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Bay Area Headlines: Tuesday, 6/23/20, AM


Demonstrators Topple Golden Gate Park Statues / Governor And Legislators Agree On Budget /Several Shot In SF’s Tenderloin / BART Considers Defunding Police / COVID-19 Rising Again In California / Laney College Professor Criticized For Racism

Demonstrators Topple Golden Gate Park Statues

On Friday, the same day that many people celebrated Juneteenth around the Bay Area, some tore down statues in Golden Gate Park. Demonstrators toppled statues of St. Junipero Serra, Francis Scott Key and President Ulysses S. Grant in the Golden Gate Park Music Concourse. Videos of the incident show a scattered group of people pulling the statues of the priest and Star Spangled Banner songwriter to the ground to the cheers of onlookers. 

The videos went viral and ignited a furious debate about President Grant’s legacy. The former Union general, who died in 1855, briefly trended on Twitter. 

Other statues and fixtures in the park were also damaged. Police were dispatched but no arrests were reported.

Recreation and Parks Department employees began assessing and cleaning up the damage Saturday morning. The downed statutes were loaded onto trucks and the area briefly closed off.

Mayor London Breed issued a written statement, acknowledging the pain people are feeling but saying:

"Every dollar we spend cleaning up this vandalism takes funding away from actually supporting our community, including our African American community.”

The mayor also called on the Arts Commission and other city agencies to evaluate the city’s public art collection.

Governor And Legislators Agree On Budget

Legislative leaders and Governor Gavin Newsom have agreed on a budget to close a landmark 54-billion-dollar deficit. The agreement follows weeks of intense negotiations over how to fill the budget hole caused by the pandemic.

While leaders did not give specific details, sources say the new agreement largely avoids the painful cuts to health and social service programs Governor Newsom proposed in his May revision. But it leans on billions in anticipated federal aid, which is still uncertain.

If that relief funding does not come through, some state workers would see furloughs. The state would also defer billions in payments to schools and community colleges until next year, which could force those entities to cut spending or borrow.

Several Shot In SF’s Tenderloin

San Francisco police are investigating a shooting involving “several victims” in the city’s rough Tenderloin neighborhood.The San Francisco Police Department tweeted Monday they were investigating the shooting and that all vehicle and pedestrian traffic was being redirected.Police did not immediately return a message seeking more information.

BART Considers Defunding Police

Calls by activists nationwide to defund police have reached BART. Leaders there pledged to shift $2 million from sworn officers and fare inspectors to unarmed ambassadors. These staff would wear uniforms and patrol the trains unarmed.

Governor Gavin Newsom recently appointed BART Board Director and advocate Lateefah Simon to lead a statewide working group on police reform. She wants to add at least one staff member to BART’s office of the Independent Police Auditor. This office looks into complaints against police officers for misconduct. 

Any changes will require approval next week when the board passes its new budget.

BART police chief Ed Alvarez has also pledged to start training his force to follow a state law called AB392. This law went into effect on January 1st. It mandates that police can only use deadly force when absolutely necessary to defend human life. It also provides de-escalation techniques for police to use prior to firing their guns.

COVID-19 Rising Again In California

California is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations as many counties move into stages two and three of reopening. But health officials say most people aren’t picking up coronavirus in bars and restaurants. They’re catching it at house parties.

Many counties started seeing their case numbers go up in late spring, just as the weather heated up. Statewide, hospitalizations jumped 19 percent in the past week. 

Several health officers are pointing to birthday parties and other celebrations as the most likely culprit. While the state is now requiring face coverings in public, it’s not a rule people are likely to follow at a backyard barbecue. 

Gatherings of any size are not permitted under the state order, because it allows the disease to spread between households. If you must go to a party, experts say you should keep your mask on, refrain from hugging friends and family and wash your hands frequently.

Laney College Professor Criticized For Racism

An official says a professor at Laney College in Oakland has been put on leave after asking a Vietnamese-American student to “Anglicize” her name because it sounded like a vulgarity.

College President Tammeil Gilkerson said that as soon as campus leaders learned of the comments, an unnamed faculty member was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

Freshman Phuc Bui Diem Nguyen tells KGO-TV she received an email from her trigonometry professor, asking her to change her name. The teacher said in an email to The Associated Press that he was sorry for his mistakes and in his words, “and the pain they caused so many.”

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.