Reports Reveals California Cops

Report Reveals California Cops Explicit Bias against African Americans

Stacy M. Brown/NNPA Newswire

A new report has revealed that California law enforcement officers searched, detained on the curb or in a patrol car, handcuffed, and removed from vehicles more individuals perceived as Black than individuals perceived as white, even though they stopped more than double the number of individuals perceived as white than individuals perceived as Black.

California’s Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board’s report gathered information from 18 law enforcement agencies.

The data revealed that officers stopped 2.9 million individuals in 2020. Most were African Americans and members of the LGBTQ community.

The agency said that the data included what officers “perceived” to be the race, ethnicity, gender, and disability status of people they stopped, even if the perception was different from how the person identified.

According to the data, authorities search African Americans 2.4 times more than whites and disproportionately more than other racial and ethnic groups.

It also found that individual officers perceived as transgender women were 2.5 times more likely to be searched than women who appeared cisgender.

Data for the report came from the state’s most important law enforcement agencies, like the California Highway Patrol.

However, the highway patrol didn’t include data analyzing stops based on gender identity.
All agencies must report the data in 2023.

“The data in this report will be used by our profession to evaluate our practices as we continue to strive for police services that are aligned with our communities’ expectations of service,” Chief David Swing, co-chair of the Board and past president of the California Police Chiefs Association, said in a statement.

The report further showed that Black and Hispanic individuals were more likely to have force used against them compared to white individuals, while Asian and other individuals were less likely.

Specifically, the odds of having force used during a stop were 1.32 times and 1.16 times as high for Black and Hispanic individuals, respectively.

Asian and other individuals whom officers stopped had lower odds of having force used against them (0.80 and 0.82, respectively) relative to the odds for those perceived as white.
Search discovery rate analyses showed that, when officers searched individuals, all races, or ethnic groups of color, except for Asian and Middle Eastern/South Asian individuals, had higher search rates despite having lower rates of discovering contraband than individuals perceived as white.

Furthermore, a search and discovery rate analysis show that officers searched people perceived to have a mental health disability 4.8 times more often and people perceived to have other types of disabilities 2.7 times more often than people perceived to have no disability.

Still, they discovered contraband or evidence at a lower rate during stops and searches of people with disabilities.

Officers used force against individuals perceived to have mental health disabilities at 5.2 times the rate at which they used force against individuals they perceived to have no disabilities.
The data show that Black and Hispanic/Latinx individuals are asked for consent to search at higher rates than white individuals.

Officers searched Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and multiracial individuals at higher rates for consent-only searches than all other racial/ethnic groups.

These consent-only searches resulted in lower rates of discovery of contraband (8.5%, 11.3%, and 13.0%, respectively) than searches of all other racial and ethnic groups.

The reason for the stop was a traffic violation in more than half of the stops where officers conducted a consent-only search (consent being the only reason for the search) of black, Hispanic/Latinx, and Middle Eastern/South Asian individuals.

On the other hand, less than 30% of the consent-only searches of white people happened during traffic stops.

The people who wrote the report said that searches based on consent alone lead to fewer discoveries than searches based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

With consent-only searches, the rate of finding something was 9.2 percentage points lower for Black people than for white people.

“Given the disparities in the data on consent searches, the board questions whether consent searches are truly voluntary,” the authors wrote.

While the data show that most people consent to a search when asked by an officer, research from the report reflects that this “consent” is not necessarily voluntary because of the inherent power inequality between a law enforcement officer and a member of the public.

The research shows that this natural power imbalance is evident in vulnerable groups, such as people with mental health problems or young people, who may be more likely to give in to authority.

“Indeed,” the authors wrote, “RIPA data reflects that for both people with mental health disabilities and youth, a larger proportion of their stops that began as consensual encounters resulted in searches, as compared to people without mental health disabilities or adults.”
Board members said they carefully looked at the data about people who were stopped and searched because of their status as people under supervision.

The Board’s analyses reveal significant disparities that warrant further examination of law enforcement practices.

For example, officers performed supervision-only searches – where supervision status is the only basis for the search – of individuals perceived as Black at 2.8 times the rate at which they performed supervision-only searches of individuals they perceived as white.

Similarly, officers also performed supervision plus searches – where the officer had some other basis to search the person – of Black individuals at 3.3 times the rate they performed supervision plus searches of white individuals.

The rates of discovering contraband for supervision-only searches were lower for all racial/ethnic groups than white individuals; Black individuals had the most considerable difference in their discovery rate (-11.4 percentage points) compared to whites.

Officers also reported a higher proportion of supervision-only searches during stops for traffic violations (46.9%) than during reasonable suspicion stops (24.6%).

“These were just a few of the many disparities discussed in the report,” board members noted.

“Given the large disparities observed, the Board reviewed efforts by various law enforcement agencies to limit inquiries into supervision status as well as stops and searches on the basis of supervision status.

“The RIPA data further indicates that the practice of conducting supervision-only searches shows racial disparities that result in low yield rates of contraband or evidence.”


Robert Johnson’s Efforts Pay Off with Legislation Addressing Retirement Savings Crisis Facing Blacks and Low Wage Workers


The bi-partisan Congress today supported the longtime efforts of Robert L. Johnson, founder of The RLJ Companies and Chairman of Portability Services Network (PSN) and Retirement Clearinghouse (RCH), by passing legislation that codifies auto portability. Auto Portability is the routine, standardized, and automated movement of an employee’s retirement saving account balance (under $5000) from the retirement plan of their former employer into an active account in their current employer’s plan. Retirement Clearinghouse developed the technology and created the intellectual property to power auto portability, which makes it easy for American workers to move and consolidate their 401(k) account at the point they change jobs.

“I am pleased that this Congress codified auto portability and thereby recognized the value and importance this plan feature delivers to address the retirement security needs of so many underserved Americans,” said Johnson. “I am particularly grateful to Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) for their support in advancing auto portability through this Congress. I also want to thank Marc Morial, President & CEO of the National Urban League and Derrick Johnson, President & CEO of the NAACP for their leadership and being early, vocal supporters of auto portability. As the leading National organizations respectively focused on equality and economic empowerment, they noted that auto portability addresses the retirement savings crisis confronting Black Americans and low-wage workers, ensures a financial infrastructure necessary to maintain economic stability for retirement savings, and addresses the racial wealth gap,” Johnson concluded.

Approximately $92 billion in savings leaves the U.S. retirement system every year because Americans who change jobs prematurely cash out their workplace retirement accounts and pay taxes and penalties on those cash-outs.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) estimates that if auto Portability was broadly adopted, over the course of a 40-year period, an additional $1.5 trillion in savings would be preserved in the U.S. retirement system, including $619 billion for 67 million Black and minority workers, and $365 billion for 42 million women participants of all ethnicities.


Brooklyn Pastor Who Made Headlines Is Arrested

Kisha Smith

In national church news, the Brooklyn pastor who made headlines for being robbed at gunpoint of $1 million in jewelry during a church service in July, has been arrested for fraud, extortion and false statements.

The indictment charges Lamor Whitehead with defrauding one of his parishioners out of approximately $90,000 of her retirement savings, attempting to extort and defraud a businessman, and lying to the FBI.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As we allege today, Lamor Whitehead abused the trust placed in him by a parishioner, bullied a businessman for $5,000, then tried to defraud him of far more than that, and lied to federal agents.  His campaign of fraud and deceit stops now.”

Whitehead is charged with two counts of wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of extortion, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of making material false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.


Commentary: Inglewood Calls on Its Legislators to Help Return local Control to City’s Schools
Joe W. Bowers Jr.

The Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) will soon announce its choice for the next County Administrator for the Inglewood Unified School District (IUSD).

In the job description applicants were told “the district has made significant strides toward recovery and is within 3-4 years of being able to meet the minimum milestone for self-governance, offering the successful candidate a rare leadership opportunity.”

If history is any indication, IUSD has had eight State/County Administrators (including 3 interim) in a little over 10 years. The odds are against the ninth administrator being around to coordinate IUSD’s transition back to local control.

The IUSD Board of Education should be selecting the next leader for the school district, not LACOE. But, in 2012 facing the possibility of insolvency, Senate Bill 533 authorized a state loan and gave the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI), Tom Torlakson control over IUSD. In 2018, Assembly Bill 1840 transferred authority to LACOE Superintendent Debra Duardo.

Since 2012, IUSD’s five-member Board of Education has been serving in an advisory role to the revolving door of appointed State and County Administrators.

Existing laws governing receivership say that a school district will regain control when it shows adequate progress in implementing the recommendations of a comprehensive review conducted by the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance (FCMAT) in five operational areas (financial management, personnel management, community relations and governance, facilities management, and pupil achievement).

FCMAT is an independent and external state agency that provides financial management assistance and general consulting to the state’s school districts. Their latest review of IUSD generated 885 recommendations for implementing 153 operational standards spread across the five operational areas.

IUSD has achieved proficiency in just two of the FCMAT operational areas – governance and personnel management – after 10 years under State and County control.

Existing laws give Duardo, with the concurrence of SPI Tony Thurmond and State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond, the power to determine when IUSD can resume local control. However, many Inglewood residents familiar with the school district believe it’s Duardo’s choice of administrators that are failing to conform with FCMAT standards.

The nine reviews FCMAT conducted show that constant turnover of leadership and the number of poor leader choices by the State and County have led to inconsistency in developing and executing effective recovery plans for IUSD, stunted academic progress for the students, and inadequate maintenance of IUSD facilities.

When Torlakson took over IUSD, he said, “The State Administrator will control the district until fiscal insolvency has been eliminated, between two to six years.

The commentary I wrote titled, “After 10 Years it’s Time to Return Control of Inglewood Schools to the Community,” showed that ten years of state intervention is not a guarantee that a school district in receivership will be better managed.

While existing law mandates that the state controls IUSD to protect its $29 million loan, the opportunity cost to IUSD of the state’s mismanagement has been significantly more than the amount it borrowed.

For example, before receivership, the Los Angeles World Airports (“LAWA”) agreed to fund noise mitigation measures for IUSD not to exceed $118.5 million. The State/County Administrators who took over have only secured $44 million of the funding, leaving $74.5 million on the table.

City Honors High School is a dependent charter school run by IUSD that was recognized by U.S. World and News Report as a silver-medal finalist. When the Charter Schools Facilities Program was awarding grants for charter school construction, Don Brann, who Torlakson had appointed to oversee IUSD, didn’t apply for a state grant. But, DaVinci Charter schools which Brann helped found in the Wiseburn Unified School District located next door to IUSD applied and was awarded a $52.7 Million grant. Had IUSD applied for a grant for a City Honors building it would have been ahead of DaVinci in line for the limited funds.

Since 2012, IUSD has paid FCMAT about $2.6 Million for the nine yearly comprehensive reviews, an expense mandated by the statue authorizing the loan and paid from the school district’s General Fund.

IUSD is no longer in financial trouble. According to the latest 2022-23 budget projections, it will have a positive ending General Fund balance of $94.5 million and positive ending cash balance of $83.7 million. IUSD owes $19.6 million on its state loan.

In a recent review FCMAT conducted, LACOE admitted that IUSD had made little annual progress and is no closer to recovery today than two years ago.

IUSD has gone without local control longer than any school district that’s taken a state loan. It can no longer afford the compromised quality of education being delivered to students by LACOE’s management.

The IUSD community has been expressing its frustration at school board meetings about the quality of the schools the last 10 years, but LACOE lacks the management judgment to effectively respond to community concerns.

Schools LACOE operates not including IUSD, lead all California with the largest gap between Black and White students meeting states standards on the 2022 Smarter Balanced Assessments in English language arts.

Because statues governing state loans offer no way for IUSD to regain local control at this time, legislation amending those statues is needed that recognizes for 10 years State and County administrators have failed IUSD students and that it’s in the best interest of IUSD students to have the school board retain all of its legal rights, duties and powers.

The education system in California is based on local control

The new legislation needs to recognize that a statute of limitations has to be established on how long school districts under receivership have to put up with ineffective state management, especially if the school district is no longer in financial hardship.

Specific agencies have to be identified in the legislation with authority to hold the State or County accountable for addressing the slow progress it is making to qualify the district for a return to local governance. Incentives for quick turnarounds must be offered.

The offices of the legislators representing IUSD – Sen. Steve Bradford (D- District 35) and Assemblymembers Tina McKinnor (D-District 61) and Isaac Bryan (D-District 55) have been approached about the need for legislation to return local control to IUSD. The office of recently elected Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas (D-District 28) was also contacted, but no staff was available to discuss legislation.

Support from the California Legislative Black Caucus is also being solicited.

It will be up to IUSD’s legislators to introduce a bill during this legislative session for the return of IUSD to local control.


Comcast Initiative Serves to Empower Small Businesses Owned by Women and People of Color

D.T. Carson

Comcast Corporation recently announced that Comcast RISE—an initiative created in 2020 to help strengthen and empower small businesses hard hit by COVID-19—has met its goal of supporting 13,000 small businesses nationwide by the program’s close at the end of 2022. In total, Comcast RISE has provided over $110 million in monetary, marketing, and technology grants to 13,000 small businesses owned by women and people of color – including Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and Asian Americans, among others.

U.S. small businesses were particularly hard hit by the pandemic, which is why Comcast RISE was launched in 2020. A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research cited that Black-owned small businesses were hardest hit.

Comcast RISE is one of several programs that Comcast has overseen aimed at closing the digital divide and achieving digital equity. A new phase of Comcast RISE in 2023 will continue the company’s efforts and help an even broader range of small businesses, while continuing to focus on diversity, inclusion, and community investment. 

“We recognize that small businesses are the backbone of our economy and look forward to taking our learnings from this program as we find new ways to further empower and strengthen even more small businesses and entrepreneurs at the heart of our local communities,” said Teresa Ward-Maupin, Senior Vice President, Digital and Customer Experience, Comcast Business.

Additional details about Comcast RISE in 2023 will be forthcoming. For more information on Comcast’s continuing programs and partnerships to advance economic mobility and open doors for the next generation of entrepreneurs, visit Project UP.


Comcast Initiative Serves to Empower Small Businesses Owned by Women and People of Color

Comcast Corporation recently announced that Comcast RISE—an initiative created in 2020 to help strengthen and empower small businesses hard hit by COVID-19—has met its goal of supporting 13,000 small businesses nationwide by the program’s close at the end of 2022. In total, Comcast RISE has provided over $110 million in monetary, marketing, and technology grants to 13,000 small businesses owned by women and people of color – including Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and Asian Americans, among others.

U.S. small businesses were particularly hard hit by the pandemic, which is why Comcast RISE was launched in 2020. A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research cited that Black-owned small businesses were hardest hit.

Comcast RISE is one of several programs that Comcast has overseen aimed at closing the digital divide and achieving digital equity. A new phase of Comcast RISE in 2023 will continue the company’s efforts and help an even broader range of small businesses, while continuing to focus on diversity, inclusion, and community investment. 

“We recognize that small businesses are the backbone of our economy and look forward to taking our learnings from this program as we find new ways to further empower and strengthen even more small businesses and entrepreneurs at the heart of our local communities,” said Teresa Ward-Maupin, Senior Vice President, Digital and Customer Experience, Comcast Business.

Additional details about Comcast RISE in 2023 will be forthcoming. For more information on Comcast’s continuing programs and partnerships to advance economic mobility and open doors for the next generation of entrepreneurs, visit Project UP.



Billion Dollar Fund Helps California Homeowners Make Past Due Mortgage Payments

Maxim Elramsisy

Relief is available for homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage due to financial hardships caused by the Pandemic.

The California Mortgage Relief Program is providing a lifeline for qualifying California property owners, especially in underserved communities. Proponents of the program regard it as a safeguard to protecting generational wealth and assets.

“If you are deemed eligible and approved, we send the payment directly to your servicer or the county in which the home resides for the property tax payment, and then they’re caught up,” said CalHFA Homeowner Relief Corporation President Rebecca Franklin, who was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The California Mortgage Relief Program is giving grants that are funded by $1 billion in federal funds from the American Rescue Plans Homeowner Assistance Fund. Grants up to $80,000 for past due mortgages, and up to $20,000 for missed property taxes, will be distributed to households facing pandemic-related financial hardship. There are no fees to apply, and the grants never have to be paid back.

The relief payments are distributed on a first come, first served basis

“This is an awesome program that reminds me of Keep Your Home, California,” said HUD certified housing counselor Linda Jackson. “Keep Your Home, California did have restrictions, you had to stay in the house for a period of time, so that that loan could be forgiven. I say to everyone, this is free money ya’ll. So, we got to get the free money because you don’t have to pay this back. If anyone charges you for this program, run, because it’s at no cost.”

The application is at and it includes a calculator to help you see if you qualify. The website also provides resources to help fill out the application. To complete the process, you will need some basic documentation like a mortgage statement, property tax bill, or utility bill.

The application typically takes less than 20 minutes to fill out online. For help completing it, contact the program center at 1(888)840-2594. Additional help with this program and others is available from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development certified counselors at 1-800-569-4287.

“One of the biggest issues is a lot of our community members are older community members that don’t know how to use computers,” said Community Action League CEO Pharaoh Mitchell. “They come in and they’re frustrated, and we literally have to be counselors to them, to [tell them] ‘calm down, we’re here to help you. This is a friendly process. Let’s get you through it.”

“I’m proud that they’re making a conscious effort to really reach into the Black community and make sure our underserved community is served,” Mitchell added.

The program is designed to help low and moderate-income households. It has a cap for people earning more than 150% of the median income in their county, adjusted for the number of people in the household. Officials say it was created to assist people who are behind on payments, specifically those who have missed at least two payments and currently have a past due balance as of Dec. 1, 2022.

Aside from the income requirement and the delinquent payment criteria, there are almost no additional qualifiers (properties must be owner occupied, though, but some multi-unit properties may be eligible).

Homeowners with fully paid mortgages may be eligible for relief as well. Those having trouble paying their property taxes because of the pandemic may be eligible for Property Tax Relief. To qualify for the property tax relief, individuals must have missed a previous property tax payment last spring and fallen into delinquency.

Thanks to the program, to date 8,302 households have received relief. Officials anticipate the funding will reach 20,000-40,000 more homeowners. A total of $246,538,132 has already been disbursed, leaving more than 75% of the allocated funds still available. The average amount granted across the state was $29,696.

For more information, call 1(888)840-2594.


House, Senate Pass Legislation to Lower Cost of Inmate Telephone Calls

Stacy M. Brown/NNPA Newswire

In 2017, Reesy Floyd-Thompson, who calls herself a “digital wonder woman,” said she had to deal with the shame of the incarceration of a significant other.

Her husband’s incarceration also meant that calling him would be difficult, if not impossible.
“I used to maintain a side hustle to take care of these calls alone. My husband and I used to endure monthly bills as high as $500 to stay connected,” said Floyd-Thompson, who headed an organization called “Prisoner’s Wives, Girlfriends, and Partners,” a support group for spouses and partners of those incarcerated.

Exorbitant telephone call rates have historically made it almost impossible for loved ones to keep in touch with family and friends behind bars.

With rates as high as $20 per call in some areas, Congress has finally acted, and in 2023, inmates and family members will pay a lot less.

Both the House and Senate passed the Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act, which gives the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the authority to guarantee reasonable charges for telephone and video calls in correctional and detention facilities.

“Too many families of incarcerated people must pay outrageous rates to stay connected with their loved ones,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel remarked in a statement.

“This harms the families and children of the incarcerated — and it harms all of us because regular contact with kin can reduce recidivism.”

The measure now heads to President Joe Biden for his signature.

Phone calls in prison are said to generate more than $1.4 billion per year, and the FCC previously capped rates.

A federal court, however, overturned new regulations that set rates at .25 cents per minute in 2017.

Even though a three-judge panel at the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agreed that the rates for in-state prison calls were way too high, they said the FCC went beyond its authority when it set rate caps.

“This actually undermines a key goal of prisons, which is to foster rehabilitation to foster successful reentry,” Dr. Melissa Hamilton, a senior lecturer of law and criminal justice at the University of Houston Law Center, said at that time.

“Charging a high fee for phone calls discourages communication between prisoners and those who may be best able to keep prisoners calm and focused while in prison and who may be able to provide opportunities to prisoners upon release,” Hamilton said.

“These are friends, family, and religious connections. We know from decades of correctional research studies that prosocial contacts and opportunities are important mechanisms for rehabilitation and reentry.

“To the extent that the programs reduce these interpersonal contacts, not only are prisoners worse off. It can be detrimental to family members themselves, particularly children,” she said.
African Americans comprise about 13 percent of the U.S. population, and they also make up 35 percent of inmates.

According to a U.S. Department of Justice report, approximately 37 percent of the 2.2 million male inmates are Black.

“The astronomical fees are predatory and perpetuated by the phone companies and prisons, creating a mini-monopoly,” D.C. Democratic Delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton said.
She said that the profits from the calls are sometimes shared with sheriff’s offices, who say they use the money for security needs.

A strong social support network is an essential tool in reducing re-offending, mainly for drug-related crimes, said Matt C. Pinsker, a former prosecutor, and magistrate who’s an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Virginia Commonwealth University.

“I find the high cost of phone calls concerning. Anything that limits one’s opportunity to be better connected with family is cause for concern,” Pinsker said.

“I have had numerous cases where clients, especially indigent ones, were unable to talk to loved ones because they had no money on their accounts,” he said.

Former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn challenged the high rates, calling them a civil rights issue that prevents inmates from connecting with the nearly 3 million children in America with at least one parent in prison.

“It’s the greatest form of regulatory injustice I have seen in my 18 years as a regulator in the communications space,” Clyburn said.


Mental Health Is Major Hurdle to Solving California’s Homelessness Crisis
Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media

Aaliyah Muhammad is a member of the civil rights group All of Us or None and a pillar of her community in Sacramento. She works tirelessly to help the homeless population along Market Street, a thoroughfare in the Sacramento County community of Walnut Grove.

She also is a mother to a son suffering from severe mental illness.

Muhammad fears that she might be the one thing standing between her son and a life on the streets.

“He told them one day he didn’t want their services anymore and so they stopped coming and that’s when he started going downhill,” Muhammad said of the social workers who were handling his case. “But I feel that they shouldn’t have just quit. They should have tried to talk with him or find some other group that he might work with.”

For many Californians this is not an unfamiliar story. For a lot of families with homeless relatives – or loved ones on the verge of becoming unhoused – it is that one intervention or strategic assistance at the right time that prevented that person battling mental illness or other life challenges from losing their stable housing.

About 161,548 people in the state experience homelessness on any given day, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) reports the number of homeless people in the state increased 42% from 2014 to 2020.

About 25% of the adult homeless population in Los Angeles County deal with severe mental health issues according to a report from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

According to a survey conducted by the California Health Care Foundation, 43% of the Black Californians interviewed reported that someone close to them has experienced homelessness – a rate much higher than any other racial group in the survey.

Experts attribute California’s homelessness crisis to a few key historical factors.

La Tina Jackson, a licensed clinical social worker and a deputy with the L.A. County Department of Mental Health, explained that a person can become homeless due to struggles with severe mental illness and vice versa.

“A person with severe mental illness may experience delusions or hallucinations that might result in bizarre, irrational, impulsive, or disorganized behavior. In a minority of cases, even aggressive behavior,” Jackson said.

Alex Visotyzky, Senior California Policy Fellow at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, claims that this crisis has been decades in the making.

“We’ve seen the federal government slowly, over the last 50 years, disinvest from affordable housing in major ways,” he said.

The Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Act of 1967 was signed into law by Gov. Ronald Reagan to provide guidelines for handling involuntary civil commitment of individuals to mental health institutions in the State of California. Its intent was to move away from locked mental institutions in favor of more community-based treatment.

LPS also implemented 72-hour holds to limit involuntary and indefinite institutionalization.

Jackson – who, much like Muhammad, is intimately familiar with the subject of mental illness in her own personal life – claims that while the legislation was born from the best intentions, the LPS Act has not worked as well in practice.

“I’ve yet to see someone who truly is having a psychotic break completely reconstituted 72 hours,” she said. “They might be better because you get medication, but I’ve yet to see somebody completely reconstitute.”

Visotyzky argues that the LPS Act led to a lack of adequate investments due to the lack of alternatives. The LPS Act resulted in many individuals being released from state hospitals to live in the community.

In the 1980s, under Pres. Reagan there was a disinvestment from the health care systems most American families relied on to provide care and shelter for mentally challenged relatives or those dealing with other behavioral issues. It came in the form of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980 (MHSA), according to Vonya Quarles, the Executive Director of Starting Over Inc.

“That shut down mental health facilities and led to the increase in the prison system.” Quarles said.

In the last couple of years California announced a $3 billion investment to provide affordable housing options and services for those suffering from severe mental illness or substance abuse issues.

This included funds for the Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Act – or Senate Bill (SB) 1338 – which is designed to provide several points of intervention and alternatives before facing more severe outcomes.

The CARE Act includes Care Court, which aims to divert homeless people with severe mental illness away from correctional facilities in favor of mandatory treatment.

“CARE Court has the potential to change the lives of thousands of families across the state,” said Harold Turner, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Urban Los Angeles. “Organizations like NAMI urgently need this support so we can quickly begin helping our loved ones who are struggling with untreated mental and behavioral issues.”

While Care Court has its fair share of criticisms, Muhammad believes that this program is exactly what her son needs.

Muhammad continues to work for those who are not as fortunate while her son is being treated through the Care program in the Napa State Hospital.

“We’ll all go pick up dinners and take them to different encampments and pass them out,” she said. “We hand them all out. We never come back with any dinner.”

California Black Media’s coverage of Mental Health in California is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.


How California Is Pulling Racism and Hate Crimes Out Into the Open

McKenzie Jackson| California Black Media

Officials and advocates across California are pouring resources into pointing out that racism and racial intolerance impact public health — major factors, they say, behind the substantial increase in hate crimes and hate incidents in the Golden State.

In Stop the Hate, a 2021 report focused on hate crimes in Los Angeles County researchers reached several revealing conclusions that line up with trends reported across the state.

Among the findings that stood out in the LA County report were: Black Californians are still most impacted by hate crimes; hate crimes are significantly underreported to law enforcement (by as much 50 %); and they violate human rights as defined by 177 nations around the world in the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Although African Americans in Los Angeles County make up only 9% of the population, they accounted for 46 % of the victims of hate crimes in 2021, according to the Stop the Hate Report.

Statewide in 2021, Black Californians accounted for a disproportionate 44% of the victims of documented hate crimes although African Americans make up about 6% of the state’s population, according to statistics released by the California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office in June.

The Los Angeles County study was spearheaded by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Rights and research for it was conducted in an area encompassing Central and South Los Angeles, neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley, West Hollywood and Hollywood.

In nearby Orange County (OC), officials there joined a growing chorus of other Golden State cities and counties that have declared racism a public health crisis.

At their Dec. 6 public meeting, the Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved “A Resolution of The Board of Supervisors of the County of Orange Declaring Racism and Inequity as a Public Health Crisis.”

The resolution is based on the premise that systemic racism causes persistent discriminatory policies and evidence cited in numerous studies linking racism to negative health outcomes. In it, the OC Board of Supervisors vowed to promote an inclusive and racial equity justice- oriented governmental organization that is aware of “unfairness through robust trainings and continuing education to expand the understanding of how racial discrimination affects individuals and communities most impacted by inequities.”

Orange County Human Relations Council Director of Operations Don Han applauded the Southern California county board’s move.

“This signified that we are serious about stopping hate,” said Han, whose nonprofit is geared toward combatting discrimination in the Southern California county. “That is our goal.”

Han said there is evidence that systematic racism has existed in Orange County — which is 70 % White — like most of the U.S., for generations.

Within the last two years, the cities of Coachella, Goleta, Long Beach, and Los Angeles and counties such as Monterey, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, and Santa Barbara passed resolutions categorizing racism as a public health distress.

The Oakland City Council deemed racism a public health crisis in June and promised to work to advance racial equity.

At the time, Seema Rupani of the Oakland City Attorney’s Office, said the government had a responsibility to address the health problem racism has caused.

“Structural racism has existed for centuries, and it has always impacted communities of color here, but during the pandemic the inequities became more pronounced,” she said. “They were growing. They were becoming more exposed particularly with COVID and housing and homelessness and economic disparities and there was just a responsibility to acknowledge what was happening and to take steps to address it.”

Oakland’s resolution directed $350,000 in the city budget for data analyst and consulting services to aid the city and its department of race and equity to enhance “improvements in systems for collection and processing data to track performance and equity progress,” reads the council’s resolution.

The OC supervisors did not attach a dollar amount to what the county will do to combat discrimination but indicated they will support diversity and inclusion as a core component to the delivery of health and human services for underserved populations, including appropriate allocation of resource to personnel training and public education.

Over 200 governmental bodies in 37 states have passed declarations concerning racism’s impact on public health.

U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky called racism a public health danger in 2021.

She pointed to how the pandemic impacted communities of color in terms of case numbers, deaths, and social consequences.

“What we know is this: racism is a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans,” Walensky said. “Racism is not just the discrimination against one group based on the color of their skin or their race or ethnicity, but the structural barriers that impact racial and ethnic groups differently to influence where a person lives, where they work, where their children play, and where they worship and gather in community.”

In Orange County, hate crimes and related incidents were up 165 percent in 2021 compared to five years ago, according to OC Human Relations Council’s “2021 Orange County Hate Crimes Report.”

Black people were the target of 24 reported hate incidents and 16 hate crimes in 2021, while there were 153 hate incidents and 10 hate crimes committed against Asian/Pacific Islanders.

Han touched on how systematic racism can be traced back to slavery — citing, for example, the U.S. Government never honoring Union General William T. Sherman’s promise to grant formerly enslaved Black people land they after they were freed. He added that people who do not understand history fear what the OC resolution could mean legally.

“There are a number of folks who have a lack of knowledge on this, and they lash out,” Han said. “But they don’t represent a majority of the county. The resolution signified that we are serious about stopping hate. We are seeing a shining light at the end of the tunnel.”

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