Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 19, 2020

Equity in all things

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

Hopefully folks can spare some of their righteous indignation over the systemic and deep seated issues in law enforcement and we can help address moving forward.

One of the major topic in the last few years was cannabis and the approval of cannabis related businesses in Alameda. It’s a pretty widely known fact that during the war on drugs, Black people were being arrested and incarcerated three times as often as white people even though the usage was similar.  When marijuana became legalized in California (and other states) Black cannabis owners were systemically shut out of the industry, from NBC:

[M]any African Americans across the country are concerned that a lack of access to capital and systematic economic racism will exclude them from the burgeoning marijuana business the way they’ve been excluded from other business opportunities in the past.

The numbers are disturbing. Less than a fifth of the people involved at an ownership or stake-holder level were people of color, a 2017 survey found; black people made up only 4.3 percent.

“In the beginning there was the feeling that the rush was to legalize and people felt that the social justice and equity elements would be added after the legislation had passed or that these organizations or companies would do the right thing,” [Tracey Henry] said.

“We’re seeing that is not the case,” she added. “This is all tied to economic justice as well. There are a lot of Jim Crow Cannabis laws, that either by design or by circumstance, keep certain communities out of the industry. Depending on the state you might need a license to cultivate, a license to extract, a license to sell. These fees run into the thousands. Also, in some states, if you have a cannabis conviction or felony, you can’t be a part of the industry.”

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June 18, 2020

Tearing down monuments

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

I have to say that I’m having some whiplash at how the quickly the tide has seemed to turn on A/26.  Which is why I’m still flummoxed about the decision to bifurcate A/26 into A/26-1 and A/26-3 and that we’re still going to have the spectre of A/26 over this City.  It feels like now is the time to tap into the attention into systemic racism that has shaped this country and do what we can to slough off the monuments from the past which have ill served this city and race relations.  There’s still time for the City Council majority — the holdouts — to bring the issue back and do the right thing.

But let’s talk about the speed at which we’re now ready to talk about A/26 and it’s legacy.  When a regional elected official is also willing to say it’s time for A/26 to go you know this issue has hit a tipping point”

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June 17, 2020

Starting point

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

Here’s the Special Meeting folks if you want the City Council to start actively considering making systemic changes to how Alameda does policing.  Tonight the only thing on this special meeting agenda is:

Recommendation that the City Council: (A) Authorize the Mayor to Sign-On to Former President Obama’s Pledge to Introduce Common-Sense Limits on Police Use of Force; (B) Authorize the City Manager, in Partnership with the Chief of Police, to Evaluate and Update Alameda Police Department Policies Related to the “8 Can’t Wait” Initiative. (City Manager 2110)

Want to talk about defunding or unbundling the police department.   The meeting starts at 5:30 PM.  To participate over Zoom, you’ll need to register here:

The City will allow public participation via Zoom. Please register here:
https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_nCZpQtb9QdSGlyNiqCcI3w

If you want to submit public comment ahead of time:

Email (clerk@alamedaca.gov), text (510-747-4802) or voicemail (510-747-4802).

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June 16, 2020

Eight isn’t enough

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

Yesterday afternoon the City quietly updated the website to reflect a comprehensive policy review of the Alameda Police Departments policies.  The reviewed items mirror the 8 can’t wait project’s list of immediate actions that can be taken by local jurisdictions to remove some of the policies that — in other jurisdictions — have contributed to police killings of civilians.

Based on whoever reviewed Alameda’s policies it appeared that we only had two of the eight policies enacted in our city.

But based on the existing review it appears that some of the eight policies may have existed but not explicitly enough for a definitive stamp by an external organization.

So the two that Alameda was already cleared on were are the ones in bold.

  • Bans Chokeholds and Strangleholds
  • Requires De-escalation
  • Requires Warning Before Shooting
  • Requires Exhaust All Alternatives Before Shooting
  • Duty to Intervene
  • Ban Shooting at Moving Vehicles
  • Has Use of Force Continuum
  • Requires Comprehensive Reporting

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June 15, 2020

Who tells your story

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

Remember when I said that nothing will change, even if we overhaul the entire way we do law enforcement in this city, if we do nothing about the systemic racial issues.  Well one of those major issues around race and implicit bias has to do with who we view as  authoritative voices on the history of Alameda.  In 2018 the Guardian ran a piece criticizing a Hoover Institute conference which featured only white people (and the majority of them men) and reflected on who we elevate as historians worthy of accepting as an authority figure, highlights:

While public history generally is strong and healthy, who is given a platform remains problematic. We are starting to see more women and historians of colour on television, but still too narrow a range of historians gets heard. Instead, a few “big names” dominate – often white, male voices.

As well as needing to hear from a wider range of voices, we need more diversity in the kinds of history that feature in public debate. The emphasis is usually on grand narratives of long-term change and continuity, yet often the detailed, rigorous research of a particular event or time period or analysis of ordinary people’s experiences can have the most impact. Hearing from a more diverse range of historians would help introduce a wider range of methods and perspectives to the public.

When the issue of renaming Jackson Park was brought before the Rec and Park Commission the first thing one of the commissioners did was to doubt the authority contained in the letter from Rasheed Shabazz, a longtime Alamedan and Black man.  Rather than accept the supporting arguments in the letter as factual, the letter was questioned:

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June 12, 2020

Kicking ass and renaming names

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

The other day I received this notification in Twitter:

And I had to scroll back to see what was being brought back, turns out it’s this:

If this is not the right time for this, I don’t know when else is the right time for this.  We’re seeing monuments to problematic figures in our history beheaded (and removed), toppled into the water, set fire to and then removed, and pressure to remove names from military bases honoring confederate leaders.  Taking action on renaming Jackson Park should be an easy thing for this City to do.

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June 11, 2020

Unbundle the police

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

So far the best explainer I have found on the “Defund the Police” movement has been from an oped in the Washington Post.  I have also seen folks critique the movement as being ripe for misunderstanding which I totally get.  I also think that there are some people supporting the “defund the police” movement who actually think that we shouldn’t have police departments but I’ll point out that progressive super-hero Bernie Sanders won’t go as far as saying we shouldn’t have police departments:

So yeah, “defund the police” has the potential of being a wedge issue, but I can also understand the power of having a simpler message to coalesce behind.  Anyway from the Washington Post, highlights:

To fix policing, we must first recognize how much we have come to over-rely on law enforcement. We turn to the police in situations where years of experience and common sense tell us that their involvement is unnecessary, and can make things worse. We ask police to take accident reports, respond to people who have overdosed and arrest, rather than cite, people who might have intentionally or not passed a counterfeit $20 bill. We call police to roust homeless people from corners and doorsteps, resolve verbal squabbles between family members and strangers alike, and arrest children for behavior that once would have been handled as a school disciplinary issue.

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June 10, 2020

Transformational

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

By now everyone should have gotten a chance to review the body camera footage and hear the call for service as well as the dispatch call.  All in all not a good showing from beginning to the end from the initial non-emergency line call to the response from the police officers.   I’ve struggled to process all of this and I’m not really going to talk about how I feel about the incident because in the end it doesn’t really matter how I feel.   It doesn’t really matter how any of us who aren’t a Black person in America feel about what happened.  The consensus I think (I hope) is that this should not happen in Alameda to anyone but more specifically to our Black neighbors and visitors.

What does matter is what we do next as a community to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.  The first thing we can do is to personally pledge to think twice before we call the police to settle whatever grievances we might have while going through every day life.  This may be the hardest thing because it forces us to consider our built in prejudices and biases.  I’ve seen folks try and rationalize and reason out that the caller may not have had ill intent.  I’m not as keen to be so forgiving.  If the caller was concerned about the safety of the person in the street she would have stuck around to ensure that the person was not struck by oncoming traffic.  In response to a question by the dispatcher who asked if the caller believed the person in the street to be mentally ill, under the influence, or if the caller was not sure the caller responded in a sing-song “either one.”  And in the end she noted she was in a hurry to get away and didn’t assess the situation any further than it was worrisome that there was a Black man in the street dancing.

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June 9, 2020

Crime stopper

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

Trying to take advantage of the current political climate it appears that former Mayor Trish Spencer is trying to boost her image by referencing a previous Council Referral she placed for consideration to create an “oversight body” for police and crime.  Framed by the issues of today there is the appearance that Trish Spencer was ahead of her time, but I want to remind everyone about the context in which Trish Spencer pushed the oversight committee forward.

There was a lot of public noise at the end of 2017 about an increase in crime.  Mostly on Facebook and NextDoor.  The Council even noticed a Neighborhood Watch Meeting on October 20 so that a majority of the City Council could attend.  Trish Spencer then placed a Council Referral on the November 7 to “Consider Directing Staff to Provide a Public Update on Crime within the City. (Mayor Spencer).”  That item wasn’t heard until November 21.  From the Council Referral:

Members of the public have expressed concern over what appears to be an increase in crime in the community.  Consider directing staff to provide a public update on crime within the City that includes trends, what the City is doing and what additional steps can be taken to reduce or thwart criminal activity.  Council should consider holding a workshop on the matter.

In the minutes for that agenda item, Trish Spencer indicates that she had filed another Council Referral that she had wanted to be addressed in conjunction with the crime update.  From the approved minutes:

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June 8, 2020

For FOCCers sake

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

Place this one into the “FFS file”: the FOCCers are at it again.  They’ve decided to put a cool $2089 into appealing the Wellness Center on McKay Ave’s design review approval at tonight’s Planning Board meeting which is such a waste of everyone’s time and their own money.  Although in a follow up letter the appellant did try to ask for his money back.  I can’t imagine that the City complied with that request.

Just to summarize what’s going on, the design review was approved by the Planning Director in March.  Unlike the City Council, design reviews approved the the Planning Director could be called for review by any one member of the Planning Board but it doesn’t appear that either anyone was asked or anyone wanted to be THAT Planning Board member calling for review a facility to serve unsheltered senior citizens.  This bit of shade from the staff was very deserved:

The Appellant filed a timely Appeal, which does not raise any substantive architectural arguments related to the Design Review approval.  Instead, the Appeal raises numerous arguments entirely unrelated to Design Review, without any supporting evidence.

But, true to form, staff went through all their arguments as to why the design review was done appropriately and why the appellant’s appeal is meritless.

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