AB 931, the Wellstone Club Recommends New Use of Force Policy

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Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Assembly Bill 931, which may be going to the full assembly soon, is a progressive bill that will raise the legal standard under which police may use lethal force. At the current time all an officer needs to say after a killing is that it was reasonable in his/her eyes. The new standard requires that lethal force be deemed necessary in the context of the situation and that deescalation protocols or non-lethal methods must be considered first.

The state of California in its intermittent push toward criminal justice reform-1 and half steps forward followed by 1 back–such as moves to end money bail, to monitor police brutality after being the least transparent state in the country, and to restore some programs for the formerly incarcerated, is now working toward a fundamental reform on the use of deadly force when police officers encounter suspects, otherwise known as the public, in AB 931. It is sponsored by Assemblymembers Shirley Weber and Kevin McCarty of San Diego and Sacramento respectively.

The Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, a progressive Democratic Club with members in the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda and parts of Contra Costa County, has long advocated for police reform and against the mass incarceration state. As such, we sent this letter to our Assemblymembers Rob Bonta and Tony Thurmond. We urge our readers to contact their Assemblymembers and demand they vote for this important reform.

Here is a copy of the letter that was sent to both Assembly Members:

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August 8, 2018

To: Assembly Member Rob Bonta

 

Dear Assembly Member Bonta,

The Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club strongly supports AB 931 which should come before you shortly. Our club has been on the forefront of advocating for police reform as we did with Oakland’s Measure LL which authorized an independent police commission in Oakland, a city that has paid out millions in settlements over police brutality and wrongful deaths.

But the issue of wrongful death at the hands of local police forces is not just an Oakland problem. According to an ACLU report, “California departments have some of the highest rates of killings in the nation.” https://www.aclusocal.org/en/news/california-can-reduce-number-police-shootings-heres-how

Additionally, the report states that, “AB 931 authored by Assembly Member Shirley Weber, would enshrine that rule in state law and help ensure that police use deadly force only as a last resort……These requirements are becoming more and more common across the country. A number of individual police departments have already implemented variations of AB 931’s provisions, including the FBI, and some have adopted all of them. The San Francisco Police Commission recently approved a use of force policy with a necessity standard. The policy requires that officers use de-escalation techniques and alternatives to deadly force.”

Seattle and Chicago have adopted similar use of force policies but this bill would make California the first state in the country to pass a law that covers all its law enforcement agencies.

As you have led the nation on so many important social justice issues, please consider putting the full force of your office behind enshrining this best practice into law.

Sincerely,

Pamela A Drake

State & Local Politics Coordinator for the Wellstone Club

 

Wellstone Democratic Club on the Laney Proposal for the A’s Stadium

This letter from the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club was sent to the Peralta Trustees and the Oakland City Council and Mayor with serious concerns on the A’s choice of a parcel at the Laney College site for a new stadium.

October 6, 2017

To Peralta College Trustees and City Officials:

The Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club has been active in Oakland and Berkeley for many years, including endorsing many of the current Peralta trustees and members of the Oakland City Council. We are writing to express our concerns about the Oakland A’s proposal to build a stadium on a thirteen acre chunk of public land already well used by Laney College students and teachers.

Our first question is why alternative sites are not being considered. The Coliseum location has much of the necessary infrastructure in place including- a BART station, Cal train, numerous buses and freeway access. Additionally, the Coliseum site has parcels that can be assembled immediately for further projects such as entertainment and office venues. This can be done with very little impact on the surrounding community.

Next the Howard Terminal site has proximity to Jack London Square and public support. The Laney College site is the only one which has the potential to completely change the character and cultural fabric of the surrounding neighborhoods. We want a full study of all of these alternatives before any decisions are made.

The study on the Laney site should include impacts on: the student body for whom this campus is convenient and accessible, the small business community serving low income and recent immigrant Oaklanders, neighborhood housing stock, its price and availability and wildlife, particularly bird habitat which has been supported by the oldest wildlife preserve in the nation at nearby Lake Merritt.

Oakland tax payers through Measure DD have made investments in the Lake area that have resulted in nearby publicly owned parcels becoming much more attractive for development, but we believe that any transfer of this land to private ownership should be considered over a long deliberative community engagement process. Any changes in ownership or longterm usage would reverse the direction that taxpayers took when they funded these improvements.

The Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club calls for a deep study that starts and ends with extensive public comment, and includes a detailed examination of the possibilities of locating a stadium at other locations.

Sincerely,

Pamela A Drake, Wellstone Club Local Politics Chair

 

 

East Bay Housing Emergency at the Wellstone Club-April 28th

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Wellstone Club Schedules Round Table on Affordable Housing-Thursday, April 28th

The club meets this Thursday, Humanist Hall, 390 27th Street, wheelchair access on 28th St. Discussion to start at 7pm, potluck precedes. All are welcome.

Anyone who reads the paper or has checked their twitter account lately, will know that the hot topic throughout Northern California-Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, Alameda, San Jose, and even Lafayette, Healdsburg and Santa Rosa-is runaway rents. As city councils are inundated by demands to provide more affordable housing, they are also being implored to offer immediate relief from rent gouging and wholesale evictions.

Oakland and Richmond, once seen as the step children in Bay Area development, find themselves fighting for the “soul” of their cities where once blue-collar and white-collar workers rubbed elbows with artists, entrepreneurs and the new T-shirt-collar-tech workers. Sedate Alameda which rarely saw any kind of demonstration, now has rowdy council meetings and an organized, irate citizenry.

All of these cities struggle with housing budgets which were hollowed out by our governor’s destruction of redevelopment and the feds refusal to build anything that’s not a weapon of mass-or at least small scale-destruction. The available funds are not close to the need for safe, affordable housing in almost any NorCal city, [SoCal is also in a bind but that’s a whole other discussion] and low to middle income residents are not ready to move en masse to Bakersfield yet-though they may have to at some point.safe_image.php

The Wellstone Club and its partner the Block By Block Organizing Network, BBBON, joined with the Oakland Alliance and the John George Democratic Club under the The Post Newsgroup Salon this spring  to demand that the City Council of Oakland declare a State of Emergency and Moratorium on rent increases for 90 days while the city looked at specific solutions, noted here:http://postnewsgroup.com/blog/2016/04/04/suggested-actions-protect-tenants-oakland/

At the same time the Citywide Displacement Network led by the Oakland Tenants’ Union demanded the city place the Renters’ Protection Upgrade measure on the ballot but without success but the Network is pushing on with a signature campaign to place it there in November.

Richmond, Alameda, and Berkeley are all working on numerous solutions, notably renters’ protection ordinances, bond measures to provide funds for new housing, condo conversion ordinances, public land for public good policies, and a push to repeal state laws that deny protections to tenants in newer buildings, among others. 2016-03-01 23.47.02 (448x640)

Representatives of these organizing efforts will come together-the East Bay Housing Organizations, the Oakland Tenants’ Union, the Richmond Progressive Alliance, The Berkeley Progressive Alliance, The Alameda Renters’ Coalition and the Oakland Alliance to brief the club and all interested parties on their efforts-how to join, support each other, learn from each other, and to organize region-wide towards long term, state solutions.

Please plan to attend, bring your friends, your organization, if not represented here, such as-small business and artist advocates who currently have few protections against the corporate gentrification of the neighborhoods they have invested in-and get ready to organize with the power of the not-so-silent majority in your cities, towns, counties and at the state house with us.

For more information, contact-Pamela Drake-pamleaadrake@gmail.com, 510-593-3721

 

Wellstone Club Letter on Oakland’s Proposed “Quality Improvement Schools” Process to Board Members and Superintendent

OAKLAND INTERNET OFFERBoard members and Superintendent Wilson:

The Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club believes that no institution is more important to the promotion of a vibrant democracy than public education which, as you know, has been under attack in this country for decades and that attack has come in many forms, including promulgating charters in large numbers.

As a result of the state takeover, Oakland became the guinea pig for school restructuring in which many of our public schools were turned over to charter organizations. When this experiment first started, there was some hope in the new forms of schooling; many homegrown models were tried and a few succeeded.

However, under state control, we saw charter conversion expand in a way that has weakened many of our neighborhood schools while recent studies have shown that charters, in and of themselves, do not improve educational outcomes. In addition, they reduce transparency and stability in the school community and often pull resources from the neediest students.

After years of state experimentation many of our schools, particularly the high and middle schools, have been churned in turmoil set in motion by the District itself. For instance, Castlemont High School was broken up and then put back together, albeit, haphazardly.

We understand that now the District is proposing more radical changes for half of our high schools, one middle school and one elementary school- McClymonds, Castlemont, Fremont, Frick Middle School and Brookfield Elementary School. The proposal to remake these important institutions has left the Oakland community confused, disheartened, and angry. No one knows what it really means; is the District prepared to abandon its responsibility for these troubled schools and turn over half of our high schools to charter companies or something else entirely?

We hope that the unfolding process will quash these fears, but we think that the school board needs to declare some basic guarantees now-1) that none of these schools will be turned into charters and 2) that the District apply a slow, deliberate and transparent process since these school communities-parents, students, and teachers-have already suffered too much.

These conditions are basic to restoring trust in our local governing board. We expect this board to go above and beyond sitting on the dais and listening to speakers from the community. What is really necessary during these troubling times, is leadership that reaches out to the whole city and brings us into the process. We suggest utilizing local media in all forms, holding community meetings in your district, and offering better ways to proceed than the traditional labyrinthine process that has infected our school community with distrust for so long.
The Coordinating Committee of the Wellstone Club