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Bay Area Headlines: Monday, 6/22/20, AM

Audio Postcard: West Coast Ports Shutdown / COVID-19 In California Prisons Continues To Raise Concerns / Racial Justice Reform Happening In Sacramento 

Audio Postcard: West Coast Ports Shutdown

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union staged a walkout, on Friday, at 29 West Coast ports including the port of Oakland. The event was to recognize Juneteenth and the fight against systemic racism. KALW’s Ninna Gaensler Debs produced this audio collage. Please click the play button above to listen.

COVID-19 In California Prisons Continues To Raise Concerns

An incarcerated person from Avenal State Prison in California has died from what appear to be complications from the coronavirus. California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, or CDCR, said late Saturday the inmate died at a hospital. The exact cause of death has yet to be determined.

The department said in a statement that 19 incarcerated people in state custody have died from illnesses related to the virus.

CDCR says it's the first death at Avenal State Prison in Kings County. One hundred thirty two inmates currently have the virus, there, and 777 cases have been resolved, according to state records.

The California Institution for Men in San Bernardino County has several hundred cases as well and 16 deaths. On May 30, CDCR transferred many prisoners from there to San Quentin State Prison, here in the North Bay, where there were no reported cases. Now 211 people incarcerated at San Quentin have been diagnosed with the disease.

Racial Justice Reform Happening In Sacramento

The racial reckoning sweeping the country after the killing of George Floyd in police custody has generated momentum for widespread reforms in Sacramento.

The efforts go beyond policing reforms to focus on systemic racism that has stubbornly pervaded public life for decades. Sydney Kamlager is a member of the Legislative Black Caucus in the California state Assembly. She says:

“[They are prompting] very real conversations I didn't think the country has ever really had because none of them are comfortable.”

A number of California bills that have struggled to pass for years are suddenly sailing through the Legislature. Last week, the state Assembly overwhelmingly approved legislation that would let voters decide whether to overturn the state's 1996 ban on affirmative action in government and public colleges and universities.

On Thursday, the state Senate passed a bill to make ethnic studies a graduation requirement in the California State University system, which serves more than 481,000 students. The bill had been languishing in the chamber for more than a year.

Another proposal receiving renewed attention would study how California could offer reparations for slavery. California entered the Union in 1850 as a free state, which means it never had a government-sanctioned system of slavery. But the state allowed slave-owning whites to bring their slaves to California, and the Legislature passed a law making it legal to arrest runaway slaves and return them to their owners.

California's bill would establish an eight-member task force to study the effects of slavery and its ramifications. The committee would recommend how the state could compensate black people, which could mean cash, higher education, or home ownership.

Kevin Vance created a program of folk music for KALW, A Patchwork Quilt, in October 1991. He grew up in Berkeley during the 1960s and '70s and spent his years learning in public schools, community colleges, bookstores, libraries, and non-commercial radio stations, as well as from the people around him. When he's not on the radio, then he's selling books, taking care of his family, listening to music, entering stuff into a computer, or taking a class.
Ninna Gaensler-Debs is a reporter and editor for Crosscurrents. Since 2012, Ninna has worn a variety of hats at KALW - she was both a producer and event planner for Localore project Hear Here. Ninna also programmed and organized the Sights and Sounds live events - two in Bayview, and most recently, one in East Oakland.
Ben joined KALW in 2004. As Executive News Editor and then News Director, he helped the news department win numerous regional and national awards for long- and short-form journalism. He also helped teach hundreds of audio producers, many of whom work with him at KALW, today.