Newsletter: A protest movement’s political impact grows
Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, June 9, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.
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Another day of protests continued across the nation, as mourners waited hours to pay their respects in front of George Floyd’s casket at a church in his native Houston, and here in Southern California, four funeral-style car processions converged in downtown Los Angeles to commemorate Floyd’s public viewing.
[Read the story: “More protests as Floyd ‘funeral’ processions reach downtown L.A., demonstrators call for defunding the police” in the Los Angeles Times]
The car processions, some of which were led by hearses, hailed from Leimert Park, Long Beach, Reseda and Santa Ana. My colleague Melissa Gomez reports that after the caravans arrived downtown, hundreds of protesters listened as family members of people fatally shot by police gave emotional speeches about losing their loved ones and fighting for justice. It was one of several planned demonstrations downtown, with more happening across the city.
By early Monday evening, a number of labor leaders had gathered on the steps of City Hall, where the president of the local teachers union called for changes to policing in schools. United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl said his union’s board of directors had voted 35-2 to “start a process” that will ultimately lead to a larger union vote on whether to adopt a formal position to push the school board to “take money out of the school police department and put it directly into mental health support, counselors, academic counselors.”
Taking a vote to start a process that ultimately leads to a larger union vote certainly lacks the immediacy of anything one would hear chanted in a crowd, but Caputo-Pearl’s words reflect the broader impact that the protest movement is now having on policymaking around the country.
Other leaders of the powerful teachers union said Monday that they support a movement to eliminate the Los Angeles School Police Department, which serves the L.A. Unified School District and accounts for about $70 million of the school district’s $7.9-billion budget.
[Read the story: “Eliminate school police, L.A. teachers union leaders say” in the Los Angeles Times]
Across the state in Sacramento, California’s Assembly speaker and other key lawmakers backed a proposal that would make it illegal statewide for police to use a type of neck hold that blocks the flow of blood to the brain, a measure that appears to go beyond that of any other state.
And in New York, state leaders defied police union opposition and began to approve an expansive package of bills targeting police misconduct — legislation that the New York Times characterized as a “turning point in Albany” and “one of the most substantial policy changes to result from the nearly two weeks of national unrest that followed George Floyd’s death.”
In Washington, D.C., House Democrats responded to the nationwide protests by unveiling a legislative blueprint for reforming policing policies. The bill, led by Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), includes reforms making it easier to sue police officers for misconduct in civil court and to prosecute them for criminal behavior, among several other things.
[Read the story: “Democrats’ police reform bill would ban chokeholds, make civil suits against officers easier” in the Los Angeles Times]
But without significant support from Senate Republicans, who control that chamber, any legislation passed by House Democrats is unlikely to reach President Trump’s desk, as congressional reporter Sarah D. Wire notes in her story.
Meanwhile, the LAPD instructed officers not to use carotid restraints, chokeholds that restrict or block blood flow to the brain, pending a review by the city’s Police Commission, and the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said it had restricted use of those restraints to when a suspect’s actions threatened someone’s life or serious bodily injury.
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
The coronavirus transmission rate in Los Angeles County is climbing again as the economy reopens. Officials said the increase in disease transmission largely reflected infections that occurred before the start of mass demonstrations, as the incubation period for the coronavirus infection can generally last as long as two weeks. But health officials separately urged anyone who had attended a protest or large event to get tested for the virus. Los Angeles Times
There’s a black jobs crisis. Coronavirus is making it worse. After weeks of catastrophic job loss across the country, May’s labor report held out a glimmer of hope: The nation’s overall unemployment rate ticked down to 13.3%, from 14.2% in April. But for black Americans, it was more bad news: A staggering 16.8% were reported out of work, up a notch from 16.7% in April. Unemployment and a persistent income gap are not the only measures of racial inequity. From 17th century slavery to 20th century redlining and housing discrimination, black residents have long been thwarted in accumulating wealth, so they have less to fall back on when a disaster such as the pandemic hits. Los Angeles Times
California counties that have been allowed to accelerate the reopening of their economies could decide to reopen movie theaters as early as Friday, according to new state guidelines. The new rules would limit the number of guests in a movie theater to 25% of theater capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower. Los Angeles Times
How do you sign “Black Lives Matter” in ASL? For black deaf Angelenos, it’s complicated. Los Angeles Times
L.A.’s streetwear shops took a big hit. “Now, shop owners, many of whom are people of color, are dealing with the aftermath of the break-ins and grappling with their own feelings about racism in this country.” Los Angeles Times
Face masks, shields and landing zones: How one downtown L.A. restaurant reopened its dining room. Los Angeles Times
A chain-link fence circling the Silver Lake Reservoir is the canvas for a new art installation protesting police brutality, with colorful fabric woven into the fence spelling out the names of unarmed black people who have been killed across America at the hands of police. Los Angeles Times
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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
Biden and Trump take opposing stands in the aftermath of Floyd’s death: As Joe Biden stood with the family of George Floyd on Monday in demanding police accountability, President Trump also made clear where he stands, meeting with law enforcement officers and accusing Biden of undermining public safety. Los Angeles Times
Atlanta’s mayor is in the spotlight for her response to the protests and as a potential Biden VP pick. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ national profile has grown in recent days. Los Angeles Times
CRIME AND COURTS
Two former Orange County sheriff’s deputies have pleaded guilty to criminal charges in an evidence booking scandal that could imperil thousands of criminal cases, prosecutors said. Los Angeles Times
HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
In three weeks, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison has gone from having zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 to 993, the worst coronavirus outbreak to hit the California prison system to date. Los Angeles Times
California wanted to stockpile 10,000 ventilators for COVID-19. Most have yet to arrive. Sacramento Bee
This fantastical sea creature helps remove planet-warming gases from the atmosphere. Known as giant larvaceans, they inhabit seas across the world. Tens of thousands of them live in Monterey Bay. Los Angeles Times
After more than a century in San Francisco, PG&E will relocate to Oakland. California’s largest utility plans to sell its current HQ and relocate to the East Bay in the coming years as a cost-cutting measure. San Francisco Chronicle
How Google Docs became the social media of the resistance: The word processing software’s simplicity and accessibility have made it a winning tool among those sharing resources and guides. MIT Technology Review
But the use of Google’s productivity software on the social justice front lines is making privacy advocates nervous. What happens if the government requests access to the company’s data? Protocol
These Oakland murals channel the movement on boarded-up windows. With businesses throughout downtown Oakland boarding up their windows and doors, local artists are turning those sheets of plywood into impromptu canvases. Mercury News
Could Bakersfield become a “remote work capital” as Californians reassess their relationship to traditional offices? This columnist thinks so. Bakersfield Californian
Black San Diegans write about their lives, racial justice and police brutality. Ten personal perspectives, including those of educators, community advocates, a pastor and a lieutenant with the San Diego Police Department, among others. San Diego Union-Tribune
A poem to start your Tuesday: “Downtown Boom” by Lorenzo Thomas. UPenn Electronic Poetry Center
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Los Angeles: sunny, 93. San Diego: sunny, 87. San Francisco: sunny, 73. San Jose: windy, 87. Fresno: sunny, 91. Sacramento: sunny, 93. More weather is here.
Today’s California memory comes from Yeun Yamasaki:
A fond memory of my childhood was of a time of turmoil for those who remember it. The time was 1965, in South Los Angeles, when we arrived as immigrants from Hong Kong. Our sponsors, an uncle and aunt, made a comfortable life for themselves running a small mom and pop market in the middle of Watts. They rented a small two-bedroom apartment for us a few blocks from the store. Behind the apartment was a fuchsia plant which bloomed profusely with bright flowers I had never seen before. I learned they were called fuchsias. I loved those flowers and since then have thought of them as my favorite through the years. Then the riots came, and we moved. The flowers and riots intertwined and burned into my memory. Fast forward to 2020, now retired and growing fuchsias in my garden, again, Watts, riots and fuchsias are in my thoughts. How little has changed in five and a half decades.
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