By Robert J. Hansen | Special to The OBSERVER
The California/Hawaii NAACP lobbied legislators in Sacramento in support of four priority bills that address racial injustice and discrimination in California.
Members from chapters throughout California on May 22 met downtown to discuss the issues before walking to the Capitol and meeting with elected leaders.
CA/HI NAACP President Rick Callender said the organization’s principal objective is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority citizens in California, and eliminate race prejudice.
“If you don’t know your history, it never happened,” Callender said. “When you hear about critical race theory and people trying to stop others from learning … if you don’t know your history then what do you need reparations for?”
Freshman Assemblymember Dr. Cory Jackson (D-Moreno Valley) told the crowd about other issues besides policing that affect the African American community.
“All of our issues don’t have to deal with the police. I’ve learned some unfortunate truths,” Jackson said. “We are in a crisis as a community.”
Jackson said one of the largest growing homeless populations is Black seniors and that suicides for African Americans are increasing despite an overall national decrease.
Jackson said too many people are unwilling to risk their comfortable lives to support others who are just trying to survive.
“Too [often] we are selling each other out for our comfort,” Jackson said.
Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber made a surprise visit, warning the group that attacks on voting rights rival those seen in the Jim Crow era and how important voting in the 2024 election will be.
“There are so many things coming out that are taking everything that NAACP ever stood for,” Weber said.
Weber pointed to the fact the Voting Rights Act was not reauthorized.
“We never have seen that before. It’s always reauthorized,” Weber said. “We cannot get that passed in this environment.”
Weber said Jim Crow-like laws are coming out that for generations have been unseen.
“Laws that are coming out now that you heard about back in the day when parents could not go to the polls unless they paid taxes,” Weber said. “We thought that was in the past — some other generation. It is back.”
CA/HI NAACP PRIORITY BILLS
AB 742 Use of Force – Police Canines
In 2021 police canine units severely injured or killed nearly 80 people, more than any other weapon besides firearms, according to the California Department of Justice.
First used by slave catchers, police canines are a violent carryover from America’s dark past. They have been used in brutal attempts to quell the civil rights movement, the Watts uprising in 1965 and in response to Black Lives Matter protests, as well as in routine policing, according to the CA/HI NAACP.
The bill would prohibit the use of police canines for arrest, apprehension, or any form of crowd control.
Status: Ordered to a third reading in the Assembly before a vote. Should it pass the Assembly by simple majority, it would go to the Senate.
AB 1165 Pupil Discipline: Hate Crime: Restorative Justice Program
A quarter of students ages 12 to 18 reported seeing hate words or symbols, such as racist slurs in the pictures of lynching, written or displayed at their schools, according to one study by the Government Accountability Office.
According to the NAACP, hate crimes in America have been on a staggering rise since the 2016 election. Many young people reported they did not feel that their schools and teachers were addressing incidents of racist bullying and harassment adequately.
The bill aims to address racism on school campuses by strongly encouraging schools to implement restorative justice practices in response to instances of racist bullying, harassment and intimidation.
Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on Education.
AB 1327 Interscholastic Athletes, California Interscholastic Federation: Hate Violence
During high school sporting events, racial minority athletes are routinely targeted and subjected to racial violence. In California, during a penalty kick at a soccer game at Oak Ridge High School in 2022, a Black student from Buchanan High School in Clovis was heckled with monkey or ape noises from an Oak Ridge student. There are several other examples of this type of behavior at other high schools throughout the state.
If made into law, this bill would require the California Department of Education to develop a standardized incident form to track racial discrimination, and harassment that occurs in high school sporting games or events.
Status: Ordered to third reading in the Senate, almost ready to be sent to the governor.
There are severe racial disparities in the statistics of missing persons. Black people make up about 13% of the United States population, yet nearly 40% of missing persons according to 2019 Census information.
Many missing Black children have been pushed aside, according to the NAACP. Black youth are disproportionately classified as “runaways” and do not receive the Amber Alert compared to their white counterparts, who typically are classified as “missing.” In cases where the child is misidentified as a runaway, fewer resources are allotted to their safe return.
The law would provide law enforcement an additional tool to effectively assist with locating missing Black youth and young women.
Status: In committee process.