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San Diego Activists Sue Over Gang Database Use, ROTC Cadets Gradually Returning To In-Person Training, And Weekend Arts And Cultural Events Preview

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY NICHOLAS MCVICKER

Above: Activist Tasha Williamson speaks at a press conference announcing a lawsuit over the California gang database, Sept. 24, 2020.

San Diego activists argue the database, known as CalGang, includes many people who are not actually gang members and unfairly targets people of color who live in lower-income communities. Plus, ROTC training has been mostly online but some cadets have resumed limited in-person training. And, our arts and culture picks for the weekend.

Speaker 1: 00:01 A lawsuit challenges. The state's gang database. After this gaming audit came out the year before it found it had lots of errors in it. It included several children who are under the age of one I'm Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid day edition. The ROTC tackles the challenge of officer training in a pandemic.

Speaker 2: 00:30 So we are relying on the CDC guidance for how the screening should occur. Someone that doesn't feel well. Someone who's been in positive contact with someone who has COVID those types of things. We'll exclude those individuals

Speaker 1: 00:42 Talk, goth music, the Italian film festival, and more on our weekend preview stay with us for midday edition coming up next,

Speaker 1: 01:00 The California gang database known as Cal gang is now the subject of a lawsuit brought by community groups in San Diego and Southern California. After requesting earlier this year, that's the state comply with required audits of the database. The lawsuit is now demanding it. The state's listing of alleged gang members in a database has been criticized by activists and lawmakers alike for the mistakes and outdated information it contains and being listed on the Cal gang database can have real world consequences. Even for people. Who've never been gang members joining me as KPBS, investigative reporter, Claire Traeger, sir. And Claire. Welcome. Thank you. These community groups say they're suing because the Cal gang database is not being regulated by the state. According to the requirements of a law that was passed in 2017, what sort of regulation is required under their law? Right? So the law, uh, AB 90, which was written by assemblywoman Shirley Webber, after this gaming audit came out the year before about the gang database that found it had lots of errors in it, including that famous fact, now that it included, um, several children who are under the age of one.

Speaker 1: 02:16 Um, so some of the laws required regulations are that the database is now overseen by the California department of justice and they can block access to police departments. If they find the departments are misusing it. Another requirement is that the DOJ do regular audits of the database. And that was supposed to start before January, 2020, that audit hasn't happened yet. And so that's what this lawsuit is over the group. Say attorney general, Javier Bissera, isn't overseeing the database the way he's supposed to. And so it should be shut down until his office can properly regulate it. What consequences could someone face by being listed on law enforcement's gang database? Well, so it's important to know that being in Cal gang isn't a crime, but it it's critics say it creates an association with someone in the database as being in the gang. So every entry has a photo descriptions of the person's clothing, um, scars and any tattoos.

Speaker 1: 03:13 They might have the names and addresses of family and friends, and then information from the person's social media accounts. And not surprisingly, there are far more young, black and Latino men in it than other groups, especially people who live in lower income areas. So if police stop a person and see he's in the gang database, they might treat him more harshly. Um, and police can use the gang label to justify, stopping and questioning someone in the database. And then if that person is arrested, prosecutors might increase charges against them. And one other thing is that a state audit found that the database had been used for employment and military related screenings. So it can have a variety of different impacts. Cal gang has been criticized for a long time for being used as cover for racial profiling of people who live in certain neighborhoods. How do police decide who is listed on the database?

Speaker 1: 04:11 Well, it can simply just be that you are stopped in a known gang area, which includes much of areas like Southeast San Diego, where, where people live, or if you're wearing a certain color that's associated with a gang, or that you are stopped while associating with another person who is already in the database, but that could just be a family member or a neighbor or a friend, just because you were say, you know, riding in a car with someone that police say is in a gang, doesn't mean that you are also in a gang. Can people challenge being listed on the gang database as of 2017, uh, that they can. So a lot of that year required police to inform people if they were in the database and provided a legal Avenue so that they could challenge that inclusion. But, but that hasn't really been working out so well.

Speaker 1: 05:05 So far earlier this year, our partner, I, new source found that many local law enforcement agencies might not be sending all of the required notification letters to tell people they're in the database. And a year after the law went into effect, they did a report and they found that there were only 53 requests to be removed from the database. And only 11 were granted. And that's out of almost 100,000 people in the database. Now, recently the state stopped all law enforcement from using gang database information provided by the LAPD. Why is that? Well, that was after an internal audit done by the Los Angeles police department found that some of their officers were using the database incorrectly. They found that at least 59 times officers had falsified records to people into the database. So the DOJ, um, first of all, blocks LA from using the database and then said that all law enforcement couldn't use information that LAPD had added because it might be incorrect. Now back to this lawsuit that was announced yesterday, is the lawsuit trying to stop law enforcement from keeping any record of gang members in California? Well, specifically what it's looking for is for courts to put an injunction on the database until the DOJ establishes a process for better regulating and managing it. So the lawyer who filed the suit says once that process is established and a judge signs off on it, then, um, they could use the database again. I've been speaking with KPBS, investigative reporter, Claire Traeger, sir. And Claire. Thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 1: 06:58 Like many college classes. The Army's reserve officers' training Corps or ROTC has largely moved online because of the pandemic, the program trains most newly commissioned army officers. Still some cadets are getting some limited in person training from Boston, Fred Tice reports for the American Homefront project

Speaker 3: 07:24 In a clearing at camp Edwards on Cape Cod. A group of army cadets comes over a Hill to take a position being held by another group. They're shooting blanks. But otherwise this is as real on the ground training as the cadets have had since the pandemic began, the cadets all college seniors come from ROTC programs in Massachusetts and Maine. They're from public universities and private ones, such as Harvard university cadet, Isabella van that attends Wellesley college, where seniors are learning remotely. This

Speaker 4: 07:57 It's such a relief to definitely be in person to be out here, even though we're CA we're carrying really heavy rocks and everything just being in person with everyone makes a huge difference in the learning really skyrockets. When we have these difficult experiences, new challenges that can be thrown at us, um, in the in person setting. So having a semester remote, I definitely appreciate getting this learning opportunity out here.

Speaker 3: 08:24 Three ROTC platoons performed these exercises in late August. Each platoon had fewer than 30 cadets and they were not allowed to work or socialize outside that group. A far cry from normal training when hundreds of cadets would eat, train and shower together in a typical summer 10,000 ROTC cadets would have been at Fort Knox, Kentucky this year, the army plant 68 smaller trainings around the country until the end of October, the cadets at camp Edwards do not wear masks. They train 12 hours a day after which they're screened for symptoms of COVID-19 major general. John Evans, commander of cadet command explains that the army is not able to test cadets on a daily basis everywhere. So we are relying on the CDC guidance for how the screening should occur. Someone that doesn't feel well. Someone who's been in positive contact with someone who has COVID those types of things, we'll exclude those individuals. And then in other places, we have the ability to test some, uh, and we will use those tests sparingly so that if we have someone who screens positive, we can give them a test and then find out whether or not they are truly positive or whether they can continue with training. So we're really trying to use everything at our disposal to be able to do that

Speaker 3: 09:43 Back at the command center on Cape Cod fans were roaring Lieutenant Colonel David stocker, professor of military science at the Massachusetts Institute of technology says the lack of hands on training since March has had an impact.

Speaker 1: 09:58 I do see out there is they're just slower because maybe they have not moved as a team or squad. Definitely not just because we lost some of those spring and exercises that we would have done in March and April,

Speaker 3: 10:14 But stalker is encouraged by the fact that the lack of in person training has not hurt cadets ability to develop other skills.

Speaker 1: 10:22 I see that with marksmanship, but we conducted a preliminary mercury shipment to prep them, to go out to the right Brandon. And we did that virtually,

Speaker 3: 10:33 Despite the slow ramp up in moving together as a platoon, stalker is confident that the cadets will be ready for the army. By the time they graduate this spring in Boston, I'm Fred Tice.

Speaker 1: 10:44 This story was produced by the American Homefront project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting. This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh, our arts and culture picks for this weekend. Preview feature a masterclass in the oral storytelling traditions, a virtual launch party for the San Diego Italian film festival, a retrospective protest photography exhibition, and some live streamed goth music. Joining me is KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans with all the details and welcome Julia. Hi Maureen. Now first up the old Globes Friday night, digital offering features BB mama tonight. Tell us a little about word up and mama's work. Yeah, we're at apps of the digital

Speaker 5: 11:54 Arts programs. The old globe has set out during the pandemic. It's kind of part showcase part master class and part hang session. And this week they're bringing in BD mama who's at first generation Ben and E's American. She's an actor and teaching artist, and she's going to be talking about oral storytelling traditions. She learned the West African Yoruba oral storytelling tradition from her father, and he is the distinguished storyteller and professor Rofe mamma. And I just found out that Ralph will also be dialing into the event with his daughter, kind of a nice silver lining of these virtual events, the old

Speaker 1: 12:31 Globes word up live streams tonight at six on YouTube or the old globe website. And in the live music world, we have something goth to look forward to.

Speaker 5: 12:43 Yes, big has FAS hosting, a virtual version of the black Friday goth dance party. They have live DJ sets as well as a band performing on their stage. Uh, San Diego has this vibrant goth night scene. So it'll kind of be hard to measure up to that dimly lit dance floor vibe, but it should be a longer and more robust version of the Casbah is regular live streamed, empty venue concerts, which I've been loving. And the band, the passengers will perform a set of their ultra dark post punk music. Here's a brand new track from them. It was just released on a compilation called presence, not absence by Southern California based full our records, that benefits housing relief for trans people of color. It's a great album and worth looking up on band camp. And the passenger song is called until the world falls apart, which is timely. [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 14:15 Was the passengers with until the world falls apart. So get out your black lipstick and tune in tonight at eight 30 on the Cavs boss, Twitch channel next, the San Diego Italian film festival. Well, it takes place next month, but this Sunday is their official launch party. Julia, tell us about this virtual event.

Speaker 5: 14:38 Yeah, so the theme of the virtual program, um, is activism. And on Sunday you can get a preview of some of these films meet some of the directors he'll be dialing in from Italy and also get some musical from locals, Mark and Landon Akiyama, they'll be playing their interpretations of some of their favorite Morricone films. Gores. They'll also screen an animated short film. They scored called brush, which is a very sweet look at a boy's life, all seen from the bathroom mirror while he's brushing his teeth or not. And don't miss the festivals gelato delivery. The San Diego Italian film festival launch party takes place Sunday at 11 in the visual arts world. Hillstreet country club opens a new retrospective exhibition of photographer. Johnny Gwynn's work. Tell us about him. Yeah. The show is called normalize radical and it Chronicles the decade when had spent photographing protests and counterculture movements beginning with the occupy San Diego movement and leading right up until the summer, his protest against police brutality and racial injustice.

Speaker 5: 15:48 His aim as an artist is to use his photo journalistic chops to help tell the stories of these people and the causes at the center of street activism. And this is actual in-person art yeah. Hill. Street's doing a new twist on the opening reception. They're offering two full days of socially distanced, small group receptions. This weekend. You hadn't told me this week that he kind of welcomes the shift away from the art party style and looks forward to having visitors more able to spend time with the art. And also the exhibition will also be available to view and shop online if you're not quite ready for an in person event, normalize radical open Saturday and Sunday from one to seven and by appointment at Oceanside's Hillstreet country club also Hill street country club is virtually hosting a live stream to musical performance on Monday. Tell us about a mentor. Abiato yeah, here's something to ease us back into the work week. You can tune into Hills Street's Instagram for Portland based. [inaudible] who's doing a benefit for the venues. Artists support stipend program have Yoda is a singer songwriter, producer, and performance artist. Her works mystical and raw, and she's influenced by jazz gospel, African instrumental music and electronic scent in these solo loop based performances. I really love watching Lupe musicians perform live. It's such this intricate art form, so let's listen to one of her latest tracks.

Speaker 6: 17:28 Oh, wait [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 18:04 Into Hill street country clubs, Instagram account Monday at 6:30 PM for more arts events or to sign up for the KPBS arts newsletter, go to kpbs.org/arts. And I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans. Julia. Thanks. Thank you, Maureen

Speaker 6: 18:23 Weekend.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.