different backgrounds and political perspectives reach agreement when talking about the plight of youth of color because their conversations are based on hard numbers.

In California, per capita, Black men and boys are incarcerated more than any other group; are unhoused more than any other group; are affected by gun violence more than any other group; and in public schools, Black children’s standardized test scores fall only above children with disabilities.

“One of the things that brings both sides of the aisle together is data. What we would like to see is either internal audits or accountability measures to show that your numbers are not only successful but you’re keeping data over a period of time showing your success rate,” Jones-Sawyer said.

Committee vice-chair Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), a Republican, agreed with this assertion.

“I am looking forward to the instruction that we’re going to get today,” Lackey said. “This is a part of our population that deserves the attention and a much stronger effort than has been displayed in the past.”

The first topic discussed during this meeting was gun violence, as panelists towed the line between cracking down on gun violence and preventing the over-policing of communities of color.

“How can we do this without returning to a punitive approach that grows the prisons, the jails and the criminalization of our community without achieving the public safety we so desire,” asked the Rev. Michael McBride who is known in the Bay Area as “Pastor Mike.” McBride is a social justice advocate and the National Director for Urban Strategies/LIVE FREE Campaign with the Faith in Action Network.

The meeting was an opportunity for participants representing community-based organizations to share ideas with legislators with the hope of influencing their decision-making.

As of 2019, California had the 7th lowest firearm mortality rate in the country. But with the state’s large population of almost 40 million people – the largest in the country — that still equated to 2,945 deaths that year.

“As everyone knows, there are probably too many guns in too many people’s hands who should never probably ever have guns,” Jones-Sawyer said.

Jones-Sawyer addressed the racial element of victims of gun violence in America.

“Many of those individuals were Latino and African American so it behooves us that post-pandemic, we need to figure out what we’re doing, what we need to do if we want to protect our boys and men of color,” Jones-Sawyer said.

He also offered up part of a solution.

“This year we need to infuse the California Violence Intervention and Prevention grant program (CalVIP) with a large sum, we did put in money for a large sum to fund the work that we so desperately need to get not only guns off the street but out of the hands of people who should not have them.”

The second topic on the agenda was post-pandemic mental health care.

Le Ondra Clark Harvey, chief executive officer of the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, spoke on the intersectional nature of mental health issues in communities of color.

“Historically, Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC) communities’ mental health and substance abuse disorder services have been impacted by several factors including access to treatment, cultural beliefs and stigma,” she said.

Largely, Clark Harvey said mental health treatment for BIPOC people has not been preventative.

“When BIPOC individuals do seek help, it tends to be at a time of crisis; at an emergency room, a psychiatric hospital or due to some type of interaction with law enforcement,” Harvey said.

She also spoke about the increase in opioid use, suicide and calls to crisis hotlines for boys and men of color.

Two of the programs in California mentioned during the meeting that are making headway on mental health problems facing Black men and boys are COVID-19 Black, an organization dedicated to lessening the effects the pandemic has had on the Black community, and Strong Family Home Visiting Program, a Los Angeles County-based program that provides in-home family support services.

Wraparound service approaches to care were also discussed as a way to shift “focus away from a traditional service-driven, problem-based approach to care and instead follows a strengths-based, needs-driven approach,” according to the California Department of Social Services.

The last topic of discussion was on career pathways and building generational wealth for communities of color.

Tara Lynn Gray, director of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate, highlighted that most of the disparities in communities of color can be traced to economics.

“Some of the challenges facing boys and men of color stem from economic challenges in their communities and lack of investment for years prior to this administration,” Gray said.

“The pandemic induced economic hardships that we’ve experienced have exacerbated those issues with many businesses closing their doors and roughly 40% of Black and Latinx businesses closed,” Gray continued.

Gray claimed that it is not all doom and gloom, however, as she mentioned what the state has done to assuage these disparities.

“The good news about the challenges we have seen is that our leadership, both in the administration and in the legislature, have created access to programs, resources and financial assistance for small businesses to help with economic recovery and make an impact on some of the challenges facing boys and men of color,” Gray said.

Gray also spoke about investing in business opportunities for the formerly incarcerated.

Through the California Reinvestment Grant Program CalCRG, for example, the state has been directly funding community-based organizations across California to expand job and re-entry programs for Black and other men of color who were impacted by the “War on Drugs.”

Services include criminal record expungement for some marijuana-related crimes; job training and placement help; mental health treatment; addiction services; housing placement and more.

 

Legislature to Gov. Newsom: Make Ethnic Studies a High School Graduation Pre-Req

 

Joe W. Bowers Jr. | California Black Media

For the second time since he became governor, Gavin Newsom is being asked by the California Legislature to sign a bill that would make ethnic studies a California high school graduation requirement.

Days before the end of the 2021 Legislative session, by overwhelming margins, the State Assembly and Senate approved Assembly Bill (AB) 101. It would require high schools to offer ethnic studies courses beginning academic year 2025-26 and make completing a one-semester course a graduation requirement starting in the 2029-30 school year.

Sponsored by Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside), AB 101 requires all public school districts and charter schools serving students in grades 9 through 12 to offer culturally responsive curricula reflective of California’s diverse population.

The state has more than 1,000 public school districts enrolling 6.2 million students speaking more than 90 languages. More than three-quarters of California’s K-12 students are non-white: 55% Latino, 22% white, 12% Asian or Pacific Islander and 5% African American.

According to Medina, a former ethnic studies teacher, “California is one of the most diverse states in the country and we should celebrate that diversity by teaching a curriculum that is inclusive of all of our cultures and backgrounds. Ethnic Studies provide students an opportunity to learn about histories outside of the Euro-centric teachings most prominent in our schools. At a time when the national climate drives divisiveness and fear of otherness, Ethnic Studies can play a critical role in increasing awareness and understanding.”

Last year, Newsom, who has expressed support of ethnic studies, vetoed a similar bill, AB 331.

He expressed concerns about the content of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum that was being developed as a template to guide school districts as they created their own versions of the course. Newsom called the draft model curriculum “insufficiently balanced and inclusive and needed to be substantially amended.”

Initial reaction to the Department of Education (CDE) Instructional Quality Commission’s (IQC) Ethic Studies Model Curriculum was strongly negative. During two years of heated debates, it produced several versions of the curriculum and attracted nearly 100,000 public comments.

The drafts drew complaints from Jewish Americans and other ethnic and religious groups who said their American experiences were being ignored. Jewish Americans expressed concerns that the curriculum evoked anti-Semitic stereotypes and dwelled on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Others criticized the curriculum for taking a left leaning and politically biased view of history. For example, it defined capitalism as a system of oppression.

Revisions to the model curriculum were made and it was adopted by the State Board of Education this past March. The 894-page curriculum with more than two dozen lesson plans is designed to teach students about the history, culture and struggles of four historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups: African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos and Native Americans. The guidelines also include supplemental lessons on Jews, Armenians and Sikhs in response to public comments received.

School districts and charter schools are not required to adopt CDE’s model curriculum. AB 101 lets them pick the elements they like from the model curriculum— or choose none of them. They can develop ethnic studies courses on their own. The course must be approved by the governing board of the school district or the governing body of the charter school and the courses must be approved as meeting the A–G requirements of the University of California and the California State University.

AB 101 is supported by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and a coalition of educators, students, and advocates across the state. Supporters include the California Teachers Association, the California State PTA, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, California Association for Bilingual Education, and The Education Trust-West.

Over the weekend, at the California Association of African American Superintendents and Administrators (CAAASA) 2021 Annual Round-Up, Thurmond was applauded by the group when he said, “I hope you’ve heard the good news. AB 101, the bill to require ethnic studies as a graduation requirement has been passed, and is on its way to the governor’s desk for signature. Our babies deserve to learn about the contributions of their ancestors. Our African American children, our Latino children, our Native American, Pacific Islander children, deserve to hear the positive contributions of their ancestors, who helped to make this a great state, and a great nation.”

Also unanimously supporting AB 101 are the five diversity caucuses of the California State Legislature: the Latino caucus, the Asian Pacific Islander caucus, the Black caucus, the Jewish caucus and the Native American caucus.

The statement from the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) leaders chair Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) and vice-chair Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) reads, “As chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, I am proud to stand with Assembly member Medina in support of the amendments to AB 101, … it is critical that ethnic studies be immediately included as a graduation requirement to help reduce further racial bias and create understanding. History is often taught with oppression and racism in the periphery or sometimes erased altogether. It is imperative that all students leave our education system with a deeper understanding of the communities that make California and America culturally diverse and strong.”

As Newsom decides whether or not to sign AB 101, criticism of the bill persists.

The anti-Semitism watchdog AMCHA Initiative writes, “My organization is deeply concerned that classes taught using [the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum] will become vehicles for highly controversial, one-sided and extremely coercive political advocacy and activism that will both subvert the educational mission of our schools and incite bigotry and harm against many students…, we believe it is irresponsible and unethical to pass a bill requiring students to take a course that has not been shown to improve students’ academic achievement, and is quite likely to incite strife and hatred.”

Republican legislator opposition can be summed up in a comment Sen. Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) made recently. Debating AB 101, Melendez said that ethnic studies is rooted in “critical race theory,” a view that racism is ingrained in laws and government institutions.

With the recall election scheduled for Sept. 14, Newsom will likely avoid signing any bills until after the election, fearing he could motivate critics to vote in favor of the recall.

He has until Oct. 10 to sign the bill.

 

Lawmakers Approve “Upward Mobility” Bill, Proposing More Slots for Blacks on State Boards, Commissions

 

Edward Henderson | California Black Media

On Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, Assemblymember Chris Holden’s (D-Pasadena) ‘Upward Mobility Bill’ (AB 105) passed the California State Senate with a 29-to-8 vote.

The legislation promotes more opportunities for people of color in California’s civil services system and requires diversity on state boards and commissions. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk to either be signed into law or to be vetoed.

“Upward mobility is integral to achieving racial justice, and we should be setting the example,” said Holden. “The existing systems in place at our own state agencies fail to create inclusive workplace environments and hinder qualified individuals to move up within their department simply based on the color of their skin. Today, the Legislature took a bold step to fix the problem.”

Specifically, AB 105 would require the California State Personnel Board (SPB) to establish a process that includes best practices and emphasizes diversity in the announcement, design, and administration of exams for potential state employees.

The bill also directs the Department of Human Resources (CalHR) to develop model upward mobility goals to include race, gender, and LGBTQ identity as factors to the extent permissible under state and federal equal protection laws.

Additionally, AB 105 calls for state agencies to collect and report demographic data using more nuanced categories of Californians of African descent, similar to the data collected for Californians of Asian descent. This data will be critical in accurately reporting who among Californians of African descent is experiencing barriers to upward mobility. 

Last year, Gov. Newsom signed AB 3121 into law, which was authored by former Assemblymember, Dr. Shirley Weber, who is now Secretary of State. That bill established a task force to study and develop reparations proposals for African Americans. AB 105 would give the task force more accurate data to utilize in its deliberations.

CALHR data shows that the majority of non-white civil service personnel are paid a salary in the “$40,000 and below” range. When the salary range increases, the percentage of non-White civil servants working in upper-level or management positions decreases. The opposite is true for White civil servants who predominate in management and upper-level civil service positions.

The Sacramento Bee has published a series of letters written on behalf of Black employees working at state agencies such as the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation with detailed accounts of how Black employees are passed up for promotions over White employees. The problem, however, is not limited to upward mobility. In early November, three Black employees at the California Office of Publishing found racial slurs written on cards at their desk.

“We already mandated the private sector to do their part. It’s time for the state to step up and do theirs,” said Holden.

Newsom has until Oct. 10, 2021 to sign the legislation.

 

After Tragic Murder, Zero-Bail Bill Paused; but Other Justice Reforms Advance

 

Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media

Over the last two weeks, it has been a mixed bag of wins and losses for bills concerned with the rights of people interacting with the criminal justice system.

Senate Bill (SB) 262, a bail reform bill that would have established $0 bail for some offenders, was stopped in its tracks following a grisly murder in Northern California but Senate Bill (SB) 2 and Assembly Bill (AB) 333 have both passed significant milestones on their paths to becoming law.

In Sacramento, Troy Davis, 51, a repeat offender released on zero bail, allegedly raped and murdered a woman before setting her house on fire, killing her dogs as well.

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reiseg expressed his outrage over the murder and blasted the leniency supported in bills like SB 262 that he believes is partially to blame for crimes like that.

“This horrific crime could have been avoided. He should have never been released on zero bail. Bail reform is appropriate as long as judges always have discretion to hold violent criminals in custody. When ‘reforms’ go too far, this is the nightmare. God rest her soul.” Reiseg wrote on Facebook.

Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Sacramento), who is a member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, also expressed his outrage.

“This is not an isolated incident,” he tweeted. “Violent felons are released daily, terrorizing our communities because of CA’s soft on crime laws. I will continue to fight this madness and all other bills that prioritize protecting criminals instead of victims.”

The zero-bail measure was implemented by California’s Judicial Council in April last year as an emergency rule, but voters overturned it as Proposition 25, a statewide ballot initiative, in last November’s general election.

SB 262 has been amended to give judges discretion based on risk assessment, similar to SB 10 in 2018, but it is still facing backlash.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), author of SB 10 and SB 262, told the Associated Press that his colleagues reached out to him to express concern after the murder in Sacramento.

Hertzberg took to Twitter to address the heinous crime.

“I’m heartbroken and angered by the heinous murder of a Sacramento woman this past weekend. The parolee who did this should have never been released back to the community,” Hertzberg tweeted.

Hertzberg went on to suggest that SB 262 might have helped avoid this crime.

“The Safe and Resilient Communities Act could have prevented this crime from happening in the first place. #SB262 requires the Judicial

Council to establish statewide standards for bail amounts, meaning Counties will no longer be able to operate zero bail policies,” he wrote.

Hertzberg announced that he will be postponing SB 262 and hopes it will be taken up by the state Legislature next year.

“Earlier this year, the State Supreme Court ruled that California’s cash bail system is unconstitutional. SB 262 simply provided a framework for the state to implement this ruling. Don’t get me wrong: we’re not done with bail – not even close,” he tweeted.

Another criminal justice reform bill that made headlines last week was AB 333, authored by California State Senator Sydney Kamlager (D – Los Angeles).

AB 333 would reduce “the list of crimes that allow gang enhancements to be charged, prohibiting the use of the current charge as proof of a ‘pattern’ of criminal gang activity, and separating gang allegations from underlying charges at trial,” according to a press release from Kamlager’s office.

Gang enhancements are additional prison sentences prescribed to individuals who are alleged to be associated with a criminal street gang.

As of August 2019, about 92% of adults in California with gang enhancement charges in state prisons are either Black or Latino, according to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) data.

Kamlager asserted that her bill is a law-and-order bill.

“At the heart of AB 333 is due process,” Kamlager said, “AB 333 just asks for the charges to be proven when they’re levied against someone. Right now, our system allows a shaved head, tattoos, or even the color of your grandma’s house as reason to be charged with a gang enhancement. That’s antithetical to how our judicial process should operate, and I am glad we are one step closer to a fix.”

AB 333 passed in the state Senate with a vote of 25-10 and on Sept. 8 the Assembly approved it as well with a 41-30 vote.

Another bill concerned with criminal justice reform is SB 2. The state Senate approved it on Sept. 8 with a 28-9 vote.

It calls for barring police officers who have been fired for misconduct or charged with one of a set of specific crimes from being hired in another precinct in California.

Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), one of the authors of SB 2, celebrated the bill’s passing on the Senate floor.

“This is a major victory for advocates of public safety,” Bradford said. “California, and the nation as a whole, have experienced tragedy after tragedy where consequences for egregious abuses of power went unpunished and cries for accountability went unanswered — eroding public trust in law enforcement.”

“This bill is the first of its kind in California and we finally join the 46 other states with processes for the decertification of bad officers,” continued Bradford. “SB 2 establishes a fair and balanced way to hold officers who break the public trust accountable for their actions and not simply move to a new department. This could not have been achieved without the support of many legislators, community organizations, families, and entertainers who advocated non-stop for accountability in our policing system.”

Bradford went on to explain other benefits of SB 2 as he sees it.

“The bill will create a strong and effective method for California to remove bad officers in a fair and reasonable manner. Police have one of the most difficult jobs on the planet. A decertification system puts California back on track to restoring communities’ faith in men and women of uniform who do their job well,” Bradford continued.

Criminal justice reform is a complicated and nuanced undertaking that crisscrosses well established fault lines concerning public safety, criminal justice, racial equity, human dignity, and personal freedom. These bills are no exception.

 


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