Jan. 6 committee refers Trump for possible prosecution
S1: Criminal charges recommended for former President Trump.
S2: You're looking at the potential decision on this coming in a matter of months.
S1: I'm Jayde Hindman with img perez. Maureen CAVANAUGH is off. This is KPBS midday edition. A tentative agreement in the U.S. strike.
S3: We finally have protections in the contract now to enforce our right to respect in the workplace.
S1: And a special report on sea level rise and how it's pushing contamination into California neighborhoods , especially those that have been historically redlined and neglected by disinvestment. That's ahead on Midday Edition. Obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress , conspiracy to defraud the United States and insurrection. Those are the criminal charges. The House Select Committee investigating the January six , 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol is recommending the Justice Department file against former President Donald Trump. Joining me now to talk about what this referral of charges signifies is Dan Eaton , a constitutional law expert and partner at the San Diego firm of Seltzer , Kaplan , McMahon and Vitec. Dan , welcome back to Midday Edition. Thanks.
S2: Thanks. Good to be with you , Jake.
S1: So , Dan , a final report from the committee is expected Wednesday , so there's still information to come out. Let's talk about the charges. This committee is referring to the Justice Department one by one.
S2: And that was , of course , the certification of Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election. The obstruction charge with respect to appealing deals with his efforts both before and up through January six to pressure people , state legislatures , his own vice president , to block the the certification or somehow undermine it. That's what we're talking about. What you're talking about a petty official proceeding. And also , of course , to a certain extent , his incitement of the of the crowd that eventually went to the Capitol and caused such disruption in that process. The other one deals with impairing or obstructing the lawful function United States government by deceitful or dishonest means. What you're talking about is the lie about the fact the election was stolen , that he willfully made materially false allegations or statements , rather , to the federal government. That specific charge relates to the submission of fake electors. It states that Joe Biden won in an effort to subvert Joe Biden's victory in some of those states so that finally assisting or aiding and comforting those at the Capitol who engaged in a violent attack on the United States , that what actually relates to what Donald Trump didn't do that day , which is that for a period of roughly 3 hours , he did that call off the mob. And when he finally did speak as one of the members of the committee said , it had a measurable effect on certain members of the mob who retreated.
S1: These charges are being referred to the Justice Department.
S2: The potential prosecution is a veteran prosecutor , Jack Smith , who was named by Merrick Garland on November 18th as a special counsel. So he is going to be looking at this referral very closely. In addition to all of the work he and his staff have been doing over the last over the last several weeks since he was originally appointed.
S1: And I want to hear your thoughts on this.
S2: But like so many other things in the context of these events , it would be unprecedented and it would certainly be something to watch. But you are looking at the potential decision on this coming in a matter of months. We are. This is not an issue of a year long process. And if there's even an indictment of a former president , that itself would be an incredible event that would result you can expect in a very , very long trial. But we are a long way away from that. If it happened , though , it would definitely be a monumental event in legal history in this country.
S1: And if the Justice Department moves forward with these charges against former President Donald Trump , they would use the evidence provided by the committee. But the DOJ has more power than the committee to compel President Trump and other possible defendants to participate in any investigation.
S2: I listened to part of what the committee , the members of the committee did today , and it was very , very interesting. And it talked about the broad scope and the amount of power that the Department of Justice has. And a lot of that stems from the fact that what the committee did today was a political act. What the the steps the Department of Justice will take in the scope of its somewhat broader investigation , which , by the way , includes the classified documents that Trump had at Mar a Lago. Is to use the full power of the prosecutor's office to get the complete story before deciding either of whether and what charges to bring.
S2: It's only the initial part of it. Then , of course , you have a trial where whoever is on trial and President Trump was , by the way , not the only person who was referred for criminal charges , they will be presumed innocent. And there will be there will be a trial , presumably with a potential sentence of a number of years. Understand that if President Trump is tried and convicted , you could be looking at the extraordinary specter of a former president of the United States doing jail time. But that is a far we are a far way away from that. And it's happening , by the way , in the run up to the 2024 presidential election.
S2: Now , this was hearsay on hearsay and so forth. But basically what came out was there was an effort by staff , not Hicks , but someone else to whom she spoke to get the president earlier to call off this mob that eventually went to the Capitol. And he refused , apparently at that hour to a mission. When you combine it with the acts of commission , such as pressuring his vice president , apparently calling him a wimp to try to get him to do an act that he had no power to do , which is to block the certification of Joe Biden as president of United States. That was what was so fascinating , because you have both affirmative acts on the one hand and negative acts , things he didn't do that are the core of the charges that are being referred to Department of Justice.
S1: And while the committee is recommending these charges , I mean , do you think the DOJ had any responsibility to pursue charges outside of what the committee is recommending and before now.
S2: When you say responsibility , it's within the scope of. The special counsel's mandate to look at this broader issue , not just the statutes that the committee referred to , but any others. In fact , Jamie Raskin of Maryland , who is one of the members committee , said these are not the only statutes that are potentially implicated. The Department of Justice may come up with more. The Department of Justice says mission is going to be as it is in every proceeding , to pursue justice wherever the facts and the law leader. And that , I expect , is what we are going to see as the legal professionals get to work now that the political professionals have wrapped up their work.
S1: And these charges would be referred to the DOJ special counsel Jack Smith , who's overseeing the investigation into criminal charges against former President Trump.
S2: The special counsel has some it's semi-independent of the appointed attorney general. And that provides some continued faith in the integrity of the process. Now , Merrick Garland doesn't have no say. He can , in fact , overrule significant decisions by the special counsel , such a decision whether to indict. But if he does that , he's got to tell Congress. So there is some level of transparency to this process. Nonetheless , the fact that the special counsel is at the wheel on this does provide some level of comfort that whatever comes out of this good , bad or indifferent is going to be independent of Joe Biden , a man Donald Trump may is in the process of trying to unseat in 2024.
S1: I've been speaking with Dan Eaton , a constitutional law expert and partner at the San Diego firm of Seltzer , Kaplan , McMahon and Vitek. Dan , as always , thank you for your insight.
S2: Thank you , Jake.
S4: Voting is underway this afternoon on a tentative contract agreement between the University of California and 36,000 academic workers still on strike. Late Friday , we received word that both sides had reached the agreement with the help of mediation. The bargaining unit represented members of the UAW 2865 , made up of teaching assistants and student researchers united the new union for workers doing much of the world class research. The U.S. is known for. Ahmed Akhter is a member of the bargaining unit from UC San Diego who was in the middle of negotiations. He joins us now. Ahmed , welcome to Midday Edition.
S3: Thank you for having me.
S4: The strike has dragged on for more than five weeks now. What deal did the mediator help you get ? Pay was the biggest challenge , wasn't it ? Yes.
S3: So through mediation , we were able to get some of the biggest raises that our union has ever won. We won a 55% raise for teaching assistants. At the minimum , over two and a half years , which is going to be the duration of the contract. And for some teaching assistants on other campuses , up to 80% raise. And for student researchers , we were able to win raises ranging from 25% to 80%.
S4: It went to mediation.
S3: He did a really good job of communicating our priorities to the president of the University of California , Michael Drake , and was able to get them to budge on things that they had previously been totally opposed to , such as codifying protections for international scholars.
S4: Protections against harassment and bullying were another major point of contention.
S3: These are protections we've never had before or that are extremely uncommon , I think , to see in any sort of union contract. These protections identify different forms of workplace bullying and include things like Piers yelling at their students , berating their students , coercing their students to work overtime. And we finally have protections in the contract now to enforce our right to respect in the workplace.
S4: I've been talking with Ahmed Akhter , a member of the graduate researcher's bargaining unit from UC San Diego. Ahmed , thank you.
S3: Thank you.
S4: While the picket lines are on hold that you see campuses across the state and votes are being counted , there are lingering allegations of retaliation against academic workers who went on strike. Those allegations involve actions against at least one UC San Diego graduate researcher and several teaching assistants. I spoke with Daniel , pretty much who's having a stressful holiday season.
S2: Worst case , that could mean the complete end to my Ph.D. track. And I'd have to leave the program.
S4: Along with thousands of other University of California academic workers. Prima has been on strike since November 14th , while some of the strikers now have contracts and have returned to work. He and other graduate student researchers and teaching assistants have not.
S2: It doesn't get resolved as of spring. I might not be able to neither take classes nor engage in research work. And potentially this could be the end of both my Ph.D. track with UCSD.
S4: Pre-match alleges that while he walked the picket lines , his boss , UC San Diego physics professor Massimiliano Devendra , made illegal threats to fire him from his job. That's against California labor law. And then to Ventura gave him a grade of U for unsatisfactory for all 12 units of research he was taking this semester.
S2: You was basically.
S3: Failing the course rather than passing it.
S2: So it's like a pass fail system.
S4: The student researchers union has filed to unfair labor practice charges with the State Employment Relations Board on premature his behalf. In those charges , the union claims , Professor de Ventura said that essentially his hands were tied due to the university's guidance , and he then threatened that Prematch will fail the course and be replaced by another employee if he continues to engage in protected strike activities. The union says the alleged retaliation also happened to teaching assistants known as to those in the UC San Diego Chemistry Department.
S3: To date , we've identified around ten Tas who. Proceed use.
S4: Connor O Heron is a union organizer and also a graduate researcher who says the unsatisfactory grades are devastating to students at any level.
S3: They should have received a satisfactory for the work they did before the strike that was completed satisfactorily. To give the you based on their strike participation is retaliation for their participation in the strike.
S4: Professor De Ventura refused to comment on the allegations against him. Instead , UC San Diego associate director of communications Leslie Shipka told KPBS News. While we are not able to discuss specific incidents , all allegations of retaliation are taken very seriously. The student union will continue to pursue the retaliation complaints while their negotiators continue mediation meetings on their contract. Meanwhile , Daniel Prima will try to enjoy the holidays.
S2: I think I still have hope.
S4: M.G. Peres , KPBS new.
S1: You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maggie Perez.
S5: Years and years of discrimination to add on with climate changes. Can you help us ? Sea level rise. Floods Uplifting High again.
S1: By the time she reaches the middle of her life , her home in Marin City , California , could be underwater. She and her neighbors driven out by flooding in their streets. And that's inspired her to write a poem to vent her rage. Lauren is one of many climate activists that KQED climate reporter Ezra David Romero has been following as he's been looking into sea level rise and how it could push contaminants into neighborhoods , especially places that are near former military or industrial sites , and that have a history of racism , redlining and disinvestment. Today , we bring you a special program from the California Report magazine that explores Ezra's reporting on sacrifice zones. Here's the California Report magazine host Sasha KHOKHA.
S3: You know , so I think about how communities are preparing for this. And last year , a UC Berkeley and UCLA report called Toxic Tides came out showcasing a major warning for California. They say around a thousand toxic sites in California are in the path of future rising seas. You know , about half of these are concentrated in the Bay Area. You know , as the atmosphere warms and the water rises , those toxic sites could be flooded or inundated by rising sea levels that could be from above ground or from underneath where the contamination is touched by that water. Other researchers think there could be way more than 500 here in the Bay Area because that data just looks at federal information on the statewide level. There are also contaminated sites in Long Beach. And to Barbara , Oxnard in San Diego.
S3: There are all these shipyards across the Bay Area where people built ships for the war.
S7: The policies were created in 1944 to make Richmond shipyards the world's largest , covering 880 acres , four and a half miles of waterfront.
S3: Now people live near or even on top of that toxic contamination.
S6: And you're relatively new to the bay , as Ross. You did something to get kind of a 360 degree view of this issue. You actually got out on a boat in the bay.
S3: Yeah , I went through this toxic tour with some scientists where they took me around the bay to show me these sites of concern. Our first stop was in Bayview Hunters Point in San Francisco. So this community of 30,000 people , that's historically black and largely a community of color today. And the Navy experimented with atomic bombs out in the ocean and clean ships off there in this community. And the remnants of those contaminants are still there today.
S7: We're coming up on our debut , Hunters Point.
S3: With the tips of downtown buildings soaring behind us. Cole Burchill is showing me the old naval shipyard from a boat on the bay. Virgil's a field investigator for the environmental watchdog group S.F. Baykeeper.
S8: We're dealing with some of the worst contaminants you can imagine Lead , arsenic , radioactive isotopes. The list goes on and on.
S3: He says the most immediate threat from sea level rise here isn't from floating above. It's actually from underneath. Rising seas move inland on top of the land and underneath it that pushes up groundwater. Along with any contamination in the soil.
S8: There will infiltrate existing infrastructure that has a direct impact on people's homes.
S6: Ezra , you've been covering climate change for for almost a decade now. Tell us about how you approached this series a little bit differently.
S3: As a climate reporter for a while. I've often been the only policy person of color climate reporter in the areas I've been living in Fresno , in Sacramento , and I've wanted to tell stories about people of color as a person of color and sort of flip the narrative. So we have people of color who are harmed most by the climate crisis or will be as the experts in the story because they're living in this reality , the reality of climate change in their day to day lives.
S6: Well , you have been covering climate , as you say , in places like the Valley and Sacramento for a while. In fact , you and I know each other from our time when we were both reporters in the Central Valley. And I wonder if you just want to mention a little bit about some of the climate change issues that you covered there and how it was different to start covering them in the Bay Area.
S3: Yeah , when we met back in like 2012 , when I started in the Central Valley in Fresno , I started covering the drought and that was like a multiyear long five year drought where wells were going dry. Farmworker communities , you know , were like having dry taps. Farmers were struggling with water and you're seeing all these fields followed. And then these big wildfires , like the age of mega fires started while I was there in Fresno. And we covered these wildfires. So it was sort of like climate change in action. The reality of climate change was all around us. Then I went to Sacramento and then moving to the Bay Area. You know , I found communities who may not be in the thick of like , say , these climate catastrophes like a wildfire or drought all around them. But they're preparing for a slow moving future disaster called sea level rise because they're seeing that their lives could be affected just as much as the farm worker in the Central Valley or the person who lives in the mountains in the Sierra Nevada. And I realized , you know , the Bay Area isn't just this affluent place. There are these huge areas where people of color live , low income people live that are going to face the worst of sea level rise unless something is done about it.
S6: Well , Bayview Hunters Point is a really key example of that. And in your reporting there , you met a dynamic activist who actually came to this work because of her own mother's death.
S3: Sitting in church three years ago in Bayview Hunters Point , Oregon , Harrison accepted her calling. You find out a lot about yourself at a funeral she took on her mother , Marie Harrison's legacy of Care through Action.
S5: What I learned in.
S9: That moment is that that was an action.
S3: Where her mother passed away from lung disease that she believed was tied to a job at the naval shipyard. She'd spent decades marching , protesting and even chaining herself to the fence outside of this Superfund site. I know they thought that it was gonna go away once my mother was gone.
S4: In that moment.
S3: I did therapy.
S6: You know , the movement for reparations for folks whose ancestors survived slavery or genocide. And usually when we talk about reparations , we think about that in terms of monetary reparations or land back. This is a slightly different take on that reparations question.
S3: Yeah , I learned about this connection between reparations and the climate crisis by listening to communities. I went into these places as someone who's not from the Bay Area and I wanted to understand how they're adapting or thinking about climate change. And they brought up reparations and climate change reparations because they're living in parts of the Bay Area with a history of racism , with a history of redlining , where they were told , you can't live in other parts of the city , you have to live in these parts. And this the same reason why there's like freeways in certain parts of these towns and why these places are disinvested in. And so at the same time , they want to have a thriving future. And these are the same areas that are going to be flooded with contamination potentially. So they're seeing these two things , climate change reparations as synonymous.
S6: Well , another one of those sites that is facing those challenges is West Oakland , which for folks who don't know , is historically a huge shipping hub and port. It's a place that , as you say , has been cut off by freeways and kind of isolated. It's one of the poorest parts of Oakland. And that's where you met another really dynamic activist , Margaret Gordon.
S3: Margaret Gordon sits on a park bench in front of her apartment as semi-trucks crawl the street and a BART train zips by. She tells me climate justice must mean reparations. To me , the reparations movement is the next. Level.
S3: Of civil rights. For Gordon , reparations mean more than payment to the descendants of slaves. They mean actions that restore consent to the community , like cleaning up toxic sites and giving residents power in climate policy. We will have.
S4: Long standing sustainability. I would know that there's going to be. Housing.
S4: For my for my children. Grandchildren is going to be a job for them.
S3: At a shoreline park sandwiched amidst heavy industry. I meet with UC Berkeley professor Maya Carrasquillo. She says actions that return consent to the community could equal freedom from the tendrils of slavery.
S9: The full freedom to say , I can leave or I can stay , or I have the freedom and the values and the finances to actually be able to make that future , Carrasquillo says.
S3: Gordon and others are working to create this alternate future.
S9: They are taking the problem into their own hands. It's forcing change.
S3: Much of that change originates from inside Gordon's West Oakland office , a tan portable behind a chain link fence nestled in a curve of Interstate 80. Looking for his marker awards honoring her decades of environmental justice work. Mind the inner walls of her office. At 75 years old. Gordon says she won't stop working toward a thriving future. Here.
S4: Drive with. Me.
S3: Me. I may start off as I , but this is about a we. Miss Margaret Gordon is the co-founder of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project. That's an organization that's community based , and they're dedicated to achieving healthy homes , healthy jobs and healthy neighborhoods for everybody who lives in West Oakland. You know , they've done a lot of research , and their community research , especially about air quality , has fueled legislation and policy in both the city of Oakland and is to extend it out statewide. One of the things that struck me in this reporting is this idea of consent. Ms.. Margaret Gordon is the one who brought it up to me. She talked about how these current residents in these areas didn't consent to have their lives derailed by climate change. They didn't consent to have their lives derailed by freeways and they didn't consent to be red line and to live in the cities and the places that they live in. You know , they wanted a different life , but the rules placed on them because of racism that kept them from having these thriving lives in other ways. And so they didn't consent to all of this. And so when we think about how we move forward when it comes to climate change and cleaning up these places , Miss Margaret Gordon says we need to think about the consent of the people who live there as well.
S6: Well , one of the immediate impacts people are already feeling is the fact that people are getting sick from pollution and contamination even before we're seeing the kind of sea level rise you're talking about. Yeah.
S3: Yeah. And that brings us back to reparations. You know , many of the people I talked to brought up this point like , we're going to need money , we need reparations for the sicknesses we're getting and are going to continue to get for the medical bills we're going to have because we live next to a toxic site.
S6: And you actually visited a clinic where you saw some of those health effects firsthand in Bayview Hunters Point in San Francisco.
S3: Dr. HEMS reporter Somchai is showing me how black and brown lives matter. Using pens on a map. Hello. How are you doing ? Good. How are you ? Dr. Patterson Chai is testing residents urine for contaminants. Here in her office , she's posted a large map and on it it's covered with red , blue , black , yellow and white pushpins. They're like ants piled up on a piece of food. Each pin is a toxic chemical in somebody at levels high enough to harm their health.
S5: There's a woman here who's got uranium 17 times higher.
S6: Than reference range.
S3: Finding that level of such a dangerous contaminant shocked her.
S6: Just set my hair on fire. I had never seen anything like that.
S3: A second map lists the people in the neighborhood who have cancer. Cancer and contaminant data go into the California cancer registry to document a relationship between illness and toxic exposure.
S5: The more pins we place in this map and in that map.
S6: The greater the liability.
S4: I think this is genius. To.
S4: Know that we've been carrying around as much evidence in our boxes. The one place.
S3: They refuse to look are in. Harrison got tested in 2021. She discovered a list of contaminants at levels dangerous for her health. Hot to.
S5: Ease volume.
S3: She says her hair is falling animal Her feet feel pins and needles and her body retains fluid. My thought was , if it's in me , it's in somebody else. Are in Harrison's recruiting others to get tested. She hopes his growing mountain of evidence will be enough to convince city leaders to do something about all this and to value all black and brown lives here.
S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Meg Perez. Maureen CAVANAUGH is off. We rejoin the conversation with KQED climate reporter Ezra David Romero , who is looking into sea level rise and how it could push contaminants into neighborhoods. Before the break , we heard about the intersection between the ongoing consequences of racist policies like redlining and residents getting sick from poisonous contaminants in their neighborhoods. And that's even before the environmental impacts expected to be caused by climate change. Here's the California Report magazine host Sasha Kolker as her.
S3: It's expensive. And so not a lot of communities do it also because it's time consuming. You know , they're taking these samples and the onus is on them because they want the change , they want the data , and they want to like force change and force like city leaders to pay attention to them.
S6: But not every community has access to that kind of data about how people are getting sick from contamination.
S3: Yeah , one of those communities , that dozen is Marin City , north of San Francisco.
S6: It's also primarily a black community , right. With with a shipyard and a legacy of this World War two manufacturing. Yeah.
S3: Yeah. Marin City is this like bowl of a town north of San Francisco , five miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. It's a community of around like 3000 people right next to Highway 101. And it's a historically black community. And black people moved here from the South during the 1940s to build ships. And in this shipyard , they're nestled at the.
S7: Foot of beautiful tunnel fire on the shores of San Francisco Bay. This was the site for America's finest shipyard , the salt marsh and a rocky hill.
S3: And so they know that this shipyard was near their community and they think the contamination in their communities from there. But they're not exactly sure because they don't have the data to back that up. They've mapped out where they believe pollution is and they don't have the funds or state support to test that , much less the money to test their own bodies. You know , even though they have community lore about people getting sick and getting cancer in their community , you know , they're worried about sea level rise and their future and how contaminants could move around as the seas rise. But it's not just a worry about sea level rise there. They're already having these big atmospheric river storms that cause flooding. And there's concerns that those flood waters could also have contamination in it.
S5: We say swimming.
S3: Tanaka Green and her son waded through knee deep water trying to get home.
S5: From a football game. And we sat in a puddle.
S3: She told me the floodwaters mixed with sewage gushing from a utility pole.
S5: That freaked me out. We took off everything and put it in a bag and threw it away.
S3: Storms like this are a precursor of what's to come in the climate crisis. More severe downpours and surging seas. Both are consequences of burning fossil fuels globally. By the end of the century , sea level rise could flood half of all commercial properties in Marin City and inundate homes. One person who's worried about this and sounding the alarm over the lack of investment here is Terry Harris Green. We all know about what happened on October the 24th with the atmospheric river. Right.
S4: Right. All of this flooding , three and a half , four feet of flooding. The I j didn't put it in the paper.
S3: Oh , no. How can they put in a paper that other.
S3: She's really passionate about all this because she had cancer herself and she believes the cancer is linked to contamination near her home.
UU: Too many folks sickened , dying , too much sickness and the way this.
S3: Happened and been happening in our community. Terry's the daughter of one of those families that came to work in the shipyards. Her family came from Texas and she was raised in this community and now she's in her seventies and she's heard this the firsthand stories from people in her community who've had cancer , who have other sicknesses , who have had asthma. And she's also lived through like years and years of flooding.
S9: You all saw that manhole.
S4: That looked like a waterfall coming up. That was sewage. And our folks had to walk through that to get home. That's contaminated water.
S4: But you do not see. Folks stepping forward and thinking , you know what.
S3: Enough is enough. 80 years of flooding. We are tired of it. There's no drainage system there.
S4: To talk about reparations. We need reparations here in Marin City.
S3: Terry's movement is really multi-generational. It's not just her. She's working with a group of young people to lobby and advocate on behalf of Marin City. They got together and they sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom , including some of the poem we heard from Laura Mims earlier.
S5: Generations and ongoing generations. And yet we still can't find the missing key to the equation.
S3: Lauren , read me that poem on a hike we took up the hill above Marin City. It was a beautiful , bright day. You could see Alcatraz , You could see San Francisco , You could see the Bay Bridge. It looks like a painting. You know , when you look around here , you're like , you see Marin City , You can see that it's a lot of apartments , like a little bowl here. And then you can , like , see the affluence around here , like all the mansions , big houses.
S5: I'm like a shame because they don't deal with the climate issues that we do and they they don't do anything about it for us. We have to deal with it every day. We have to struggle.
S3: You know , they also want their county leaders to be more accountable here to not just wealthy parts of Marin. You know , this is Marin County , one of the wealthiest counties in all of California. So they think it's okay. It's at serious risk of these people are dealing with and it should be dealt with.
S6: As are in any of the communities that you've been reporting in. Have we seen any movement towards leaders at either the city or the county level tackling this issue head on.
S3: In Marin City ? Mr. Harris Green and these climate activists , their work is sort of paying off. They've lobbied state leaders and Congress people are paying attention to this and they're hopefully trying to create some kind of plan to address this flooding. It's still up in the air , but they are paying attention. In Bayview Hunters Point in San Francisco , there was a recent report from the San Francisco civil grand jury that found the city has not accounted for the serious risk that sea level rise could spread toxic contamination throughout this community. Here's Arianna Harrison. She's the woman who was inspired by her mother's activism there. This is very validating.
S4: I want to invite our mayor.
S3: Whom we love , to.
S9: Show us that she loves us back.
S3: San Francisco Mayor London Breed denied requests for interviews for that story. In a statement , officials said they welcomed the grand jury report and are seeking funding to study how groundwater rise could affect known contaminated sites.
S6: What it sounds like. Meanwhile , residents are still really concerned about their health and the contamination in Bayview Hunters Point. And they haven't stopped protesting.
S5: We are here and we want to stay.
S3: Tanya Randall is a long time resident of Bayview Hunters Point. She spoke at a rally last winter demanding reparations in the form of economic investment. She's unhappy that so much industry and public utilities are in her neighborhood. Things like a sewage plant and a garbage dump.
S5: Why is it all in our area ? Because they don't value us.
S3: I took Randall's question , the UC Berkeley professor Mike at a ski show. We met on the Oakland shoreline with Baby Hunter's Point in the distance.
S3: Get a CEO is an Afro-Latino woman and a civil and environmental engineering professor focused on environmental justice.
S9: I think it's going to first take us reconciling that. When we say Black Lives Matter , it is all black lives. It's the Black lives that are uncomfortable for us to have to still actually do the work to say that they matter.
S6: So , Ezra , in your reporting , you've introduced us to so many activists and academics. You know , a lot of folks of color who are super passionate about this issue , but it sounds like there are still so many hurdles.
S3: I think there's plenty of opportunities for people to join them and to go to those meetings , whether they're on Zoom or in person , and to ask their leaders to pay attention to this emerging issue. And that's really working when it comes to Bayview Hunters Point. You know , this summer , the Board of Supervisors held two hearings on this issue. And as a result , they're asking for an independent scientific review. And they also want an independent community member panel that sort of like an oversight panel over this project as well. So there's a lot of positive work going on there.
S6: Ezra , you know , you talk to people whose family members were sickened by some of this contamination. You talk to people who really feel a lot of rage and are pretty despondent about the future of their communities. What was it like for you as a reporter to do some of these interviews ? Sounds like they might have been pretty emotional at times. Yeah.
S3: Yeah. I mean , during part of this reporting , like , I thought I was depressed at one point and I was telling my boyfriend that like , oh my gosh , I'm like , sad. And he's like , you're listening to some really hard stories. You're hearing about other people of color who are black or Mexican or Asian , but like , they're also people of color like you. So , like , you're feeling what they're feeling.
S6: Well , and of course , as you mentioned earlier , this is all against the backdrop of scientists who are worried that we're not going to see emissions reductions at the level we need. And so sea level rise is going to continue. I mean , this is sort of the most tangible threat along the coast of California when it comes to climate change.
S3: Yeah , and that's really why they were even doing these studies , right. They want to showcase how many sites could be inundated. They're showing that the time frame of when that's going to happen. So leaders and the state can pay attention to this and do something about it before the water rises up. And all these communities are doing this work at the same time. Right ? They're slogging through data , they're attending meetings. They're holding leaders accountable. Like , it's just like slowly trudging along that's pushing this issue forward and is making big change in some places , like in Bayview Hunters Point , with the whole city paying attention to this , you know , this idea of like this shifting power dynamics is creating what UC Davis professor Beth Rosa , milton Manning calls a geography of hope.
S5: A geography of hope is very much about people's relationship to their place and envisioning how to get out of difficult situations.
S3: You know , she's one of the bipoc experts I reached out to for this story. She's black and a professor of Native American studies at UC Davis. She told me envisioning means being very practical.
S5: Very practical work to make what has been seen as impossible. Say , for example , jurisdiction over the local landscape by the community members or cleaning up a very toxic site. The geography of hope is the practice of making that real.
S3: In other words , this practical work is reparations and action , and that's the path forward people see so they can thrive even as the climate continues to warm.
S1: That was KQED climate reporter Ezra David Romero , speaking with the California Report magazine host Sasha Coker. You can read more of this series , Sacrifice Zones at KQED. Dawgs Preparations.