June 5, 2020
Latent video to post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnycE-paZIo&t=5s
Opening image: Red/White globe rolling across the screen as the video production company’s logo.
:Video description: Deaf Interpreter: Romduol Ngov – A Khmer genderfluid person with black hair wearing a black long sleeve shirt, looking at the camera. Background is medium oak wooden doors.
Governor’s announcements happened previously June 5th.
White text at bottom of the screen: Governor Newsom, June 5, 2020.
:image descriptions: Governor Newsom, in a black suit jacket, blue shirt underneath and a navy tie in the foreground of the picture, with a white flag and parts of the California bear visible on the flag and an solid red California state shape overlaid with the State Capitol to the left of Governor Newsom.
Good afternoon, everyone. I want to introduce two amazing leaders who have been involved in many different things because they want to see change and true improvement. I tell you, I have traveled all over California meeting and talking with different people, like for example, people of different religious faiths, people who have been involved in the protests, people who are themselves, soldiers, all kinds of people. Coincidentally, while I was at the Memorial here in Sacramento, people were gathered to clean the Memorial wall, because others had sprayed graffiti there. While I was there, I spotted a girl kneeling, scrubbing the wall. I thought I would take the opportunity to talk with her. During that conversation, she told me that she had seen all the things that were happening around us, and that had impacted her. Impacted her, and impacted her community. In response to that, she decided that she would roll up her sleeves and become involved, in a positive way. She participated by marching in the protests, but she saw things that she was bothered by, and she didn’t like that. I asked her to tell me more about that, and during our discussion, a National Guard soldier standing nearby put down his gun and came to the Memorial wall and began scrubbing. That was a positive impact.
I have another story. I flew down to South Los Angeles, the same area wherein 1992, riots occurred because a black man named Rodney King was beaten by the police.
: image descriptions: Three pictures in one picture. Rodney King on left with a hat. In the middle, a silhouette of a man with a baton raised, and a gold badge in the middle of the silhouette. On the right, a picture of Rodney King with bruises all over his face, and his right eye swollen shut.
I visited that same area in South Los Angeles. I didn’t fly down alone, I was joined by two people. Those two people were Mark Ridley Thomas and Molly Mitchell. (White text with both names appear on the screen.) Those two people have been involved in gatherings and meetings with community leaders. We have been meeting and discussing with various groups, but also while out on the streets, we have grabbed opportunities to approach, meet, and talk with people. Ask them how they have been doing. Throughout those conversations, the three of us noticed that there have been no protests, no violence. We had to pause and ask ourselves why, and in our conversations, we did ask why. We found that those people we talked to wanted to focus on community enrichment. Those groups gathered together in a spirit of cooperation and solidarity for the purpose of helping their communities thrive and uplift. The result of that? Since 1992, to now in 2020, there has been no violence. (White text 1990 to 2020 appears on screen). Let me emphasize that, no violence.
Now, I would like to tell you where I am, I am now in the California Museum. This Museum has a Hall of Fame, that is used to recognize and honor people for their impact on, and how they contributed to changing history. Out of those people, I would like to honor one, a religious leader, Lawton. He has been involved in the Civil Rights movement. I will tell you a little bit more about that. The purpose of the Civil Rights movement was to fight for equal rights and justice for all people, from different groups (3:30). That was the Civil Rights movement. The first person who began the protests and the movement was a man from India named Gandhi.
: image descriptions: Gandhi
Over time, Martin Luther King (MLK)
: image descriptions: Martin Luther King, Jr.
became involved. More time passed and the religious leader I’m speaking of, Lawton,
: image descriptions: Lawton
became involved. I would like to point out that all three people I mentioned were very involved, in different marches and protests, in all of those, there was no violence. When I speak of violence I mean pushing or beating others. There was none of that. They participated in marches and protests peacefully. That was impressive and essential.
In those different discussions I had with a variety of people, we talked about Black Lives Matter, Jackie Robinson, Emmett Till, the Montgomery Bus Protest, and a variety of other subjects.
: image descriptions: black fist raised in a circle – the logo of the Black Lives Matter movement, briefly flashes on screen then another image of three black and white pictures in one – the first picture on the left is of Jackie Robinson, the second picture is of a young Emmett Till, and the third picture is of the Montgomery Bus Protest.
In those discussions, in addition to discussions I had with different Youth leaders, I found that it was clear that their patience was gone. They did not think that those people who were in positions of power and leadership recognized that things needed to be done in order to create change. They wanted racism and inequality completely abolished. They wanted that, and I agree. I support that.
Understand that those people who say that the Black community needs to change, are wrong. It is us white people who need to change. We must seek to improve, roll up our sleeves, and move forward in changing things now. The time is now. We have to respect the Black community because for so long, they have been asking and begging for things to change and improve. Our response has been to push them aside. And now, their patience is gone. They are done.
: image description: angry emoji alongside a young Black female with her hand outstretched in a “stop” gesture.
They want that change NOW. We have to seize the opportunity, the time is now, for us to roll up our sleeves and move forward in changing and improving. That is a must.
There is also another reason for my presence here at the California Museum. That reason is people come here to create bills and pass laws. The two most important things; Bill 392 passed August of last year. What is Bill 392? It prohibits law enforcement officers from physically restraining people.
The 2nd bill that just passed; Bill 230 will start as of January 2021 and it requires all police officers to be trained on how to work and interact with all people from different communities without bias. The 392 bill also mandates training for the law enforcement on how to use tactics to diffuse situations without using excessive force. Both bills are so important. You see what has been happening and the chaos that keeps occurring with the law enforcement officers. The 2nd Bill must be effective as of now and not wait. We can’t wait! We need to take notes from the bill and implement it in a script for the officers to start training. We must start now and we can’t wait.
What happened to George Floyd and when the police officer who kneeled on his neck, it caused pressure on his carotid artery and pinched the artery to where it blocked blood flow to his brain. When the brain does not get blood or oxygen, it can die. This is how George Floyd died and caused an uproar in communities and prompted America to protest against police brutality. This kind of brutality has been happening with the police for a long time. It is time for a change now! It needs to happen now. We must keep up with the movement to see change happen.
We understand it’s not just a need for the law enforcement protocols to change, overall the system needs to change and improve. Given there are some parts of the system that work but those particulars of the system that are NOT working, those have to change. We must improve. That is imperative. The police are not the only ones that need to change, we have many different areas that need to change – the economy, the environment, people, our educational system, all of those parts that make up our system. We have to recognize and support Black, Indigenous, People of Color – support them, give financial support – find different ways to support them. For example, I’m proud to say that throughout the budget process, I decided that the money that would go to the prison system, I deliberately made it my goal to close prisons. I want to close them because we are putting too many people into the prison system. The people that we are putting into the prison system tend to be black, indigenous, and people of color. That is who tends to end up within the prisons. The court system tends to focus on harshly punishing and giving severe sentences to those black, indigenous people of color, while white people get reduced sentences. That system needs to be abolished. We have to change and improve our justice system so that it is equal in its treatment of people. That type of change, I’m proud to be part of.
Now I want to recognize and honor two people. Those two are Lateefah Simon :image descriptions: Black woman standing in foreground of picture, smiling. She is wearing a gray overcoat with a black shirt underneath. White glasses on her face. Background is blurred – palm trees and a bit of greenery on the ground. White text Lateefah Simon underneath picture: and Ron Davis :image descriptions: Black man standing at a podium wearing a black suit jacket, white shirt, and red tie. Next to him on his left is an Asian appearing man in a black suit jacket, white shirt, and gray patterned tie. The background is dark blue curtains. White text Ron Davis underneath the picture: Lateefah has been very involved in advocating for different people and things. She has been very involved, she has also been communicating with the media, newspaper, and radio, and been involved in working with the police on how they could improve their interactions with different people. Ron Davis has been very involved – he, himself is a high ranking police officer in Oakland, for many years. It has been an honor. I will now turn the floor over to Lateefah Simon.
The person who is presenting now is Lateefah Simon. Thank you, Governor Newsom, it has been my honor, thank you. Hello, I’m Lateefah Simon. I would like to take the opportunity to explain who I am, and what I have been doing. I am the president of an organization, Akonadi Foundation that specializes in working against systems of oppression. Systems that are based on structural racism, for example, people, work, schools, many different areas of life that face oppression due to racism. Is that acceptable? No! We must fight for justice. Akonadi’s goal is to dismantle and abolish systems of oppression that are based on racism. That’s the organization that I lead as president, and I am also on the Board of Directors for the light rail system – BART – I’ve worked there for many years. Also, I am an advocate for many different people that struggle with and experience systems of oppression. That’s a big part of my advocacy work. The governor asked me to come and speak because he wants to change. If you think people are just sitting around a table talking – that’s not what’s happening. I came to roll up my sleeves and work forward towards change. Change that will lead to true improvement. We have to grab the time now. If you are thinking we are approaching this with an attitude of it’s not my concern, you are wrong. Like Newsom already mentioned, people have been asking, pleading for change. They want things to improve, and for you to push them aside, that is not going to happen. We have to honor and listen to those stories and become agents of change. We have to change things and improve things. If California can as a state start to improve – the whole nation will take notice and want to be part of the movement – thus following our lead. The time to grab the opportunities presented to us is now.
Also, I would like to let you know, the bill that would become law – that 392 bill that would make it illegal for police to use excessive force. If you look at the text of the bill, there are stories in there. One story in specific is the story of Dr. Shelley Weber (white text, Shelley Weber). Dr. Shelley Weber works with a group of women who lost their sons to racism. The story of one of those women is in the text of the bill, in honor of her. The very impactful story, heart touching.
By now you all have already seen the video of the black man, George Floyd, who was murdered. That video is very powerful, and we all know, has led to disturbances all over the nation. That shows us that we indeed must change and improve, we must value human life. We need to honor and remember the many people that have died. We need to remember them and acknowledge that it is time to change. This cannot keep happening. Things need to change. I am excited and ready to accept responsibility for starting the work. You know that change is not easy. It is a challenge. Impossible? No. We can achieve. It is possible. I am excited to work with Ron. Did you know that Ron is very involved in advocating for changing the police. Ron also advises the government on and suggests changes that could be done to improve. That’s who Ron is and I am excited to work with him. Again I have to emphasize that we all must work together. We can work as a collective to partner with the police, the government, and the community. Together we can push for change and improve.
Speaker now speaking: Ron Davis. Good afternoon, all. I would like to thank the governor for being a good leader and telling the truth without trying to cover up or be vague. Also, the governor recognizes that what we are doing is essential. Again, thank you, governor. I would also like to acknowledge that telling the public the truth is not easy. It is a fact that by bringing out the truth for everyone to see can cause uncomfortable feelings and pain. But I encourage you not to ignore the truth because ignoring the truth would hurt all of America. It is essential to face and look at the truth and keep track of what works, and what does not work. Keeping track helps us change and improve. For example, if we know what happened and what was done wrong, we can avoid that from happening again. If we make changes and things that happen as a result are fitting, then we should keep in mind that what we did was right and continue to do those things that were right.
Also, I see people saying that they want to go back to what was normal. That to me means that what happened with the police, all the protesting and the damages that occurred from the action would be ignored, and we would all continue as we were before. I disagree with that. I support what has been said before – we need to roll up our sleeves and work together to improve.
I know that the public watching sees an African American male – I already know what it means to be a Black man here in America. Imagine me without the police officer uniform – wearing plainclothes. Now, imagine I am driving and I see in my mirror sirens behind me. My heartbeat starts racing. I have three children with me. I have to explain to them how to get back home safely, and alive. That explanation includes how to talk with the police. That is a conflict because I am a police officer myself. I want to respect the police – but that makes me feel uncomfortable. That conflict inside of me – there is no perfect solution. No perfect answer. We can only focus on the truth, what we have in front of us, as evidence of what works and what doesn’t work. From these truths, we can clearly see what areas can be improved.
I am a proud member of law enforcement. I started out with the city of Oakland, then East Palo Alto, and also worked on President Obama’s detail. While working with Obama, I traveled with him all over the country. One time we went to Ferguson, Missouri where there was a protest taking place. While there we observed the protest taking note of what was effective and what was not for the purpose of making improvements in the future. Not only did I observe, I also interacted with people to gain the perspective of the officers and the victims’ family members who were involved. I also understood the government’s perspective as well. I wanted to be a part of a process where our government, law enforcement, and family members were all working together in unity. Keep in mind, the people have the right to lawful assembly and protest as long as there is no violence. Violence should never be a part of the process. What should also never be allowed is apathy – sitting back and not becoming involved. I wanted to see the government take an active role in being part of a process to bring about change by working together. As Lateefah stated, if we see progressive change in California, then other states around the US will want to emulate those changes and become better as well.
Governor Newsom: Thank you Lateefah and Ron, thank you for coming today and sharing your thoughts while working hard for California. Thank you for the soldiers around who have been working with our communities by taking a kneel, washing graffiti, and more. Thank you. Thank you for your persistence to work hard. I want to share an African proverb, “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” – together we can be successful to reach our goals. Two prime examples of this are the introduction of two bills. One is to outlaw police brutality and the second is to improve how police interact with the public. These are not bills that are easy to pass because of the controversy behind it. After much disagreement and deliberation, we were finally able to pass both of these important bills. I want to express my gratitude to California legislators, the Black community and the Latino community for your involvement in making this happen. I want to echo Ron’s comment earlier that silence is complicit and leads to the opposite of change and progress. I want to also remind you of Dante who said that remaining neutral during times of great moral decisions is not acceptable. Everyone must get involved, work together, push forward for lasting and real change.
I would also like to share what a woman told me in Stockton. She told me that group leaders need to encourage those who are not sure of what to do, show them what to do, and together we will make these changes happen.
I will now take questions from the audience:
Question: Are there any Black people involved in state legislation and will other bills that are not pertaining to Black Lives be postponed?
Answer: Governor: no, we will review each bill in the order that they are on the calendar. Also, we have been discussing a plan on how to provide funds to prisons and divert those funds to youth who have recently been released from detention centers.
Question: I know that there is a concern with COVID-19 and the protests. What are your plans with places that have already opened, especially with the virus numbers going up, are you going to start closing businesses again?
Answer: Governor: please look at www.covid19.ca.gov (white text appears on screen) and click on “county reopen map,” (white text appears on screen). There you will see a place to enter your zip code and then see information specific to the area where you live. You can also click on the link to see the number of confirmed cases, where to take tests, what services are available for the homeless, for jails, for stay-home nurses, etc. If you need support please reach out through that website. We are ready for a surge in numbers, we have planned for that. We are also prepared with plenty of masks, and we have been distributing them.
Question: Can you tell us about the agreement with businesses and masks – will we be receiving more masks? Or not? What’s happening with that?
Answer: We are partnering with a company in another country to send us more masks. If they don’t send us masks then we will not pay them. We have already received over 90 million masks, and have a stockpile ready.
Question: In Washington, DC, someone who works in that area said that research has been done and it shows that we don’t need resources, such as masks, etc. it seems that our numbers are improving and we are doing well and don’t need those things.
Answer: Governor: I disagree with that assessment. If you look at the US we do seem to be recovering from COVID-19; however, that improvement is not consistent throughout all states. Some states have been and continue to be hard hit and others not as impacted. So I can’t say for the whole country that we can stop using precautions against the virus. It really depends on where you are in the US. I disagree and don’t support that statement from Washington DC. There has been contradicting research from other areas that say the research from Washington DC is flawed.
Question: It seems that the first COVID-19 case to hit California one month ago was from a nail salon. Knowing that, do you still plan to re-open nail salons?
Answer: Governor: We were supposed to release guidelines on that today. That still is a work in progress. We are also working with the Asian American community due to the fact that many people of Asian descent work in nail salons. Those guidelines will be shared in the future.
Question: Some areas are ordered to go home/stay home after 8 pm at night due to protests. Is that still necessary now things seem to be under control? Do we still need the National Guard and the police to be present?
Answer: Governor: That decision is up to each mayor. I believe that if curfews are no longer needed, then the National Guard and police should be released. If another city needs more support, then they can relocate to support areas as needed.
Governor Newsom: We are out of time, I want to close with thanking Lateefah, Ron, and for all the people involved in the protests that were willing to dialogue so that I could make note of what areas needed to be improved on. Thank you.