L.A. To Double Down on Businesses Defying COVID Safety Orders

      With California surpassing New York in Coronavirus cases, L.A. County health officials have said that they are stepping up enforcement on businesses that fail to comply with health orders imposed with the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 17,000 businesses has been investigated since the state first issued lockdown orders in mid-March.

      While most of the businesses—including restaurants, grocery stores and pools—have either come into compliance or are working to come into compliance, 100 businesses have been shut down.

      The department is set to begin issuing fines at the end of August. Fines range from $100 to $500 for the first offense. Repeated offenses may result in a 30-day business suspension.

      “This is an unprecedented public health emergency and we’re still learning and adapting as we navigate this crisis,” said L.A. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis, said. “COVID-19 is not going to disappear overnight. We all want our local businesses to be open and more people to get back to making a living and to thrive, but we all must operate responsibly. Business owners and operators are critical partners in slowing the spread of COVID-19. It protects their employees, it protects their customers and it helps the entire community.”

      To curtail unsafe business operations in the city of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti, is deploying “business ambassadors” to advise or cite businesses that are not following COVID safety guidelines. The city received over 500 reports over the past two weeks of businesses not operating in compliance with health protocols.

California Churches Suing Governor Newsom Say They Have a Right to Sing

Three northern California churches are suing Governor Gavin Newsom in an attempt to overturn his ban on singing and chanting inside places of worship. On behalf of Calvary Chapel of Ukiah, Calvary Chapel of Fort Bragg and River of Life Church in Oroville, the lawsuit seeks an injunction against the state health department’s July 1 order that looks to slow the spread of COVID-19.

            The churches argue that Newsom unfairly targeted places of worship and didn’t enact the same guidelines for businesses and the ongoing protests that have swept the nation.

            “On or about July 2, 2020, following implementation of the Worship Ban, when asked to explain whether people should heed Newsom’s mandate and avoid large crowds and gatherings, Newsom refused to place the same restrictions on protesters and explained ‘we have a Constitution, we have a right to free speech,’ and further stated that ‘we are all dealing with a moment in our nation‘s history that is profound and pronounced … Do what you think is best,’” the lawsuit states.

            Public health officials and medical professionals have reiterated that there’s evidence that suggests talking and increased ventilation increase germ particles in the air, two occurrences that happen while singing. The officials suggest that these particles, should they contain COVID-19, can cause infection after lingering in the air for a time and then being ingested.

            Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice) says that the governor’s order is unconstitutional. 

            “Banning singing in California churches is an unconstitutional abuse of power,” said Sekulowin in an announcement about the suit. “And to do it in the name of a pandemic is despicable.”

            Along with Tyler & Bursch, The National Center for Law and Policy and Advocates for Faith & Freedom, ACLJ acted as the churches’ legal team for the lawsuit and many of the attorneys have challenged Newsom’s past orders regarding places of worship during the pandemic. 

“Since the initiation of the lockdown, restrictive mandates in the state’s health orders have been applied to houses of worship unfairly and much more aggressively than other businesses arbitrarily deemed essential, including restaurants and other gatherings,” a press release from ACLJ reads.  

Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry Inc. filed an emergency request with a federal judge seeking a temporary restraining order that would halt the enforcement of Newsom’s ban on singing. The civil complaint states that the ban violates religious freedom and the “cherished liberties for which so many have fought and died.” The lawsuit also states that in times of distress ”congregants are to sing to the Lord even more and to sing aloud to him.”

As it stands, congregations are still being held to the guidelines of the order which state that no chanting or singing is allowed and all houses of worship are required to limit attendance to 25 percent of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees.

“Stop Killing Us:” Activists Bring Their Pain to State Capitol

Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media 

            Last week, several California social and criminal justice organizations, as well as community-based groups, gathered for a rally at the state Capitol titled “Stop Killing Us.” Oakland-based All of Us or None (AOUON) organized the event — with the help of other partners across the state — to condemn police violence against African Americans. 

            AOUON is a project of Legal Service for Prisoners With Children (LSPC), a nonprofit civil rights organization that advocates for the rights of formerly and currently incarcerated people and their families. 

            Their demonstration was peaceful — done with official permission — and less spontaneous than recent explosive protests and riots triggered by the brutal murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in Minnesota, at the hands of police officers.  

            But it was charged with strong convictions and a solemn sense of grief, much like those protests.  

            “You mess with our children, I’ll come running,” said Yolanda Banks, the mother of Sahleem Tindle, who a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer killed on Jan. 3, 2018. He was 28.  

            “I have to march,” Banks continued. “We fight together.”  

            Banks frequently joins other grieving African American families from around California who have lost loved ones to police violence for rallies and vigils like the one AOUON held in Sacramento.  

            Participants arrived from Riverside, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Bakersfield, Vallejo, Richmond, Oakland, San Francisco, and other places in the state. Most of the people in attendance were people who have been impacted by police violence. 

            On the front steps of the State Capitol, large black-and-white photos of people of color who have been victims of police deadly force were on display. According to AOUON, police violence has claimed the lives of 600 people in California over the last five years 

            Asale-Haquekyah Chandler (pronounced “Ah-SAH-lah”)  made the trip east to Sacramento from San Francisco to support Banks and the other families involved with “Stop Killing Us.” Chandler is hosting the “One Life Walk: A Silent Walk Parade Protest” in downtown San Francisco July 28.  

            Chandler, who ran unsuccessfully for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors District 10 seat in 2018, has also been affected by violence, but not at the hands of law enforcement. Her 19-year-old son Yalani Chinyamurindi, while on a lunch break in San Francisco, was shot and killed, along with three individuals he knew.  

            The young men 20, 21, and 22 years of age were giving her son a ride back to his job when four gunmen surrounded the car they were in and opened fire. 

            Locally, around the Bay Area, the crime, which took place on Jan. 9, 2015, has been dubbed the “San Francisco 4.” Chandler said she and Banks (the two women knew each other well before their sons died) attended the event because see themselves as “fighters of justice and equality for all of our lives,” she said. 

            “We were fighting way before these children were murdered,” Chandler said. “So, the uniqueness we’re bringing to the table was meant to be. Though I hate to say it — because we lost (our children). My child was killed by the community and her child was killed by the police. We didn’t want to be in this club (mothers of children violently killed). But we are the right ones to be in this club.” 

            Banks, who lives on a rural farm in Calaveras County, told California Black Media (CBM) that the events that AOUON stage are “painful but therapeutic.” 
            The pain and passion expressed by Banks, Chandler, and other participants (who each read aloud the names of the departed) was evident.  Several lawmakers emerged from the State Capitol to support the event and stand with the families. They included African American legislators: Sen. Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), Sen. Steven Bradford (D- Los Angeles), and Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). 

            McCarty authored a constitutional amendment, ACA 6, which will be on the general election ballot in November. Known as the “Free the Vote Act,” ACA 6 will seek voters’ approval to restore voting rights to former inmates on parole.  

            AOUON and LSPC’s policy director Ken Oliver said the prison inmate-support organizations side with ACA 6. 

            “Yes, we support ACA 6,” Oliver told the large crowd at the rally. “We have 40 thousand people out here who can’t vote. So, understand when we talk policy. I have 80 thousand sitting behind the wall right now, I have eight million in California that have felony convictions, I have neighborhoods that are suffering. People can’t get jobs, and I have people out here getting killed by the police. That’s going to change.”

Protesters Mourn the Loss of Robert Fuller in Palmdale Park

By Stephen Oduntan | Staff Writer

Several dozen protesters descended Thursday evening on Poncitlan Square in Palmdale, questioning the circumstances surrounding Robert Fuller’s death and demanding justice for other victims of police brutality against African Americans.

Fuller, 24, was found hanging from a tree last Wednesday less than a fortnight after another black man was found dead in a strikingly similar manner about 45 miles east of Palmdale.

But if that initial tragedy wasn’t enough, a second tragedy occurred when the half brother of Fuller, was killed by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in a shootout Wednesday, officials say.

“This afternoon I had to notify the sisters of Robert Fuller that their half-brother Terron Jammal Boone was killed by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in Kern County,” said Hicks in an email released to the press.

Now, both deaths are under investigation.

“The system isn’t built for us, and it’s got to change,” said National Action Network’s Jonathan Moseley. “That’s why we have representatives across the country so that they can have some sort of comfort in knowing we’ve got their back.”

Asked if he believed the official report from the sheriff’s department that “Mr. Fuller, tragically, committed suicide,” Moseley immediately and unequivocally answered, “I don’t believe it. African-Americans do not commit death by hanging. Under no circumstances. It’s just not our culture.”

At the protest for Fuller that was hosted by the Let Me Catch My Breath movement, people voiced concerns that Fuller may have been lynched and believe investigators failed to follow proper procedures by considering alternatives, such as the possibility of a hate crime.

The proof is all around them some said.

Pointing out that racism is rife in the high desert city where confederate flags hang from front poles in people’s yards, on bumper stickers and T-shirts.

“A significant number of white people that are here are just southerners who moved to California for a quote-unquote, better way of life,” said Moseley. “That’s why you have the same Jim Crow attitudes in pockets of areas like here.”

But the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said there was no evidence of foul play in the death of Fuller and deemed it a likely suicide based on preliminary findings but vowed to continue to look deeper into the case.

“Investigators have been in contact with Mr. Fuller’s family and are continuing their investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Fuller’s death,” Palmdale officials wrote in a statement.

Still, the message of Thursday’s gathering echoed those taking place around the country: Stop police brutality against the black community. Organizers said the protest was originally meant to honor George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed last month while in the custody of Minneapolis police. But they decided to hold a peaceful gathering to remember Fuller because he was found dead hanging from a tree in a park in the city.

They filled the Palmdale park holding signs that read “Black lives matter,” “Say their names” and “I can’t breathe” as Bob Marley’s song “War”, and Fela Kuti’s “Water No Get Enemy” played from a loudspeaker.

“We lost a brother who should still be with us,” said Isabel Flax, one of the protest organizers who urged the crowd to channel their energy as a collective front united on one accord. 

“We might never get justice in Robert Fuller’s case because we possibly won’t ever know who killed him, and so justice for us is going to be changing policy.”

Arthur Calloway, another one of the organizers and speakers, said the city would’ve responded with the full weight of law enforcement, had a police officer been found hanging from a tree.

“They’d had been 600 cops scouring the neighborhood,” he said. “Kicking down doors and getting every ounce of video they can scrape. Doing everything that they can to find out who did it.

“But when Robert Fuller died, it was considered a suicide immediately. It’s indicative of a system that does not value all life the same.”

And this added Calloway, “is why it’s important to vote.

Stressing that part of policy change is making sure people can be put in office and push the reforms that extend to the black community. “We need to go out and vote because that is what’s going to stop us from getting lynched on a tree.”


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