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Bay Area Headlines: Monday, 6/29/20, AM


Deep East Oakland Protest Demands Change With Joy / California Voters To Consider Weighty Propositions / Hearing More Fireworks Lately? You’re Not Alone / San Quentin COVID-19 Cases Still Rapidly Escalating

Deep East Oakland Protest Demands Change With Joy 

East Oakland has been hit hard by the pandemic. It’s also the site of a recent officer involved shooting of a person of color. On Saturday, demonstrators gathered for a long and festive march to call attention to injustices. KALW’s Jenee Darden was there:

“I’m here at Wilkins Park on 98th Avenue and C Street at the conclusion of the Deep East Oakland Rising Rally For Black Lives. Protesters marched nearly three miles from Eastmont Mall all the way down here, and during the march they were yelling and advocating for police reform and an interracial injustice, and also to spreading love to East Oakland. They were chanting, “We love you East Oakland.” And they expressed that love by handing out food to people as they were marching down, they were handing out barbecue from Everett and Jones. They were giving out water to people. They were giving out masks. Right now people are kind of relaxing. Enjoying the music. And wrapping up the day.”

California Voters To Consider Weighty Propositions

California voters will decide a ballot measure this November that would give them more power over how companies use their data. It's an extension of a landmark privacy law passed in 2018 that took effect January 1.

Voters will also decide whether to roll back a law limiting taxes on businesses and whether to exempt ride-share services from a new state employment law.

The consumer privacy measure would create a new state agency to oversee enforcement of the law and further restrict what personal data businesses can share.

Hearing More Fireworks Lately? You’re Not Alone

The sounds of fireworks are common in the weeks leading up to every fourth of July. But in the Bay Area there’s been a significant increase in the number of noise complaints this year. In San Francisco, June complaints are up 72% over last year. 

Residents are calling 911 and 311 to report loud booms and bangs in the night — claiming that they sound and feel more intense than usual. There’s no specific data to back up whether there are more fireworks going off than in previous years. But similar complaints are being heard in Los Angeles, Boston, New York and across the country. 

The potential increase is still a mystery to Bay Area police and firefighters. Some officials suspect that people are just wanting to let off some steam, during shelter in place. There is speculation on social media that it’s part of a government campaign to destabilize protests about police violence. There is no indication that these theories are true.

San Quentin COVID-19 Cases Still Rapidly Escalating

Protesters gathered outside San Quentin, Sunday, to demand local officials take action to address the skyrocketing numbers of COVID-19 cases inside the prison.

Just one month ago, there were no cases of COVID-19 at San Quentin State Prison amongst the incarcerated population. As of Sunday evening, 871 had tested positive for COVID-19. That's more than 21% of the prisoners housed there. An investigation from the San Francisco Chronicle revealed that spike in cases was due to a transfer of 121 people from California Institute for Men in San Bernardino County. Fifteen tested positive after their arrival. 

Activists, family members, and formerly incarcerated people spoke to an assembled crowd outside the gates. One was Emile DeWeaver, who spent 21 years incarcerated, including seven at San Quentin:

“And the stories that I'm hearing from my family members who were calling from inside is that these people were telling the prison guards that I am positive for COVID do not put me on this bus.”

In an effort to control the outbreak, officials were hoping to move incarcerated people from San Quentin to North Kern State Prison. But, they stopped the transfer after two people tested positive for COVID-19. 

DeWeaver read from a list of demands compiled by incarcerated people at San Quentin and beyond. They want all transfers between prisons halted. They want testing for 100% of the prison population. Most notably, they ask Governor Gavin Newsom to grant wider release. DeWeaver said:

“There is nothing logistically stopping this state from releasing people to save their lives.”

Family members like Shawanda Scott also called for release. Her son is currently incarcerated at San Quentin. She said:

“My son was safe. I’m mad, I’m so mad right now. I’m so mad. I’m so mad.”

Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods called on Newsom to release elderly and vulnerable populations, as well as anyone with less than a year to serve: 

“He put a moratorium on the death penalty. He did that. We can thank him for that. But he cannot and we cannot let him replace state sanctioned killing. With a system that killed by neglect.”

CDCR has announced a plan that will go into effect Wednesday, July 1, to allow eligible incarcerated people with 180 days or less on their sentence to be released under close supervision. 

That same day, the California Senate Committee on Public Safety will hold a hearing on coronavirus in prison.

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.