Newsom’s listening tour stops in Stockton amid protests and calls for action
Gov. Gavin Newsom met with Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs and the Central Valley city’s black community leaders on Thursday, continuing a listening tour in cities across the state as more Californians demand action and accountability for police brutality.
But when asked what changes he intends to make as the state’s chief executive, the governor’s message has been clear: There are no quick fixes.
“What I fear is that we can pass programs and feign that we’ve solved problems,” Newsom said earlier this week, pushing back on the notion of a top-down approach from the state Capitol.
In Los Angeles and Sacramento, the Democratic governor repeated that the nation needs sweeping cultural change and commitments to equality from community groups, nonprofits, business leaders, government and individuals.
As Newsom called for reforms rooted in community action, Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles, said the governor could be doing more on his own.
“He can usher in serious reform,” Abdullah said. “Of course he can’t make all of the change in the world that needs to be made by himself, but he can create some. There’s a lot that he could do that he’s not doing.”
Newsom publicly supported a proposal from Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) to study the impact of slavery and consider potential reparations during the visit to Stockton. The bill has been highlighted as a priority of the California Legislative Black Caucus and his comments on Thursday marked the first time he has endorsed their effort.
“I have long supported it,” Newsom said Thursday of possible reparations, adding that recent events have reinforced his resolve to explore the idea in order to deliver on a promise of fundamental change.
But Abdullah pointed to other efforts that she said would help reduce violence and address racism that Newsom could propel forward at the state level. She called on the governor to ban the use of rubber bullets against protesters and take action to end curfews and allow people to exercise their legal right to protest without risking arrest.
He could also endorse proposals with longer term effects, such as another bill by Weber to require ethnic studies classes in colleges or spearheading new police accountability reforms, she said.
Newsom this week pointed to a landmark police use of force bill that he signed into law in 2019 as evidence of progress at the state level. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti responded to calls from protesters to defund the police by saying he would cut at least $100 million from the LAPD budget next year.
The governor has said social, racial, economic and environmental justice is ingrained in the work his administration does every day, mentioning investments in preschool, prenatal care, mental health and homelessness, probation reform and his commitment to not carry out the death penalty.
“We are committed to implementing and applying these rules and regulations and applications in real-time,” he said in Los Angeles on Wednesday. “There’s a deep sense of urgency.”
The governor has been praised for his reflections on the state of the country, stating earlier this week that the black community is not responsible for the current crisis.
“We are,” Newsom said Monday. “Our institutions are responsible. We are accountable to this moment. Let’s just call that out.”
After what he described as a week of meetings with activists, business owners, mayors and other local officials, Newsom said Thursday that a growing number of people want to see action.
“I think that’s what I spent the last three days really trying to understand is people’s feelings and sentiments,” Newsom said. He noted that a number of Californians “are expressing a deep sense of urgency and concern that people aren’t listening, and people aren’t understanding the magnitude of this moment and the need to gravitate toward action, not just rhetoric.”
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