Gov. Gavin Newsom and top California lawmakers pledged to continue combating police brutality and racism after ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted Tuesday of murder and manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd last summer.
But many of the sweeping police reforms promised in the wake of Floyd’s death and nationwide protests stalled or were watered down in the Democratic-controlled state Legislature, raising questions as to whether things will be different this year. Lawmakers are currently considering at least 10 bills touted as police reform, including most of the proposals that failed last session. Among them are bills to decertify bad cops and establish an officer duty to intervene when witnessing excessive force, both of which members of California’s Legislative Black Caucus identified as priorities at a Tuesday gathering at the state Capitol.
- State Sen. Steve Bradford, a Gardena Democrat: “No more kneeling or social media posts … real police reform is needed now.”
Assemblymember Mike Gipson, a Carson Democrat, also called on Californians to demonstrate peacefully regardless of the verdict. In anticipation of the large-scale and sometimes violent demonstrations that surged across the state and the nation last year — and which resumed in some California cities last weekend following officers’ fatal shootings of a Black man and boy — some businesses began boarding up their windows, the California National Guard mobilized 450 officers, and Los Angeles shuttered some of its COVID-19 vaccination sites. In many cities, police were also on high alert.
A lot is at stake for the Los Angeles Police Department in particular, which on Monday saw its use of hard-foam projectiles to clear crowds restricted by a federal judge. The temporary restraining order came as part of a lawsuit from Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and other activist groups over the department’s handling of last year’s protests.
- Brian Marvel, president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, the state’s largest law enforcement organization: “Today’s guilty verdict should be a wake-up call for the nation. It is time for America to adopt a national use of force standard, to mandate that all peace officers have a duty to intercede, to raise the bar for use of force training standards for all peace officers in every state across this country.”
The coronavirus bottom line: As of Tuesday, California had 3,620,301 confirmed cases (+0% from previous day) and 59,804 deaths (+0.1% from previous day), according to a CalMatters tracker.
Plus: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. We’re also tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county and lawsuits against COVID-19 restrictions.
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1. LA city, county must house Skid Row
In another massive Tuesday ruling, a federal judge ordered the city and county of Los Angeles to offer shelter and support services to the entire homeless population of Skid Row by Oct. 18, with earlier deadlines for single women, unaccompanied children and families. The move comes about a year after the Los Angeles Alliance for Human Rights sued the city and county to force them to provide beds and services to the homeless population — a concept endorsed, at least in the abstract, by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. It also came a day after Garcetti unveiled plans to spend nearly $1 billion on homelessness next fiscal year, the largest one-year sum in city history. Judge David O. Carter ordered the city and county to provide reports within 90 days that detail how money earmarked for homelessness is being spent. He also skewered past and present government policies that have exacerbated racial inequalities, noting that hotel rooms available through Project Roomkey — a state program to temporarily shelter homeless people — were disproportionately provided to white Californians.
- Carter: “All of the rhetoric, promises, plans and budgeting cannot obscure the shameful reality of this crisis — that year after year, there are more homeless Angelenos, and year after year, more homeless Angelenos die on the streets.”
2. Serious problems at state COVID lab
The state health department still hasn’t released a report about “significant deficiencies” at California’s $25 million COVID-19 testing lab in Valencia, despite saying in February that it would do so by mid-March. And problems appear to remain rampant: Days-long delays in processing tests forced several schools to cancel football games because they didn’t know if players had tested positive or negative — even though the state mandated lab operator PerkinElmer in its $1.4 billion contract to turn around tests within 48 hours, CBS Sacramento reports. The lab said the delays were due to “water checks” and “routine maintenance,” but CBS Sacramento obtained internal emails discussing a “contamination issue” that “resulted in a halt to production.” PerkinElmer in February sued a whistleblower who alleged, among other things, that test swabs were contaminated, lab techs were caught sleeping while processing COVID samples, and staff were inadequately trained. Nevertheless, the state is encouraging schools to partner with the lab — even though roughly 1 out of every 126 samples it received since January ended up invalid, lost or canceled, according to CBS Sacramento.
3. Appeals court skeptical of GOP lawsuit
From CalMatters political reporter Ben Christopher: Two Republican lawmakers who sued Newsom in an attempt to rein in his emergency powers faced tough questions from a California appeals court on Tuesday — suggesting that the governor’s emergency authority may remain intact. Such a decision — which could come anytime in the next three months — would overturn a ruling from November, when a lower court judge sided with Assemblymembers Kevin Kiley and James Gallagher in finding that Newsom doesn’t have the authority to issue executive orders that amend or make new state laws. Newsom appealed, and he seems to have found a more receptive audience this time. Still, the case could very well end up before the California Supreme Court.
- Justice Ronald Robie: “Maybe this is the time for the Legislature to end the emergency, if that’s what you think has happened and it’s gone too far. That’s up to the Legislature. You’re part of the Legislature. Go do it.”
- Gallagher, on Twitter: “The Gov taking our powers and then saying ‘nothing precludes the Legislature from exercising its power’ is like someone taking a bite out of your birthday cake and then offering it back to you.”
Side note: In his closing rebuttal, state Deputy Attorney General John Killeen apparently paid homage to a holiday celebrated by California cannabis aficionados, noting that Newsom couldn’t, for example, use his emergency powers to regulate “cannabis on this April 20.”
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TODAY: The Future of Campus Policing. In the wake of national protests against racism and police brutality, join CalMatters and KQED for a wide-ranging discussion about the role of police on college campuses. Register here.
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Newsom put a positive spin on California’s latest job numbers, but the reality is much cloudier.
Keeping the lights on: California has failed to plan for extraordinary climate events that are becoming all too ordinary. Here’s what it needs to do, writes Julia Prochnik of the Long Duration Energy Storage Association of California.
A win for health, climate and economic recovery: Newsom and lawmakers should use the state’s massive budget surplus to invest in a one-time boost to California’s Active Transportation program, argues Bob Alvarado of the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council.
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Other things worth your time
Oakland takes first steps toward directing some 911 calls to community responders. // The Appeal
A year after ‘defund’ demands, San Diego may hike police spending again. // Voice of San Diego
Santa Barbara County among 5 joining orange tier as California’s reopening continues. // Los Angeles Times
Cell phone data shows Bay Area remains extreme when it comes to staying at home during pandemic. // San Francisco Chronicle
$1,000 a month, no strings attached: Garcetti proposes a guaranteed basic income pilot in Los Angeles. // LAist
California Democrats want state to help pay for house down payments. // Sacramento Bee
California bill would ban sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities. // Sacramento Bee
Amazon’s pandemic boom fueled hiring spree in Sacramento. // Sacramento Bee
Inspections lag for hundreds of active oil wells in Los Angeles. // Los Angeles Times
California counties at trial argue J&J, other drugmakers fueled opioid epidemic. // Reuters
California lawsuit against Chinese tech giant raises a thorny question: Can the plaintiffs remain anonymous? // Washington Post
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