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Bay Area Headlines: Wednesday, 6/10/20, AM

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SF Police Victims’ Compensation / Recreational Activities Reopening / What Would It Mean To Defund The Police / CA COVID-19 Numbers Spiking

SF Police Victims’ Compensation

Victims and witnesses of police violence will be eligible for funeral expenses, help with medical bills, counseling and other services under a policy by San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

The policy change announced, yesterday, comes as the U.S. reels from the deaths of George Floyd and other African American and Latino people, at the hands of police. In the Bay Area, protesters are marching against the recent fatal police shootings of two young men — 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa in Vallejo and 23-year-old Erik Salgado in Oakland.

Boudin’s office and supporters say the policy may be the first in the country.

Boudin is a former deputy public defender who won office last year as part of a national wave of progressive-minded prosecutors. He said it’s essential that victims of police violence receive the help that any other crime victim would receive:

“The bottom line is that people should not have to rely on a GoFundMe page to pay for a funeral of their son or daughter when they’ve been killed by law enforcement.”

The president of the San Francisco Police Officers’ Association said all crime victims should receive support but called the move a political ploy by Boudin. President Tony Montoya said:

“He hasn’t looked to expand services or seek justice for rape victims, for assault victims, or robbery victims in our city. He’s done the opposite by refusing to hold criminals accountable.”

The district attorney's office would have jurisdiction in cases where the violence occurred in San Francisco or to a San Francisco resident.

According to the office, that means Monterrosa's family, who lives in San Francisco, will now be eligible for up to $7,500 for funeral services and up to $5,000 in medical bills, as well as financial help with counseling and relocation costs.

Recreational Activities Reopening

Some recreational activities across California are reopening this weekend, but operators must follow safety guidelines and social distancing rules. Stay-at-home orders shut down recreation facilities more than two months ago. 

That includes whitewater rafting companies. They are usually busy this time of year, but most have sat dormant.

Sarah Vardaro and her husband run River Runners along the American River east of Sacramento:

“It's really hard to work for that long and that hard to really create a business that's thriving and then have it dissipate. That is challenging to see.”

Some rafting companies aren’t opening, including some on the Kings River in Central California. Others in Trinity County have been open for a few weeks. The companies must follow cleaning regimens for their rafts, oars and vans. 

Some campgrounds and RV parks are also reopening, but the state advises people to limit outdoor activities to people you live with. 

What Would It Mean To Defund The Police

Activists are calling on governments to “defund the police” as nationwide protests continue over the killing of George Floyd. Defunding the police doesn’t necessarily mean eliminating law enforcement.

Matthew Barge with consulting firm 21st Century Policing Solutions says it’s more about reallocating funds:

“It means that there are other solutions that are stepping in to take the burden off of what we’ve always forced police officers to do.”

He says money from police budgets could be shifted to form a response team of medical and social workers to assist people experiencing homelessness or mental health crises. That would alleviate the burden on law enforcement — though it could mean fewer officers on the street.

But police unions so far are critical of the idea.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently proposed cutting the city’s police budget by up to $150 million — a suggestion the LAPD union strongly opposes.

CA COVID-19 Numbers Spiking

As California moves to reopen bars, gyms and other businesses this weekend, some areas are seeing their coronavirus numbers spike. Hospitalizations in Sacramento have quadrupled over two weeks ago.

None of the 25 new hospitalizations have been linked to recent protests over the police killing of George Floyd. Instead, Sacramento County health director Peter Beilenson says they’ve mostly been traced back to private social gatherings.

“Two birthday parties, including one birthday party where a lot of people came from out of town, a funeral and a church event.”

That’s prompted him to remind residents to wear a mask in public and continue social distancing.

Despite the increase, Beilenson says he plans to move ahead with new reopenings. Sacramento County still has less than half the coronavirus hospitalizations it did during a peak in early April. But the bump has landed the county on a state ‘watch list,’ along with Santa Clara, Fresno and a half-dozen other counties. They’re being monitored as California prepares to move into a new stage of reopening this Friday.