Bars Ordered Closed In San Diego Following COVID-19 Spike, Calls For Defunding School Police, One-Third Of Essential Workers In San Diego Are Immigrants (KPBS Midday Edition) | #schoolshooting


With COVID-19 cases spiking in San Diego, county Supervisors took the pre-emptive step of closing bars, breweries and wineries that do not serve food, before the Fourth of July weekend. Plus, with calls to defund the police happening nationwide, there’s a petition on Change.org to defund San Diego Unified School District’s police department. Critics say the presence of police in schools disproportionately exposes students of color to the criminal justice system at a young age. Also, the recent Supreme Court ruling banning discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation gives transgender people hope the military will soon lift its transgender service ban. And, a recent report shows that one-third of essential health, food and agricultural workers in the city of San Diego are immigrants. Finally, San Diego Black Panther Party Chairman Henry Wallace V gives historical context to today’s racial injustice protests.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Governor Newsome. Lauds the effort to get the homeless into housing and the movement to defund school police. I’m Mark Sauer with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid midday edition. It’s Tuesday, June 30th.

Speaker 2: 00:27 Governor Gavin Newsome continued his COVID-19 updates today. These updates have become daily again, as the caseload of COVID patients continues to rise across the state. The governor says 19 counties are on the state’s watch list for possible rollbacks to reopening with more to come. And he warned that tomorrow he’ll be announcing more tightening of reopening across the state with enforcement measures. The governor also touted the state success in its efforts to protect homeless residents from the virus.

Speaker 1: 01:00 So we’re proud of the progress. Uh, just in a few short months, 14,200 individuals, we estimate, uh, now, uh, out of the conditions, uh, they’re they’re made them vulnerable now in conditions that give them a little bit more security, uh, and give us a little more and more confidence that we can make a difference, uh, and we can make real progress and a debt and addressing the issue of homelessness in this state.

Speaker 2: 01:26 The governor was heckled today by black lives matter, protesters demanding a redistribution of budget resources. California’s new budget was just signed by the governor yesterday, even though San Diego County is not included on California’s COVID-19 watchlist County officials have decided to shut down recently, reopened bars, breweries, and wineries. The order goes into effect tonight at midnight bars that serve food and drinks at the same time to seated patrons can remain open here’s County supervisor Nathan Fletcher.

Speaker 1: 01:59 We don’t want it to be wait, wait to be forced to take an action. When we know that it is the wise and responsible thing for us to do now,

Speaker 2: 02:06 Supervisor Fletcher says the new closures are in response to a disturbing trend line of increasing positive tests in the County and a rising rate of hospitalizations. And the County is considering additional shutdowns of public places as the July 4th holiday weekend approaches journey as Paul Sisson, who covers healthcare for the San Diego union Tribune. Welcome Paul, thanks for having me. Why is the County focusing on bars are many of the new COVID cases being traced to bars.

Speaker 1: 02:38 We asked supervisor Fletcher and a, and all of the public health folks, that question yesterday’s press conference. And they said that their electronic systems, uh, where they track interviews with people who test positive, but don’t allow them to say exactly how many people who have tested positive for COVID have actually visited bars before they tested positive. So there’s still a little gray area there. Um, however, they also said, look, we know that bars are places where, you know, they, they kind of exist for people from different households to come together, uh, over drinks. And, uh, and so this is a, an environment that is ripe for an infection to move from one household to another

Speaker 2: 03:24 Bars can stay open if they also serve food, though, explain how that works.

Speaker 1: 03:29 Right. So I don’t know if you’ve been out to any of our, uh, local, uh, uh, breweries, but it’s pretty common that they’ll not only serve the own, their own beers that they make, but they will have maybe like a food truck or something come by. So people can get something to eat, or they’ll have a food booth come by and set up out front. People can go out and order food and take it in and, and, uh, eat and drink at the same time. That’s kind of a, you know, an existing tradition. You also have situations now with, uh, online food ordering apps where you will often have a winery or a brewery or a bar, uh, work with local restaurants. So, uh, patrons can order food in from restaurants that are not on site. Uh, so there, there are various ways where you can end up having food brought into a bar. And so the County is saying, yeah, that can continue happening. Uh, as long as your patrons are seated and as long as they are ordering both food and drink in the same transaction

Speaker 2: 04:31 Now, from your reporting, Paul, what’s the reaction of local bar owners and their employees.

Speaker 1: 04:37 Our owners seem like they’re going to try to, uh, you know, consider doing this a food and drink option as a way of staying open, but many just say that, you know, it’s just a hardship on their business.

Speaker 2: 04:52 How bad is the spike in, uh, Corona virus cases here in San Diego

Speaker 1: 04:57 It’s increased dramatically? Uh, it wasn’t long ago that we were seeing, you know, between a hundred and 150 or so cases, new cases for day, uh, that had, that has ramped up to the three hundreds. And then the four hundreds and yesterday we had 498 new cases announced, uh, and that is, you know, verging toward 500. So, uh, there has been a pretty dramatic swing. Uh, it has, uh, also brought the average, uh, uh, positive rate for tests conducted up into the six, 7% range, uh, when it was down in the two, 3% range. So it does really seem like we are seeing a larger number of, uh, of folks and a larger percentage of folks getting infected.

Speaker 2: 05:45 You said it wasn’t clear whether or not this COVID spike is the result of people mingling in bars. It’s just sort of anecdotal where else is the County tracing these cases, community outbreaks. And I’m specifically asking about visitors from areas where COVID is increasing like Arizona or Imperial County,

Speaker 1: 06:07 Right? Uh, they’ve provided some information on the outbreaks. They’ve kept it rather vague because they say they don’t want to, uh, make it less likely that people will be honest with their investigators when they call a fair number, have come out of restaurants. Um, they say that backyard barbecues and home gatherings have, uh, have actually generated quite a few community outbreaks. Uh, yesterday we asked them about, uh, visitors from other places. Uh, they said they only had, I think it was 16, uh, visitors who have tested positive for COVID from Arizona throughout the entire, uh, nearly four month outbreak. But that seven of those, uh, had tested positive in the last week. Uh, I think they said they had nearly 400, uh, from Imperial County who have tested positive and something like 60, uh, in the last week. Uh, so of the two, uh, locations to the East, it seems like Imperial has generated more cases than Arizona.

Speaker 2: 07:08 Now, the July 4th weekend in San Diego usually includes those barbecues that you just mentioned. And of course, beaches. So water County officials saying about that,

Speaker 1: 07:19 Uh, they said yesterday when pressed, uh, that they are going to be talking with beach cities throughout the County and asking them if there’s anything else they would like them to do on the 4th of July weekend. Uh, I think it was supervisor Fletcher, who said, you know, we are going to be asking them if they feel like they can enforce the social distancing requirements, uh, on local beaches,

Speaker 2: 07:44 LA County is closing its speeches for the July 4th holiday. Any idea that San Diego is heading in that direction.

Speaker 1: 07:51 I mean, they certainly hinted that they might be a yesterday a, that is an open question that we’re all very eager to learn more about. Uh, they, they did decide to hold another press conference this afternoon. Uh, and it may be that beaches are a main subject of that press conference. Uh, but so far they’ve been, uh, rather circumspect about it.

Speaker 2: 08:12 Okay. I’ve been speaking with Paul Sisson who covers healthcare for the San Diego union Tribune. And Paul, thank you.

Speaker 1: 08:19 Yeah. Thank you. Marches and protests stemming from the Memorial day police killing of George Floyd led to renewed calls for meaningful police reform nationwide. That includes a movement to defund police, to fundamentally change policing by redirecting funding away from the department to other agencies within the city. And that’s led further to a call to defund school police, which has already happened in Minneapolis. Joining me to discuss this as India Griffin, a student organizer behind a petition drive to defund school police, San Diego unified,

Speaker 3: 08:56 And Michael Burke, a reporter for ed source, an online publication covering education issues. Welcome to you both. Thank you. Thanks for having us and to start with the effort to defund police in San Diego schools. What exactly does that mean to you?

Speaker 4: 09:11 We believe that it’s important to defund school police, um, in San Diego schools, because just the statistics surrounding school policing are disproportionately negatively affecting black and Latino students. Um, so we believe that the resources that are currently being used to fund, um, sanding unified school police can be reallocated to things like mental health practitioners, um, restorative justice, practitioners, counselors, et cetera.

Speaker 3: 09:39 And Michael, you covered the effort to defund police in the Los Angeles unified school district. Explain that effort. Uh, were they calling for something similar to what we’re talking about here?

Speaker 5: 09:50 Yeah, very similar. Um, you had activists, um, and the teacher’s union and also the union that represents a lot of the non-teaching employees that we’re all calling for. Um, they basically all joined forces behind a proposal being brought by board member, Monica Garcia that would have cut the districts or the police department, the school police departments funding by about 90%. It would have, it would have phased out over several years. Um, but that, that proposal was rejected by the school board at its, uh, meeting last week as was another proposal that was brought by a separate board member, Jackie Goldberg that would have cut the police department’s budget by almost 30%. Um, but it would have avoided laying off any officers immediately, um, instead would have made reductions to vacant positions over time and non-salary costs. Um, and it would have put a freeze on new hiring. Um, and then it also would’ve charged, um, a taskforce being formed by the superintendent, uh, to make a recommendation to the school board, uh, by July 30th on whether the district needs a police department at all. So it would have left the door open to actually completely eliminating, uh, the school police.

Speaker 3: 10:56 And that’s a, was a big argument as the, as the board made their decision, right. They thought this needed a lot more study before they could really vote on this.

Speaker 5: 11:04 They, they were very split. Um, there were, uh, board members like Monica Garcia who, you know, thought that they had enough evidence already based on the testimony of a lot of students who said that they basically feel uncomfortable around school police. And then also, you know, research from places like UCLA that have shown the disproportionate impact that black students in particular and other students of color are punished, uh, at higher rates than their peers. They kind of looked at that evidence and thought that, um, there was enough evidence to, to drastically cut the school police funding, but then there were other school board members who yes, as you, as you, uh, suggest, wanted to take a closer look and, and do a further study of the department. And that’s sort of, what’s what is happening now because the superintendent did announce last week, a task force going to

Speaker 3: 11:54 Look at their budget and practices and their traits and their training, and bring a report to the school board this summer. And I should point out the Los Angeles district as the state’s largest and San Diego second, right behind them. So we’re talking about the two largest school districts in California and India, explain your view of the role of school police on campuses here. What do they do

Speaker 4: 12:15 So often the police exercise actions that are not necessarily really in the safety of students, and this is partially because of the way that they are allowed to function within schools, according to, um, the education code that allowed them to be in schools in the first place, which is, which allows them to act upon reasonable suspicion rather than probable cause. Um, this leaves too much discretion to police officers to act in ways that are often discriminatory to black and Brown students. Um, and so actions that are typical of high school students, like maybe like getting into like play fights or being running through hallways, or just acting in ways that typical teenagers do acting can be seen as criminal behavior by school police, just because they do have the authority to act in some ways that are uncalled for. And we also recognize that in the adults vacation of black and Brown students, we are often seen as criminals within the education system as a whole leading to the school to prison pipeline. Um, and as one of our youth act, organizers pointed out, so poignantly is that we can not be students and criminals at the same time. So it’s important that we’re not seen in a way that criminalizes us before we’ve done anything

Speaker 3: 13:35 In India. What do you say to people who say the police are needed in order to prevent or respond to school shootings or to interfere with gangs, trying to maintain a presence around schools?

Speaker 4: 13:44 So we’ve done research into how school police were impacted by high profile school shootings. Um, and after the shooting of the Sandy hook shooting, um, in 2012, the Obama administration approved a lot more funding to go to school police, but we see that Parkland still happen in 2018. And there were actually police officers that were hiding as the school was being shot by students. And so what we want to explain is that police presence in schools doesn’t necessarily prevent these types of issues from happening. But when we reallocate funding from school police and put it into support systems for students, we can provide a culture of rich connections between educators and students that will make students feel more welcome at school. And that will curb those feelings of isolation that often fuel school shootings

Speaker 3: 14:43 And Michael defunding school police become a nationwide issue. Talk to me about the efforts here in California. Well, there have been several districts, you know, in, in, in

Speaker 5: 14:52 The case of Oakland unified, they voted their, their school board voted unanimously to eliminate their, um, district police department. Um, and there’ve been also several other districts like San Francisco just last night Sacramento, or I don’t know if it was last night, but this week Sacramento city unified also West Contra Costa that they voted to, to terminate contracts that they have with local city police agencies. So they don’t have their own independent school police departments, but they, you know, contract with city police that provide, um, officers to schools. So those districts have all moved to, to terminate those contracts. And, um, have said that they’ll develop, um, alternate safety plans.

Speaker 3: 15:30 And what of proponents of having police in schools said in response to such efforts,

Speaker 5: 15:34 One of the main arguments you hear is that, um, that school police and school police officers that are from city police that are assigned to schools, that they get specific training to, to respond to incidents involving, um, students and youth. And that if districts, you know, don’t have a school police departments work, they cut ties with the, if they cut their official ties with city police, then, you know, then if they do have to, at some point call police officers that, that those officers, you know, won’t be trained or have the same training as, as officers who work on schools currently do. And then you also hear the argument that I think you alluded to that, um, you know, school police are necessary to prevent tragedies like mass shootings, but it’s not entirely clear whether having police on campuses actually prevent school shootings. You know, that that’s, you know, the evidence there is a little unclear. Um, so that’s something that’s just worth keeping in mind.

Speaker 3: 16:25 And Michael, how is the California state superintendent responded to these calls to defund police in schools?

Speaker 5: 16:31 Uh, well, he’s, uh, tapped, uh, West ed as a nonprofit educational organization based in California that, um, is going to, to, to study it further. Um, he based, based on his comments last week, um, at a press conference, he seemed to be saying that more research is needed. So I think that they’re going to take a closer look and, and, and, and see what they find in terms of, you know, whether, um, having police officers on campuses actually make students safer or, or

Speaker 3: 17:02 In India later this week, a protest is planned to talk to me about what’s going to happen at that event

Speaker 4: 17:07 On Thursday, July 2nd, starting at 12:00 PM and going to around 2:30 PM, we are going to be hosting a protest to defund school police at the Eugene Brucker education center. Um, and it’s a student led grassroots effort. Um, and we’re going to hear from speakers throughout the community, as well as students on why they believe that school police should be defunded.

Speaker 3: 17:33 I’ve been speaking with student activists and Griffin and Michael Burke reporter for the online publication ed source. Thank you both. Thank you so much. Thanks Mark. In a statement San Diego unified said they have 41 sworn officers serving some 200 and 100,000 students. And that school police account for less than 1% of their annual budget, they said, quote, in San Diego unified school, police are not a substitute for counseling and mental health services. We have five times the number of counselors, 231. Then we do school police and we spend twice as much on our mental health department, $21 million as we do on school police, they perform a vital role on criminal issues like human trafficking, internet crimes against children and investigating threats of violence against our schools close quote. They also said school police help reduce drugs on campus Supreme court’s recent decision protecting many LGBTQ employees from discrimination doesn’t directly affect the military. Still opponents of the Trump administration’s ban on transgender service members say they’re encouraged by the ruling. Stephanie Colombini reports for the American Homefront project.

Speaker 6: 19:01 25 year old Ryan Karnofsky is getting his doctorate degree as a clinical social worker and has wanted to serve as one in the military for years, he was happy when the Supreme court decided discrimination against gender identity is sex discrimination, which is barred under title seven of the civil rights act. But the moment was bittersweet.

Speaker 7: 19:20 When I think of employment protections for LGBT Americans, I think of transgender people. And I think of the country’s largest employer of transgender people in the United States, military

Speaker 6: 19:34 Title seven doesn’t apply to the uniform services. So the military can continue to tell Karnofsky he’s not allowed to join because he transitioned genders Karnofsky has spent the past three years challenging the Trump administration, and one of four lawsuits that argue its ban on transgender service is unconstitutional. Federal judges agreed. But last year, the Supreme court allowed a revised band to take effect while the challenges continue Peter per Koski, legal director of the modern military association of America, a co plaintiff. So as the recent title, seven ruling supports their case,

Speaker 7: 20:08 Presumably, and I don’t think it’s a difficult question. Constitutional discrimination based on sex would also include now sexual orientation and gender identity. And that will get us very far along the way of proving our case,

Speaker 6: 20:23 But the military, which wouldn’t comment for the story claims it’s revised policy doesn’t discriminate against sex, but rather the medical condition, gender dysphoria, transgender individuals technically can serve, but they have to do so as their birth sex, those unable to because it causes them distress or because they’ve already taken steps to change their gender pose a threat to unit readiness and deployability in the government. This anger is Karnofsky who says he’s worked hard to meet all the other fitness standards required to serve in the military since his surgeries.

Speaker 4: 20:55 I am in no way confused about my gender. I’m also not confused about my desire to serve in the military.

Speaker 6: 21:04 There’s a chance the court could side with the government and say the security concerns justify their decision to bar trans individuals from serving in their preferred gender. But Rachel van landing and professor at Southwestern law school and former judge advocate with the air force says it’s unlikely a 2016 study commissioned by the military shows transgender service members have limited impact on medical spending and readiness. And then there’s the real life experience of the years when president Obama had lifted the ban, really just the courts will look at the fact that for approximately a 30 month period in which there was no ban, the military was doing just fine. There don’t seem to be any negative repercussions from that transgender people who served during that time were allowed to remain on active duty. After the new policy went into effect like staff, Sergeant Katie Schmidt, who’s been in the army for 15 years,

Speaker 4: 21:54 Very not normalized still within the military to be an out transgender person.

Speaker 6: 22:00 Schmidt is still involved with the lawsuit, but says she’s taken on more of an ambassador role trying to educate her comrades,

Speaker 4: 22:06 Being able to say, yeah, I was only out for eight weeks or every piece of treatment that I received as part of my transition off less than the ankle surgery I had after breaking my ankle and the person across the table from me is saying, I had no idea.

Speaker 6: 22:25 A recent UCLA study found broad support for transgender service among active duty military personnel. Rachel Vanlandingham says, well, that doesn’t affect the legal analysis. It could affect some judges decisions who want to be seen as in touch with the times, trials are scheduled to begin this fall. In the meantime, Ryan Karnofsky is going to keep preparing himself for the military. So if the day comes, when he finally can join the ranks, he’ll be ready. I’m Stephanie Colombini in Tampa. The story was produced by the American Homefront project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public COVID-19 has hit San Diego’s, Latino and foreign born populations, especially hard. And even though we recognize our region has a distinct multicultural identity, there have been gaps in our understanding of just how much San Diego is shaped by its immigrant communities. A new report from UC San Diego fills in many of those gaps. Researchers found that almost 30% of the cities total population is foreign born and many foreign born workers are currently fighting

Speaker 2: 23:46 On the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Joining me is Tom Wong, professor of political science at UC San Diego and director of the international migration studies program. And professor Wong, welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. What more can you tell us about foreign born essential workers in San Diego, specifically those who are employed in the healthcare sector? Yeah,

Speaker 8: 24:10 So we looked at the most recent American community survey. So that’s a census survey, micro data, and we were trying to better understand the foreign born population here in San Diego, a demographic trends, economic contributions, education. Uh, one of the things that really stuck out is that approximately one third of our essential health food production and agricultural workers are foreign born. So when we think about the COVID-19 pandemic and the response to it, then the foreign born population here in San Diego certainly are critical for the front lines. What we also found was that approximately two thirds of those foreign born essential food production and agricultural workers are non-citizens. And when it comes to essential health workers about one third are non-citizens. So when we think about the foreign born population, we generally dis-aggregate between those who are naturalized citizens, and those who are non citizens within that non-citizen category. That includes people who are green card holders, but that also includes undocumented immigrants. And so from these data, we can see that, uh, San Diego’s foreign born population across many immigration statuses are on the front lines, fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaker 2: 25:39 And how much of the economy would you say relies on foreign born workers, the economy of San Diego?

Speaker 8: 25:46 So what we found in the data are that approximately 213,000 foreign born workers add to the city’s overall labor force. So among those foreign born workers, uh, 94% were employed at the time of the survey, uh, given the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the economy. We fully suspect that the percentage employed has has fallen, uh, as it has across the board, uh, for all Americans. But when we think about what the data show in terms of economic contributions, those 200,000 plus workers, they’ve added an estimated 2.6, $8 billion in federal taxes and almost $950 million in state and local taxes based on the pre tax wages and salary income that they’ve earned. So it’s clear in the data how important foreign born workers are to the economy in terms of their, uh, monetary contributions. But we also see in the data how the foreign born population more generally is adding to our sort of innovation economy and our 21st century workforce.

Speaker 8: 27:06 So when we think about the foreign born population and the skills that they have, or are currently acquiring while in school, we can see in the micro data, not just whether or not one has a bachelor’s degree or higher, but we can also see the degree field that a person has earned a degree in. And so among the foreign born population in San Diego who has a bachelor’s degree or higher, the top five degree areas are engineering at the top, followed by business biology and life sciences. Next comes medical and health sciences, and then the social sciences. So when we think about the foreign born population and the current contribution to San Diego’s economy, we can think about dollars and cents. But when we combine education, we can also think about how San Diego’s foreign born population is making us that much more competitive, uh, by growing our 21st century workforce.

Speaker 2: 28:10 So almost 30% of San Diego’s population is foreign born. How does that compare to the nation as a whole?

Speaker 8: 28:20 Yeah, so California leads the way when it comes to immigration and immigrants in American society. So the foreign born population in the United States is just under 14%. And so with nearly 30% of San Diego’s population being foreign born, we are over double the national average. When we think about where these immigrants are coming from, this is where the data become incredibly interesting. So when we think about the foreign born population in the city of San Diego, one might think our neighbors to the South Mexico is being a, uh, large sending country, which of course it is. But when we look at the data over the last five years, the most significant growth in our foreign born population, it’s not coming from Latin America, but it’s coming from Asia and more significantly from Africa and the middle East. And so what we also see in the data is that by 2030, the plurality of immigrants here in San Diego will be from Asia. And when we think about a neighborhoods like city Heights, when we think about, uh, alcohol and our resettled refugee community, we can also begin to imagine how the trend of more immigration from the continent of Africa and the middle East will further diversify the region as a whole,

Speaker 2: 29:50 As the nation’s reckoning over race and racism continues. How do you think this information can contribute to that larger conversation?

Speaker 8: 30:01 I think we are at an inflection point when it comes to race and politics in American society. I think for many good reasons, the last, uh, several weeks have been focused on the experiences of black Americans in the United States. I think when we look at the data and see an increasing number of, uh, immigrants in San Diego, coming from the continent of Africa, we can begin to understand why some of the refugee resettlement organizations here in San Diego were such strong allies and, and, you know, working in partnership with the black lives movement. When we think about what the data show in the future, and not too much further into the future, but you know, a decade from now, we’re also going to see that Asian immigration is going to be a much more significant, uh, chunk of overall immigration in the United States, but also more significantly here in San Diego, the increased racism that Asian Americans have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, I think is something to also keep an eye on to the extent that we have more Asian immigrants coming into the U S and a continued perhaps conflation of, uh, immigrants and, uh, foreignness with things like disease.

Speaker 8: 31:31 Then what we can learn from the data is that the city of San Diego can be a leader. If we can manage our diversity in a way where we can grow from that diversity in a way where we can collectively think that diversity is a value added to not just the economy in terms of dollars and cents, but how people interact with each other and grow with each other, then we can set a tone, not just for the rest of California, but for the rest of the country. Yeah.

Speaker 2: 32:06 You’ve given us a lot to think about, I want to thank you. Uh, professor Tom long, a professor of political science at UC San Diego and director of the international migration studies program. Thank you very much for speaking with us. Thanks, Maureen. The current protest may have been sparked by George Floyd’s death at the hands of the Minneapolis police, but the roots go much deeper KPBS arts, Beth Huck.

Speaker 9: 32:40 Amando spoke with Henry Wallace, the fifth chairman of the San Diego black Panther party about how the Panthers laid some of the foundation for today’s protests back in the 1960s. Here’s that interview.

Speaker 10: 32:52 So Henry, what would you like people to know about the black Panthers in San Diego?

Speaker 9: 32:56 Well, I want people to realize that San Diego itself has never been a utopia that it claimed to be. There have always been racism in this city, the black Panther party, when it came out, came out to fight the injustices of the system itself because the police department was just one part of it.

Speaker 10: 33:20 How did you initially get involved in the black Panthers?

Speaker 9: 33:24 Oh, that’s a long story. You sure you want to hear

Speaker 10: 33:29 How old were you?

Speaker 9: 33:31 I was 15, 16 years old, something like that. And, uh, I laugh at some of the critics, uh, when we reactivated Sam where he was only 16 years old. How could you have been a black Panther? Well, all of us was young and then they, then I tell them, you need to go and read your history books. Then that way you’ll know that it wasn’t a old folks thing. It was a young folk because the older people were seasoned to believe that everything was going to get all right through prayer and a little bit of protest and stuff like that. But the younger kids sees the times, or they realized that we were under attack. And when the black Panther party, uh, came out and they went to SAC Sacramento to the state Capitol that, uh, brought up a groundswell of young people that wanted to be part of this movement that helped move things ahead because we was tired of getting brutalized and disrespected in our community. My sister went to San Diego state college, which is now San Diego state university. And she was in a black student union. She and her boyfriend, Kenny Denman, uh, was approached by the black Panther party or in 67 to open up a chapter of the black Panther party. And from there, my mother joined, my stepfather joined and then I joined me and my brothers. And, uh, every, since then we’ve been black Panthers.

Speaker 10: 35:04 And what was it about the Panthers that appealed to you that made it something that you wanted to be a part of?

Speaker 9: 35:10 It was manual man. All it was, they had muscle. They showed that they weren’t scared of the police and they educated us on the second amendment that we had the right to bear arms to protect ourselves. You know, it was, it was just a, a serious time that a lot of people didn’t get it. And then it was a saying that came out, that I’d rather die standing up then on my knees, I’d rather be on standing. I’m going to be in a prayer position. So you could steal brooder line. I mean, look at what was going on with Martin Luther King at that time.

Speaker 10: 35:43 Talk a little bit about what the black Panthers did in San Diego that might surprise people

Speaker 9: 35:47 San Diego, while we were doing, we started the food program here, which was, you know, kind of like, uh, the thing to do at that time. Uh, we had a free food giveaway at Christ, the King church on 32nd Imperial. And then shortly after that, we partnered up with, uh, some of the university people or helped get a clinic in the middle of 30th and Imperial. Cause there, if you know, back in the day, if you know your history, uh, Imperial was considered the black wall street. So, uh, we got the students to help put together what was called a crisis center. So the black Panther was instrumental in some of those things. Our programs was progress. And, but before you know it, we was under the attack of the government because they didn’t want us to help. They really didn’t have no programs to help anybody other than welfare. And they used that as a club.

Speaker 10: 36:46 Now, as someone who lived through the protests in the sixties and seventies and the sixties, we kind of felt like, Oh yeah, change is going to happen. Like we, we felt there was this groundswell and then not as much change as needed to happen happened. So how are you feeling about these protests? Do you see something different about them? Uh, are you hopeful?

Speaker 9: 37:06 Oh yeah, no doubt about it. What’s happening today is the chickens then came home to roofs to seeds that was planted back in those days are fertilized. Now they’re turning into plants, beautiful flowers and stuff because the stuff that the black Panther party tried to do back in those days was get all the people together and let them know that you’re being exploited by the system. Cause we started off working on just for the black people, but as time went along, we understood that there was other people that was suffering. So this protest that’s going on now is to results of what’s been going on before. And we did have some progress, believe it or not. Cause I could look back over the eons and see where my mother was a maid had my mother been around today as a young woman, she might’ve got a college degree.

Speaker 9: 38:02 She might’ve been able to be a lawyer or judge all that, even though racism still exists, it’s in the fabric of America. But I have seen progress where the police department it’s being brought down to a level where they starting to understand that they are not the ultimate power to people is the power. There’ve been many revolutions, but America forget. They don’t want to teach that to the people. They talk about the revolution, but they need to talk about what’s going on. Now. The same stuff that they doing, the people King George did to the colonists back in the day. And these kids got to stay the course. I am so proud of them. I really am because I see it, but I don’t want them to think that they have won, uh, one victory or two victories and let it go. We got to go all the way to the core of the issue and, and, and, and, and get rid of this disease. Like this Corona virus get rid of the racism, disease, and people need to start learning what’s going on within our own country. So because of the progress that’s been made since the sixties, where now you have black people where political position, you got Hispanics, you got Asian, you got people in a political position. And it’s like, people are starting to wake up and understand that this stuff is really happening.

Speaker 10: 39:32 What do you think current protesters could learn from what the black Panthers,

Speaker 9: 39:37 All they need to do is read our history. What we try to achieve, what we try to achieve is education. To let people know that we’re all the same that we need to work together. I think that they need to understand that they have the right to address. Injustice is just as the black Panther party did.

Speaker 10: 40:02 And do you think San Diego tends to turn a blind eye to racism here in San Diego? Cause some people,

Speaker 9: 40:09 Yeah, it’s real easy. San Diego that they do. We want to keep it where it’s all about. The business again is, do not have no disturbances in San Diego because we want to attract business here. You see what happened when they burned down the banks? Oh my God, dude, Oh, we need to do something. Let’s help these people. Black lives matter. They wouldn’t say in black lives matter until they start burning up their stuff. And, and I’m like, I tell people I’m not down for violence or anything, but sometimes violence begets some changes.

Speaker 10: 40:48 And what is the role of the San Diego black Panthers during this current black lives matter movement? Are you guys actively partaking

Speaker 9: 40:58 Court? Uh, the movement, uh, if we have to send representatives out there so that the people know that you’re doing the right thing, we believe in what you’re doing. And we feel like our kids is handling it. They handling it. They, they they’re actually out there handling, taking care of business. They don’t have no guns. They don’t need no guns. None of that stuff. They just out there letting the world know that what’s going on here in San Diego and around the world and right. And we need to have police reform real police reform.

Speaker 10: 41:32 And do you have any last

Speaker 7: 41:34 Words you’d like to say,

Speaker 9: 41:36 Yeah. I want you guys to know that the black Panther party stand with those that stand on the side of justice and that we won’t just what you want, but you got to understand that everybody need to come to the table. Everybody needs to be part of this situation and you all have the power to make change, but you can’t sit up there and say, Oh, those poor black people, all, they just brutalized and get off your ass and do something. You know, you can vote whatever. Don’t let our country go down to two because you are sitting there of sympathizing, but you’re not getting up to vote. You are sitting there not getting up saying anything. You are sitting there and not going out to enjoy the protest. Because if we work together, we’re going to have a better society. Then you won’t have to worry about people being killed in the street or people being discriminated against, or you won’t have this poor situation. America is Lana, the plenty and the wealth should be share. And I’m talking to you capitalists out there y’all need to be more proactive in returning things back to the community. So we don’t have this situation, power to the people, right? I want to thank you very much. You’re welcome. That was Beth Huck. Amanda was speaking with Henry Wallace, the fifth chairman of the San Diego black Panthers party.


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