CA Reparations Task Force LA Meeting’s Public Comments Get Heated

Kamilah Moore, chair of California Task Force For Reparations, listens as an attendee tells the story of his ancestor. (Cora J. Fossett/L.A. Sentinel)

The nine member California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans convened in Los Angeles at the California Science Center for its tenth meeting on Sept. 23 and Sept. 24.

The meeting opened with comments from the public with speakers passionately delivering their views on what reparations should look like.

Many focused their comments and opinions on who should and should not receive reparations. The opposing views created tension among those in the audience on an issue that the task force resolved months ago.

From left are Dr. Amos Brown, Miya Iwataki, State Senator Steven Bradford, Attorney Don Tamaki, Ron Wakabayashi and Mitchell Maki, who all participated in the hearing. (Cora J. Fossett/L.A. Sentinel)

“I think it’s a good thing. We have a lot of passion in our community and reparations speak to the core of what makes Black Americans. I wouldn’t expect any less,” said Chad Brown, a member of the National Assembly of American Slavery Descendants (NAASDLA) and Coalition of a Just and Equitable California (CJEC).

“This is the process. I expect a lot of passion. It’s passion directed at finding solutions,” Brown told California Black Media.”

The temperature in the room rose when Kevin Cosney, associate director of the California Black Power Network (CBPN), addressed the task force members and said that a majority of the members made a “problematic” decision in excluding people such as Africans enslaved in the Caribbean, Native Americans, and persons from the continent of Africa.

Adv entinel)ocates of reparations debate the issue of eligibility outside of the Wallis Annenberg Building in Los Angeles while the California Task Force For Reparations holds a meeting inside. (Antonio Ray Harvey/CBM Photo.)

“We encourage this task force to be transparent, bold, gracious, expansive, and unified in its work of diverse opinions,” Cosney told the task force. “The fact that you prematurely rushed on eligibility is problematic and disrespects the community’s voice. We would like you to reconsider and take this into account.”

Cosney’s CBPN and Brown’s CJEC are two of seven “anchor organizations,” selected across the state to host “community listening sessions” in conjunction with the task force.

The nonprofit California Black Power Network describes itself as a “growing, united ecosystem of Black empowering grassroots organizations” collaboration to change the lived conditions of Black Californians “by dismantling systemic and anti-Black racism.”

Reparations debate the issue of eligibility outside of the Wallis Annenberg Building in Los Angeles while the California Task Force For Reparations holds a meeting inside. (Antonio Ray Harvey/CBM Photo.)

CJEC is a state-wide coalition of organizations, associations, and community members united for reparations for the descendants of enslaved Black American men and women.

California Secretary of State Shirley Weber who authored the task force legislation, Assembly Bill (AB) 3121 in 2020 while serving in the Assembly – has taken the position that compensation should be limited to African Americans who are descendants of Africans enslaved in the United States.

“Reparations are designed to repair and heal the damages done to Africans for 400 years who (suffered) through Jim Crow (laws),” Weber said last January. “Reparations are for those who are descendants of slavery. Their ties are permanently severed from their homeland and their ability to return to Africa is almost impossible. We are truly Americans.”

Last March the task force voted 5-4 that lineage will determine who will be eligible for reparations over race.

Task Force chairperson Kamilah Moore, vice-chair Amos Brown, pastor of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco, and president of his local NAACP branch; University of California-Berkeley professor Jovan Scott Lewis; San Diego City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery-Steppe, and Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) voted in approval of lineage.

Eligibility is determined by an individual being African American, “the descendant of a (person enslaved as chattel) or the descendant of a free-Black person living in the United States prior to the end of the 19th century,” Moore said.

Cheryce Cryer provides her thoughts about reparations and shares issues she had trying to access a community listening session run by one of the anchor organizations. Kevin Cosney.( Antonio Ray Harvey/CBM Photo.) 

Attorney Don Tamaki, Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), Los Angeles-based attorney Lisa Holder, and Loyola-Marymount professor Cheryl Grills, voted in favor of race.

AB 3121 established the task force with a “special consideration” of those who are descendants of persons enslaved in the United States. Starting with the Atlantic Slave Trade, chattel slavery was sanctioned in the U.S. from 1619 to 1865.

“We agree that there should be special consideration for those that trace their lineage back to Slavery,” Cosney said. “But we also know and understand that the system of white supremacy affects everyone who is Black on this planet and in this country.”

Members from CJEC and CBPN moved their heated discussion outside of the facility after making their comments. But, the conversations cooled off with smiles and gestures of mutual respect for opinions.

Brown said the eligibility issue is settled but he is not at odds with debating the merits of the decision the task force made who oppose it. He “stands on” the fact that Black families were impacted by slavery and “those families, descendants, are owed reparations.”

“Reparations are not something that is a cure. It is not something meant to change the minds of people,” Brown said. “Reparations are meant to repair a special community that has been impacted by slavery, Jim Crow, convict leasing, mass incarcerations, and the throughline of slave ships and chains.”

The next Task Force in-person meeting is scheduled for Oakland in December 2022 followed by San Diego in January 2023 and Sacramento in February 2023.

LAUSD Family Support Services & Hotline

The new school year is upon us. For LAUSD parents, August 15th is the day kids head back into the classroom for the start of another academic year. While parents spend the next two weeks making sure their children have all the school supplies they need to succeed, it’s just as important to make sure they are mentality, emotionally and physically prepared for the rigors of academia and daily life. 

Back to School is starting earlier than in years past. You may ask yourself, why? Well, in April of this year, the LAUSD Board of Education voted to lengthen the 2022-23 academic year in an effort to make up for lost in-person instructional time due to the continuing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board approved a new calendar that will see the school year start on August 15th 2022, and end on June 15th, 2023. Four instructional days will be targeted for students that need to catch up. To view the entire LAUSD Calendar, click here.

Learning Loss
One year after Congress passed record funding in COVID-19 relief, a new analysis reveals that California school districts so far have spent little of it on efforts to address learning setbacks caused by the pandemic. The data indicates that learning slowed, especially among the youngest students, and gaps in achievement between Black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian peers widened during distance learning in 2020-21. The analysis also reveals most districts, 89%, are on track to meet the spending deadline for which the first spending deadline is Feb. 1, 2023.

Mental Health
According to health experts, Back To School is a perfect time for parents to check in with their children about their mental health. Let them know that heading back to campus for a new school term can be hard for many young people, but that they can talk to you or other adults if they need help. Once school starts, make sure you know what resources are available for your child if they begin to struggle with anxiety, and depression.

Updated LAUSD COVID-19 Testing Protocols
LAUSD officials will not be implementing many of the COVID-19-control measures that have been in effect over the past year. Students and school personnel will no longer need to undergo weekly COVID testing. Mask-wearing will still be only strongly recommended indoors, and the district’s COVID vaccination requirement for students remains on hold until at least next year. LAUSD will employ a “response testing” protocol for the school year that begins Aug. 15.

Students also will no longer be required to update their health and testing status on the district’s Daily Pass system to access campuses each day. The system will remain to allow students to upload the results of “response testing” or vaccination records. The system will also be used to notify close contacts of a person who has tested positive. To read more about the COVID protocol updates, click here.

Student and Family Wellness Hotline
LAUSD has resources available to students and their families. The Student and Family Wellness Hotline is available to students, families, and staff of LAUSD, during regular school days, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm. The hotline provides support with mental health; accessing food, health insurance, school enrollment, immunizations and other basic needs. Call (213) 241-3840. Press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish.

 

Additional Resources

California Youth Crisis Line
Call or text: (800) 843-5200 (English and Español)

County of Los Angeles Resources
Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Access Line: (800) 854-7771

Crisis Text Line (24/7)
Text LA to 741741

Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services
Survivors of Suicide Attempts: (424) 362-2901
Survivors After Suicide: (424) 362-2912 for adults and (424) 362-2911 for teens

 

School Supply Resources

L.A. Care Back and School Supplies Giveaways

  • Friday, August 5 | walk-up only
    10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
    Community Resource Center in Inglewood
    2864 W. Imperial Hwy., Inglewood, CA 90303
  • Saturday, August 13 | drive-thru/walk-up (Will include food giveaway)
    10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
    Banning Senior High School
    527 Lakme Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90744

Dream Center’s Annual Back-to-School Bash

  • 10am-1pm, August 6th, 2022
    2301 Bellevue AveLos Angeles, CA 90026

Believe in Giving – Back to School Give Back

  • 11am, August 6th
    Council District 9 Office – Curren Price
    4301 South Central Avenue, Los Angeles 90011
    (323) 846-2651

IBTU Presents the 3rd Annual Back to School

  • 1pm, August 6th
    Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza
    3650 W Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Los Angeles 90008

Sisters of Watts Back to School Jam

  • 11am – 2pm, August 6th, 2022
    Ted Watkins Park
    1335 E 103rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90002

There’s Still Time to Nominate Your South LA Cultural Treasures!

There’s Still Time to Nominate Your South LA Cultural Treasures!
Please take the 𝘾𝙪𝙡𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙖𝙡 𝙏𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙨𝙪𝙧𝙚𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝 𝙇𝘼 survey to highlight local artists, tradition bearers, landmarks, and cultural practices from our South LA neighborhoods and communities. Visit southlaculture.org.
The survey is part of 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗺𝗶𝘀𝗲 𝗭𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗔𝗿𝘁𝘀 𝗦𝗼𝘂𝘁𝗵 𝗟𝗔, a community-driven cultural asset mapping initiative celebrating the long arc of artistic expression in Leimert Park, Vermont Square, Baldwin Hills, Crenshaw, and connected neighborhoods. The initiative will result in a database, interactive map, and video story bank of community-identified Cultural Treasures and implement cross-sector, community-based solutions to advance economic and social change.

Requests for concealed-weapon permits skyrocket

Requests for concealed-weapon permits skyrocket

LOS ANGELES — The number of people applying for concealed-weapon permits in Los Angeles County has begun to rise following the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision easing restrictions on them, the sheriff said June 29, adding that the county could potentially see as many as 50,000 such permits ultimately issued.

Such a number would be a staggering increase over past years, when the county — following state regulations — required applicants to show good cause to obtain such a permit, and the number issued was traditionally a few dozen each year.

Last month, however, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a longstanding New York requirement, similar to California’s, requiring people to show a “special need” to carry a concealed weapon, beyond a simple desire for self-defense.

Gun-rights advocates have hailed the ruling as removing an undue restriction on gun ownership. Opponents said the ruling will lead to more guns on the streets, endangering the public.

Speaking in an online briefing June 29, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Los Angeles County has long adhered to the “good cause” standard when considering concealed weapon permit applications. He acknowledged that some counties have been more liberal about distributing them, operating under the premise that they “shall issue” the permits as long as applicants meet the basic requirements.

“Well, now we are retooling our operation to a ‘shall issue’ standard, so bear with us as we go through it,” Villanueva said. “We’re already seeing an increase in applications being submitted. And we had already moved in that direction since I took office.”

The number of concealed weapon permits issued has been on the rise under Villaneuva’s administration. He said June 28 the agency has already issued easing restrictions on them

“So our output is increasing,” he said. “I think when it’s all said and done, if we’re comparing our numbers to the surrounding counties, they might have anywhere from 8,000-10,000 ‘shall-issue’ permits in a county of maybe 1 million or 2 million (residents). So we’re probably looking at something in the neighborhood of 50,000 … permits in the county for a population of 10 million.”

He stressed that basic requirements are still in place to obtain a permit, including a training requirement and background check.

“You can’t be subject of a restraining order, mental illness or obviously a convicted felon, those type of things that disqualify you,” the sheriff said.

He said the sheriff’s department will be reaching out to neighboring law enforcement agencies to help expedite the processing of such permit applications, possibly through a sharing of personnel to work on reviewing the applicants — “to see how we can work out the logistics of this to facilitate the process for everyone involved.

Newsom Signs $308 Billion Budget, Californians to Get ‘Inflation Relief’ Checks

Newsom Signs $308 Billion Budget, Californians to Get ‘Inflation Relief’ Checks

California Governor Gavin Newsom (Courtesy photo)

Around 23 million California residents will receive “inflation relief” checks of up to $1,050 soon. The aid is included in the new budget deal reached by state lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday, June 26.

“California’s budget addresses the state’s most pressing needs, and prioritizes getting dollars back into the pockets of millions of Californians who are grappling with global inflation and rising prices of everything from gas to groceries,” said Newsom in a statement.

The checks are designed as tax refunds and will come from the state’s robust $97 billion budget surplus. The total state budget for the next fiscal year (2022-2023) is $308 billion.

The relief payments are based on income, tax-filing status and household size – similar to the stimulus checks sent to Americans by the federal government during the pandemic.

Single taxpayers who earn less than $75,000 a year and couples who file jointly and make less than $150,000 a year will receive $350 per taxpayer. Those with dependents will receive an additional $350 per child. For example, a couple that earns under $125,000 and has two children qualify for $350 per adult plus $350 for each additional child, up to a total check of $1,050.

Higher-income Californians will receive smaller payments. Single taxpayers who make between $75,000 and $125,000 a year and couples who earn between $150,000 and $250,000 will receive $250, plus the same payment for each dependent, up to a maximum of $750 per family.

Single people who earn between $125,000 and $250,000 and couples who earn between $250,000 and $500,000 annually would receive $200 each, plus the same amount for their dependents. The maximum payment couples in that salary range will receive is $600 per family. Couples who earn above $500,000 and single taxpayers who earn above $250,000 aren’t eligible for the payments.

Checks will be sent via direct deposit or debit cards by late October.

“In the face of growing economic uncertainty, this budget invests in California’s values while further filling the state’s budget reserves and building in triggers for future state spending to ensure budget stability for years to come,” Newsom said. “In addition, California is doubling down in our response to the climate crisis – securing additional power-generating capacity for the summer, accelerating our clean energy future, expanding our ability to prepare for and respond to severe wildfires, extreme heat, and the continuing drought conditions that lie ahead.”

Other hot button issues addressed in the finalized budget include a $47 billion multi-year infrastructure and transportation package, $200 million in additional funding for reproductive health care services, and funding for education, universal preschool, children’s mental health and free school meals.

Not everyone was excited about the final negotiated version of the budget. Republicans complained about the limited time they were given to review the package for input.

“Where is the information?” Sen. Jim Nielson (R-Yuba City) asked during the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee’s brief hearing on Monday. “What are you afraid of?”

Gov. Newsom signed the budget into law on June 30.

You can view the complete California budget here.

California Senate Gets Second Chance to Pass Prison Slavery Bill This Week

California Senate Gets Second Chance to Pass Prison Slavery Bill This Week

Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌ ‌|‌ ‌California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media‌

On June 23, the California Senate rejected a constitutional amendment to remove language in the state Constitution that allows involuntary servitude as punishment to a crime with a 21-6 vote.

A day later, the legislation’s sponsors went back to the drawing board to redraft the legislation for reconsideration.

The number of votes casted in favor of Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 3, the California Abolition Act,fell short of the two-thirds vote requirement needed to move the bill to the ballot for Californians to decide its fate in the November General Election.

The Senate is expected to hold another floor vote on the legislation this week.

Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), who authored ACA 3 in 2021 while serving in the Assembly, said she focused the language in the bill on the slavery ban and vowed to bring it back for a vote when Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, asked her about it June 23.

“The CA State Senate just reaffirmed its commitment to keeping slavery and involuntary servitude in the state’s constitution,” Kamlager tweeted.

Jamilia Land, a member of the Anti-Violence Safety, and Accountability Project (ASAP), an organization that advocates for prisoners’ rights, said she remains committed to making sure slavery is struck out of the California constitution.

“All we needed was 26 votes,” Land said. “But we have made amendments to ACA 3 on (June 24). Now it could either go back to the Senate on (June 27) or Thursday, June 30.”

Five Republicans and one Democrat, Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), voted no against the amendment.

He stated that the issue is “certainly a question worthy of debate” and “can be addressed without a constitutional amendment.”

“Slavery was an evil that will forever be a stain on the history of our great country. We eliminated it through the Civil War and the adoption of the 13th Amendment,” Glazer said in a June 23 statement. “Involuntary servitude – though lesser known – also had a shameful past. ACA 3 is not even about involuntary servitude – at least of the kind that was practiced 150 years ago. The question this measure raises is whether or not California should require felons in state or local jails prisons to work.”

Glazer said that the Legislative Counsel’s office gave him a “simple amendment” that involuntary servitude would “not include any rehabilitative activity required of an incarcerated person,” including education, vocational training, or behavioral or substance abuse counseling.

The Counsel also suggested that the amendment does not include any work tasks required of an incarcerated person that “generally benefit the residents of the facility in which the person is incarcerated, such as cooking, cleaning, grounds keeping, and laundry.”

“Let’s adopt that amendment and then get back to work on the difficult challenge of making sure our prisons are run humanely, efficiently and in a way that leads to the rehabilitation of as many felons as possible,” Glazer added.

The 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865, prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude with one exception: if involuntary servitude was imposed as punishment for a crime.

The state of California is one of nine states in the country that permits involuntary servitude as a criminal punishment.

Article I, section 6, of the California Constitution, describes the same prohibitions on slavery and involuntary servitude and the same exception for involuntary servitude as punishment for crime.

Certain members of the Senate raised concerns about the financial impact ACA 3 would have on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Inmates earn approximately eight cents to 37 cents per hour while incarcerated.

Kamlager says “involuntary servitude is a euphemism for forced labor” and the language should be stricken from the constitution.

The state’s Department of Finance (DOF) estimated that the amendment would burden California taxpayers with $1.5 billion annually in wages to prisoners, DOF analyst Aaron Edwards told Senate the Appropriations Committee on June 16.

“These are facts that we think would ultimately determine the outcome of future litigation and court decisions,” Edwards said. “The largest potential impact is to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which currently employs around 65,000 incarcerated persons to support central prison operations such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry services.”

Right before the Juneteenth holiday weekend, the appropriations committee sent ACA 3 to the Senate floor with a 5-0 majority vote after Kamlager refuted Edwards’ financial data.

This country has been having “economic discussions for hundreds of years around slavery, involuntary servitude, and indentured servants” and enslavement still exists in the prison system, Kamlager said. She also added that a conflict was fought over the moral issue of slavery.

“This bill does not talk about economics. It’s a constitutional amendment,” Kamlager said. “The (DOF) is not talking about any of this in this grotesque analysis about why it makes more sense for the state of California to advocate for and allow involuntary servitude in prisons. I think (this conversation) is what led to the Civil War.”

Three states have voted to abolish slavery and involuntary servitude — Colorado, Utah, and Nebraska — and in all three cases, the initiative was bipartisan and placed on the ballot by a unanimous vote of legislators, according to Max Parthas, the co-director of the Abolish Slavery National Network (ASNN).

ACA 3 is already attached to a report that addresses the harms of slavery. The Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans issued its interim report to the California Legislature on June 1.

The report included a set of preliminary recommendations for policies that the California Legislature could adopt to remedy those harms, including its support for ACA 3. It examines the ongoing and compounding harms experienced by African Americans as a result of slavery and its lingering effects on American society today.

“One of the preliminary recommendations in our report was to support ACA 3,” said Los Angeles attorney Kamilah V. Moore, chairperson of Task Force. “The Task Force saw how that type of legislation aligns perfectly with the idea of reparations for African Americans.”

I-710 Vision Survey

LAUSD Will Start 2nd Semester In-Person

CHP Announces End-of-Year Crackdown on Impaired Drivers Ahead of New Year’s