Civil Rights


Killing by California Law Enforcement: It Is What You Think (Part II)

By Mike Males

Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice

The previous blog reported CJCJ’s surprising finding that the communities where people are most likely to be shot to death by law enforcement are not stereotypically mean-street cities such as Los Angeles, Oakland, Compton, or Salinas, but remote towns like Eureka, Desert Hot Springs, Vista, and Moreno Valley.

However, when it comes to who officers kill, California’s pattern looks like the rest of the country’s. Table 1’s summary of 13 years of officer-involved killings in California shows familiar risks.

Martin Luther King and the Struggle for Economic Justice

By Martin J. Bennett

Commemorations on the Martin Luther King holiday tend to portray a moderate civil rights leader who aimed to end segregation and racial discrimination by nonviolent direct action.

Often forgotten is his lifelong belief that a "radical restructuring of the architecture of American society" was needed, and that the fight for racial equality and the struggle for economic justice are intertwined.

As University of Washington historian Michael Honey demonstrates in his book All Labor Has Dignity, for King, race and class were inseparable and only a mass interracial movement of poor and working people could achieve inclusion and full citizenship for all.

Killing by Law Enforcement in California: It's Not What You Think (Part I)

By Mike Males

Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

Who do cops shoot in California? The most powerful, tragic images are of young African Americans like Oscar Grant in 2009 and Ezell Ford last August, victims of harsh policing in racially segregated and underserved areas like east Oakland and south central Los Angeles. Yet in remote towns like Eureka and a cluster in the southern deserts (Desert Hot Springs, Vista, Perris, Hemet, and Indio), people are much more likely to be killed by officers — not just in per capita rates, but often in raw numbers.

Why Statistical Bigotry Is Just Bigotry

By Mike Males

Center for Juvenile & Criminal Justice

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson’s March 28 column rationalized the fact that 62% of the Oakland Police Department’s traffic stops involve African Americans (just 28% of the city’s population) because blacks commit the overwhelming majority of the city’s serious crime. This latest example of penalizing “driving while black” is a classic case of what I call statistical bigotry.

The "Real JFK" - Not Conservative, and Not Forgotten

By Richard Eskow

Listen to the breath, the unbroken message that creates itself from the silence,
it rushes towards you now, from those youthfully dead.
- Rainer Maria Rilke, "Duino Elegies"

Fifty years. That's how long it's been since John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Half a century can seem so brief - just a flash in time - or so terribly long, an endless walk through dusty corridors.

Presidents are the products of the times at least as much they are the shapers of them. They ride into office on great waves of half-understood historical forces, waves that can make them transformative leaders or capsize them without warning.

The March on Washington: 1963 and 2013

By Martin Bennett and Fred Glass

Fifty years ago, on August 28, 1963, the nation witnessed the largest march in its history. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom lives on in popular memory as the moment when Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his iconic “I Had A Dream” speech and called for racial integration and reconciliation in America. Most Americans today point to the emergence of a substantial black middle class and the election of the first African American President as evidence of our progress towards that goal.

For Marriage Equality, It Took a Movement

Randy ShawBy Randy Shaw

The Supreme Court's striking down DOMA and Prop 8 sent a powerful message about the ongoing power of grassroots movements to bring about social change. These rulings could not have come a decade ago. Then, even campaigns for domestic partnerships and civil unions were politically controversial. But the broader activist struggle for marriage equality brought the courts along, just as the African-American civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's brought legal rulings to support that struggle.

Barred from Federal Programs, DREAMers May Qualify for Medi-Cal

Viji SundaramBy Viji Sundaram

For years, DREAMer Rodrigo Perea, 18, lived under a threatening cloud of deportation. Now, Perea has legal permission to live and work in the U.S. - but until recently he was still in the dark about the low-income health programs he qualifies for.

He's not alone. Thousands of immigrants, and even many health care advocates in California who work with young immigrants, are unaware that recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program may qualify for state-funded-only Medi-Cal, identical in every way to the full scope federal and state funded program that shares the name.

State Commissioner Cracks Down on Employers for Labor Law Violations

By Mitch Seaman

No one wins when employers break labor laws, but whenever California's star Labor Commissioner Julie Su announces the latest round of enforcement actions, it sure feels like a victory.

Case in point: This week, Commissioner Su hit three of the worst violators with over $1.8 million in backpay and penalty assessments for stealing employees' wages, defrauding the workers' comp system and willfully breaking a variety of other workforce protection laws.

Statewide Tour to Close the "Walmart Loophole" Kicks Off in West Sacramento

By Steve Smith

Walmart shoppers probably didn't expect to be greeted Friday morning at 5 AM by a lively group of taxpayers protesting the "Walmart Loophole," which allows large companies like Walmart to avoid their responsibilities to pay their fair share for their workers' health care. But that's exactly what they encountered in West Sacramento.

About 30 demonstrators launched a statewide tour aimed at educating shoppers and the media about Walmart's practice of paying its workers so little that they are pushed into taxpayer-funded programs like Medi-Cal. The group also handed out information about AB 880 (Gomez), which would mandate that the state's largest and most profitable companies pay their fair share when their workers end up on taxpayer-funded Medi-Cal.