Supreme Court hears challenge to Mississippi’s abortion ban
Speaker 1: (00:01)
The Supreme court heard arguments over the Mississippi abortion law.
Speaker 2: (00:04)
The thing that is at issue before us today is 15 weeks.
Speaker 1: (00:08)
I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid-day edition, An examination of how COVID impacted San Diego based on education.
Speaker 3: (00:30)
If you had a bachelor's degree, you were more than half, is less likely to die. As someone who didn't
Speaker 1: (00:38)
Our investigation into police use of force continues. And a first of its kind lawsuit over hair discrimination, that's ahead on midday. Edition Arguments have concluded in the U S Supreme court today, whether or not to uphold a Mississippi state law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Here's some of what transpired in today's proceedings
Speaker 2: (01:14)
I'm asking for. But the thing that is at issue before us today is 15 weeks. And, um, I just wonder what the strength of your reliance arguments, um, which sounded to me like being based on a total prohibition, uh, would be if there isn't a total prohibition,
Speaker 1: (01:32)
The case has drawn attention across the country, which many of you as the biggest threat to legal abortion in decades with its potential impact on Roe V. Wade, the landmark Supreme court decision, which protects abortion rights. Joining me as Maggie Schroeder, a San Diego lawyer, and president of the lawyer's club of San Diego to talk more about the case and its potential implications for California. Maggie, welcome.
Speaker 4: (01:56)
Thank you so much for having me this afternoon. I'm happy to be here.
Speaker 1: (01:59)
So what is the Supreme court being asked to weigh in on?
Speaker 4: (02:03)
What is that issue now is a Mississippi law that is currently not in effect, but it would ban almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which would be a dramatic change or break from the last 50 years of Supreme court rulings, including Roe vs. Wade and planned parenthood versus Casey, which had both reaffirmed a woman's constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before viability and viability is considered to be, um, scientifically about 24 weeks into a pregnancy. Hmm.
Speaker 1: (02:38)
Is this Mississippi case a direct challenge to Roe V. Wade?
Speaker 4: (02:42)
I would consider it to be a direct challenge to Roe yes. To Roe versus Wade. However, I believe that the child, or excuse me, the state Mississippi state in this case, it's not framing it in such a way. And I also, after listening to the argument, oral argument believed that the, if they do uphold this Mississippi law, they would likely try to do so without directly overruling Roe vs. Wade
Speaker 1: (03:07)
Hmm. Arguments have ended after about two hours of sometimes contentious debate. What stood out to you from today's arguments?
Speaker 4: (03:15)
What stood out to me is just the strength of the, um, you know, the respondent's attorney's argument regarding viability being a Liberty issue. And what I mean by that is, you know, there was a lot of questioning from the justice as to, well, you know, basically a 15 week ban is not an ultimate ban, so it doesn't necessarily, and in all cases prohibit abortion, but what the argument or, you know, what the respondent's attorney was saying is like, this is a Liberty issue. And before viability, the state has no interest in protecting that particular pregnancy, or at least not as substantial interest that would overcome the undue burden that a woman or a person who can become pregnant faces when having to potentially obtain an abortion before that 24 week viability period. Hmm.
Speaker 1: (04:07)
Do we have any idea on how the court may rule in this case?
Speaker 4: (04:11)
I, you know, I'd like to be optimistic, I'm listening to the ROI argument. I think my impression is that they appeared prepared to uphold the Mississippi law. Um, but you know, we'll have to wait and see and to until June, but that's, that was my impression does, after listening to oral argument, of course, the issue there is we can expect that at least at 20 other states will now impose either similar or more restrictive abortion legislation in their own states. We've seen Texas, um, you know, implemented are passed the Texas AB eight law, which prohibits abortions after just six weeks of pregnancy. So when a fetal heartbeat is detected. And so we can expect that if this law is upheld by the U S Supreme court, that other laws similar or even more restrictive will also be upheld and that the states will feel that they can go ahead and pass those very restrictive legislation measures
Speaker 1: (05:07)
That. And your view will just have the potential then to ultimately overturn Roe V. Wade.
Speaker 4: (05:12)
Yes, I absolutely think it will. Um, even though, again, I don't think the Supreme court, and this is just my opinion. I don't think the Supreme court will say that, um, say that directly, but I think it will, right, because what RO tells us is that a woman has a constitutional right, a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy after, excuse me, pre viability, which is at 24 weeks and upholding the Texas law would mean it would be unlawful for a woman or a doctor to perform an abortion on a woman after 15 weeks of pregnancy. So that has a direct contradiction to what Rhode tells us. Um, and also its progeny, which includes planned parenthood versus Casey. So yes, if, if the Supreme court upholds the slot, I do think it would have the effect of completely overruling Roe
Speaker 1: (05:55)
And the Supreme court is expected to announce its decision in June, what it potentially impact us here in California
Speaker 4: (06:03)
Right now in California, the abortion laws here. Um, we're following Roe basically. So women have a fundamental right to terminate their pregnancies before the fetus is viable. So about 24 weeks and also when the procedure is necessary to protect the life and the health of the mother, if the Mississippi law is upheld by the U S Supreme court, I don't expect that the law would change in California. And that's based on the current layout of the legislature here, as well as the governor. Um, however, if those layouts of, you know, the political parties in charge of our state were to change, which they obviously could someday, um, certainly then we would be, um, in the same risk as any other state. I mean, if the legislature passes a different law, we can't expect that the us Supreme court would say that's unconstitutional. So I don't believe that we're at a direct risk today, women in California. But I do think that, um, if this is the case, certainly in the future, we, you know, any state could potentially enact more restrictive abortion measures as a result of this really
Speaker 1: (07:06)
I've been speaking with San Diego lawyer and president of the lawyer's club of San Diego, Maggie Schroeder, Maggie, thank you so much for,
Speaker 4: (07:14)
Thank you so much for having me
Speaker 5: (07:20)
During the first year of the COVID pandemic, the catch phrase, we're all in this together was everywhere, but as soon became clear that some of us were much more in this than others. Statistics revealed wide disparities in who was getting sick, where most people were catching the virus and what activities put people most at risk. Now in an in-depth investigative report by voice of San Diego, looking at more than 4,000 death certificates of San Diego who died from COVID, those disparities are clearer than ever joining me as voice of San Diego reporter will Hansberry who with fellow reporters, Jesse Marks and Bella Ross examine San Diego deaths in the first year of COVID. And we'll welcome to the program.
Speaker 3: (08:05)
Thanks for having me more aims. The
Speaker 5: (08:07)
Headline in your report is, is startling. It says a college degree was an insurance policy against death. Can you explain what that means?
Speaker 3: (08:16)
We don't know exactly why it is, but literally having a bachelor's degree meant you are much less likely to die from COVID 19 in San Diego and quite possibly across the United States. You know, um, people with a bachelor's degree, for whatever reason were super insulated from the worst effects and partially maybe that's because they weren't doing essential work, let's say, but then again, you know, we know that most people who died were retired, so that's not totally it. Maybe it's also telling us something about poverty and that people who have more education tend to make more money. But you know, if you had a bachelor's degree, you were were more than half as less likely to die as someone who didn't. And like you said, I just think that's really startling. And, and we didn't have a handle on that level of detail about the disparity until now
Speaker 5: (09:11)
I start out examining COVID deaths through the lens of education levels.
Speaker 3: (09:15)
We didn't necessarily start there. Um, we made a public records request for every death certificate during the first year of the pandemic for all COVID related deaths, because we really, you know, we thought it was going to be, we thought we knew something was going to come of it. And we thought it was important to bear witness to this terrible death toll, you know, 4,000 people in a year in San Diego county. And then we discovered that those death certificates were really rich with information about education level, about the job a person had about, um, where they were born, whether it was in the United States or not. And so once we started crunching those numbers, you know, we just found some really, uh, uniquely shocking and, and even terrifying stuff.
Speaker 5: (10:05)
Now, in your report, you profile a few of the people who died of COVID last year. Can you tell us a story of Gregory Denny of homeschool,
Speaker 3: (10:15)
Gregory Denny. He was a 48 year old security guard at Taylor guitars in alcohol, but he was not your average, 48 year old. Um, he was actually working on finishing his bachelor's degree. He was married. He had a couple of kids. He he'd served in the Gulf wars and in the summer of 2020, he wasn't finished with that bachelor's degree yet. And he came down with COVID. He was hospitalized and put in the ICU. And unfortunately like so many people, he was killed by this virus. And with Mr. Denny, the university he was studying at, they actually awarded him his bachelor's posthumously because he hadn't finished it. And so he was a member of the graduating class of 2021. And you know, his story is really powerful. I'm certainly not saying that had he finish that bachelor's degree? He, he would have, um, you know, not died from COVID, but this was the working age man. He was 48 years old. And you know, people with bachelor's degrees were much more likely to be able to stay at home. And, and when other people were at home, he was working his security guard job. And, and that is where his wife thinks he, he contracted COVID,
Speaker 5: (11:29)
There've been many ways to frame the difference in COVID death rates among populations. Another one is in the second part of your report, finding that more than half of the San Diego ones who died were immigrants. Tell us about that.
Speaker 3: (11:43)
Yeah. We found so many disparities in these statistics that were big and scary, and I think we all knew there were these disparities, but we just didn't understand what a fine point was on it. I mean, in San Diego county, 23% of people are immigrants, but among those who died from COVID 52% were immigrants. So there's this really huge disparity just like with bachelor's degrees. And we don't totally understand it. There could be a lot of reasons that immigrants were more at risk. They were more likely to live in multi-generational housing. They're more likely to speak a different language and maybe they weren't getting good information about COVID in their native language. The other statistic that was really shocking was people without a high school diploma, you know, among immigrants who died 50% did not have a high school diploma among non-immigrants just 10% did not have a high school diploma. So, you know, education again seems to be a really important variable here.
Speaker 5: (12:42)
The biggest risk factor of death though remains among the elderly population. Doesn't it
Speaker 3: (12:48)
That's right. The median age was 76. You know, we know that COVID-19 hits old people much harder than young people and our database shows that too, but, but out of 4,000 deaths, you know, we also see in our database, a thousand people were working age, they were 65 or younger. So, you know, I don't think most people think of dying before they're finished with their working age. And that's what happened to 25% of the people in our database.
Speaker 5: (13:18)
Now you hinted, uh, that's one of the reasons that could account for this education level disparity, even though many of the people who died were already retired is a chronic disparity in health results. For people who are rich and poor and white and people of color. Can you tell us how that might have contributed to the higher death toll?
Speaker 3: (13:41)
You know, we've heard of a couple really COVID specific things, right? Maybe you're more, you were more likely to work in essential labor. You're more likely to ride the bus and that put you more in harm's way, but there's even like deeper issues at play about chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension and heart disease in the poorest neighborhoods in San Diego. It's very hard to find a healthy grocery store. There's no Vons, there's no trader Joe's, there's definitely not a whole foods. And so it's harder to eat well, and that means you're more likely to get diabetes. And what's also true about those areas is they're less walkable. It's harder to get exercise. There's less parks. That means you're more likely to be obese. You know, all of these chronic conditions made it much more likely for a person to die from COVID in our database, 80% of the people who died had a chronic health condition, but even just one layer deeper Maureen, just the stress of poverty itself seems to put people at risk. We know that poor children have higher blood pressures than their peers and, you know, high blood pressure leads to hypertension and that can cause heart and stroke and hypertension itself puts you more at risk with COVID. And so, you know, the layers of how poverty interacts with this disease are, are deeply interwoven.
Speaker 5: (15:02)
Now, you know, I suppose if you ask, most people eat on the street, they'd readily tell you that wealthier people get better medical care and are more protected from contagious disease than poor people. So that in and of itself is not a shocking revelation. So what significance do you think this report has about the disparities in COVID deaths between rich and poor? Yeah,
Speaker 3: (15:26)
I'm really glad you asked that question actually. And I think you're right. I think people are aware that there have been disparities with COVID, but I think we were hearing a lot of that information over and over again during the height of the pandemic. And I think people were really overwhelmed, you know, um, and burnt out even on news at a certain point, you know, they were all personally going through something different. We were difficult. We were globally going through something difficult and awful. And I think now is a good time to revisit the impact of, of the, you know, the worst part of the pandemic we saw in that first year at a time when people can actually like absorb those disparities and think about their own communities and look around them and say, you know, wow, people in certain zip codes did really well.
Speaker 3: (16:20)
You know, they, and people and other ones did really badly. And, and, and not just by a little bit. And I think that has the potential to drive decision-making in the future about public policy, around health decisions, you know, where to put testing centers for, for, uh, in a pandemic where to put vaccine centers, we should be putting them in the poorest areas. Uh, and, and we should be unequivocal about that because I think our data shows that, you know, you don't need those support things nearly as much in the richer neighborhoods. And so I think, um, I think it's a good time for us to re-look at this and absorb it and, you know, hopefully it can drive public policy in the future.
Speaker 5: (17:05)
You can find voice of San Diego series of reports on COVID deaths, on their website, voice of San diego.org. And I've been speaking to voice of San Diego reporter will Hansberry will. Thank you very much.
Speaker 3: (17:19)
Speaker 5: (17:26)
This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Hyman, California lawmakers are debating a bill that would prevent a law enforcement agency from investigating its own officers when they shoot people. Right now, these investigations are conducted by the officer's own departments, KPBS, investigative reporter, Claire Traeger, sir, found that in those investigations officer's can get different treatment than the people. They shoot a warning. This story contains graphic descriptions and sounds
Speaker 6: (17:58)
In the early morning hours of a Sunday in March, 2016, two men made choices that led to police investigations, but how the investigations were conducted and their outcomes couldn't have been more different. The first was Jose Blanco, an undocumented immigrant who had gotten into a fight outside a seven 11 in Vista. Then Blanco saw a group of men rushing toward him. He and his wife jumped in his car and tried to get away.
Speaker 7: (18:27)
[inaudible] my intention was to rescue my wife and not to get beaten, but when the other psoriasis I was describing
Speaker 6: (18:35)
Bronco didn't know it, but the men who rushed him were off-duty Sheriff's deputies, the deputies surrounded Blanco's car. He first threw it in reverse hitting one of the deputies then lurched forward. That's when deputy Jason Phillips ended up on the hood of the car.
Speaker 8: (18:53)
Um, and I was either straddling the hood or laying literally on the windshield because I could see his white t-shirt and see him driving. Um, and I, I knew I was gonna either fall off the vehicle and be crushed, or he was going to accelerate at a high rate of speed onto, excuse me, east fist away. And I would be badly injured or killed. And, uh, at that point I discharged my revolver through the windshield, trying to stop him from driving off
Speaker 6: (19:21)
Though, Phillips was not working, not in uniform. He was armed with a concealed handgun and he'd spent the night drinking two to three shots of tequila and three to four beers. He later told investigators. He shot Blanco multiple times, but Blanco survived. Bunco told detectives. He had no idea. The men who rushed his car work police.
Speaker 7: (19:47)
I didn't know who they were because they didn't have a uniform. If I had known they were cops, I've seen so many stories of people being shot and killed. Do you think I want to die
Speaker 6: (19:58)
Later that morning, both Blanca and Phillips were questioned by detectives, but that's where the similarities of their experiences and Phillip's questioning was straightforward, even friendly. At times he had a lawyer with him and the detectives helped him arrive at answers.
Speaker 8: (20:16)
I had my drinking had stopped significantly earlier in the evening, and I'm not sure how to word it. My, I
Speaker 9: (20:25)
Think what he's getting at with it anytime during the evening, did you feel that you were
Speaker 8: (20:27)
Speaker 6: (20:32)
Meanwhile Blanca was interviewed by Sheriff's detectives in the hospital without a lawyer. The detective challenged him over and over telling him he was lying
Speaker 7: (20:45)
Because you are not going to tell me you remember. I know you're not a liar now. It's not the time to tell lies. How did you hit them? I swear to you. I don't, I don't remember hitting anyone in reverse. No. How he's back bossy bowl. I mean, you are not telling me what are you afraid of? Why are you hiding
Speaker 10: (21:05)
Officers have a presumption of innocence or a presumption of fair
Speaker 6: (21:11)
And Rios is a defense attorney who often represents people subject to force by police. Yes.
Speaker 10: (21:17)
At victim slash suspects. Don't have that presumption of innocence, which is ironic since it really is the defendant or the accused that actually does have a constitutional right to a presumption of innocence.
Speaker 6: (21:32)
Dave Myers is a retired Sheriff's commander. Who's undergone internal affairs interviews. He says, investigators often take a friendly approach toward their fellow officers.
Speaker 11: (21:43)
It is the Fox watching the henhouse. If the intention is a fair and impartial fact-finding mission, I mean the internal affairs process is, and I've talked about this for years are, are flawed and it's, and it's flawed. And it's intended to benefit the law enforcement agents.
Speaker 6: (22:05)
The Sheriff's department would not agree to an interview for this story. Phillips his lawyer, Richard Pinkard says officers who shoot suspects are properly scrutinized. They can face multiple investigations from their own departments, homicide division, then internal affairs. Then outside agencies, he wrote in an email to KPBS. The two separate in-depth investigations into Phillips. His actions were appropriate under the circumstances. This incident was thoroughly investigated by the Sheriff's department and then independently investigated by the district attorney's special operations division. He wrote the da concluded that deputy Phillips's use of lethal force was legally justified under prevailing law. Given the totality of the circumstances, which is why deputy Phillips was not charged in a KPBS review of more than 300 internal records from local police agencies, only one officer has ever been charged for shooting someone that happened last summer. When Sheriff's deputy Aaron Russell was charged with murder after he shot a mentally ill man who escaped from a police vehicle and was running away, the KPBS review also found just five cases that result in any punishment for the officer. This case with Phillips was one of them, but it wasn't for shooting Bonko. He was reassigned and suspended without pay for four days for violating department policy, the violation was for carrying a gun while he was drinking. Meanwhile, Blanco was ultimately charged with multiple counts of assault, including assault with a deadly weapon for hitting the deputies with his car. He pleaded guilty to assault and was then deported to Mexico. Claire Tresor KPBS news
Speaker 5: (24:00)
To search the police records and see a map of where these incidents occurred. Go to kpbs.org/police records.
Speaker 1: (24:20)
A local employer is being sued for allegedly violating the California crown act, which makes hair discrimination. Illegal. Crown is an acronym for create a respectful and open workplace for natural hair. As an acted by California. The log stands both to hairstyles associated with race, as well as other racially associated trait, such as dress and speech. The lawsuit alleges an employee with Encore group LLC was denied a position because of his locks. Joining me to talk about the case and the crown act is Dan Eaton, legal analyst and partner with seltzer, Caplan, McMann, and Vtech. Dan, welcome
Speaker 12: (24:57)
For you, Jay. Good to be with you.
Speaker 1: (24:59)
So this is a first of its kind case which alleges an employer violated the crown act. What does the crown act say specifically about the workplace and discrimination?
Speaker 12: (25:10)
The crown act did was it was a measure enacted in 2019 by the California legislature that prohibits discrimination based on Pope traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to hair texture closed quote and hairstyles such as Afros, braids, twists and locks.
Speaker 1: (25:29)
And this case, the lawsuit says Jeffrey Thornton who wears his hair in locks was furloughed with Encore. During the early days of the pandemic, he relocated to San Diego was invited to interview here for a position with the same company and was told he was qualified for the position, but needed to change his hair among other things. Does this sound like a strong case to you? Did this company violate the crown act?
Speaker 12: (25:54)
Well, we don't know Jay, because we only have one side of the story at this point, understands that not withstanding the crowd act, uh, employers still have the right to set a general, uh, grooming, uh, grooming, uh, qualifications and, and certain policies. But what they cannot do is they cannot discriminate, uh, based on, uh, hairstyles and other characteristics associated with race. So you're looking at one side of it and it certainly, he states a possible claim under the crowd act, but whether it ultimately prevail, will it depend on what other defenses the employer may have
Speaker 1: (26:30)
And the California department of fair employment and housing issued a right to Sue letter to Thornton, uh, after he filed a claim against Encore, how significant is that?
Speaker 12: (26:40)
Not at all because he got that right. Just two letter right after, uh, he, uh, filed his administrative complaint, which is a necessary prerequisite to falling a lawsuit. And if you have a lawyer, if an employee has a lawyer, they frequently say, you know what, fair employment department of fair employment, housing dispense with your own investigation. I want to go right to court, which is what he did. And I want to raise a point that you just did, which is about the first of its kind actually looked this up. And the fact is that, yeah, I haven't found any cases, even looking at the national database that have raised through crowd act. What I did find, interestingly, it wasn't August of 20, 21 case out of Alabama of all places that said that while they don't have a crowd out there and there's no federal crown act under title seven, uh, you cannot use a hairstyles as a proxy for racial discrimination, which is what the court said. At least the plaintiff had plausibly alleged in that case just a few months ago. Hmm.
Speaker 1: (27:34)
Well, that's interesting. And I want to talk more about the crown act a bit, which aims to protect people's right to their cultural identity and racial heritage. I mean, can you talk about the ways those things are tied to one's hair?
Speaker 12: (27:47)
Well, they are tied to wa once hair, obviously there are hairstyles that are traditionally associated, uh, particularly with African-Americans and it's part of the, uh, identity that African-Americans are bring to work. And it expresses who they are. It was the sense that you want to protect that, that led to the crowd act because up to this point, title seven, uh, the EOC, which enforces title seven, the federal law has been clear that while immutable characteristics such as hair texture are protected changeable or mutable characteristics such as hairstyle or not are not. And that's what the crowd act was designed to protect is that if the hairstyle is associated with racial identity, you've got to protect that because it's part of the expression of an African-American as an African-American. And
Speaker 1: (28:34)
Can you give me some examples of protected hairstyles?
Speaker 12: (28:37)
Well, Afros are the obvious one where you have a long bushy, a hairstyle, which I actually have a week ago, Saturday when I had my hair cut, uh, dreadlocks, corn rows locks, which are somewhat different. And there are the hairstyle that this particular plaintiff has. Interestingly, under the crowd act, you don't have to be a member of the race whose hairstyle is associated with a particular hairstyle to assert a claim under the crown act. I think the assumption is though that it's going to be brought by those whose, uh, race matches of the historical association with a particular hairstyle.
Speaker 1: (29:14)
And to your knowledge, has Encore said anything about the allegations in the lawsuit?
Speaker 12: (29:19)
No, I for union tribute ran a front page story today on it. And, uh, Encore apparently did not actually, uh, respond at this point. They'll have, uh, 30 days, this was just filed, uh, yesterday, uh, to make its first response. They'll probably file a general answer. That's my assumption. And then, uh, litigation will ensue.
Speaker 1: (29:40)
And is this case something you think California
Speaker 12: (29:43)
Employers will be watching? Oh, sure. They will. Because as you said, it's, it seems to be the first of its kind in California or anywhere involving the crowd act. There are a number of jurisdiction about a dozen, according to Union-Tribune story that have enacted it as well as New York city administratively, uh, has, uh, has said that hairstyles are protected. So this is going to be one to watch. I think so most employers have moved beyond the idea of actually setting limits on, uh, racially associated hairstyles.
Speaker 1: (30:14)
[inaudible] Dan Eaton, legal analyst and partner with seltzer Caplin McMahon. And Vitech Dan, thank you so much for
Speaker 12: (30:21)
Joining us. Good to be with you, Jay,
Speaker 5: (30:30)
Some insults disputed statistics and bad feelings have surrounded a redistrict in controversy in north central San Diego. Tonight, the city of San Diego's redistricting committee will consider the latest map that moves the Tory Hills community from district one into district six, that would relocate the neighborhood politically from upscale communities like Carmel valley to more culturally diverse Mira Mesa, some Tory Hills residents who oppose the change have been outspoken in their desire not to be linked with Mira Mesa, for reasons ranging from property values, to a lack of religious and professional affinity with the neighborhood. Joining me is San Diego union Tribune reporter David Garrick. David, welcome back.
Speaker 13: (31:17)
Thanks for adding me. Why
Speaker 5: (31:19)
Did the proposal to move Tory Hills into district six? Why did that come up in the first place?
Speaker 13: (31:25)
It doesn't appear to have been intentional. It appears to be a set, sort of a reverberating impact of trying to solve some other problems, you know, in particular, trying to unite Claremont into one community. So I don't think anyone deliberately did it, but when you're working out the numbers and you're trying to keep all the districts of equal population, you end up having to move stuff that maybe you didn't want to move.
Speaker 5: (31:44)
No don't city council districts have to be contiguous. And does Tory Hills link up with Mira Mesa?
Speaker 13: (31:51)
You know, you have to be continuous and it is, but they have the, the current map as proposed. It's not a final map, draws a kind of a weird angular thing to include Tory Hills. And it does look a little bit, uh, not as, as square and a circular as we would normally expect.
Speaker 5: (32:08)
Is there a large difference in ethnicity between residents in Mira Mesa and Tory Hills?
Speaker 13: (32:14)
There is, it's kind of striking. I mean, Jordie Hills is almost 50% white and they want to be connected to the Carmel valley, which is 55% white. And then Mira Mesa is only about 25% white. So that's a lot of stark differences you find in San Diego, maybe not, but certainly in the conversation for a leading one,
Speaker 5: (32:31)
This is the second time there's been a fight over a community being moved into district six. Can you tell us about that?
Speaker 13: (32:38)
Yeah. So where's your pen you ski just 10 years ago. The last time the city did this, the city, basically every 10 years, when there's new census data, they have to redraw the boundaries. So that's sort of why we're here. And 10 years ago, when the city was doing that, they sliced off a part of Rancho Penasquitos called park village, the Southern part of it, uh, and put it in district six, severing it from district five, which people in part village felt they had more in common with because of the Powell unified school district and some other elements,
Speaker 5: (33:03)
But that United, uh, park village, a part of Rancho Penasquitos with Mira Mesa. Uh, and then this time around as park village has been lobbying to not have that happen anymore. They basically sort of said some disparaging comments back in the summer about Mira Mesa and there was a huge flap and it's died down now, but it was definitely a frustrating situation from your Mesa residents, a Mira Mesa community leaders. And it's, Penasquitos that park village area still in district six in the new proposed map.
Speaker 13: (33:32)
And the tentative proposed map right now is you are United with the rest of Penasquitos and district five. And it seems likely that we'll stick. That seems like a firm commitment by the registry and commission to keep Rancho Penasquitos whole, anything could happen. There's three more meetings, but I think I would bet that it's going to stay that way.
Speaker 5: (33:48)
Now, how has the controversy over the Tory Hills move into district six presented itself? I believe that there was a letter submitted to the redistricting committee.
Speaker 13: (33:58)
I think it's important to make a fine distinction here. Cause I got some emails from Tory Hills residents in the last couple of days saying I was accusing them of being racist. And I don't think that that's really the case. I mean, obviously you never know, but I think a huge chunk of Tory Hills residents are really focused on the fact that they are connected to Carmel valley. They share recreation centers, they share shopping plazas. They have a lot of shared things with the community, uh, in a form letter that a lot of them send in basically focused on those elements. But there were a few speakers from Tory Hills who sort of went beyond that to say negative things about Mira Mesa. So instead of just focusing on how they're connected to Carmel valley, they also noted that they are not connected to Mira Mesa. They don't have anything in common with Mira Mesa and that's where they got into the issues of professionally religiously. So I think that's where, so maybe some people in Mira Mesa felt like they were, that they went over the line and their comments
Speaker 5: (34:49)
And how have leaders in Mira Mesa responded to that.
Speaker 13: (34:52)
So the same way they did to the Penasquitos thing, they say, every neighborhood has a right to fight for whatever they want on this map. I mean, this is a battle among neighborhoods to see how you're politically going to be represented as important. And Mira Mesa doesn't want to prevent any other neighborhood from fighting for the rights, but they say, Hey, when you're doing that, try that to say really unflattering things about our neighborhood. Cause you refrain from maybe saying disparaging comments that make judgements about our neighborhood while you're fighting for whatever you want.
Speaker 5: (35:19)
You also write that commission members have said that they hope to move Tory Hills back into district one in their final map. Why is that?
Speaker 13: (35:28)
Well, I think everyone agrees that this was sort of an unintended consequence. No one specifically wanted to move toward Hills out of district one. But when you were trying to do the numbers and trying to see unite Claremont into one community, and you had to move a bunch of different neighborhoods around because the population, this was a neighborhood that the folks who were proposing it move just to make the numbers match up. No one thought this is a smart move. They just tried to make the numbers match up. And I think now they're trying to figure out a way to undo that and make the numbers match up in some other way.
Speaker 5: (35:55)
And there's a redistricting commission meeting tonight only a few more before the final map is presented. How can people join tonight's meeting?
Speaker 13: (36:04)
Uh, if you go to San diego.gov/redistricting-commission, you can go there or just go to Google and type in, uh, redistricting commission, San Diego. Uh, you can go there. There's a zoom link. Uh, and there's a meeting tonight. There's also a meeting scheduled for December 7th and December nights. Uh, and they have a deadline of December 15th to adopt a final map.
Speaker 5: (36:22)
I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune, reporter David Garrick. David. Thank you.
Speaker 13: (36:27)
Speaker 14: (36:28)
Speaker 1: (36:34)
You're listening to KPBS day edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Cavenaugh, elephants have a multi-step greeting ritual, including to put their trunks into one another's mouth. It's their way of shaking hands. So what can we take away from knowing about animal rituals like this one? Well, earlier this year we were joined by academic author and photographer, Caitlin O'Connell, who also happens to be a San Diego to talk about her book, wild rituals, 10 lessons, animals can teach us about connection community and ourselves in general. What can we say? What can we take away rather from understanding rituals that take place in both human and wild animal societies.
Speaker 15: (37:16)
And the reason I wrote this book was I was so struck by how important ritual is to the rest of the animal kingdom that I realized that there's a lot of ritual that we tend to neglect. And I think, you know, I started writing this book before the pandemic, but I think the pandemic has made us realize what we're losing by not being in-person with each other, by not being able to smile at each other because we all have to wear a mask to stay safe and hugging or shaking hands. Those are really important greeting rituals that sometimes we take for granted, even in our own households, you know, looking at each other in the eye and in the morning, you're rushing to our coffee machine and kind of get my coffee. But just that simple moment of looking at your partner or family member loved one in the eye and saying, good morning seems so obvious, but it's often just overlooked. And I wanted to bring back the idea of how important simple rituals are in our lives. So I focus on 10 that I see on a daily basis in the wild with elephants and other animals. And, uh, I thought it would help us look in the mirror more closely and realize the importance of ritual in our lives.
Speaker 1: (38:38)
And if it helps us to look in the mirror, does it help us create an increased compassion?
Speaker 15: (38:43)
Yeah, because if we realize that we're all this extended family, really, we were all social animals and all of these rituals are important. If they're important to other animals and to us, then that makes us more interconnected and compassionate, you know, seeing other animals going through grieving rituals is a really stunning reminder of how similar we are and how we have the same needs emotional needs.
Speaker 1: (39:13)
I described a part of an elephant ritual earlier, but can you give me another example of an animal ritual that you write about in the book?
Speaker 15: (39:20)
Sure. You know, that the whole idea of greening is really to disarm a, another individuals and maintain peace. So for example, two black rhinos coming into a waterhole to drink they're very aggressive and very territorial, but the first thing they do is basically leave their swords at the door. They come up to each other and put their horns face-to-face and then kind of do a little bit of a, a jousting motion back and forth with their horns. And then the, all of the anxiety is just released and then they can drink and peace knowing that they did this. So it's a very interesting thing for an elephant is a very trusting thing to place a trunk in another's mouth. The other, the other elephant could bite off the tip of his trunk. So by doing that, it's a very trusting and very similar to the handshake. Cause it's like, I see you, uh, I respect you, uh, in, in the original act of the handshake is thought to show the other person that they're not carrying a weapon. So the, this very disarming aspect to a greeting ritual that keeps the peace aside from the bonding aspect of it,
Speaker 1: (40:38)
You know, connection and community are two aspects of daily life that so many of us are struggling to get a handle on these days. Just one, is it about animal rituals that can help us strengthen our understanding of,
Speaker 15: (40:51)
Yeah. Connection is a really important one. And in, um, I drive this home in my group rituals chapter it's thought that we developed group rituals in order to facilitate hunting. In our early days, we had to hunt the giant sloths and the mammoth. And there's no way that one person could do that by themselves, but by engaging in ritual, in order to build trust in a hunting party, these kinds of behaviors, uh, developed. So what is a group ritual and you think of a marching band and synchronized swimmers, they all are doing something, a repeated action that's recognizable and, or, you know, a religious right, repeating a prayer or singing together. These actions stimulate the amygdala and other areas of the brain to focus their attention on that one thing. And that also facilitates long-term memory and what these simple actions of moving your arms in a synchronized way with other members of the group creates a bonding and identity within that group and makes you feel stronger and empowered and having this group cohesive nature. Uh, so we all have these rituals and the same mechanism for creating that strength in the group. Um, but it's very important to keep that in perspective so that we make group rituals a positive thing and not a negative thing. So,
Speaker 1: (42:21)
And what is the impact of not being able to engage in these rituals?
Speaker 15: (42:26)
I think we're all feeling the isolation from the pandemic, um, being in physical contact, tactile contact in just being in presence and not over zoom zoom, at least you get to see each other's faces and facial expressions, but the non-spoken ritual aspect of being in the same room, there's a hormones like oxytocin, which is called the bonding hormone that occurs between a mother and a baby or two loved ones, or even you and your dog. When you gaze at each other and are in physical proximity, you gain these hormonal benefits and those benefits really help facilitate stronger relationships. And we're really suffering from not being able to be together.
Speaker 1: (43:18)
Any thoughts on how we can continue to perform some of these rituals right now when we need to stay six feet away, uh, from people who don't live with us?
Speaker 15: (43:27)
Well, that's an excellent question. I think one of the things is that I think a lot of us tend to get a little lazy and not want to have to deal with this. Um, and so we just turn further into ourselves as opposed to saying, you know what, it's still important and we have to be six feet apart, but at least we can be together and it takes more energy to figure out how to stay connected, but it's all the more important to do so now, because we're all suffering from this
Speaker 1: (43:59)
That was author and photographer, Caitlin, O'Connell talking about her book, wild rituals to lessons. Animals can teach us about connection community and ourselves.