October 01, 2020
By Antonio Ray Harvey
California Black Media
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed the state’s historic reparations bill into law.
Assembly Bill (AB) 3121 moves descendants of enslaved Americans one step closer to getting restitution for centuries of free labor and legal discrimination that followed it, supporters say. But Black Californians who may qualify for reparations payments, should not expect a check any time soon for the ills of slavery.
AB 3121, titled “The Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans,” would create a nine-member commission to investigate the history of slavery in the United States, the extent of California’s involvement in slavery, segregation and the denial of Black citizens their constitutional rights — and how much the state benefited from those activities and policies.
Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), who is chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, authored the bill.
Between both houses of the Legislature, 93 lawmakers voted in favor of AB 3121 while 15, all Republicans, opposed it. Ten legislators abstained from voting on the bill.
The bill would require the task force to identify, compile, and synthesize the relevant corpus of evidentiary documentation of the institution of slavery that existed within the United States and the colonies.
The bill would also require the Task Force to recommend the form of compensation that should be awarded, the apparatus through which it should be awarded, and who should be eligible for this compensation. The recommendation must be submitted to the legislature no later than 2023.
American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS), an organization that advocates economic empowerment and reparations for Black Americans, praised the efforts of its organizers, activists, and allies throughout the state of California “to see this bill through to its successful end.”
ADOS California comprises chapters in Los Angeles, Sacramento, the Inland Empire, Fresno, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
“Senate passage of AB 3121 brings our great state of California one step closer to finally confronting its legacy of supporting the institution of Slavery, Jim Crow, and ongoing racial exclusion,” Chris Lodgson of ADOS said in the written statement. “The fight is not over. We look forward to the opportunity for follow-up in the upcoming legislative session where AB 3121 can be enhanced to ensure it meets this historic moment in our nation’s history.”
Reparations are compensation to amend for a wrong that was committed. In the case of African Americans, reparations would apply to the production and free labor from the enslaved.
At certain points in America’s history, reparations for historic injustices have been settled. Native Americans have been provided land grants and billions of dollars in various parts of the United States because they were killed and robbed of their ancestral territories.
Japanese Americans received billions and some of their property was returned because they were placed in incarceration camps during World War II. Those injustices happened under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, shortly after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.
The United States made amends through the Marshall Plan to help Jewish people obtain compensation for the Holocaust. The plan, also known as the European Recovery Program, was enacted in 1948 and paid out over $15 billion to help the continent rebuild.
African Americans, with all the atrocities they faced during and after slavery, are the only group that has not been awarded any compensation for state-sanctioned racial discrimination.
“This can be accomplished by ensuring Black American Descendants of U.S. Slavery and Jim Crow are the sole and exclusive focus, that Task Force membership is expanded to include leading reparationists and reparations scholars, and requiring the California legislature to consider the Task Force’s proposals for redress,” Lodgson said.
September 24, 2020
By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
More than half of voters 50-years and older in crucial battleground states are worried about contracting the novel coronavirus.
At the same time, African Americans are particularly opposed to how President Donald Trump has handled the pandemic, according to extensive polling commissioned by AARP.
In Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, Benenson Strategy Group and GS Strategy Group surveyed 1,200 to 1,600 likely voters from Aug. 30 to Sept. 8 by landline and cellphone.
The margin of error for each was between plus or minus 2.5 percent and 2.8 percent.
In Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, and Montana, the bipartisan polling firms of Fabrizio Ward and Hart Research did telephone interviews by landline and cellphone of likely voters from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5.
The firms surveyed 800 likely voters, oversampling voters 50-plus in each state. The error margin varied among the states, but each was less than plus or minus 4 percent.
AARP launched the poll on Tuesday, Sept. 15, one week before National Voter Education Day which falls on Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Officials said AARP’s robust Protect Voters 50+ campaign is designed to reach these voters in each state to make sure they know how to cast a safe and secure ballot.
Even though 90 percent of older Americans believe that the country has become too divided, AARP’s battleground state polls show that the support of voters age 65-plus is very much up for grabs.
For the polling, voters were asked where they stand on a range of concerns — from the coronavirus to the U.S. Postal Service and cuts to Social Security, to the debate over racial justice and law-and-order priorities.
The most significant concern expressed by voters about the virus was from Florida and Michigan, where 58 percent of respondents said they were worried about contracting the coronavirus.
Fifty-five percent of voters in Pennsylvania and North Carolina noted that they were concerned about catching the illness, and 54 percent of those in Arizona and 53 percent of individuals in Wisconsin voiced the same worry.
More than 80 percent of voters in all six states declared that they would more likely vote for a candidate who increased protections for nursing home residents during the pandemic.
The poll also revealed that African Americans are standing firmly behind Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden over President Donald Trump, whom many Black voters said they oppose how the Republican president has managed the coronavirus pandemic.
Many African Americans expressed that they were more likely to have known someone who died from the virus.
Black respondents relayed concerns that they would catch the virus and related severe reservations about a potential vaccine.
A majority said they’d still refuse to accept a vaccine shot even if offered free of charge.
With the continued debate over voter protections, those in Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, and Montana are divided between those who believe votes that are cast in person at a polling place and those that are mailed will all be counted accurately, according to the poll.
For example, while 51 percent of voters in Georgia believe the count of votes cast in person will be more accurate, 48 percent of voters in Colorado and Montana say mail and in-person ballots will be counted accurately.
Voters also have varying views on whether the expansion of mail voting will lead to voter fraud.
For example, in Georgia, 61 percent of voters 50-plus believe more mail voting will mean more fraud, while voters in Maine are evenly split — 50 percent to 50 percent — on that question.
Black Americans expressed concern about the U.S. Postal Service and that the reduction of funding would prevent election ballots from being counted.
While African Americans were also troubled by the prospects of in-person voting and wary of early voting, they were less bothered by potential voter fraud, according to the poll.
By overwhelming margins, older voters in 11 states (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin) with competitive races for president and the U.S. Senate declared that they are more likely to vote for candidates who promise to protect Social Security benefits and strengthen Medicare.
With President Trump declaring a platform of law and order, voters in five key states -- Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Maine and Montana – were asked whether they were more likely to vote for a candidate focused on maintaining law and order and preventing looting and rioting in America’s cities, or a nominee who is focused on increasing racial justice and reducing police violence against unarmed African Americans.
In four of the five states, more than 50 percent were more concerned with maintaining law in order.
In Maine, 46 percent would support a candidate focused on law and order, while 44 percent prefer a candidate focused on racial justice.
In the six battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, the presidential race is tight among voters 50 and older.
Biden holds leads in Arizona (49 percent to 48 percent), Pennsylvania (50 percent to 46 percent), and Wisconsin (50 percent to 46 percent). While Trump has the edge in Florida (50 percent to 47 percent), the two are in a dead heat in North Carolina, tied at 48 percent.
Biden does enjoy a commanding lead in Michigan by a margin of 54 percent to 40 percent.
In all those states, the presidential race is within the surveys’ margins of error.
“Now more than ever, there are critical issues on the line in this election and AARP is working hard to make sure everyone’s voice is heard,” stated Shani Hosten, AARP’s vice president of Multicultural Leadership.
“Our campaign is providing trusted information to African American voters through our communications channels, including our website, publications, media outreach and advertising to ensure the African American Community knows their voting options and where candidates stand on the issues we care about.”
September 24, 2020
By Dylan Lovan, Piper Hudspeth Blackburn
A Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for the killing of Breonna Taylor during a drug raid gone wrong, with prosecutors saying Wednesday that two officers who fired their weapons at the Black woman were justified in using force to protect themselves after they were shot at.
The only charges brought by the grand jury were three counts of wanton endangerment against fired Officer Brett Hankison for shooting into Taylor’s neighbors’ homes during the raid on the night of March 13. The FBI is still investigating potential violations of federal law in the case.
Ben Crump, a lawyer for Taylor’s family, denounced the decision as “outrageous and offensive,” and protesters shouting, “No justice, no peace!” began marching through the streets. Some sat quietly and wept. Later, scuffles broke out between police and protesters, and some were arrested.
Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times by white officers who entered her home on a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation — although state Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Wednesday the investigation showed the officers did announce themselves before entering. The warrant used to search her home was connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside.
Along with the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, Taylor’s case became a major touchstone for the nationwide protests that have gripped the nation since May — drawing attention to entrenched racism and demanding police reform. Taylor’s image has been painted on streets, emblazoned on protest signs and silk-screened on T-shirts worn by celebrities. Several prominent African American celebrities have joined those urging that the officers be charged.
The announcement of the charges drew immediate sadness, frustration and anger that the grand jury did not go further. The wanton endangerment charges each carry a sentence of up to five years.
“To not indict the officers for murder is to claim #BreonnaTaylor killed herself. Racist America constantly kills Black people and then tells Black people we killed ourselves,” tweeted Ibram X. Kendi, director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University and the author of “How to Be an Antiracist.”
Morgan Julianna Lee, a high school student in Charlotte, North Carolina, watched the announcement at home.
“It’s almost like a slap in the face,” the 15-year-old said by phone. “If I, as a Black woman, ever need justice, I will never get it.”
Right after the decision, protesters began gathering in Louisville, with some preparing food and others bringing cases of water to “Injustice Square,” the park where people have demanded justice for Taylor.
While the rallies were largely peaceful, police in protective gear carrying batons mobilized in downtown, and some scuffles broke out. Officers could be seen handcuffing some people. Police also ordered a group that broke off from the protests to disperse, warning that chemical agents might be used if they didn’t.
Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, said he authorized a limited deployment of the National Guard. An Associated Press reporter saw guard members and armored military vehicles in downtown Louisville.
Beshear also urged Cameron, the state attorney general, to post online all the evidence that could be released without affecting the charges filed.
“Those that are currently feeling frustration, feeling hurt, they deserve to know more,” he said.
The case exposed the wide gulf between public opinion on justice for those who kill Black Americans, and the laws under which those officers are charged, which regularly favor working police and do not often result in steep criminal accusations.
At a news conference, Cameron spoke to that disconnect.
“Criminal law is not meant to respond to every sorrow and grief,” he said.
“But my heart breaks for the loss of Miss Taylor. ... My mother, if something was to happen to me, would find it very hard,” he added, choking up.
But Cameron, who is the state’s first Black attorney general, said the officers acted in self-defense after Taylor’s boyfriend fired at them. He added that Hankison and the two other officers who entered Taylor’s apartment announced themselves before entering — and so did not execute the warrant as “no-knock,” according to the investigation. The use of no-knock warrants has since been banned by Louisville’s Metro Council.
“According to Kentucky law, the use of force by (Officers Jonathan) Mattingly and (Myles) Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves,” he said. “This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor’s death.”
Cameron said an FBI crime lab determined that Cosgrove fired the bullet that killed Taylor.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire when police burst in, hitting Mattingly. Walker was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but prosecutors later dropped the charge.
Walker told police he heard knocking but didn’t know who was coming into the home and fired in self-defense.
Cameron, who is a Republican, is a protégé of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who has been tagged by some as his heir apparent. His was also one of 20 names on President Donald Trump’s list to fill a future Supreme Court vacancy.
At a news conference, Trump read a statement from Cameron saying “justice is not often easy.” He praised both Cameron’s handling of the case and the governor’s calling up of the national guard.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden told reporters Wednesday that he didn’t have enough information on the decision to comment fully but warned protesters to keep demonstrations peaceful.
“Do not sully her memory or her mother’s by engaging in any violence,” he said.
Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, also told reporters she also hadn’t fully read the decision.
“But there’s no question that Breonna Taylor and her family deserved justice yesterday, today and tomorrow, so I’ll review it,” she said.
Before charges were brought, Hankison was fired from the city’s police department on June 23. A termination letter sent to him by interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said the white officer had violated procedures by showing “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly” fired his weapon.
Hankison had previously been placed on administrative reassignment, as were Mattingly, Cosgrove and the detective who sought the warrant, Joshua Jaynes.
On Sept. 15, the city settled a lawsuit against the three officers brought by Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, agreeing to pay her $12 million and enact police reforms.
September 24, 2020
By Quinci LeGardye
California Black Media
With less than two months left before Election Day, campaigns both defending and opposing Proposition 22 — the ballot initiative that aims to keep gig company drivers classified as independent contractors — are revving up their efforts to reach out to Black voters.
Earlier this month, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart pumped another $70 million into their campaign to pass Prop 22. The total funds those app-based companies and others have spent on the Yes on Prop 22 public information effort is now $181 million, making it one of the most expensive California initiative information campaigns ever.
The opposition, made up of mostly labor organizing groups, has raised about $4.8 million so far, with funding coming mostly from labor organizing groups.
On Sept 3, the Yes on 22 campaign hosted a press conference for ethnic communities in the state. At the event, community leaders spoke up about why they support the ballot initiative. They emphasized that gig companies provide an easy stream of income for their drivers, and that Prop 22 would keep those jobs in California — and in Black and Brown communities in particular.
“Driving has been a source of relief for these people. It’s easy to sign up, start driving and earning right away, without a lot of the normal barriers that block Black and Latino Americans from working,” said Dr. Tecoy Porter Sr., President of the National Action Network Sacramento Chapter.
Jay King, President and CEO of California Black Chamber of Commerce, said the Black community can not afford massive job losses in the wake of the pandemic.
“One in 10 app-based drivers are Black. Many of them would lose their jobs if Prop 22 is not passed this November. When so much of our community is suffering, we need to encourage and promote new and innovative ways to make income. I encourage everyone to vote yes to save app-based jobs and services,” he said.
On Sept. 9, protesters from Rideshare Drivers United (RDU), an organizing group that has come out against Prop 22, gathered under an Uber billboard in Oakland that read, “If you tolerate racism, delete Uber. Black people have the right to move without fear.” Uber has launched a microsite that promotes that slogan and shares how the company plans to rid its platform of racism and investments it has made in the Black community.
“We are condemning them on their hypocritical ballot measure that would relegate drivers to a permanent underclass without basic rights or voices or privileges. We condemn major companies like Uber and Lyft who are claiming support of a protest movement that has galvanized America, in the middle of a pandemic that has disproportionately affected Black and Brown people in their lives,” Cherri Murphy, an RDU organizer, told California Black Media.
Murphy says there are multiple instances when Uber and Lyft exploit Black drivers and customers, alleging that those companies increase ride prices in Black and Brown neighborhoods. That claim has been supported by a June preprint study by George Washington University.
“If you want to know whether or not Lyft and Uber are doing the right thing, you need to look at their historical measures and tactics. The most recent one is around the preliminary injunction.
As opposed to following the rules, what they want to do is invoke fear and have people make a decision based on fear. So their method on threatening people to shut down wasn't because they're in a bind. Not a million dollar — a billion dollar — company. Compare that to those who live check to check,” said Murphy.
As they wait to see how Californians will vote on Prop 22, Uber and Lyft are also currently in an appeals process against the preliminary injunction that ordered them to classify their drivers as employees last August.