Oakland Activists Launch Mental Health Hotline as Alternative to Police

In response to the disproportionate law enforcement violence against people with mental illness and amid ongoing calls to defund or reform police, activists with the Anti Police-Terror Project on Friday night will launch an initiative in Oakland designed to offer an alternative to calling the police in mental health crises. The initiative, called M.H. First Oakland, will begin operations as a hotline with the number (510) 999-9MH1.

Online Census Yields Mixed Accessibility Results

This year the census, a constitutionally mandated count of every person in the country every 10 years, is being conducted primarily online for the first time. While the shift offered convenience to the digitally connected, many communities already considered “hard to count” include people with limited digital tools or literacy that put the digital questionnaire out of reach. With the coronavirus pandemic and confusing federal directives, the in-person enumeration most likely to document them has been delayed and cut short.

2018 Providence, RI Census.

Threats to Exclude Undocumented From Census Exemplify Fears of Other ‘Hard-to-Count’ Communities

The decennial census is used to determine how many seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives. And according to the Project on Government Oversight, California can also expect to receive more than $170 billion in census-guided federal funding over the next ten years. In a July memo, the President sought to exclude undocumented immigrants from the count used to apportion representatives. But past encounters with well-meaning government agents have already made some homeless, poor, undocumented and otherwise marginalized people skeptical that being counted will actually benefit them.

Professor: Governments, Residents Must Address Racist Attacks Against Asians

Nearly 2,500 cases of verbal and physical attacks against Asian Americans were reported between March 19 and July 22 to a tracking project called Stop AAPI Hate, a group representing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Dr. Russell Jeung, chair and professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University, has called on local, state and federal governments to reject racist rhetoric and commit to anti-racist messaging.

Jelani Memory and Khalia Davis

Kids’ Play Calls Out Racism

When actor and director Khalia Davis was growing up in the 1990s, children’s entertainment rarely addressed racism. When it did — in books about Ruby Bridges or special episodes of television shows like “Family Matters” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” — it was never explicit.

Now in 2020, after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement across the country, Davis is producing and directing “A Kids Play About Racism,” which will be streaming, free of charge, on Broadway on Demand this weekend.

Raven and Rhonda2 - Club Stride

Empowering Youth to Advance Justice in Vallejo

On June 2, police in Vallejo shot and killed a 22-year-old San Francisco man, Sean Monterrosa through the windshield of a police truck while Monterrosa was kneeling. Since then, the California attorney general has announced an investigation into the Vallejo police department. The detective who shot Monterrosa, Jarrett Tonn, was found to have been involved in three other shootings. A windshield that was shattered during the shooting was not preserved as evidence, and video relevant to the incident was initially withheld. According to the news site Open Vallejo, Monterrosa was the 19th person killed by the Vallejo police department in 10 years.

Cover of “Into the Streets: A Young Person's Visual History of Protests in the United States” by Marke Bieschke.

‘Into the Streets’ Shows How Recent Demonstrations Echo Historic Protests

The coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of people to stay home from work and school, but it has not suppressed a deep cultural impulse for expressing frustration, solidarity and demand for change through public protest. This year, that impulse has come from across the political spectrum, with early statehouse demonstrations decrying economic shutdown, followed by a national wave of protests against racism and police brutality. Marke Bieschke gives the conversation about these events and an even broader range of actions historical context with his new book, “Into the Streets: A Young Person’s Visual History of Protests in the United States.”

A panel of Bay Area Black community leaders discusses how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Screen capture from Zoom courtesy of BARHII.

Bay Area Black Community Leaders Envision Equitable Coronavirus Response

The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected people of color throughout the Bay Area  — as of late April, state health department data showed Black Californians were dying from COVID-19 at nearly twice the rate of white residents. In the Bay Area, Latino and Black residents have been testing positive at much higher rates than other groups. At a panel organized by the coalition of health departments known as BARHII, Black community leaders from fields ranging from public education to community development to transportation, said those most affected have not been given a seat at the table when it comes to determining the region’s pandemic response. In these excerpts from their remarks, they discuss initiatives they have set in motion to support their communities during the pandemic and what they would like to see done next. “We have to center the leadership of those who are impacted by the issues.

A map created by Dr. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai to show where elevated levels of four elements were detected in residents, resulting from a community health biomonitoring survey. Photo courtesy of Dr. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai.

Bayview Residents Sound Alarm Over Potential Dust From Toxic Site

San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood has been hit especially hard by COVID-19, and residents sheltering in place in the area have for years faced elevated levels of air pollution from a variety of nearby sources. Recently, advocates have raised concerns about potentially toxic dust they fear is being generated by a nearby construction project.

Police-at-Castro-Street

Critics Applaud S.F. School District Move to End Police Presence

Parents applauded the San Francisco school board’s recent move to cut ties with the San Francisco Police Department in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests that have highlighted racial bias in policing. The Board of Education voted on June 23 to overhaul the San Francisco Unified School District’s relationship with police. The decision means that from now on, police can enter San Francisco’s public schools only in emergencies, such as in active shooter cases. Advocates, parents and former teachers say that school resource officers – as police designated to work with schools are known — are often called by staff and parents in situations that don’t warrant police intervention, such as for schoolyard fights or to discipline misbehaving students. This often escalates already tense situations and leads to disproportionate disciplining of Black, Latinx and other minority students, critics say.