Transcript, Web links and Credits below.
Hey everybody! Today is a “good news” episode and I’ve got nothing but good news to share with you. Everywhere I go, I get somebody to try to tell me that the Black Lives Matter Movement hasn’t accomplished anything. And they don’t necessarily mean harm by it, but, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, the media rarely reports good news. So when the movement has a victory or a breakthrough — that story rarely gets told. And the Black Lives Matter Movement has actually had hundreds of victories.
And today I’m going to teach you about how the Black Lives Matter Movement helped pass major legislation in California that really changed the game this week and how they are sponsoring a brand new bill that I think is going to impact police brutality in a major way. And I want all of us to get behind it.
Let’s dig in. Two good news stories. Plus an action step for us at the end.
This is Shaun King and you are listening to (The Breakdown)!
Are you familiar with the story of Oscar Grant? Ryan Coogler & Michael B. Jordan did a beautiful, painful movie about his life and death called Fruitvale Station — and I’d strongly encourage you to watch it. Because 10 years ago, on New Year’s Day of 2009, police in Oakland, California, targeted, harassed, then wrongly arrested, then assaulted, then shot and killed Oscar Grant — who was a completely innocent, unarmed, non-violent brother. A beautiful soul. And some of it was filmed but hundreds of people witnessed it.
And because California had some of shadiest laws in the nation protecting the records of horrible police officers, keeping all of the documentation of their misconduct sealed from public view, for 10 years virtually all of the records on this case — and on tens of thousands of cases all over California — have been sealed.
So in 2017 and 2018, activists and organizers and families impacted by police violence all came together to craft a law that would finally unseal the records of police misconduct. That bill, SB-1421, was signed into law last year on September 30, and we’re just now really starting to experience the impact of it. And that’s normal. When laws like this pass, it takes a while sometimes for us to experience the implementation.
But just a few days ago, because of this law — and because 30 different media organizations in California came together to review and analyze and report on these records — we now have the first full report of what really happened to Oscar Grant. And the report is so damning and ugly. It shows, just as everybody said, that Oscar never did anything wrong, how it wasn’t just the officer who murdered Oscar, but several officers who lied and were so brutal and that ultimately contributed to his death. And the documents showed how local police went out of their way to conceal what they did.
And it’s a huge deal because all over the country we’ve found that police have put in place a million little rules and policies to protect themselves from ever being held responsible, and this law in California tore down one of the biggest hedges of protection for corrupt and brutal police.
Which leads me to my second story. (Music transition)
Having already helped to pass one new law in California, the Black Lives Matter Movement, again in partnership with dozens of organizations and scores of families impacted by police violence, are preparing to pass a brand new law. And I think this new bill is an absolute game changer.
This bill is AB-392 — that AB stands for Assembly Bill so Assembly Bill 392 — also called the California Act to Save Lives. And it’s so simple, but so smart. It’s primary author is Dr. Shirley Weber, a super progressive California assemblywoman out of San Diego. What the bill does — if you’ve listened to episodes 12, 13, and 14 of The Breakdown — you’ll know what I’m talking about here. And if you haven’t heard those, I’d strongly urge that you go back and listen to me break down the Supreme Court cases that basically make police brutality legal in the United States.
Well — in this new bill, which just passed through the Public Safety committee on a 5-2 vote, changes California law from allowing police to use lethal force when such force is “reasonable,” which is such a nebulous a word, to “necessary,” which means it was the last resort. The bill even unpacks how all other options have to be exhausted before lethal force is used.
And see, here’s the thing – we know police can do this when they want to because it’s what they do when they apprehend mass shooters and mass murderers every single day. Without shooting them. Without killing them. Without choking them to death or tasering them to death. Have you ever heard of police tasering a mass shooter to death? Or choking a mass shooter to death? Doesn’t happen. Know why? Because they found a way to use the least amount of force necessary to affect an arrest in those cases.
Partly because of how large California is, it has more people killed by police than any other state, but it’s not just because the state is large. Police in California kill people at a 37 percent higher rate than the national average. Police in Kern County, California, kill people at a higher rate than any other county in the nation and we have over 3,000 counties in the United States. And in California — guess who the unarmed people are that are getting killed by police? Over 75% of unarmed people killed by police in California are men and women of color.
Now skeptics look at this bill and say, ”Man, that’s not going to solve police brutality.” And guess what? You’re right. No single bill or single solution is going to make it disappear in one fell swoop but that’s not how change works. Change happens piece by piece. And this bill is going to make it much easier to charge police with murder when they don’t use the same restraint with everyday people of color that they use with white mass murderers every day.
This law is going to force police to use what we call the Use of Force Continuum. Meaning that before they escalate to Option 10 — which is shooting somebody in the head — they have to show how they tried to de-escalate, how they used non-lethal force, how they considered waiting and calling in mental health experts. All of that. And for the thousands of families in California whose loved ones were killed by police, this law could’ve saved their loved one’s life.
So we’re officially committing to help get this law passed in California. Which leads me to our Action Step for today!
(Action Steps Music)
It’s two simple steps.
1. I want you to Google AB-392 and start educating yourself on the bill. Read the bill. Watch videos of families fighting for it. Just deepen your knowledge on the bill.
2. I want you to follow two people on social media. The first is California Assemblywoman Shirley Weber. Just Google her name — and Twitter her name and Facebook her name and Instagram. Secondly, I want you to follow Black Lives Matter Los Angeles on Twitter — follow @BLMLA on Twitter — because they are going to be a real force behind this bill.
Thank you all for making it all the way through this episode of The Breakdown!
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Produced by Willis Polk II
Additional Production by: Christian “Idrys” Shannon
Additional Instrumentation by: Christian “Idrys” Shannon, Lance “Lance Fury” Powlis. Markeith Black & Smok Tageous
Additional Engineering by Amond “AJ” Jackson for Salem Psalms Library
Additional Vocals by Garnett “Natti” Bush
Scratches by Kenny “DJ FlipFlop” Vanderberg
Contains elements from:
“Who Are You?” by The Off Daze