By Kathy Bradford —
This last month I held my breath while a Minnesota policeman was on trial for brutally murdering an unarmed black man. Thankfully, the policeman was held accountable for his behavior and is in prison. It was outrageous to find out after the trial that in his 18 years on the force, he had been censured for unnecessary force 17 times before this incident, but was disciplined only twice (in both cases, Chauvin received a letter of reprimand). He was still on the force until the events of May 25, 2020 came to light because of an amateur video aired several days later. Attention is turning to Congress and whether lawmakers can meet the growing demand from across the nation for meaningful changes to policing.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, introduced by California Representative Karen Bass, is a comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, end racial profiling, change the culture of law enforcement, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives. The Justice in Policing Act would:
1) Establish a national standard for the operation of police departments
2) Mandate data collection on police encounters
3) Reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs
4) Streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations
The bill is identical to the version passed in the 116th Congress with the support of the entire Democratic Caucus and three Republicans, but which stalled in the Republican-led Senate. It has passed in the 117th Congress again this year and has been bogged down in the Senate since March 9 where it requires 60 votes to pass.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the opening of an investigation by the Justice Department into possible patterns of discrimination and use of excessive force by the Minneapolis Police Department — the first such “pattern or practice” investigation in the Biden administration.
Our April 18 meeting featured University of California, Irvine (UCI) professor Michael Mendez, who discussed his recently published book, Climate Change from the Streets and Environmental Justice (EJ) speakers Steve Goldsmith of the TRAA (Torrance Refinery Action Alliance) and Mike Munoz of LAANE (Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy) Our People Our Ports Campaign shared local issues relating to environmental justice. Check out the article and video here in our May newsletter.
In early April, PV Democrats Board of Directors responded to a request by VISION (Voices in Solidarity Against Oil in Neighborhoods) Coalition and endorsed SB 467, the Dangerous Drilling Bill, authored by Senators Wiener and Limon, that was being heard in the Natural Resources Committee on April 13. A similar effort was endorsed in August 2019 by our membership. Unfortunately, this bill failed to advance out of committee. SB 467 died 4-3, with Democrats Bob Hertzberg (Van Nuys) and Ben Hueso (San Diego) declining to vote. This bill would have outlawed hydraulic fracturing and banned oil and gas wells from operating near homes, schools, and healthcare facilities. It failed due to fears that it would also eliminate well-paying jobs, especially in Kern County.
In club news, it’s time to vote on PV Democrats Bylaw changes. The Bylaw changes we would like our membership to consider have been provided in the March newsletter and on our website. By now, all members should have received an email ballot in their mailbox. If you are a member and have not received an email, contact us through our website. Please remember to vote yes or no to confirm these bylaw changes.
At our May 16 meeting, we will vote to elect our Board of Directors for the 2021-2022 year, which officially begins in July. Any registered Democrat who has been a member of our club at least since last February is eligible to vote. The nominations were reported in our April newsletter and are repeated here in our May newsletter.