(CALMATTERS) – Will George Floyd’s death and the protests sweeping the nation galvanize California to make massive policy changes or reexamine controversial proposals with new eyes?
Today, a powerful Assembly committee will vote on a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would reinstate affirmative action policies in state colleges, universities and agencies — after voters rejected such policies two decades ago. (The proposed amendment will appear on the November ballot if passed by two-thirds of both the Assembly and Senate.)
It will also vote on a bill that would establish a reparations committee to educate Californians about the lingering effects of slavery and recommend how the state might compensate African Americans for decades of inequality and discrimination.
- Audrey Dow, vice president of the Campaign for College Opportunity: Recent headlines “are forcing us to recognize that we are not beyond race as a country or state. We have not achieved the nirvana of being colorblind. Race matters.”
Although Gov. Gavin Newsom emphasized Monday that “program-passing is not problem-solving” and “you’ve got to change culture, not just laws,” a number of public officials have already moved to change policies.
- The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office called Tuesday for an overhaul of use-of-force policies at the city’s police department.
- San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Monday police will no longer use a controversial neck hold that critics had asked the city for years to stop using.
- A group of Bay Area district attorneys asked the state bar to prevent prosecutors from taking money from police unions on the grounds that it creates a conflict of interest when investigating police misconduct.
- And Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond pledged to improve implicit bias education for students and teachers.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat, is calling for a stricter national standard for when police are legally able to use deadly force. Harris didn’t take a position on the issue in 2019, when California passed a landmark law raising the state standard from “reasonable” to “necessary.”
Harris is also calling for independent investigations of police departments, though she didn’t back a California bill to that effect as attorney general.
BY EMILY HOEVEN | CALmatters