Democrats & Progressives Say While Ending Cash Bail Is the Right Move, Risk Assessments Could Heighten The Risk of Racial Discrimination

Christal Mims, Staff

In what once appeared to be clear cut, the decision to vote “yes” on Proposition 25 and end the cash bail system is now causing controversy amongst Democrats and progressives. While collectively agreeing that cash bail has harmed the Black community and other communities of color since its inception, some fear that the system set to replace it could be even more harmful.

Prop. 25 would make California the first state to end the use of the cash bail system. The system would then be replaced by risk assessments to decide whether a suspect should be granted a pre-trial release. The assessments would categorize the individual as either low risk, medium risk or high risk. 

Depending on the outcome, a suspect would either be released (low/medium risk), remain detained depending on the court’s ruling (medium risk) or remain in jail with the opportunity to argue their release in front of a judge (high risk).

Opponents fear that these risk assessments could heighten the risk of racial discrimination and bias and keep more people behind bars as they await trial.

“I can’t predict what will happen, but I can say that the system they’ve set up is going to allow for expanded incarceration and expanded pretrial supervision including electronic monitoring, all of which is going to lead to more incarceration,” said John Raphling, a researcher for Human Rights Watch in Los Angeles.

Judges will also be given a lot more control. People accused of lower-level felonies would go before a judge who could keep them in jail or put conditions on their release. The judge’s decision would be partially based on the results of a risk assessment tool that is designed to measure a person’s likelihood of re-offending or skipping out on court.

Each county would have the freedom to determine their own risk assessment tool. According to Rahpling, this freedom is too much.

“If you’re low risk, then (under Prop. 25) you’re likely to get out — but the judges can always override any decision of risk assessment,” he said. “In my research, I’ve found that they overwhelmingly override in favor of locking people up … and there’s real questions about the accuracy of those (risk assessments).”

Others think the assessments are worth giving a chance. Santa Barbara Probation Chief Tanja Heitman, whose county has been experimenting with alternatives to cash bail, thinks assessments can actually help reduce racial disparities.

“I think probation officers are just as likely to allow biases unintentionally to creep into their decision making if they don’t have an assessment tool to help guide them, if they don’t have an assessment tool to ground them,” she said.

Underprivileged, primarily Black and brown communities have suffered at the inequality the cash bail system encourages, with rich defendants automatically benefiting from the system. Supporters of the proposition believe the system is inherently racist and needs to end for that simple reason. 

“We need to stand behind our elected officials who have stepped up to end a predatory bail system that literally preys on poor people that are predominately Black and Brown. What we do know is that our county jails are full of poor Black and Brown people. We know that as a fact. It (Prop. 25) ends criminalizing poverty right now,” said Sam Lewis, the Executive Director of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition.

Many also argue that while risk assessments may not be perfect, they can at least be reworked and tweaked to better serve the community, while the cash bail system leaves no room for improvement.

Faith Leaders Unite Behind Maxine Waters and Against Her Opponent

Stephen Oduntan, Staff

A group of more than 30 L.A. County faith leaders staged a press conference outside Citizens for Waters campaign headquarters in Hawthorne this week following recent online attacks against Rep. Maxine Waters from her rival Republican Joe Collins who is running to unseat the 15-term incumbent.

The press conference was organized by the Coalition of Los Angeles Interfaith Leaders, who praised Waters’ more than 40 years of public service tackling difficult and often controversial issues.

One by one, they stepped up to the mic and made a case for why voters should support Waters’ campaign and not allow Collins to oust the longtime Democratic lawmaker from her congressional seat in November.

“Maxine Waters has a history of being there for her community. Her opponent is somebody who just popped up off the scene. We know what a wolf looks like in sheep clothes. We can see the handwriting on the wall. We know the narrative this GOP candidate is trying to put out there. So, we just want everyone to know that we the faith leaders are praying for the congresswoman in all her goals and priorities,” said Rev. K.W. Tulloss, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Southern California.

Pastor William D. Smart Jr. delivered a highly energetic speech.

“We’re here because no voice has been stronger,” said Smart, president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California.

 “No love has been more meaningful. No commitment has been greater. No cause has been more resounding. No articulation has been more significant. No warrior has been more engaging. No responsibility has been more dutiful. No fight has been more relevant. No congressperson [is] more dependable. No person has been more courageous. No voice has been more righteous. No clarion call has constantly answered. The divine imperative is always on Maxine Waters.”

The faith leaders took umbrage with Collins who released a scathing campaign ad attacking Waters for living in a multimillion-dollar mansion while representing a district plagued by crime and poverty.

“Do you know where I am right now? Maxine Waters’ six million-dollar mansion,” Collins says in the video ad. “Do you know where I’m not right now? Maxine Waters’ district. Maxine does not live in her district, but I do,” Collins said.

As of Thursday evening, the campaign ad had received more than 138,100 likes and more than 69,300 retweets.

Collins says he made the decision to leave the Navy so he could run for office, which he could not do while on active duty. The 34-year-old and South Los Angeles native is a huge Trump backer running in District 43—a Democratic stronghold district with a population of about 710,000 individuals. He has outlined some of his priorities for change in the district, including combatting the lack of quality education, gang activity, the sky-high crime rate, and homelessness.

But Pastor Shane B. Scott (senior pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Watts and the organizer of the event) said Maxine Waters’ record speaks for itself and that the 82-year-old congresswoman has championed the cause of all Americans.

“In case Mr. Collins needs to be reminded, you don’t just serve 15 terms if you’re ineffective. But rather you serve 15 terms because you have been a champion for justice. Champion for justice for all people whether they are Black, White, Asian, Latino, and Native Americans,” Scott said.

Scott also challenged the legitimacy of Collins’ Navy service record. 

“Mr. Collins,” said Scott. “We are well aware that you have been dishonorably discharged from the Navy. We are aware that you have been prohibited from using the word veteran to identify yourself. Hence on the ballot you are identified as a sailor.”

The tall, sharply dressed pastor spoke for about five minutes and offered a catalog of damaging information against Waters opponent, including allegations that he had not paid child support.

As for Collins, he took to Twitter and scoffed at the faith leaders for holding the press conference.

“I love how a few black pastors in LA got together to try and smear my name on behalf of @RepMaxineWaters. Too bad they’re too afraid to approach me like real men. Just like Maxine is too afraid to debate me. They have the real fear of God in them when it comes to Joe Collins,” he wrote in a tweet Tuesday.

To that end, Tulloss told L.A. Focus that Waters’ political opponents are ignorant of the work she has done in the community she serves.

He said, “Maxine Waters is the voice of the voiceless. And of course, anyone held in such high esteem is often demonized. Look at how the president even talks about our congresswoman.

“Repeatedly, President Trump has insulted and besmirched Waters calling her “an extraordinarily low IQ person.”

Tulloss added, “Regardless of what anyone has to say about Maxine Waters, we love and appreciate her.”

On Your Nov. Ballot: Proposition 20 Calls for Changing Some Misdemeanors to Felonies

Quinci LeGardye | California Black Media  

California voters will decide whether or not to go tougher on crime through a November ballot initiative that makes changes to previous propositions and bills designed to reduce the state’s prison population.  

California’s Proposition 20 proposes expanding the list of offenses that disqualify incarcerated persons for parole. It also calls for upgrading several theft-related fines from misdemeanors to felonies. It would also require law enforcement to collect the DNA of people who commit certain misdemeanors. 

If Prop 20 passes, vehicle theft, firearm theft, unlawful use of a credit card and other specific types of theft and fraud crimes will be chargeable as “wobblers,” which means the prosecutor will decide whether to charge them as misdemeanors or felonies. Under the current criminal code, these crimes are considered misdemeanors.  

Prop 20 would establish two new types of crimes: serial crime and organized retail crime, and it would increase penalties for repeat shoplifters.  

Changing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) parole review program, Prop 20 would reclassify 51 crimes and sentence enhancements as violent in order to exclude them from the program, which is only available to nonviolent offenders. It would also require that an incarcerated person’s entire criminal record is taken into account before becoming eligible for parole, instead of only looking at that individual’s most recent offense. It would also allow prosecutors to request a review of the parole review board’s final decision. 

The initiative makes critical adjustments to 2011’s AB 109, 2014’s Proposition 47, and 2016’s Proposition 57, all of which were California legislative responses to the 2011 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared overcrowding in California’s prisons violated the Eight Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Together, those measures changed several crimes from wobblers to misdemeanors, increased parole chances for incarcerated people convicted of nonviolent crimes and shifted the imprisonment of non-violent and non-sexual offenders from state prisons to local jails. 

Prop 20 is supported by the Republican Party of California, the California Grocers Association, police and peace officer associations, Crime Victims United and Crime Survivors, Inc. Supporters argue that the previous criminal justice reforms were misguided and caused significant public safety problems, and that Prop 20 would close loopholes that let out violent offenders. 

They also say that the proposition would rightfully reclassify crimes as violent that are currently considered nonviolent, including felony assault with a deadly weapon, human trafficking of a child and rape of an unconscious person. 

“Prop. 57 was misleading because it promised that only nonviolent inmates would be released from prison early,” said Citrus Heights Police Chief Ron Lawrence, former president of the California Police Chiefs Association. “But under California law, a number of violent crimes are classified nonviolent.” 

Opponents of Prop 20 argue that tough-on-crime stances do not reduce crime, and that Prop 20 would only increase the state’s spending on prisons and tear families apart. They also highlight that the criminal justice system disproportionately incarcerates Black and Brown people, and that the proposition would only deepen the devastation mass incarceration has caused in Black and Brown communities. 

Groups that oppose Prop 20 include the ACLU of California, the California Labor Federation, the California Teachers Association, Equality California, the Public Defenders Association, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice and the National Center for Crime Victims.  

Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Gov. Jerry Brown also oppose it.  

Brown, who signed AB 109 and developed Proposition 57, said, “Proposition 20 is supported by a very narrow group of people who don’t accept even the modest prison reforms that I was able to achieve. It’s driven by ideology and, in some cases, by a total lack of understanding of human nature and no sense of redemption or allowing people to put their lives on track.” 

Mark Ridley-Thomas Sends Grace Yoo Cease-and-Desist Letter Over “Illegal” Website

Staff

An attorney for Ridley-Thomas sent a cease and desist letter to L.A. City Council District 10 candidate Grace Yoo for a website set up in the name of her opponent—Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas— to spread allegations and misinformation. The attorney labeled the website as “cybersquatting,” which is the act of reserving — with ill intent — domain names similar to or identical to trademarked names.

“By setting up (the website), you have intentionally prevented our client from registering a website domain name in his own personal name,” the letter from attorney Stephen Kaufman said. “And, by illegally setting up this website, you have confused and lured unsuspecting members of the public who were seeking to access online information from our client to your own fraudulent website in order to assault them with false and defamatory statements about Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.”

The move comes on the heels of the L.A. Times endorsing Ridley-Thomas over Yoo, stating: “Voters would have a hard time finding another candidate with Ridley-Thomas’ experience and knowledge or his long list of accomplishments. His perspective will be especially helpful as the council grapples with how to reimagine policing in L.A.”

Yoo, who said that she would not be “bullied and intimidated” into shutting the site down, says she put up the website to inform voters about “some information his campaign is not talking about” in a move that Ridley Thomas’ team. On the website, Yoo mentions a USC bribery scandal allegedly involving the supervisor, his desire to run for L.A. mayor in 2022 and alleges that the African American Voter Registration, Education, and Participation (AAVREP), which was established in 2000 by Ridley-Thomas, has not spent most of its money on actually registering voters, amongst other things.

Several community leaders were quick to comment on Yoo’s allegations – specifically regarding AAVREP.

Susan Burton, executive director of New Way of Life and an advocate of AAVREP, says Yoo’s allegations are based on a selective reading of the organization’s expenditure reports, which do not reflect the full extent of its grassroot outreach efforts. 

“It is unfortunate that Ms. Yoo is denigrating a widely respected organization that helps register, educate and mobilize Black and minority voters each election cycle,” said Burton. 

Gene Hale, Chairman of Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce, said that “founding AAVREP has been one of the hallmarks of Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ career.”

“He has fought long and hard alongside us to overcome the political disenfranchisement of the African American community. Under his leadership, AAVREP has registered more black voters than any other organization in California,” Hale explained. “Yoo’s attack on AAVREP’s integrity and impact is an affront to the African American community. It is truly unfortunate and clearly out of step with the needs and wishes of LA residents.” 

Rev. William Smart, President of SCLC of Southern California, said that Yoo’s allegations do not consider the impact that AAVREP has through its affiliated groups. He also said that the criticism doesn’t recognize that before people are registered to vote, it’s necessary to educate them and build networks through faith-based and civic organizations to reach them.

“AAVREP’s efforts and accomplishments have never been more important than today, as we see Donald Trump and others on his side of the political aisle working overtime to suppress the Black vote. They know that the Black vote is going to be a key to the future of our country and the future of Los Angeles,” Rev. Smart explained.

The cease-and-desist letter states that if Yoo’s campaign does not remove the website immediately, legal action will be sought.

BLM Activists Sue Jackie and David Lacey Over Gun Scare

Christal Mims, Staff

Black Lives Matter activists have filed a civil lawsuit against L.A. District Attorney Jackie Lacey and her husband David Lacey following an incident in which David pointed a gun at three members of the group during a peaceful protest on March 2. Joined by attorneys Carl Douglas and Jamon Hicks, activists Melina Abdullah, Dahlia Ferlito and Justin Marks announced the lawsuit during a press conference on Zoom today.

“This is a case about the reckless use of deadly force and the shocking consequences to three peaceful protesters,” Douglas said.

Abdullah, Ferlito and Marks walked to the doorstep of Lacey’s Granada Hills residence after gathering and leading a demonstration with protesters. David Lacey then opened the door, pulled out a gun and allegedly said, “Get off my porch. I will shoot you.” 

Attorney General Xavier Bercerra filed three misdemeanor charges against David Lacey back in August for assault with a firearm.

“When that gun was pointed at me, the first thing that came to my mind was, ‘What about my children?’ I was grateful that we had prayed. I was grateful that we had meditated and poured libations because it allowed me, when he said, ‘Get off the porch’ and pointed the gun at my chest, it allowed me to summon spiritual energy and a sense of calm that allowed me to just say, ‘Good morning’ in the friendliest and most chipper way I could muster and it allowed me to not panic,” Abdullah recalled.

Ferlito, the co-founder of White People for Black Lives, also chimed in, saying the incident did not occur in a volume.

“It’s really important for the audience to understand that this is part of many years attempting to use existing channels to have the voices of the families heard and responded to and respected, as well as action, on the part of the district attorney’s office,” Ferlito explained. “Unfortunately, those regular channels that are afforded to the community members who are outright ignored, dismissed, denied … We were silenced for those several years.”

The plaintiffs went to Lacey’s house in an attempt to confront her regarding a promise she had made to meet with the Black community before the end of 2019 during a meeting of the Stonewall Democratic Club in October 2019.

The lawsuit alleges negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, and battery.

“This lawsuit concerns the outrageously brazen and recklessly negligent use of a

registered firearm by Defendant David Lacey, the husband of the Los Angeles District

Attorney, against innocent protesters who were lawfully visiting their home and simply wanted

the political candidate to follow through on promises she had made, yet neglected,” the lawsuit reads. “As a result of this shamefully reckless act, each of the Plaintiffs’ lives was put in dire risk.”     

Marks, who was filming the incident, credits Abdullah’s composure and ability to stay calm in the moment for their lives – but admits the incident stunned him.

“I was scared. I was shocked. Not anything that we expected, not in a million years,” Marks said. “It seems unreasonable to open a door and to point a loaded weapon. 

He continued, “It felt as though Jackie Lacey and her husband were pointing the gun, not just at the three of us, but at the 622 families who have family members who have been killed by law enforcement since she’s been in office. She pointed a gun at the 10s of thousands of people who have showed up at her office for the last few years. That’s not democracy.”

Lacey’s civil attorney has already responded, questioning the timing of the lawsuit and accusing the activists of making the incident political. Douglas believes the case is undeniably relevant to the election.

“This is a public official, and this horrific case speaks to her judgement and I think speaks to her fitness to serve the people of Los Angeles for another four years,” he explained. “It’s hard being a public official. But it is a job that she seeks, it is a job that she wants.”

Lacey is currently up against former district attorney of San Francisco George Gascon for the position of L.A. County district attorney.

Donald Trump’s Black Supporters Make a Case for His Reelection

Stephen Oduntan, Staff

At Beverly Garderns in Beverly Hills on a Saturday afternoon, a Black woman wearing a bright red “Make America Great Again” hat is waving a blue flag that reads, “Trump 2020 – Keep America Great.” She’s among roughly 300 other maskless supporters – almost all of them white – gathered in a festive barbeque-like atmosphere cheering for President Trump’s second term.

Her name is Gabrielle Parker, a 30-year-old business owner who highlighted Trump’s work on justice reform and clemency as a significant accomplishment since being in office.

“[Trump’s] criminal justice reform was a huge achievement. I know so many people who’ve been locked up for marijuana and other small charges. I know this because I worked for a non-profit and saw an influx of not only Black but [Hispanic], and all types of people get out of prison for non-violent crimes. That’s amazing,” Parker said.

In what may be another close election, Trump’s ability to chip away at Vice President Joe Biden’s edge among Black voters could make the difference between winning and losing. Some polls suggest that Trump is actually performing better with Black voters than he did four years ago where he won just 8% of the Black vote.

Still, current polls show the vast majority of Black voters backing Trump’s Democratic rival, Biden. But in swing states like Wisconsin and North Carolina, where the presidential race could be tight, squeezing out a few more Black votes could make a difference for the 45th president.

Nonetheless, Trump’s Black support is still fairly low—dismal numbers some say are a result of Trump’s controversial remarks about race and peddling lies about the birthplace and presidential eligibility of President Barack Obama, the first Black president.

Teressa Thomas, however, blamed it on Black people’s willful amnesia about Biden’s record on racial issues.

Thomas is Black, in her mid-forties, and wears her hair in dreadlocks.

“If Black people did their research, they’d see that Biden did racist things and said racist things,” she said – a reference to Biden taking a stance against busing to desegregate schools in the 1970s.

She also said, “The media is making Trump look like a bad guy.”

So, what keeps these African-Americans with Trump, even after a history of statements, tweets, and actions widely been viewed as racist or racially charged?

Actor Siaka Massaquoi who was also at the rally told L.A. Focus it was the mainstream media as well. The media he said have gone through extreme lengths to paint a negative image of Trump. The first step in dispelling that media narrative he said should start with more Black people attending Trump rallies because what many will see is the real truth.

“They keep saying Trump is losing by double digits, but yet we see all these people here supporting him. It doesn’t make sense,” Massaquoi said.

In Massaquoi’s and frankly, every Black Trump supporter at Saturday’s rally was that the Democratic Party has consistently abandoned the Black communities that get them elected. He believes conservative political philosophies will best help African-Americans.

“The Democrats are not about helping people. It’s all about holding onto power with them. Look at Nancy Pelosi pulling out of talks for the bailouts. We’re talking about $1.8 trillion, the largest in U.S. history and she’s like nah ‘I want $2.4 trillion’ to bailout these cities that are mismanaged by these governors that called off police officers when riots were happening. She wants to bail them out,” said Massaquoi who mocked rap mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs for launching his own Black political party but only to later endorse Biden for president.

“Sean Puffy Combs has made a lot of money in this capitalist system. How much of that money has circulated in the Black communities? I don’t want to hear sh*t from him. From his perspective we’ve been getting shot by cops all day but where’s he at? We’ve been getting miseducated for decades but where’s he at? Yet he claims he’s upset. I’m not buying it. And to make matters worse he goes and supports [Biden] who locked most of us up. Get out of here with that,” said Massaquoi. 

Xavi Israel, the son of Italian and African-American parents, said he was baffled why more Black people are not supporting Trump given all he has done for the African-American community.

“We really haven’t had a president since Abraham Lincoln who has done as much for Black folks. People get so hung up on the way Trump talks and his crazy hair. But if you look at his Platinum Plan, lowest unemployment, opportunity zones, sums of money going to Historically Black Colleges and Universities; something Obama didn’t even do. I mean it just blows my mind that we’re still finding reasons to call Trump a racist,” Israel said.

The Platinum Plan, says the president’s campaign key staff and advisors, is designed to bring opportunity, security, fairness, and prosperity to Black communities. The proposals include prosecuting the Ku Klux Klan and Antifa as terrorist organizations, making Juneteenth a federal holiday, and efforts to bolster Black economic prosperity.

However, critics say all of Trump’s initiatives for Black people lined out in the Platinum Plan could’ve been accomplished in his first term.

“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ Lift Every Voice Plan is 22 pages and has over 120 mentions of Black or African-Americans, compared to Trump’s Platinum Plan which is not even quite two pages and only says anything about Black people 28 times,” said Reecie Colbert, of Black Woman Views.

Colbert added, “Trump says he’s the first president in decades to pass criminal justice reform. That is flat out false. President Obama passed the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010.”

Colbert was speaking on Roland Martin’s YouTube channel Unfiltered where the panel pointed out that the Obama administration invested more than $4 billion in HBCUs.

“We have a problem in which people refuse to accept facts,” Colbert said.

But Black Trump supporter Drew Barnett says Obama’s policies didn’t go far enough to help the masses.

“Obama had HBCU’s on a year by year funding basis which means Black academic institutions had to beg for more money. But [Trump] gave these schools permanent funding which is going to last for the next ten years,” said Barnett.

“And as far as prison reform goes, Obama did nothing.”

In any event, long queues have formed across the country for early in-person voting, a sign that Election Day, nearly two weeks away, could see a record turnout. “Donald Trump doesn’t need the Black vote but he’s still supporting us,” Barnett said.

Nigerian Diasporas Protest Outside CNN’s Building

Stephen Oduntan, Staff

A group of about 100 Nigerian diasporas rallied Sunday afternoon outside the CNN building on Sunset Blvd, waving flags and calling for police reforms in Nigeria.

The crowd of protesters chanted “End SARS Now,” and held homemade signs while about a dozen police officers stood nearby on their bicycle watching. There were no reports of any arrests.

This is the latest in a series of protests staged in support of Nigerians as tensions remain high after the youth took to the streets across Africa’s most populous country calling for the removal of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

It started on October 3rd of this year when a video of SARS officials allegedly killed a young Nigerian man and went viral, prompting a level of protests that were previously unseen. The youth started the hashtag #EndSars which quickly picked up steam, spreading to Nigerian diaspora communities in the U.S., U.K., and Canada.

“We need to send a message about what’s happening in Nigeria. The fight in Nigeria is a fight in Los Angeles, it’s a fight in Paris, it’s a fight in London, and it’s a fight in every city of the world. A lot of African-Americans are descendants of Nigeria. We need to stand for each other just like we stand up for Black Lives Matter; we have to stand to together against SARS, said Ade Koko, one of the protesters at Sunday’s demonstration.

The protests have also been backed by global celebrities such as Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, US rapper Kanye West, footballers Mesut Ozil and Marcus Rashford as well as Nigerian superstars Davido and Wizkid.

Uzochigoziri Obiefule said he wanted a better future for Nigeria and that’s why it was imperative he played his part in raising awareness on this issue.

“We are all here in America living a good life while our brothers and sisters are really suffering back home. Enough is enough. SARS has killed a lot of people. That’s why we’ve come out today to say SARS must end,” he said.

SARS officers are accused of extortion, torture, and murder.

Notably, the anti-SARS movement has made staggering gains in just two weeks.

In an unprecedented response to some of the demands, the Nigerian government vowed to disband SARS, set up of panels to investigate and prosecute rogue police officers and implement broader police reforms.

“We’re not going to wait till 2023,” said Ronke Ogunleye. “The government must end Sars now. Nigeria is my country, and I would love to go back home. I would love to take my children back home as well.”

Ogunleye said she’d been living in the U.S. for over 20 years but wouldn’t have left Nigeria to live abroad if corruption and bad government didn’t plague the oil-rich country.

“This is really not my home because we’re not accepted here. The police are here killing Black people. But I believe if Nigeria straightened up its act, Nigerians and African-Americans would have a home to go back to, and so it is important that we fix Nigeria and Africa, too, because when Africa is great, no police out here will look down on us. This is why it’s important we fix Nigeria. But we cannot fix Nigeria without holding our leaders accountable. The Nigerian government instituted SARS, and now they can’t control them” Ogunleye said.

Hundreds Rally in Los Angeles for Women’s March

Stephen Oduntan, Staff

Hundreds of demonstrators flooded the streets of downtown Los Angeles on Saturday for a boisterous fifth Women’s March to protest the nomination of federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court and the reelection campaign of President Trump.

The crowd assembled at Pershing Square and then marched a short distance through the high-rise buildings of downtown to City Hall and then back, covering a total of about three miles.

They chanted and listened to speakers.

“We are gathering in Los Angeles to say that we are confident in the women leaders of America and that women will decide this election,” said Amber Otwell, one of the organizers of the event.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the demonstration was considerably smaller compared to years past, but crowds still marched throughout other areas of the Southland, including Pasadena, Long Beach, Torrance, and Laguna Niguel.

Bronze Knight, an army veteran, talked about the current polarized climate in America and that social inequality wasn’t what she risked her life for in the military.

“As a Black woman, I have to fight. I fight for women being killed in their sleep. I fight for the LGBTQ community. I fight to have the right to be a woman in this country,” said Knight.

“All Black lives do matter along with Brown lives,” she continued. “Change has to happen. We can’t just stay this way. So I can’t just sit around and complain. I have to be out here and do something.”

Marchers also paid tribute to Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Black woman who was shot to death by police in her Kentucky home on March 13.

“Say her name,” a demonstrator chanted. “Breonna Taylor,” the group responded.

Some protesters dressed in red robes and white bonnets, portraying characters forced to bear children in the dystopian novel and television series “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Meanwhile, signs and banners emphasized anti-Trump overtones like “Trump/Pence: Out Now,” while others simply read “Pack Your Sh*t and Get Out.”

Iris Flores felt it was important that her five-year-old daughter accompany her to the demonstration, so she can grow up knowing the importance of her rights and beliefs.

“Our bodies are our rights. We control what happens to us, and no one else should’ve a say on that,” she said.

“Racism Never Sleeps,” read on the T-shirt of Joyce Guy, an African-American woman wearing a mask with a picture of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg whose September 18 death sparked the rush by Republicans to replace her with a conservative.

“It’s time for all of us to exercise our civic duty to vote, and also more than ever we have to let the White House know that we’re in total protest of their trying to ram Amy Coney Barrett through the Supreme Court,” Guy said.

She went on to say that Barrett’s confirmation would roll back women’s rights 20 years and could overturn Roe v. Wade in the next few years, either gradually or in one massive scoop.

“No one can replace Justice Ginsburg because she was an irreplaceable person. But if we’re going to have a woman replace her; let’s have a woman who represents women’s equality and women’s rights. This person who they’re trying to ram through the courts right now is not like that,” Guy said.

Asked what message Saturday’s march sent to the current occupier in the White House, Guy said, “It’s time for [Trump] to go. That’s the message.”

Dialyses Nurses: Prop 23 Poses Grave Threat to Black Patients

Quinci LeGardye | California Black Media  

 Ahead of the November election, a group of dialysis nurses and patients have come out in strong opposition to Proposition 23.  

If passed, Proposition 23 would require all kidney dialysis clinics to have a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant on site during dialysis treatment. It would also prohibit clinics from reducing their services without state approval and make it illegal for them to refuse treatment for patients based on their insurance or payment source. 

Although the proposition’s supporters say passing it would improve clinics across the board, opponents argue that requiring the presence of a physician at each clinic would force many clinics to shut down and increase healthcare costs for 80,000 California dialysis patients. Opponents also point out that the ballot measure would not require the physician to be a nephrologist or kidney specialist. 

Dialysis is an important medical procedure for patients with kidney failure, with risk of death increasing by 30 % after one missed appointment. Patients need to attend a regular clinic to avoid complications in treatment that may arise if patients were forced to visit emergency rooms.  

Opponents of Prop 23 argue that many smaller clinics would not be able to afford the new staffing requirements and would be forced to shut down, leaving dialysis patients without a regular clinic. 

“They’re not going to be able to operate because they’re not going to be able to afford the additional expense of paying this doctor when some of these expenses could be utilized to improve the equipment we have and which basically impacts the improvement in the care of a patient. It’s a waste of money,” said Kim Bailey, an Inglewood-based dialysis nurse. 

African Americans make up the majority of dialysis patients. According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 35 % of all patients receiving dialysis for kidney failure in the U.S. are Black, even though Black people make up only 13.2 % of the U.S. population. 

Bailey spoke about her staff, using tasks her employees perform as examples of the services that dialysis clinics already provide without Prop 23 in place. She emphasized that the patients, who come three times a week, are treated by nurses who match their shifts. This allows the nurses to bond with their patients and understand their conditions through familiarity. 

“This clinic is one of the largest ones in Southern California. I have 58 chairs, I have about 350 in-center patients, and then I have a home program as well. I have a medical director and associate medical director that are very accessible to us at any given time. Each patient has an assigned nephrologist. My physicians frequent the clinic. There is always someone in this clinic,” said Bailey. 

Los Angeles-based dialysis patient DeWayne Cox spoke about his own experience with dialysis, including what happened when he missed treatment, as an example of what might happen to other dialysis patients if the proposition passes. 

“I missed a shift for work on a Friday. I ended up in the emergency room that Saturday, and the physicians there did not know how to treat me. I received kidney failure because of high blood pressure, but I am not diabetic, but the physician there treated me like I was a diabetic and gave me insulin. I’d never had insulin before in my life, and I nearly died. And other patients do because of something like that, because they end up in the emergency room, because they miss a session,” said Cox. 

Kathy Fairbanks, the No on Prop 23 spokesperson who hosted the presentation, also spoke about the political backstory behind the ballot measure.  

Prop 23, she said, is a predecessor of 2018’s Proposition 8, which was voted down. Both the previous proposition and this year’s are supported by the SEIU-UHW West, a labor union for healthcare workers. Opponents of Prop 23 argue that Prop 23 is the union’s latest attempt to unionize dialysis clinic workers, 

“I think this is all part of a plan to put these initiatives on the ballot every two years, and essentially use it as a lever to force the dialysis provider to allow a union. If that were to happen, these initiatives every two years would cease to exist. We’d never seen another one on the ballot,” Fairbanks said. 

“I don’t like the fact that it is involving patient care. They need to continue to address the teammates that work in the dialysis facilities in terms of their union and not involve the patients in this,” Bailey said. 

CDC Greenlights Evictions Despite Continued Pandemic

Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Landlords can resume eviction proceedings after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued clarifications to a previous executive order from President Donald Trump.

The CDC’s memo released this week noted that its order “isn’t intended to prevent landlords from starting eviction proceedings, provided that the actual eviction of a covered person for non-payment of rent does NOT take place during the period of the Order.”

Further, the memo states that “landlords are not required to make their tenants aware of” Trump’s eviction moratorium and the CDC’s declaration form that renters must fill out to qualify.

Following the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, Trump issued an executive order that forced the CDC to temporarily halt evictions through the end of the year.

Diane Yentel, the nonprofit National Low-Income Housing Coalition president, suggested that Trump’s order should have been accompanied with legislation and substantial emergency assistance.

Yentel declared that monetary aid was necessary because of a “wave of homelessness” facing the country.

Many experts said the government should mimic Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and the DC City Council.

In September, the DC City Council voted unanimously an extension to Bowser’s state of emergency order, which prohibits evictions and ties them to the health emergency.

The Council’s action allows Bowser to extend the city’s moratorium on evictions as long as she opts for one.

The District’s law also bans new eviction filings, a move that will last for an additional two months following the end of the pandemic.

Further, notices to vacate are legally unenforceable during the eviction ban.

“When … my email box is flooded with resident outrage, we want to act quickly, and I agree,” D.C. At-large Councilmember Elissa Silverman told reporters. “But we also need to act thoroughly. The entire eviction process needs to be, I think, examined, and all of these recommendations made in the story deserve our consideration.”

A study conducted by Harvard University’s Department of Housing Studies revealed that half of Americans who rent are either severely rent-burdened or moderately rent-burdened.

For African Americans and Hispanics, researchers at Harvard determined a triple pandemic for those communities.

Black and Hispanic households were “much more likely to contract COVID-19, suffer lost income, and face housing insecurity as a result of the pandemic,” the researchers concluded.

“It’s a good time for the United States to really re-look at our housing policies,” Yentel told Yahoo! News. “And see what changes need to be made post-pandemic or even during the pandemic to help those who were already struggling.”

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that about 30 percent of American adults face some form of eviction or foreclosure by December.

To help protect against eviction, tenants must show that their 2020 income is less than 2019, and they have to prove that the coronavirus caused them to lose employment or the ability to earn money.

The CDC memo did provide a steadier position for homeowners with Federal Housing Administration-insured loans through the end of 2020.

The memo prohibits banks from foreclosing on homes until January 2021 at the earliest.

The CDC memo also reinforced cries for a new federal stimulus. However, the Trump administration and Democrats have remained apart in negotiations.

“If Trump walks away from passing a stimulus, we are staring down the barrel of one of largest mass evictions in American history,” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in a Twitter post.

Vermont Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders also tweeted his concern.

“The tsunami of evictions we are about to see is unacceptable.”

In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union also called for a stimulus agreement to assist financially ailing Americans.

“Every day, people in our country are suffering through unemployment and evictions. People are dying in prisons and jails and from lack of access to testing and treatment. This is all happening while the clock ticks down to Election Day. People need relief now,” the organization stated.


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