Black people don’t get many good days in this country.
We were disproportionately thrown in jail and killed by the police. We have disproportionate pain and disproportionate deaths, recently from COVID-19. And, thanks to the stubbornness of systemic racism, we are disproportionate damaged and unemployed.
But for Black Californians, at least, today – that is, Thursday, September 30, 2021 – is a good day.
That morning Governor Gavin Newsom climbed onto a platform at Rowley Gym in Gardena and explained why he signed a package of bills that would eventually force law enforcement agencies to hold their officials accountable for the bias of race, misconduct and abuse.
“I want people not to despair, just because things aren’t happening in Washington, DC, that we can’t move the needle here, not just in our state but in states across this country, “aniya.
Of course, Newsom is talking about the extreme failure of Congress – well, of Republicans – to pass George Floyd Justice the Policing Act.
That was the package of federal bills offered as great hope for systematic change in American governance after Officer Derek Chauvin killed Floyd on his knee in the streets of Minneapolis.
This is what Black people should get after the well-known protests and racial segregation that followed.
But that did not happen. Except in California.
Of the eight bills signed by Newsom on Thursday morning, one raised the minimum age for police officers from 18 to 21, the other set new rules for the use of rubber bullets and tear gas. for majority control, and another requires officers to intervene when they see a fellow officer using excessive force.
But perhaps the most consequential for Black Californians, who continue to be excessive and aggressively proven, is a Sen. bill. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) allows the badges of troubled cops to disappear forever.
It “established a fair and balanced way to hold officials accountable for undermining public trust for their actions and not simply moving to a new department,” he said of his bill, which is now law.
Newsom added: “I hope it gives a little contrast to that anxiety and fear.”
The beautiful day continued in Manhattan Beach.
It was afternoon when Newsom climbed into a cluster of microphones, setting up a block from which the waves crashed into the sand under the sunny sky. He then explained why he was signing a bill to return the hollow of grassy land before him to the descendants of a Black couple, Willa and Charles Bruce.
“As governor of California, let me do what Manhattan Beach doesn’t seem to want to do. I want to apologize,” he said. that past. “
Bruces sold land along the Strand, between 26th and 27th streets, back in 1912 for $ 1,225. Together, they opened a lodge and dance hall, operating what quickly became a popular destination for Black families looking to enjoy a weekend at the beach, knowing they were banned from other along the Pacific Coast.
The good times did not last long. Bruces has been harassed by racists, including the Ku Klux Klan, for years. When they were not intimidated, officials with the city of Manhattan Beach condemned the neighborhood and confiscated the land in 1924.
Today, it is known as Bruce’s Beach.
“The law was used to steal this property 100 years ago, and the law will bring it back now,” said LA County Superintendent Janice Hahn, who is next to fellow Supervisor Holly Mitchell.
The story of Bruces is the story of many Black families. People were forced into their land by racists and, with it, lost an opportunity in wealth generation.
The bill, which Newsom also signed, was also written by Bradford, who serves as head of a reparations task force dedicated to developing ways to repair the damage that systematic racism has done to Black Californians.
“I hope we show today what leadership looks like on reparations issues,” he told me. “What does leadership look like on issues of criminal justice and police reform. And I hope we set a good example of what the rest of the states in the country can do.”
As Newsom sat at a table and picked up a pen, dozens of people – journalists, lawmakers, Manhattan Beach residents – gathered for a closer look. A ripple of excitement seemed to blow through the crowd.
Shouts of black women behind me. “Amen!” “Yes, Lord!”
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Anthony Bruce, the great-grandson of Charles and Willa Bruce, dressed in a dress and dark button-down shirt, quietly covered near the governor. He smiled in anticipation and then relieved the swish of the pen.
“We’ll send you the work as soon as possible,” Newsom whispered to him.
Kavon Ward, the founder of the grass-root movement Justice for Bruce’s Beach who headed the charge to return Bruce’s Beach to the descendants of the original owners, looked up to heaven.
He took himself out of the crowd. I watched him put his fist in the air, as if uttering the words he had said a few minutes before.
Ward shouted into microphones, fearless of backlash in an affluent city where Black residents still make up less than 1% of the population and where clearly alive and well racism. Heck, only a select official from Manhattan Beach bothered to show up for the signing ceremony.
“Power to the people!” Ward said that. “Power to my people! ”
He had not heard about the bills Newsom signed on Thursday morning. As I told him about all the ways California would reform the police, his eyes widened. Memories of how he felt by Manhattan Beach police last year, as he fought for reparations, for justice for Black people, are fresh in his mind, he told me.
Black people, we agree, don’t get a lot of good days. This is one of them.