One Down, Three to Go: How Will Chauvin Verdict Factor in Trials of Three Remaining Officers Charged in Death of George Floyd

Staff

As most in the nation applauded the verdict handed down by a Minneapolis jury finding former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter, one lingering question remains: how will the Chauvin verdict factor in the trial of the three officers also charged in the death of George Floyd last May.

Now free on $750,000 bail, the fates of former officers—Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane—still hang in the balance. All three were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder which carries a maximum sentence of not more than 40 years, and second-degree manslaughter which could result in imprisonment of not more than 10 years or payment of not more than $20,000 or both.

“No doubt the guilty verdicts in the Derek Chauvin trial are bad news for the other three officers,” said L.A.-based civil rights attorney and CNN commentator Areva Martin. “Lang and Keung assisted Chauvin in putting George Floyd in the prone position and restraining him for nearly 10 minutes without providing medical assistance in violation of the department’s policies. Thao stood by in what can best be described as the “lookout.” position while the assault on George Floyd was carried out. The jury has made it clear this conduct is unreasonable excessive force and that the force caused Mr. Floyd’s death. They deemed this conduct murder. This leaves very few, if any, defenses for the remaining three defendants. I expect they are already talking to their lawyers about plea deals.”

Attorney Ricky Ivie of Ivie McNeill Wyatt agreed.

“The handwriting is on the wall. The pathway for how to obtain a conviction has already been established,” Ivie said. “The three officers are charged with aiding and abetting an unintentional murder. Now that the murder has been proven I predict the remaining defendants will make a plea bargain with the prosecution in exchange for a lesser sentence.”

Thao, a seven year veteran, was Chauvin’s partner. Thao stood bay between the crowd and the officers restraining Floyd. While the 35-year old was the only one of the remaining three former officers to have not participated in physically restraining Floyd, he was charged equally.

Thomas Lane was the first officer to approach Floyd, pointing a gun to his head and giving him a profanity laced order to get out of the car before handcuffing him. Lane would later be seen kneeling on—and holding down—his legs. The 38-year old rookie, who at one point was concerned about the possibility of “excited delirium”, is reported to have asked Chauvin if they shouldn’t roll Floyd on his side.

Alexander Kueng, also a rookie—having been on the Minneapolis police force for just a matter of days, kneeled on Floyd’s back for the more than nine minutes. He would subsequently check for a pulse after Floyd lost consciousness, and remark that he didn’t find one.

Kueng, who is bi-racial, was said to have joined the force to change the narrative between police and the Black community. His sister told the New York Times that as a Black man, her brother should have intervened. “I don’t care if it was his third day at work or not,” she said. “He knows right from wrong.”

While all three have been scheduled to stand trial together on August 23, their defenses will hardly be united as revealed in a legal motion by one of the defense attorneys.

“There are very likely going to be antagonistic defenses presented at the trial,” reported a lawyer for Thomas K. Lane. “It is plausible that all officers have a different version of what happened and officers place blame on one another.”

Lawyers for Lane and Keung say that they expressed concerns about Chavin’s actions, but did nothing to stop him even as in accordance with a 2016 Minneapolis police department policy, officers are required to “either stop or attempt to stop another sworn employee when force is being inappropriately applied or is no longer required.”

California Elected Officials, Civic Leaders React to George Floyd Verdict

Antonio Ray Harvey, Bo Tefu & Tanu Henry | California Black Media

“The hard truth,” Gov. Newsom said in an April 20 statement, “is that if George Floyd looked like me, he’d still be alive today.” Newsom made the remark after a Hennepin County jury found Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 45, guilty in the murder of George Floyd.

The jury convicted Chauvin on two counts of murder, homicide and one of manslaughter, for pinning his knee on the neck of Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds on May 25, 2020.

The California governor joined other Golden State officials to speak out about the verdict and the enduring problems of police violence against unarmed citizens, particularly African American suspects.

“No conviction can repair the harm done to George Floyd and his family, but today’s verdict provides some accountability as we work to root out the racial injustice that haunts our society,” the governor continued. “We must continue the work of fighting systemic racism and excessive use of force. It’s why I signed some of the nation’s most progressive police reform legislation into law. I will continue working with community leaders across the state to hear concerns and support peaceful expression.”

Sen. Steve Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, took to Twitter to comment on the verdict.

“I’m overwhelmed to tears over this verdict: Guilty. #GeorgeFloyd did not have to die that day. His family is still healing from this trauma. We must continue to fight for justice in this country, for all of us,” he tweeted.

Earlier in the day, the California Legislative Black Caucus held a press conference to address police brutality and lethal force by peace officers in California and across the country.

“There may be calls about a crisis. There may be calls about an emergency, but they are not calls intended to initiate death. They are not calls for lethal force. They are calls for issuing de-escalation and resolution.” said Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles).

Kamlager, along with her colleagues – including Assemblymember Mike Gipson, who Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) appointed Chair of the Select Committee on Police Reform – for the briefing. They called on their peers to pass the C.R.I.S.I.S. Act, or Assembly Bill (AB) 2054, legislation that proposes that communities rely on social worker be relied on to intervene in some public safety incidents instead of police officers.

The bill was first introduced last year, but it died in committee.

California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber was also attended the CLBC press conference.

“You know it’s really hard after 410 years in this country to continue to raise the same issues over and over again,” Dr. Weber said. “When I look and begin to analyze it, I realize that all we’re asking is to have what everybody else has…to be treated fairly. To be treated as a human being. To be treated just.”

President of the NAACP California-Hawaii Conference, Rick L. Callender, said justice was served in the Chauvin case.

“It was very clear that our very right to breath was on trial,” Callender told California Black Media. “For too long African Americans have been subjected to the knee of injustice choking us out – in so many different ways. This verdict demonstrates that a badge is never a shield for accountability.”

Speaking from San Diego, Shane Harris, founder and president of the People’s Association of Justice, a national civil rights alliance that started in California, said the Floyd verdict represents a starting point for reimagining policing in America through federal legislation.

“The reality is that there is a Derek Chauvin in a police department near you and the question is whether our local, state and federal governments will step up to protect the next George Floyd from being killed in our country,” he said. Chauvin had multiple complaints against him during his career on the Minneapolis Police force, but the city and the department failed to act. We will not have an Attorney General like Keith Ellison in every state going forward to press for justice like he did which is why I call on the U.S. Senate to urgently bring the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 to the Senate floor now, pass the legislation and send it to the President’s desk to sign immediately.”

After 12 hours of deliberations – as people across the country and around the globe waited in anticipation – for the jury returned with the verdict that held Chauvin responsible for second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

The jury consisted of six Black or multiracial people along with six White individuals. Chauvin’s attorney requested bail, but the presiding judge revoked their proposal, and he was taken into custody.

Under Minnesota laws, Chauvin could get a sentence of up to 40 years in prison.

California Congresswoman and Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) drew some criticism on social media for a statement she made regarding the verdict. Her critics chided the Speaker for thanking Floyd for his “sacrifice,” a man who they point out was unwittingly murdered by a police officer.

Standing with members of the Congressional Black Caucus in front of the U.S. Capitol, Pelosi said, “Thank you George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice. Because of you and because of thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice,” the Speaker said.

GALA

Photo by: Antonio Ray Harvey Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-LA), Tecoy Porter, President of National Action Network Sacramento, Western Region, Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), vice-chair of the CLBC, Senator Steven Bradford (D-LA ), chair CLBC, Assemblymember Chris Holden ( D-Pasadena) Assemblymember Kevin McCarty ( D-Sacramento) and Secretary of State Shirley Weber.

Kobe Bryant Estate and Nike Fail to Come to Terms

J.T. Torbit

A beautiful business partnership has come to an end as the Kobe Bryant estate and Nike executives have failed to come to terms on a contract extension after a partnership that has lasted two decades.

“Kobe and Nike have made some of the most beautiful basketball shoes of all time, worn and adored by fans and athletes in all sports across the globe,” Vanessa Bryant said in a released statement. “It seems fitting that more NBA players wear my husband’s product than any other signature shoe. My hope will always be to allow Kobe’s fans to get and wear his products. I will continue to fight for that. Kobe’s products sell out in seconds. That says everything. I was hoping to forge a lifelong partnership with Nike that reflects my husband’s legacy. We will always do everything we can to honor Kobe and Gigi’s legacies. That will never change.”

Reports were that Bryant—frustrated by the limited releases of Kobe shoes after his retirement and the lack of availability of children’s sizes—was looking for a lifetime contract similar to that of LeBron James with Nike.

“Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers,” Nike said in a statement that was issued on Monday. “He pushed us and made everyone around him better. Though our contractual relationship has ended, he remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family.”

The move is likely to include the demand—and price— of Kobe shoes given that Nike will halt the manufacturing of his products.

Derek Chauvin Chooses Not to Testify in His Defense [Video]

AP

Derek Chauvin chose not to take the stand during his murder trial on Thursday morning (April 15). In what marked the 14th day of his trial, the former Minneapolis police officer told Judge Peter Cahill that he would instead exercise his Fifth Amendment right and decline to testify in his defense.

“I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today,” he said on Thursday.

After Chauvin declined to testify, the defense rested their case. However, prosecutors were allowed to call Dr. Martin Tobin, the pulmonologist who testified last week, back to the stand.

On April 8, Tobin testified that a “low level of oxygen” killed George Floyd, which he said was caused by Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck, the prone position, the positioning of his handcuffs and more.

This statement was challenged yesterday by forensic pathologist Dr. David Fowler, who claimed carbon monoxide from the police car’s exhaust could have contributed to Floyd’s death, among other factors.

However, after Fowler made the claim, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told the judge they had new evidence regarding the presence of carbon monoxide in Floyd’s blood. Chauvin’s defense lawyer, Eric Nelson, argued that prosecutors should not be allowed to introduce the new evidence at this late stage, and judge Cahill agreed.

Therefore, the judge said Dr. Tobin could return as a witness to refute Fowler’s claims, but ordered him not to discuss the new evidence. If Tobin even mentioned the test results, Cahill said, it would lead to a mistrial.

Tobin rejected Fowler’s claims without discussing the test results and said Fowler’s opinion about carbon monoxide contributing to Floyd’s death was “simply wrong.” The prosecution and defense both rested their cases after Tobin’s testimony and the court adjourned for the day.

The jury is expected to return on Monday (April 19) morning at 10 a.m. EST to hear closing arguments.

Judge Throws Out Joe Collins Lawsuit Against Maxine Waters

Staff

L.A. Superior Court Judge Yolanda Orozco has dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought by Joe Collins, the republican candidate she defeated by more than 90,000 votes last year in the 43rd Congressional District race last year.

The lawsuit was filed after a highly contentious race that had both candidate trading unflattering barbs about the other, including this tweet posted the day after the congresswoman secured her 16th term.

“The Repubs tried it again! They raised $10 m to try & defeat me w/ a candidate who was dishonorably discharged from the Navy & was a deadbeat dad refusing to pay child support for 4 different children in 4 different states. We have the receipts & we’re sharing them w/ everybody!”

Last September, Collins filed a defamation and libel lawsuit against Waters and her campaign accusing them of falsely advertising, during the campaign, through printed material and radio commercials that he was dishonorably discharged in an effort to deceive the voters.

In her defense, Waters testified in a sworn declaration that the information was obtained from a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Anello.

“In other words, I am being sued for quoting the written decision of a federal judge in my campaign literature,” Waters stated.

In her decision, Judge Orozco ruled that Collins had failed to prove Waters “knew that their statements were false or that they entertained serious doubt as to statements’ truth.”

“I am so grateful to Judge Orozco for granting our motion to throw out my opponent Joe Collins’ frivolous case against my campaign, and that the law will require him to pay my attorney’s fees,” said Waters in a statement following the dismissal. “The irony is not lost on me that some of the money Collins raised from Donald Trump supporters across the country will actually be applied to my legal defense against his trash lawsuit. The fact of the matter is Joe Collins was rejected by the 43rd Congressional District because everyone saw him for what he is: a lying, conniving, fraud who has no intention of doing anything to uplift communities he took every opportunity to diminish and disparage in the local press.

“The voters in my district took a stand against Joe Collins and Donald Trump in November, and we will most certainly defeat Joe Collins when he tries to run the same playbook in 2022,” Waters continued. “We will defeat him because Joe Collins is not actually interested in getting elected to office. Running for office has become his job and a source of income to support a lifestyle as a right-wing troll and not to become a legitimate public servant.”

Hundreds of Compton Residents Chosen for Guaranteed Income Program

Dianne Lugo

Compton has joined in participating in a successful program to grant some of its residents a guaranteed income, no strings attached.

800 residents of the city have been feeling some relief since January as a part of Mayor Aja Brown’s program that offers them $300 to $600 every month for the next two years.

“Guaranteed income is really about dignity, and that regardless of circumstances, that all people deserve to live a life free of terror from not having the basic necessities,” said Compton Mayor Brown in January.

Recipients of the cash were chosen randomly and included undocumented residents as well as formerly incarcerated people.

Brown joins Mayors whove instated  instituted similar basic income programs around the world. Locally, former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs was the first to launch a mayor-led guaranteed income program in the nation. 125 of his residents were given $500 a month for two years.

In Stockton, those extra $500 led to reduced income volatility, led recipients to find full-time employment, helped residents set goals, and lessened depression and anxiety.

“The people who received the cash-secured full-time jobs at more than twice the rate of people in a control group who did not receive it,” reported ABC 7.

The results are not dissimilar to what Mayor Brown expects to see in Compton through the “Compton Pledge” program.

“There’s empirical data from other guaranteed income pilots across the nation over the last two years that really underscore that people are making the smart decisions and the best decisions for their family with this additional income,” Brown explained to KCRW.

Analysis of the experiment will come from studies conducted by the nonprofit Jain Family Institute. The institute designs guaranteed income programs. Academic research will come later to see how the program may help solidify state and federal programs.

“I believe that the body of data that will be formulated through this pilot will help really lay the groundwork and make the case with empirical data that this is a necessary vehicle to begin to undo systemic racism in a tangible way,” Brown told the LA Times. “And in a way that actually can be measured.”

Pastor Tyron Robinson Named to Succeed Bishop Paul Morton

Staff

Last year, nationally renowned pastor and gospel singer Bishop Paul S. Morton announced he would step down as senior pastor of the Changing a Generation Full Gospel Baptist Church megachurch in Atlanta and the Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church in July on his 70th birthday. But with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the award-winning singer and founder and past president of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship subsequently postponed his retirement, stating that he would stay on until there was a vaccine for the coronavirus.

Now—a year later and with three vaccines in circulation—Morton has announced that both he and his wife and co-pastor, Debra Morton, will indeed retire in July. He has also named his successor son-in-law Tyron Robinson, senior pastor of the Los Angeles-based Pilgrim’s Hope Baptist Church and the Compton-based Zion Baptist Evangelical Temple.

Robinson and his wife, Jasmine Morton Robinson, say they were both thrilled and surprised by the decision, although there has not yet been an official statement.

“If you had told me that this is where I would be in 2021 back in 2011, I would have laughed. I’m still numb at the news,” Robinson said. “I’m still processing. It’s surreal. I signed up for Jasmine and nothing more. I had Jesus and I wanted Jasmine. This has come with the anointing and the assignment, but this is a complete surprise to me.”

The L.A. native, however, insists that he is ready to take on the helm of one of Atlanta’s largest Black congregations along with one of the biggest churches in New Orleans, adding that he had already learned a great deal from Morton.

“Intense integrity and character,” he says of Morton. “How to build sustainability. He’s 46 years in pastoring. I’m 25 years, so I’m getting an up-close and personal view of how to maneuver the next chapter of my pastorate and what really makes longevity.”

The couple will be relocating to Atlanta and New Orleans this summer. While Bishop Morton and Co-Pastor Debra Morton will stay on as overseers and continue to preach intermittently at both churches, they will make their home base in New Orleans and will be relieved of the administrative and daily operational responsibilities of the churches and the weekly long-distance commutes.

For Jasmine Robinson, it will be a homecoming.

“All of my family is in New Orleans, so it will be great to be back home, and that will be home base for my parents,” Robinson explains. “At the same time, it is bittersweet. We had to meet with our churches last night to tell them we were leaving, and that was tough.”

What won’t be tough— according to First Lady elect Jasmine Robinson—is adjusting to their new congregations in Atlanta and New Orleans.

“They know Tyron and they know me, so they’re excited,” she said. “They’ve all been following us on social media, so they are really familiar with our ministry.”

New Fund Will Grant $10,000 to Struggling Local Business Owners

Staff

More relief for local Los Angeles small business owners is on the way.

A new fund, the LA Regional COVID Fund, for small brick-and-mortar businesses, specifically in the personal care and retail sectors, has been launched.

A total of $4.7 million in financial aid will be available through the “Keep our Shops on the Block” grant for hair and beauty salons, nail salons, barbershops, dry cleaners, bookstores, bakeries, and more. These businesses will be eligible for a $10,000 grant.

The fund comes from Los Angeles County in partnership with Local Initiatives Support Corporation LA. LISC LA is an organization that has been working throughout the pandemic to support community developments. They’ve also hosted a series of 5 webinars during the pandemic named similarly “Keep Our Shops on the Block.” The webinars provided information to small businesses about resources available during the pandemic. 5 of the attendees at each webinar were also chosen for a $2,500 grant.

Applications for eligible businesses open on April 5th and close on April 11th. To be eligible, businesses must also have annual revenue under $1,000,000 and cannot have received a CRF-funded grant from the county in 2021.

Grant winners will be chosen randomly, the LA Regional COVID fund has explained. However, certain applicants will also be weighted more heavily in the system to assist the most vulnerable businesses.

“Businesses that will receive higher weightings include those that: are veteran-owned, have an annual gross revenue under $500,000, or are located in County Districts with higher poverty rates, lower educational attainment, and lower median income,” explained a statement about the program.

Federal Moratorium on Evictions During Pandemic Has Been Extended

Staff

President Biden’s administration has heeded advice from housing advocates and are once again extending a federal moratorium on evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Set to expire on Wednesday, the moratorium is now extended to the end of June. It is a moratorium first initiated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September that barred evicting tenants for their inability to pay rent using a 1944 public health law. Congress extended that order in December, and Biden had renewed it again through the end of March.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a historic threat to the nation’s public health,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky explained in a statement. “Keeping people in their homes and out of crowded or congregate settings — like homeless shelters — by preventing evictions is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

The extension will help 18.4% of all tenants that surveys show owe back rent. It will also significantly impact Black tenants.

In the survey from the Census Bureau’s Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 12 million renters were behind on rent in the middle of March. Tenants of color were also shown to be disproportionately at risk. 24% of Black renters were behind on rent, the survey estimated. A different survey estimated up to 34% of Black tenants owed rent that was past due.

Some housing advocates remain hopeful Biden will do more than just extending the moratorium. Some landlords have successfully gone around the moratorium which is “flawed.”

“It’s disappointing that the administration didn’t act on the clear evidence and need to also strengthen the order to address the flaws that undermine its public health purpose,” said National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Diane Yentel in response.

Advocates are also concerned about what happens once the federal ban is lifted. The $45 billion in rental assistance from Congress has been slow to reach landlords and tenants hoping to pay off back rent and delayed mortgage payments. Even then, once the federal ban is lifted, struggling tenants will be expected to pay their entire rent owed or set up some sort of payment plan with their landlord.

The Virus, Vaccines and New Variants: Weighing the Threat of a Mutant COVID Strain

Manny Otiko | California Black Media

Health care specialists, including several medical doctors, are keeping their eyes on coronavirus variants that some fear could lead to new strains of COVID-19 that could possibly undermine global efforts to vaccinate people and stem the global crisis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the B117 variant (first detected in the UK), the most threatening because of its prevalence, is the cause of 20 % of new infections in the United States – and 30 % of new infections in Florida.

Dr. Nirav Shah, senior scholar at Stanford University’s School of Medicine and chief medical officer of Sharecare, a health data services firm, says there are currently four different variants of COVID-19. He said the virus is adapting because “of evolution and natural selection.”

“The more virus particles there are, the more chances that a single virus particle may be a little different than the rest of them,” said Shah. “One or more virus particles is all you need to have a slight change. Maybe these spike protein changes – just a little – and it can attach to cells better than all the other particles.”

Shah said the virus is adapting as it encounters new hosts. But scientists are in a race to get everyone inoculated before the level of the disease in a community gets too high.

The B117 strain, he says, is 50 more % infectious than the original strain of the coronavirus and it could lead to up to a 60 % to 70 % higher rate of deaths, according to a paper published in the journal Nature.

Shah said some of the COVID-19 virus variants could reinfect people who have contracted the disease before. The good news, he says, is that the B117 is susceptible to existing vaccine therapies, although other variants like 1351 (first detected in South Africa) and P1 (first detected in Brazil), could reduce the effectiveness of the COVID shots in patients.

Fortunately, to date, scientists studying COVID-19 have not identified any variants that have been designated “Variants of High Consequence.” Those in that category “cause more disease and more hospitalizations, and they have been shown to defeat medical countermeasures, like vaccines, antiviral drugs, and monoclonal antibodies,” says Shah.

Shah was speaking at a recent news briefing on COVID-19 Virus variants organized by Ethnic Media Services. Other panelists on the Zoom teleconference were: Dr. Daniel Turner-Lloveras, a member of the Latino Coalition Against COVID-19; Dr. Dali Fan, a UC Davis Health Science clinical professor and Dr. Kim Rhoads, an African American physician and Associate Professor, Epidemiology & Biostatistics, at UC San Francisco’s School of Medicine.

Although the average citizen may be surprised at how COVID-19 is changing, Fan said the virus’ adaptation and mutation are much like other diseases.

He also presented some statistics from the Center for Disease Control about the coronavirus vaccines and their development. He said the vaccines were tested before they were released to the public.

“All three vaccines are very effective against symptomatic COVID-19,” said Fan. He said there are differences in the content of the vaccines and how they are stored. Fan said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires one dose, is easier to transport and is perfect for pop-up clinics and rural areas.

“It may be a better option for people who want to get fully vaccinated quickly,” he said.

Turner-Lloveras said that one of the issues overlooked during the coronavirus pandemic is the impact of the digital divide. Black and Latino communities often lag in vaccination rates because they don’t have access to high-speed Internet to discover information and arrange for their vaccination appointments.

“Internet access is a civil rights issue, at this stage,” said Turner-Lloveras. “All of the resources that are provided to people are online.”

He also said more than 20 million seniors don’t have broadband access. “This is a group that needs to be vaccinated, but they don’t have access to the Internet,” he said.

He’s trying to solve this problem with a group called the Digital Companeros, who meet with senior citizens and help them walk through online registration and information. The organization also has a WhatsApp group to target people who access the Internet through their cell phones.

According to Rhoads, some of these reports about Black hesitancy and under-vaccination may not be accurate. She talked about her experiences serving a predominantly African American population in San Francisco through Umoja Health, a coalition of community health organizations that joined their efforts to increase COVID-19 awareness, testing and vaccinations in Black communities in the Bay Area.

The organization held a mass testing event in the Sunnydale and Bayview Hunters Point neighborhoods in San Francisco where they screened about 400 people, taking a community-based approach she calls “service in the name of public health.” No one came back positive for the coronavirus at a time when there was a 2 % positivity rate in all of San Francisco. She said the people, who were tested by community members, were also eager to get the vaccines. However, she attributes their willingness and openness to their confidence in Umoja Health.

“The community developed rapid trust in us. I was very surprised by this and they called out to us when one community member tested positive,” she said. “We saw neighbors going door to door, knocking, telling people to come out and get tested.

“What we recognized from that mass-testing site was that it was not going to work for the African American community,” said Rhoads. “But something more intimate would.”

Rhoads said when African Americans know and trust the health care workers, there is more participation. Because of the organization’s successful testing effort, Alameda County has now entrusted it to provide vaccines in Oakland and areas across Alameda County with African American populations.

“It is based on a pop-up model. We mobilize with local folks who go door-to-door, hand-to-hand, face-to-face, peer-to-peer, asking questions about COVID. As we moved into the vaccination phase, the Alameda Public Health Department recognized that as a major asset. They knew we could reach people, they couldn’t.”


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