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Report Uncovers Culture of Harassment, Discrimination At San Diego’s Largest Employers

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PHOTO BY MILAN KOVACEVIC

Above: San Diego's skyline is shown in this undated photo.

A detailed report from The San Diego Union-Tribune has revealed a pervasive culture of sexual harassment and discrimination among some of the county's largest employers. Plus, Rady Children's Hospital officials are reporting 25% increase in mental health visits to their emergency room of children experiencing mental health issues. And over the past several decades, hundreds or maybe thousands of U.S. military veterans have been deported after being convicted of crimes, sometimes decades after they left the service. Then, for some Asian women who were on the fence about buying guns for protection, the racist violence of the past year pushed them over the edge. Finally, OnStage Playhouse reopened last week for in-person performances. And the first play at the Chula Vista-based company is timely. "Sheepdog." deals with race and policing issues.

Speaker 1: 00:00 An investigation into discrimination and harassment at large employers.

Speaker 2: 00:05 So city of San Diego had sort of a culture problem, particularly when it came to women and people of color.

Speaker 1: 00:11 I'm Claire Tresor with Jade Hyman. This is KPBS mid-day edition, a surgeon, teens with mental health issues, including suicidal thoughts,

Speaker 2: 00:30 The most common reason. And what we've been seeing most of this pandemic is concerns about suicide

Speaker 1: 00:36 Veterans who committed crimes and were deported are now looking to the Biden administration for help and in-person performances return with sheep dog, a play about timely policing issues. That's ahead on Monday edition, a recent report from the San Diego union Tribune has uncovered a pervasive culture of harassment and discrimination at a number of the city's largest employers, including the city of San Diego Qualcomm and Scripps health. All had complaints of sexual harassment discrimination based on race, gender, age, and a number of other challenging factors. Joining me with more is Lindsay twinkly, a watchdog reporter for the union Tribune, Lindsey. Welcome.

Speaker 2: 01:30 Hey, thanks for having me. So

Speaker 1: 01:31 To start, how did you go about collecting this information?

Speaker 2: 01:35 This project was actually born sometime ago, more than a year, and we wanted to take a look at specifically sexual harassment and workplaces. And so what we did was we put together a pretty massive CPRA request to the state department, the department of fair employment and housing, which handles sexual harassment cases. Um, but we figured, you know what, while we're at it, we might as well just request all of the claims that they get. You know, there's a lot of employers in San Diego, so we sort of tailored it to the largest ones. And we got a whole bunch of claims back.

Speaker 1: 02:11 What were some of the largest employers named in your report?

Speaker 2: 02:15 We ended up covering 11 of the largest employers that includes the city and the county San Diego unified script's health Qualcomm, a couple of universities, including SDSU and UC SD and then several hospital systems. So Rady's hospital, Kaiser and sharp as well as power unified. We also got stuff from them.

Speaker 1: 02:36 And as the report indicates the largest number of complaints come from employees of the city of San Diego. Why do you think that is?

Speaker 2: 02:44 It is notable that the city of San Diego accounted for almost 30% of the claims that we received from the DFEH and they only account for about 7% of all of the employees that are part of these large companies. We did speak with a couple of lawyers who represent plaintiffs, who did feel in certain ways that the city of San Diego had sort of a culture problem, particularly when it came to women and people of color.

Speaker 1: 03:13 As you mentioned, women of color were among those who alleged discrimination based on things like race and gender. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? You know,

Speaker 2: 03:22 In the DFEH claims race is not something that is always included. It's not like a consistent thing within these forms. So we really had to do some deep digging to get a sense of who specifically these people were. Um, because of all, all of this stuff is redacted. And so, you know, by moving through lawyers, we were able to sort of identify some of the things that women and people of color had experienced in the story. We actually talk about several cases. There was a case from Qualcomm that was pretty egregious, according to the claim that we looked over, um, it was a woman who had worked at Qualcomm for many years, and she was very persistent in trying to get a raise and she did everything she could. She said in her claim to move forward and she just faced consistent gender discrimination. According to the climate she filed, there was a man who told her that her vagina was alienating people. There was a supervisor that told her that she wouldn't be considered for a leadership position because husbands and wives are good at different things. Uh, she had another supervisor tell her that she should have been meeting invisible goals. And so these are the kinds of things that we read a lot of in these kinds of claims

Speaker 1: 04:40 Attorneys who handled some of these cases say, this is only really a fraction of the kinds of rights violations that occur. So why aren't there better systems in place to protect employees at these institutions?

Speaker 2: 04:53 It's really interesting because you talk to lawyers who represent plaintiffs and they are very quick to say that the kinds of cases that end up in the courtroom are such a small fraction of the kinds of cases that we could see in courtrooms. And there's a lot of reasons for that. First of all, especially when you're going head to head with a very large employer, that employer has a lot of resources. Um, they have a lot of resources that they can spend on very good lawyers. Um, it's an expensive process to, um, take your claim to court. These sorts of cases are also sort of mired in secret settlements and non-disclosure agreements. Sometimes those are because the plaintiff wants that, but a lot of times it's because big companies want it and it makes it a lot harder to establish a pattern of behavior because you can't see any of the claims that had previously been settled

Speaker 1: 05:44 In this report. There's also a pretty clear link between an employee who files a complaint then being denied career advancement. So what can you tell us about that?

Speaker 2: 05:55 Yeah, I mean, that was something that we sort of consistently across the board. Um, many of the people who had filed claims with the state were denied career advancements, or they were transferred or they were demoted, or they were terminated. And in some cases the claims indicate that these actions were only taken after the alleged misconduct was reported. Again, Karen is a good example of that case. You know, she had a supervisor who she alleged was belittling. He said, things like you're worthless and no one wants you here. She went to her human resources department and they opened up an investigation. Well, he was demoted. She was the one who was forced to transfer to a different department after that incident happened. And we saw incidents like that throughout the claim. Wow. Well,

Speaker 1: 06:42 I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune, reporter, Lindsey Wintley and Lindsay, thank you for joining us. Yeah. Thank you so much for having me.

Speaker 3: 06:56 Mental health of teenagers is raising concern among healthcare providers. Locally Rady children's hospital is seeing a 25% increase in mental health visits and their emergency room health officials at children's hospital in Colorado have declared a state of emergency due to the increased number of youth with suicidal thoughts there what's causing this and where can help be found? Well, Dr. Willow Jenkins, a child psychiatrist and the inpatient medical director at Rady's joins us with more Dr. Jenkins. Welcome. Thank you so much for having me. So let's start with the kinds of mental health issues that bring children to the emergency room. I mean, tell us what, what are your doctors seeing? So

Speaker 2: 07:38 Children coming into the emergency room for mental health come in for a variety of reasons, of course, but the most common reason, and what we've been seeing most of pandemic is concerns about suicide, whether that be actual actions to end their life or intense thoughts of wanting to die,

Speaker 3: 07:55 Um, are the cases you are seeing more urgent or acute than you encountered say a year?

Speaker 2: 08:01 Absolutely. We have been seeing situations that are much more acute and much more complicated. And that's been related to a lot of the stress that the pandemic has been bringing to children and their families. Let's talk about

Speaker 3: 08:15 That a bit. I mean, what are our teens and youth experiencing as a result of the pandemic? That's pushing them to this

Speaker 2: 08:22 Such a good question. I think that there's been the direct effects of COVID-19 the actual fear of contracting COVID-19 and spreading that to friends and family. At this point in the pandemic, we have children that have lost family members, even parents, the pandemic. So there's grief and there's loss. The other piece though, is that the pandemic has obviously caused a lot of indirect effects through social isolation of school closures, lack of being able to do activities that they normally would do to cope much time online. Families are stressed. Parents have lost jobs, and this has affected the children. And unfortunately for some children more time at home is not a positive. It means they've been more exposed to abuse and neglect this year, particularly at the beginning of the pandemic, obviously there was also a huge interruption in services. So a lot of children that were receiving services through schools or in their home, these services were interrupted. Okay.

Speaker 3: 09:22 How many more young patients are you seeing and is this a nationwide trend here

Speaker 2: 09:28 At Rady? Children's we've seen, like you said, about a 20 to 25% increase in mental health visits to our emergency room that translates to about almost 800 extra children coming in in 2020 than in 2019. So it's significant, there is data supporting that this 25% increase in mental health visits to the emergency room is nationwide. And the situation in Colorado certainly indicates that.

Speaker 3: 09:54 And talk to me a bit more about that. I mean, you all had to open a psychiatric emergency room during the pandemic.

Speaker 2: 10:00 We did, um, that wasn't the plan. The psychiatric emergency room has been in the works before the pandemic, because even before the pandemic, the rates of mental health illness in children and youth has been on the rise. Now it's risen more with the pandemic. So in a way it was a bit of a blessing that we opened the psychiatric emergency room because the need was so high. Hmm.

Speaker 3: 10:24 You know, say a teenager is brought in by their parents because they attempted suicide. What happens then? I mean, what treatment options would be available?

Speaker 2: 10:33 Yes. So if they're brought into the emergency room after having a suicide attempt, of course they would first be seen by emergency room physicians who are pediatricians to make sure medically they are well after that point, they would be meeting with trained mental health professionals to do a full evaluation and determine the best course of treatment that could be transferring to our inpatient psychiatric unit here at Rady children's hospital. Or that could be connection with some of the wonderful community resources that we have to support children in San Diego. Hm.

Speaker 3: 11:05 And, you know, you had mentioned to our reporter, Matt Hoffman, there was a crisis in mental health for youth even before the pandemic, as you just said, uh, why is that? And what is it about modern life? Do you think that propels some children towards self harm?

Speaker 2: 11:22 You know, this is such a good question. And one that's so much research is being devoted to, in my opinion, I think that modern life puts a lot of pressure on our youth, whether that's through academics, through being exposed so much more through social media and a lot of those pressures coming from peer interactions, I feel myself that our youth are forced to grow up much quicker than they used to be able to. And our families have so many more pressures on them. And so things taking away from kind of the traditional family time where you're sitting and being able to be with your children, um, you know, for a significant amount of time on a daily basis. So my opinion, these are all things that have contributed and the pandemic has amplified. Certainly some of these things greatly,

Speaker 3: 12:11 Hmm. If parents are worried or concerned about their children, what should they do?

Speaker 2: 12:16 Well first I'd encourage them to talk to their children directly to have an open, um, conversation to try not to make assumptions about how their children are feeling. My biggest tip is if you're talking to your child, please make sure that they are talking more than you. That's always a good indicator that you're getting some good information. So first talking to their child. And then if they have concerns seeking out the help of a professional, whether that's through the school, through seeing your school counselor or connecting with your child's pediatrician or other provider to help with that assessment process

Speaker 3: 12:53 And not every a family can send their child to rainy. So what other options are there in San Diego county? Well,

Speaker 2: 13:00 The good news is here at Rady's. We actually do take any type of insurance. We even take children without insurance, so we absolutely can help any child in San Diego county, regardless of that status. So we have a behavioral health urgent care in mid city. That's a walk-in clinic for mental health, which is fabulous. And then our emergency room, like we've mentioned, we'll take all comers. We do also have wonderful resources in San Diego available through the county and they have an emergency screening unit as well that provides excellent mental health care. There's a San Diego county access and crisis line that's available that any family can call and get directed to services through the county as well.

Speaker 3: 13:42 I've been speaking with Dr. Willow Jenkins, a child psychiatrist, and the inpatient medical director at Rady children's hospital. Dr. Jenkins, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for having me. You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Claire Tresor. Maureen has the day off over the past several decades, hundreds, or maybe thousands of us. Military veterans have been deported for committing crimes after they left the service. Well, now many are looking to the Biden administration, hoping for the chance to finally return to the United States, KPBS military reporter, Steve Walsh says some vets have waited four years for others. Their time has run out.

Speaker 4: 14:37 Jose Velazco came to the us from Mexico as a child, as a green card holder, he was drafted during the Vietnam war era, charged with assault with a deadly weapon and deported three years ago at age 70. He's now living into Juana. I never,

Speaker 5: 14:53 I never even knew to you wanna didn't have anybody here. I'm sitting here. I felt like the sky was coming down on me. Bad.

Speaker 4: 15:04 Velazco is one of the former us service members who were trying to get back to the country where they served and lived most of their lives, his health declining. He knows the clock is ticking. Hector brah Haas runs the deported veterans support house in Tijuana, a place nicknamed the bunker Barahas was deported himself, but was able to become a citizen. After he was pardoned by the governor of California, like many people, he started the citizenship process while he was still in the army during the first Gulf war, but didn't finish. Never immigration never came up. Not even for my squad leaders. You know, military service can be a fast track to citizenship, especially during war time. But some people were incorrectly told they automatically become us citizens. When they take the military oath, others lose track of the process as they move around. But [inaudible] says the system has been broken for years, but things became particularly difficult under the Trump administration. The administration took away this policy that was in place that made it easier to become a citizen when you're in military. And so now it's better if you file for your citizenship, when you're out of the military, it's faster. Richard Avalon has been in Tijuana for a decade after being deported because of a felony immigration charge. He came to the U S as a child and volunteered to join the Marines at the tail end of the Vietnam era. He speaks Spanish with a thick American accent that draws unwanted detention in Mexico. The

Speaker 5: 16:41 Word is Portugal. It's kind of a derogatory term, uh, meaning that you're Mexican raised in America. In other words, kind of like a trader cause you're not a Mexican here you're raised in the U

Speaker 4: 16:52 S advocates are asking the Biden administration to reverse policies that make it harder for troops to apply for citizenship and reinstate a program that walks them through the process before they leave boot camp. Jenny Pascarella with the ACLU of Southern California also wants a moratorium on deporting veterans and for those already, right, to

Speaker 2: 17:13 Create a pathway so that they can return home. And that's where I think that the administration could adopt a policy or a process that would allow for reopening their immigration

Speaker 4: 17:23 Case. For some, any change has already come too late. Norma Opa-locka remembers telling her mother that time had run out for her brother, a former Marine.

Speaker 6: 17:34 So I said, don't let it eat you right now. Let's get in the car and let's go.

Speaker 4: 17:42 Erasmo, Opa-locka died of a heart attack in Mexico while waiting to return to the U S for a second immigration hearing, he fought his deportation for more than a decade only to die less than two months before his case would be heard. We never

Speaker 6: 17:56 Imagined that my brother would have ended up deported as a veteran to Mexico. My parents, my brothers, um, we're all here in the United States.

Speaker 4: 18:06 All of the veterans caught in this cycle have felonies on their record. Still Norma says they serve their country.

Speaker 6: 18:13 These people made mistakes. They paid a price. They need to be given an opportunity to do best. Not by getting rid of them by sending them here. You're somebody else's problem. No,

Speaker 4: 18:24 No. At the moment, little has changed.

Speaker 3: 18:27 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. Joining us now is Steve Walsh, KPBS, military reporter, Steve, welcome. Hi Jade. So the veterans being deported all have felonies on their record. What's the argument for deporting someone after they've already served their time and the country. So there you

Speaker 4: 18:55 Go. That's exactly what the deported vets are saying and say that they've gone through. They serve their time in, in prison. They, they assumed that they would be able to, to go on with their lives after that. And this is when they find out that they're in fact going to be deported. And when you're talking about, in many, many cases are people who have been here since they're much like the dreamers they've been here since they were children. Um, they may have come here in their teens or, or even younger, and they decided on their own, or in the case of, of Alaska, they were, they were drafted into the U S military. And it, you know, their crimes may have occurred in the case of Leslie, let's say a Velazco decades after they served in the military. So they fully saw themselves as, as Americans up until that point.

Speaker 3: 19:44 What about veterans seeking citizenship who may be charged with a misdemeanor? I mean, are they facing deportation too?

Speaker 4: 19:52 There is not a lot of really great data on this. We don't really know the whole universe of deported veterans out there because immigration and customs enforcement doesn't track this information in particular. Um, it's clear that some people get caught up on just immigration charges at one point. Now, keep in mind, these are people who, uh, may have actually thought that they were United States citizens because they served in the U S military. The U S military oath of service is very similar to the, uh, to the oath of citizenship. And they just may not be aware that they weren't Americans.

Speaker 3: 20:27 Hmm. When covering this, did you get the sense that the policies in place actually make it easier for these veterans to become targets of crime? I mean, should they defend themselves and even get caught up in something they could be deported? Right?

Speaker 4: 20:41 Well, yes. I mean, it's just like any other person who is, has been, uh, who, who may, uh, an immigrant, they, they may want to steer clear of law enforcement, even when they're the victim of a crime fearing, their immigration status could be challenged. And again, with veterans, some of them don't really understand their immigration status. They, they think they are us citizens. You know, some of these people, um, that I talked to serve during the Vietnam war era, and, you know, some of these folks are being charged with crimes again, decades after they served, they may be in their fifties, sixties, and seventies. And back when they were in the service, it just may not have been all that big of a deal in their minds who have not gone through the citizenship process.

Speaker 3: 21:24 Hm. And you know, as you've, you've mentioned a couple of times, some people think that if you serve in the U S military, you automatically become a citizen of the us. Uh, but that's not the case. So does the military do anything to educate those serving and seeking citizenship?

Speaker 4: 21:40 Well, that's one of the things that advocates want to change. There was a program under the Obama administration that actually required the military to walk people through the citizenship process while they're in bootcamp, right at the beginning of their service. So that, you know, they weren't stuck in this cycle. I mean, I'll be honest with you. It can be very difficult. People tell me, uh, to become a us citizenship, a us citizen, even, uh, even before the Trump administration, just because there are multiple hearings, there's a lot of paperwork you have to go through. And you're talking about, you know, 19 and 20 year olds, they're deploying from one base to another, they may be deploying overseas. You still have to go through all of these hearings. It can be a tough thing to keep track of while you're in the service, doing everything that, that is demanded of you in the military.

Speaker 3: 22:28 And so now advocates are looking for the Biden administration to reverse some of those policies. What programs would they like to see in place and what do they want to see happen in the immediate future?

Speaker 4: 22:41 Well, first of all, the ACLU of Southern California would just like to see, uh, a moratorium on, uh, a moratorium on deportations. Now, as I said earlier, immigration and customs enforcement is supposed to take your veteran status into account before deporting someone and that, and they've said that, uh, that they're really not taking that very seriously right now. So they'd like to see an Outnet more moratorium. They'd like to see a separate process put in place. So, so when somebody is in this position, they can go to somebody, uh, they can go through a process, uh, that kind of puts them at the head of the line where they can, uh, someone who understands what these veterans are going through. That in fact, they have served and that, uh, and give them that second chance to become a us citizen. I mean, it just, there are things that, um, you know, they're basic things like you have to have your immigration hearing on us soil, so you can't do it.

Speaker 4: 23:34 Let's say at an embassy or somewhere else around the world. And there's actually one thing that's been kind of discouraging that just recently under the Biden administration, there was, they've just codified. A policy was put in place under, under the Trump administration. That actually makes it a little harder for people to get to the U S for those immigration hearings. You have to exhaust every avenue before getting authorization to cross the border for those hearings. Um, advocates say that takes time. That takes money and it's, and it's just incredibly difficult to do. They would like to see that entire process streamlined.

Speaker 3: 24:09 I've been speaking to KPBS, military reporter, Steve Walsh. Steve, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks Jade,

Speaker 1: 24:25 Asian women, experience harassment, assault and discrimination, almost three times more than men. The pandemic made that threat more obvious and more deadly for some Asian women who are on the fence about buying guns for protection. The racist violence of the past year pushed them over the edge. Reporter. Christine Newin tells us about two women from Southern California who are learning to shoot guns and navigating the stigma around gun ownership within their families. Last summer, after the rush on toilet paper, after people spout on Asians and even stabbed them for bringing the Kung flu to the U S after protests for racial justice, I was hiking with a friend. We'd been girl scout moms together. The trail in the Los Gatos Hills was empty and it was quiet except for birds and bugs, a helicopter hummed in the distance. I didn't record our conversation, but at one point my friend paused, whispered, you know, a mom from the old troop is learning to shoot guns. A lot of Asian moms are, are you in it? Wasn't for me. But then later I thought, why are we whispering?

Speaker 1: 25:40 There's a stigma around gun ownership in parts of California. And for some Asians, we don't talk about guns. Gun owners are violent. My friends are high achieving respectable, conscientious, but last year, things put more dangerous. If someone threatened you based on how you looked, if it was unclear that police would protect you, what else did you have to worry about industry data show? In the first half of 2020 gun ownership increased throughout the U S among people from all backgrounds, the same data show that among Asians purchases were up over 40%, but only a few media outlets noticed. And the reports always featured Asian men. What about Asian women? I spoke to gun club managers throughout the state, and they don't collect exact numbers on race and gender, but many told me they've seen more Asians, including Asian women. And I spent time with some of these women. They don't fit stereotypes of conservative gun owners, but they want to defend themselves even have a good time. I'll tell you about two of the women. I met

Speaker 7: 26:47 End of the day kiddos in bed. So I've loaded up this magazine with snap caps, AKA dummy bullets. And now it's time to practice dry firing. Uh, my name is Sam Tanya. My pronouns are they them? This is a good way to practice gun safety, treat every firearm as if it's loaded

Speaker 1: 27:13 Sam practices, dry firing at home, which is handling a gun without ammo. Sam's 34 and they live in LA county. They're a second generation Filipino American, and grew up shuttling between the U S and the Philippines.

Speaker 7: 27:27 I've always been pretty liberal as far as my politics are concerned, except for this one thing. So I guess I just had a very different perspective of firearms. It wasn't so politicized in the Philippines. I guess you grow up seeing guards with arms and your uncles have firearms and all that stuff. And I just never really got into it because it seemed intimidating.

Speaker 1: 27:51 After studying nursing. Sam took a break to care for their mom, grandmother, and child.

Speaker 7: 27:56 Right now, I am an outdoor educator, naturalist Sam

Speaker 1: 28:01 And their mom loved to go backpacking, but Sam says people of color, especially women aren't always welcome in the outdoors.

Speaker 7: 28:08 So, you know, I've been told at the bottom of the grand canyon setting up camp with all the other backpackers to hurry back up to the rim. Otherwise I'm going to miss my Chinese tour bus. My mom got grilled by a ranger trying to get a national parks pass at Joshua tree because they didn't believe that she was a citizen. Sam

Speaker 1: 28:27 Says they've always had to deal with baseline racism, but it

Speaker 7: 28:31 Got bad during COVID. It got people messing with my car and telling me to go back where I came from in front of my kid and raising their voices and saying people like you shouldn't be in public. And then you start seeing the elders being targeted. I'm the Elvis. So I worry about my mom. So I finally decided, you know, it's time to just bite the bullet.

Speaker 1: 29:01 It was actually Sam's mom who first brought up getting guns.

Speaker 7: 29:04 Well, good shot too. She's pretty good. I mean, she's, it's, she's a targeted demographic for a lot of these attacks. So I'm glad she's learning.

Speaker 1: 29:16 Sam's a survivor of domestic violence, which they say is part of why they need a gun. Sam bought it only a few months before the Atlanta spa shootings hit the news. Like almost every Asian American I've spoken to for Sam. It felt personal.

Speaker 7: 29:32 And it freaked me out. I was very, very angry. I'm so tired of being scared that now I just almost straight to anger and it, but it wasn't so crazy. Honestly,

Speaker 1: 29:49 Sam says Asians in general are subject to racism, but that Asian women in particular are expected to be subservient. And if they're not, they experienced and even stronger backlash,

Speaker 7: 30:01 We tend to be fetishized in a very violent kind of way.

Speaker 1: 30:06 Sam's relatives thing. They should keep their heads down and not draw attention to themselves, but we

Speaker 7: 30:11 Know no matter what, you should be prepared to handle your own stuff because it's, I'm sorry, but it was a crap shoot. They didn't expect to be targeted either. You tried to punch my mom and kick her in the face. I will shoot you. Check the barrel on the magazine, check the magazine, visual, physical inspection. Then I'm going to be locking everything up in a safe, properly, out of reach of children and thieves and all that. So cool.

Speaker 1: 30:55 Svetlana. Kim is another woman. I met through a network of Asian gun owners in California. She's a little more circumspect about why she's picked up shooting other than to say she believes in the right to protect herself. My life. I'm responsible for my life to keep myself safe, spit liners 47 and lives in Downey outside. LA also got my MBA from Pepperdine university. Currently I'm staying home. Mom, I'm working on my CP license. Svetlana is ethnically Korean and came to the us 15 years ago from east Pakistan. I think growing up in Pakistan, uh, sometimes I got bullied and sometimes because we are, we're only one Asians over there. Sometimes you felt that threshold discrimination. So it was like, I'm going to go to the United States of America. I don't want my kids going through the unfairness that I went to in the late 1930s, Joseph Stalin deported ethnic Koreans, living in Russia to central Asia.

Speaker 1: 32:03 Growing up in his Pakistan. Svetlana felt like a perpetual foreigner. She first moved to LA Korea town, but then moved to Downey three years ago when she got married, she's never been targeted, but she follows the news and she says, she's not taking chances. So this winter, she bought a gun. It wasn't an easy decision. My father was doctor of history and my mother were both pediatrician. We never been close to the guns. And even when I moved here, I, how should I say, I'm a book, all the studying, um, don't like aggressiveness or violence. There was a stigma around gun ownership. If we let them know that we have a gun, there's like, oh, something wrong with your, your violence. Something like that. Right? She saw their point, oh my gosh, I've gone in the house. It can cause some accidents. Right? One of her cousins had an accidental shooting in his home.

Speaker 1: 33:01 No one died, but his daughter was injured. That scared spit Lana, but 2020 word, her to the news was one bad story. After another violent protests and hate crimes against Asians, spit liner wanted to keep her daughter safe. She needed to feel safe. So even those fit thought guns were dangerous. She decided the best way to quash her anxiety was to get good at handling guns herself. So she bought a 40 millimeter semiautomatic. It's a powerful gun. And she was nervous about telling her friends, their reaction surprised her. When I called them and said, oh, I got my gun. There's a good congratulation. And we have to, and I'm like, oh my gosh, I'm the last one. Who's getting it. While studying to be a CPA. She squeezed in shooting lessons. I was really good. I never saw that. I'm going to be so good in shooting. I asked for Atlanta about the Atlanta shootings. It bothered spit Lana that the police dispatcher had a hard time understanding the Asian color as she hid from a gunman.

Speaker 8: 34:09 [inaudible] repeat the address. You leave in your library right now. So can help me. Okay. Repeat the address. It has gone by [inaudible] this way. They have a dirty, he said

Speaker 1: 34:26 You survived within minutes, but for a spin Atlanta, any wait is too long. So the gun owner now, I just thought if one of them just had a gun, they couldn't prevent and stop it. They could've saved some lives.

Speaker 8: 34:42 Where's the person who is robbing the spa. Where is he right now? I don't know. I'm hiding. Why? No. Okay. Oh. Did you have a description of him? Did you see him like a white male? What is he wearing? I don't know. Thank you please.

Speaker 1: 35:09 I met salmon Svetlana right after the mass shooting in Atlanta. But two weeks before this story aired a transit worker in San Jose shot and killed nine of his coworkers. What did salmon's Filana think? Well, spit Lano thought the San Jose shooter was mentally ill. She said the attack was part of a trend in senseless inexplicably violence that made her want to seek protection. Sam said

Speaker 7: 35:34 When toxic masculinity strikes again, it's almost, we refuse to hold these men accountable. You know what? I might get some people off at me, but I'm I'm even for strict gun control in the event that we can guarantee, um, a non-violent society and, uh, just method of intervention. When a crime happens, that is effective and non-discriminatory, I'll turn in my gun.

Speaker 1: 36:01 But until then, Sam says they're keeping their gun. I'm Christine. When

Speaker 3: 36:15 You're listening to KPBS midday edition, I'm Jade Hindman with Claire trespasser. Maureen Kavanaugh has the day off onstage Playhouse reopened earlier this month for in-person performances, KPBS arts reporter, Beth Armando speaks with artistic director. James Darvis about returning to live theater and why he chose the place sheep dog. As the play to return with James'

Speaker 9: 36:38 Onstage play house has just opened an actual in-person event, a new play sheep dog. What is attendance been like? What has the audience response been to coming back to the

Speaker 2: 36:50 Theater? Well, right now we're at a, we can sell 25 tickets, a performance until June 15th. Hopefully there'll be an announcement coming up soon. So opening night was sold out the people that are coming and the people that are calling in ordering the tickets are just exuberant to be able to come back and see live theater. Onstage has done a lot. We, uh, installed the new air filtration system with the ultraviolet virus, eating, whatever it is. They explained it to me, but I don't understand it. Uh, we have the company come in and sanitize every day.

Speaker 9: 37:23 And sheepdog is the play you are performing. Why did you choose this play

Speaker 2: 37:29 Sheep dog by Kevin [inaudible]? I was planning on doing one final, um, livestream production, uh, and I wanted to do something that was so very current and could spark conversation. Uh, so I Googled a couple of topics about police to see what I could find and sheep dog came up and I ordered a copy of it and I read it and I was so enamored with it being a play about something. So topical, sometimes playwrights can be very heavy handed and what their perspective is on that topic. Mr. Artie did not do that. Mr. Arteaga is telling a love story of two police officers. One's an African-American woman. One is a white male. They are in a relationship together. Uh, they serve on the Cleveland PD. Cleveland is my hometown. So that's also a little serendipitous and he shoots an unarmed black man. And we watch this relationship and how this relationship can endure that or not enjoy that

Speaker 10: 38:32 His blood pressure remains at stage two. They keep them overnight for observation. For the first time you hear it's Ryan's version of events. So I'm pulled over, just fast at the intersection at 55th and Cedar, I call over the radio and before I'm even out of the car, I smell weed is high. I assume so,

Speaker 2: 38:51 But it doesn't speak, uh, politics at all. It just shows this very interesting perspective on a topic that has been so polarizing that I was so refreshing to hear two police officers discuss this, which is something that we don't hear very often. We hear families, the victims, we hear advocates. We hear people who are extremely liberal or are extremely conservative, but to find this opinion and this perspective, I think is brilliant. And it's a beautiful place, right? So

Speaker 9: 39:24 Your theater company is located in Chula Vista. How does choosing a play like this reflect what you think are community concerns and issues?

Speaker 2: 39:35 Great question. Thank you so much. So, uh, this past summer onstage showed some support for the black lives matter movement. When Mr. Floyd was murdered, we decided to take some time to listen. We changed our marquee to, we are listening and we put the black lives matter on in the window. And we received some very negative comments from people, not from Chula Vista, proper from different areas around San Diego. And we went public with those. And then the neighborhood of Chula Vista embraced us so well for being able to, uh, support a, another organization in need of support. Uh, I kind of felt that there was, uh, a need in our community to talk about this. So that was one of the main reasons. Uh, she dog, uh, came to life, but the community of Chula Vista is changing rapidly. The street is now full of micro, uh, pubs, full of nightclubs, full of restaurants, full of coffee shops. If anybody knows third avenue in Chula Vista, for the longest time, it was simply quinceanera halls and places where you could buy dresses and or tuxedos for those kids scenarios. It has changed drastically, uh, there's people on the street, people probably from, from age 21 to age 50, which is that sweet demographic that we want to get into the theater right now, uh, new faces in the neighborhood and they are looking to be entertained and also challenged and onstage Playhouse is focused entirely on that for our upcoming season. Now onstage

Speaker 9: 41:14 Playhouse is a community theater. And how does that position you in San Diego in terms of having to compete with a lot of other theaters that are much larger with bigger marketing budgets, how do you find an audience and how difficult is it to survive?

Speaker 2: 41:30 It is difficult and actually onstage Playhouse that has moved the semi-professional theater realm. Every single one of our artists receive compensation for their time and talents. There are two now paid staff positions at the theater. We have a lovely grant writer, which is helping a lot with that question. It is challenging that it's really challenging to be trusted at the helm of an organization that's been around for a very long time, over 37 seasons of theater, and, uh, for them to trust you taking that wheel and turning it a little bit, um, making sure that we are relevant, we are current and we are as professionals as possible. That takes a lot of money. Uh, the grant writer is doing a wonderful job. The county of San Diego has helped out a lot through out COVID, uh, Chula Vista proper has helped out, uh, throughout COVID. So we have some resources and it is very challenging when your name is up next to the old globe or the San Diego rep repertory theater. But I'm super proud of the work that onstage has been doing and that we are doing. And I just urge people to come out and see the magic that can happen in a really small intimate room for a really low budget.

Speaker 9: 42:43 And talk a little bit more about sheep dog in terms of this is a two person play, correct.

Speaker 2: 42:48 Two person play. It's actually a cast of four. There's a male voices and female voices, which have all been recorded. But so when you come into the theater, you simply see the two actors, a two hand or play was super safe for COVID. Um, so that was one of the decisions that, uh, reason we made that decision. Secondly, it is told to Quintin Tarantino ask, which is amazing to watch. It's told out of sequence it's lovely, the way it's written. It's perfect for a smaller crowd. I wasn't sure what we were going to be able to capacity-wise to sell 25 tickets in a 70 seat venue is not too bad. You know, we're able to cover costs if we sell those 25 seats every night, but it's a really nice intimate play that lets you feel like you are almost just staring through the window of this couple's life kind of being very voyeuristic and you're you're you happen to walk by and you're, you're watching this story unfold, sheep dogs in amazing play. I, I I'm so thankful that we were the first people in San Diego to be able to produce it. I was absolutely shocked when I found that out. Um, so yeah, it's, it's the perfect play for right now. It's the perfect play for right now? Well, I

Speaker 9: 43:59 Want to thank you very much for talking about onstage Playhouse and sheep. Thank

Speaker 2: 44:03 You for having me, Beth. Please support local art. Please support local businesses and please come see our website.

Speaker 3: 44:09 That was Beth doc. Amando speaking with onstage Playhouse artistic director. James Darvis sheepdog runs Fridays through Sundays till June 27th.

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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.