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LATEST UPDATES: Racial Justice | Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

How Will Students Go Back To School?

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A new manual from California’s Department of Education gives parents and students a how-to on going back to school during a pandemic. Plus, the city council leaves the police budget intact, despite protests, while internal police investigations show that San Diego police use deadly force against people of color at a higher rate than against white people.

Back to school this fall will be a very different experience for parents and students alike.
This week, schools across the state are busy reaching out to parents, gathering feedback on their distance learning experiences during the pandemic.
The effort comes on the heels of California’s Department of Education releasing a 55-page how-to manual this week that suggests safe ways for schools to reopen in the fall.
Beyond all-day face mask and physical distancing requirements, the new detailed guide makes clear just how different we can expect public schools to be.
Ultimately, each school district will decide when and how to reopen campuses. In San Diego, District Superintendent Cindy Marten says schools are currently looking at the guidelines and figuring out how to apply them here.
The guidelines are not mandatory, and California education officials expect at least some students will continue learning from home, at least some of the time, when the new school year begins.
So, how was your distance learning experience? We want to hear from you. Call (619) 452-0228‬ and leave a voicemail. Tell us who you are, where you live and how you and your kids handled learning from home.
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The city council ended up taking more than 10 hours of public testimony yesterday, nearly all of it from people asking for cuts to the San Diego Police Department amid nationwide protests over police violence.
Despite the overwhelming feedback, San Diego City Council members approved a budget Monday night that left funding for the San Diego Police Department untouched.
Councilmember Chris Ward cast the only "no" vote on the budget.
He said he was disappointed his rental relief fund for low-income tenants impacted by the coronavirus pandemic would get only a small fraction of the funding he had hoped for.
He also said the police department needed deeper change than what the budget envisions.
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Thousands of people took to beaches up and down the county yesterday on what has been the hottest day of 2020 so far.
In the City of San Diego, this was opening day for all piers, boardwalks and beach parking lots.

Even though facial coverings are required if people are within 6 feet of each other, KPBS crews covering the story at Mission and Ocean beaches say the vast majority of people were not wearing masks.

Dr. Chris Kahn is EMS Medical Director for San Diego Fire & Rescue. He says not wearing facial coverings means taking a risk.

"We know that viruses often come in waves and the fact that we're reopening right now doesn't necessarily mean that everything's all better."

On Friday, gyms, hotels, bars and wineries, museums, galleries, the zoo and aquariums among other places will all be allowed to reopen if they follow the county's guidelines.

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From KPBS, I’m Kinsee Morlan and you’re listening to San Diego News Matters, a KPBS podcast powered by our reporters, producers and editors.

It’s Wednesday, June 10.

Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

KPBS joined other media outlets earlier this year in suing local police agencies to release investigations into officer use of force.

Those investigations reveal that police in San Diego County use deadly force against people of color at a significantly higher rate than against white people.

That’s according to KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser who examined the nearly 130 internal investigations released so far .

"If he drops his hands again I'm going to beanbag him"

On a summer night in 2018, Sky Oliver had lost control.

00:05:44:22 "This is your final warning, if you don't listen to us you're going to get hit by the dog"

The white Valley Center resident had gotten into a fight with some neighbors. As the altercation escalated, Oliver threatened them with a shotgun, according to cell phone video. He then fled in a stolen truck.

"Looks like a rifle, looks like a shotgun"

By the time Oliver returned, Sheriff’s deputies had arrived on the scene. They ordered him to exit the truck. He at first refused, and at one point reached down into his lap.

"Get on your knees right now," shoots with beanbag, dog released, "Oh my god, why are you doing that."

When he finally did leave the truck, officers used bean bag launchers and a police dog to take him down. His most serious injuries were bites from the police dog.

Nearly five years earlier Officer Roberto Bonilla in the El Cajon Police Department confronted Raymond Goodlow, an African American man riding his bike on the sidewalk. The internal police investigation said Goodlow, reached for his waistband and ducked behind a car. Bonilla shot the unarmed 53-year-old six times. Miraculously, Goodlow survived the shooting.



These use of force incidents had different circumstances, happened years apart and involved separate police agencies. But they are linked by a disturbing trend in San Diego County.

A KPBS analysis of nearly 130 records dating back to 2001 shows when police use force on a suspect: if the suspect is a person of color police are more likely to shoot. If the suspect is white, police are more likely to use alternative methods of force, including tasers, beanbags, K9 or tackling the suspect.

California’s Police Officer’s Bill of Rights allowed the state’s police agencies to be some of the least transparent in the nation. A new law that took effect in 2019 required them to release use of force records.. They still only did so when courts forced them to comply with the law. There are still about 350 past records that departments in San Diego have yet to make public. But here is what we know so far:

The records include 62 instances in which suspects were people of color. Police shot 40 of them--that's about 65 percent of the time. Meanwhile, police fired on white suspects 42 percent of the time.

Suspects Shot by San Diego Law Enforcement By Race
People of color 65%
White 42%

In the cases where police used a method of force BESIDES shooting, the numbers were reversed. Fifty eight percent of those suspects were white, while just 35 percent were people of color.

Race of Suspects Subject to Alternative Force by San Diego Law Enforcement
People of color 35%
White 58%

Right now people across the world are taking to the streets to protest police violence against people of color in the wake of George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police. Thousands of San Diegans have participated in demonstrations throughout the county in recent weeks.

Many police agencies have responded by publicly condemning the Minneapolis officers and vowing reform. The San Diego Police and Sheriff’s departments, along with other local departments, have ordered officers to stop using choke holds on suspects. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has come out in support of a more powerful citizens review committee for police practices.

One expert on police behavior calls these welcome changes. But he says the reform needs to go deeper and departments need to acknowledge a difficult truth.

Philip Stinson
Criminal Justice Professor
SOT [00:06:59]
"I think, quite frankly, that many police officers have a fear of black males. It's more blatant than implicit bias. They wear it on their sleeve."

Philip Stinson is a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University and a former police officer himself.

SOT con't
"They may not admit it to you or me, but that's the reality of the situation. Police officers feel threatened by black males."


Most of the local law enforcement agencies contacted by KPBS for this story declined to comment. Only the Sheriff’s Department sent a statement, asking that KPBS not publish the findings. The department argued that the analysis contains “many flaws” because the findings are based on "an inappropriate and incomplete data source."
One reason why the data is incomplete is that the Sheriff’s department still hasn’t released 90 use of force records since the law requiring them to do so went into effect nearly a year and half ago.

The statement went on to say that KPBS should instead refer to a San Diego District Attorney’s Office study of officer-involved shootings between 1993 and 2017.
That study also showed black and Latino people are shot at a disproportionate rate by police compared to white people. African American people represent about 5% of San Diego County’s population, yet 17% of those shot by officers during the DA’s study period were African American.

https://www.sdcda.org/office/ois_review_rpt.pdf pg 6

Monica Montgomery
San Diego City Councilwoman
SOT
"It is not enough. We have a lot of ground to make up for."

San Diego City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery says she's encouraged by the recent changes police have made, but she says there's a long way to go.

SOT
"We can have all the training we want, but the training has to come from the root that we have biases and systems have been built on institutional racism."

She wants to see a de-escalation policy embedded into the police department, more oversight of surveillance technologies and changes to how searches are done.

And, she says, police culture needs to change.

SOT
"I get videos often of officers acting in ways that I don't think are acceptable. We have to make reforms from the outside, but the culture needs to shift from inside, through discipline, training, it has to happen."

Tomorrow we'll look at how San Diego police are trained on using force.

KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser.

***
State lawmakers sought answers from the nursing home industry Tuesday over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

KPBS's Amita Sharma says the question came against the backdrop of a grim fact: Roughly half of the state's COVID 19 deaths happened in senior care facilities.


Assemblyman Jim Wood told Craig Cornett, who heads the California Association of Health Facilities, he was frustrated and concerned. He said some of the first U.S. outbreaks of COVID-19 were in long-term care facilities in Washington state. Wood, a Santa Rosa Democrat, repeated the nursing home industry's stance that it lacked enough personal protective equipment and testing to prevent the virus's spread. But he sounded skeptical.

1:57:24 "When did you begin to try to acquire your own PPE and I point this out because the vast majority of your skilled nursing facilities are for-profit. And they're making a lot of money."

Cornett said nursing homes had a tough time purchasing PPE because of low supplies. He added that the industry was plagued by ever shifting guidance from public health officials.

2:01:14 We did not know initially that asymptomatic people could be transferred into skilled nursing facilities and be spreading the disease without any symptoms showing at all.

But health officials at the hearing said information about asymptomatic spread was made public in early March.

***
The city of La Mesa is releasing more information about recent demonstrations that turned violent.

KPBS Reporter Matt Hoffman says officials are turning to the community now for how to move forward.
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Tuesday La Mesa city officials released their recap of what led up to violent demonstrations and looting on May 30th. People were out protesting all day over the death of george floyd and a controversial arrest of a black man just days earlier by La Mesa Police.. LMPD says an unlawful assembly was declared that Saturday evening, but it's unclear if some protesters heard that. When officers reported that rocks started to be thrown at them, that's when sheriff's deputies deployed tear gas. Multiple businesses were looted and two banks were burnt to the ground.

00;00;39;29 Mark Arapostathis, La Mesa Mayor
We'll never move past this this will always be a benchmark and this will be the area from where we go from

La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis says change is needed and nothing is off the table.

00;03;58;26 Arapostathis
What I mean by nothing is off the table I think every department is going to look at things differently.. But I think you have to be unconventional and you have to look at everything

A full report on the La Mesa demonstrations and how it was handled by police is still months away.

***
That’s all for today. Thanks as always for lending us your ears.

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San Diego News Matters

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.