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Bay Area Headlines: Thursday, 6/4/20, AM

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Students Lead Mission District Demonstration / Some Police And Protester Tensions Continue / State Legislators Take On Coronavirus, Homelessness, And Racial Inequities / California Green New Deal Dies / Legislators Agree On State Budget

Students Lead Mission District Demonstration 

Thousands of protesters converged on San Francisco's Mission District yesterday afternoon for what was described as a student-led demonstration. They marched from Mission High School to the district police station. KALW’s Ninna Gaensler-Debs was there:

“I have my mask on and actually so does. pretty much everyone here. There are many people walking around with water bottles, and masks, and hand sanitizer. I've seen at least dozens of people handing all of those things out, so there are a lot of people here thinking about safety. I've also seen a lot of people in their scrubs. A lot of ‘white coats for black lives’ out here — it's a particularly noticeable group. It's been, from my perspective, from what I've seen, an entirely peaceful process. There is a line of police behind barricades. So far there doesn't seem to have been any physical interactions or anything like that between protesters and police. Another thing to note is that for a protest of what was supposedly 10,000 people, the streets are really clean. I've seen people who have walked behind protesters also picking up garbage and all the water bottles that were given out for free.”

Some Police And Protester Tensions Continue

California authorities are praising thousands of peaceful protesters, but they've also filed criminal charges against more than 100 people accused of looting and violence. The figures were announced on the sixth day of protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Crowds continue to grow with an estimated 10,000 gathering here in San Francisco, but violence has dwindled. Some cities and counties announced plans to shorten or cancel their curfews. Meanwhile, Vallejo police said they shot and killed a 22-year-old looting suspect on Tuesday after mistaking his hammer, for a gun.

State Legislators Take On Coronavirus, Homelessness, And Racial Inequities

State lawmakers are moving forward with bills to tackle the coronavirus, homelessness, and racial inequities in California. Those three very big topics make up just a portion of the roughly 150 bills advanced by the powerful Assembly Appropriations Committee yesterday.

They include a $2 billion homelessness package, stricter rules for workplace safety in hospitals and agriculture, and a coronavirus relief bill for struggling homeowners.

Democratic committee chairwoman Lorena Gonzales says despite everything going on, the approved batch still reflects California’s values:

“Tackling homelessness and housing shortage, protecting our environment, seeking to correct not just decades, but centuries of systematic racism and injustice, and protecting our state’s workforce.”

Also approved was a reparations task force and an affirmative action measure. Black lawmakers called for support of those proposals in the wake of nationwide protests over George Floyd’s killing.

California Green New Deal Dies

In January lawmakers announced a California Green New Deal focused on climate change and equity. The bill was already going to be politically challenging. The California Green New Deal was supposed to accelerate the state’s climate goals all through the lens of equity. But without a hearing its main author Oakland Democratic Assemblymember Rob Bonta says it’s a no go:

“I can't tell you it was going to be the law this year, but certainly COVID made it much more difficult. to put the necessary work into the bill to hear the different perspectives, to make the changes, take the amendments, make it stronger.”

He blames a legislature focusing on fewer bills due to the huge budget deficit. The authors even stripped it down and made it about economic recovery, but that wasn’t enough.

Bonta says the ideas in the bill don’t have to die. He says legislation that does make it through could incorporate the bill’s ideas, especially since COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting low-income communities.

Legislators Agree On State Budget

Meanwhile, California's Democratic legislative leaders have reached an agreement on the state budget that covers an estimated $54 billion shortfall. The deal announced Wednesday avoids most of Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget cuts to public education and health care services but also relies heavily on increased federal funding coming in to address the coronavirus pandemic. It retains Newsom’s proposed taxing on some businesses that would generate $4.4 billion and would delay $9 billion in payments to public schools. It also includes more money for homeless services, and universities, the legislature has until June 15 to work out a deal with Newsom’s budget.