A new study released by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, Paying More for Being Poor: Bias and Disparity in California’s Traffic Court System, shows that Californians pay some of the highest fines and fees in the country — more than three times the national average for running a red light. And new Bay Area data reveals that African-Americans are four to sixteen times more likely to be booked into county jail on a charge related to inability to pay a citation. Two bills before the California Legislature (SB 185 and AB 412) seek to address many of the disparities
Wed May 17 2017 (Updated 05/19/17)The Poverty, Politics and Profit of Section 8 Housing
More than 2 million families now use Section 8 vouchers to keep from becoming homeless. It's the government's largest program to help low-income families pay their rent. However Section 8 housing proposals face stiff opposition in cities across the US, including the McKinney and Frisco suburbs of Dallas, Texas. Nicole Humphrey, an opponent, proclaimed, "In this neighborhood, most of us are stay-at-home moms with young kids. The lifestyle that goes with Section 8 is usually working, single moms or people who are struggling to keep their heads above water. It's just not people who are the same class as us."
Tue May 16 2017Call Goes Out to Defund OPD, Invest in Community
Defund OPD writes: The process of allocating Oakland’s 2.6 billion dollar budget for 2017-2019 has begun. We believe that the scandal-ridden and dysfunctional Oakland Police Department consumes far too many of our city's resources. It’s time to audit police spending and performance, and redirect wasted funds to community-building, constructive strategies for making Oakland a safer and better place to live. The people of Oakland know that policing is the wrong framework for bringing true security to our communities. Oakland’s budget needs to reflect our values and our priorities.
Fri May 5 2017 (Updated 05/16/17)Reclaim Our Democracy from the Oil Industry
California is often portrayed as the nation's “green leader,” but the reality is much different. Over the 2015-2016 Legislative Session, the oil industry spent a historic $36.1 million to lobby California lawmakers. During the last six years, the industry has spent $122 million in Sacramento, more than any other interest group. “This spending spree has paid huge dividends for these companies, allowing them to dismantle and crush any meaningful legislation that might significantly curb their power to drill and pollute in California,” said David Braun of Rootskeeper. Braun urged people to join a diverse array of activists on Saturday, May 20 for a march and rally in Sacramento.
Wed May 3 2017 (Updated 05/10/17)City Considers Taking More Measures Against The Homeless
The City of Santa Cruz is considering a number of new policies that would impact local homeless people. There is an effort by a handful of property owners and their allies at City Hall to end the Food Not Bombs meals outside the downtown Post Office. Officials may implement a number of new restrictions and architectural changes to make the lives of those without housing more painful. One unhoused person, Greg Mercado, died of complications from an old surgery twelve hours after the police kicked him out from the City Hall grounds and gave him a ticket for being in a park after hours.
Thu Apr 20 2017 (Updated 04/24/17)Cops Boot Santa Cruz Homeless Folks to the Curb
Keith McHenry reports: On April 17, the police came and kicked people out from under the Santa Cruz City Hall awning into the pouring rain during a very severe storm. On April 18, following a community meeting at the public library on solutions to homelessness, library staff shared that city manager Martin Bernal was making several changes, including the removal of the benches outside the library and the stationing of two police officers. After the meeting, members of the Freedom Sleepers gathered at City Hall to plan a march on Tuesday, May 9 with the message “Housing For All — No Penalty For Poverty.”
Wed Apr 19 2017 (Updated 04/20/17)The End of Money Bail in California?
California warehouses thousands of people in jails while they await their court dates — simply because they can’t afford to post bail. Meanwhile, wealthy people can easily buy their freedom. Research shows that Black people are assigned higher bail amounts than white people accused of similar offenses. People who can’t post bail are at a higher risk of being convicted, pleading guilty (even if they’re innocent), and receiving harsher sentences. The California Money Bail Reform Act, however, will create a system that prioritizes pretrial services and prevents people from being held in jail simply because they can't make bail.