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

Rolling for Rights

Cover image for podcast episode

Demetrius Antuña

Hundreds of Skateboarders took part in a "Rolling for Rights'' protest Saturday. Also on KPBS’ San Diego News Matters podcast: San Diego County could stop sending law enforcement to mental health calls and more local news you need.

It was a weekend of demonstrations in pursuit of racial equality.
Skateboarders, religious worshippers, children and Juneteenth protesters all participated in separate events throughout San Diego County.
Hundreds of Skateboarders took part in a "Rolling for Rights'' protest Saturday, starting at Sixth Avenue and Palm Street, skating down the middle of the street enmasse (onmass), into downtown and ending at the Embarcadero Marina Park.
And Saturday morning, more than 7,000 people stood on street corners around the county in a "We Pray San Diego" hour-long event organized by Rock Church.
The event included gatherings in San Marcos, Oceanside, Carmel Mountain Ranch, San Diego, Mission Bay, Chula Vista, San Carlos and Santee.
The event focused on both the coronavirus pandemic and racial division.
***
Three San Diego county attractions are reopened over the weekend.
The San Diego Zoo, the zoo's Safari Park and the aquarium at Legoland welcomed guests back after being closed due to the pandemic.
The Zoo and WIld Animal Park are admitting fewer visitors, and shopping and dining is being limited.
Legoland opened its onsite aquarium attraction and a post on the website says a date for the reopening of the rest of the park will be announced soon.
***
From KPBS, I’m Kinsee Morlan and you’re listening to San Diego News Matters, a podcast powered by our reporters, producers and editors.

It’s Monday, June 22.

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

San Diego County could stop sending law enforcement to mental health calls.

That's just one of a series of reforms San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher proposed Friday.

KPBS reporter Claire Trageser has details.

Fletcher's proposals include establishing a county Office of Equity and Racial Justice that would help people of color get county contracts.
The supervisor also wants to increase the oversight role of the Citizens' Law Enforcement Review Board, or CLERB.
The independent board investigates citizen complaints of misconduct by Sheriff's Deputies and probation officers employed by the county.
Fletcher also asked to speed up the creation of a Mobile Crisis Response Team. It's an alternative to having police respond to calls about people having behavioral health crises.

POLICE 1A 0:10
"Law enforcement's presence often escalates the situation...it can heighten anxiety and it is not the appropriate use of the time and resources of law enforcement, nor does it get us the right outcome."

Khalid Alexander with the criminal justice advocacy reform organization Pillars of the Community says doing things like sending mental health professionals to behavioral crisis calls, not police, shouldn't be groundbreaking.

POLICE 2A 0:13
"However they are an important step in the right direction in the right direction. They are an important step to get us to a place where real conversations about real change can begin to happen."

The proposals go to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

***

With a high number of COVID-19 outbreaks still happening in our county, At least for now health officials are pausing any future business reopenings.

Health officials say it's because people are not wearing face coverings while around others.

KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman says the county is counting on businesses to help enforce reopening guidelines.

891G1735 ////02;31;54;16 Griton
We're adamant about it and we have masks for people so if they forget their mask and they still want to come in it's great. But it's usually at night we're seeing the influx of people that just don't want to wear the mask or follow the rules

Moe Girton of Gossip Grill in Hillcrest has been requiring face coverings and temperature checks for all dining in guests.

891G1735 ////02;31;07;24 Mo Griton, MO's Universe partner
Personally I don't think I can live with myself if I didn't take those extra steps and my staff got sick or one of my guests got sick and ended up in the hospital or even worse didn't make it

Restaurants have been allowed to reopen their dining rooms for about a month. But after multiple outbreaks involving eateries and other businesses, the county now says they're going after violators.

891G1735//// 02;33;58;20 Griton
Go after the bad actors the ones who are breaking the rules and not punish those that are trying to follow the rules

Moe says restaurants can't afford to close again and she would like to see educational enforcement of reopening guidelines.

***
There's significant federal relief money for farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But many farms in San Diego County aren't eligible.

Diana Roy works at a Fallbrook flower business that's part of an effort to change that.

ROY: "Obviously now we have that big challenge that we have to undertake in order to get so to speak our fair share."

Inewsource reporter Camille von Kaenel (Cuh-MEE von KEH-nel) explains.

VON KAENEL: The county's farmers are pushing the federal government to loosen restrictions on 16 billion dollars of relief money for agriculture.

The most lucrative products in San Diego -- nursery plants and even some fruits -- don't qualify for that money. But the government has told farmers it may reconsider.

Diana Roy works at a farm in Fallbrook that's asking to add flowers to the list.

ROY: "Any additional help we'll get will definitely help us survive basically summer and the fall."

VON KAENEL: Most of the federal money has gone to livestock, grain and dairy producers.

That story from inewsource, an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.
***

Coronavirus has reminded the world about the crucial role of healthcare workers, especially nurses.

But the other crisis outside hospitals, on the streets of San Diego and other American cities, is calling those professionals to the frontlines.

KPBS Health Reporter Tarryn Mento has the story.

Outcue: She was talking to them and they were about to help her up

A team of registered nurses prepared for their jobs on a weekday evening by assembling the new gas masks they ordered online. Critical care nurse Christina Kelley helped her colleagues attach the magenta filters.

NAT POP 00:04:18:27 "So they point up directly like that, and then down"

The respirators are part of their toolkit not for the hospital but the streets. The group has become a regular presence at ongoing protests over racial injustice and works with street medics to provide licensed care.

NAT POP 15;31;52;16 "So they'll radio or text us that somebody in the crowd needs assistance"

Kelley launched the volunteer task force to ensure everyone had access to aid.

15;04;17;06 (:17) "As a nurse, we can't just take care of people that are in the hospital. We're also responsible for the community that we serve, the population that live within the communities that we serve, and so it's really important that we make ourselves available not just for people that are admitted to the hospital but for people that are on the street in need of care."

Kelley saw the need firsthand back in late May. She attended a downtown San Diego protest against police brutality to watch what was going on. Protesters ran when police used flash bangs, pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse crowds. And she was concerned as a medical responder.

15;02;11;21 (:11) "I just saw all of these hazards. Like people could trip. They could fall. I saw a head trauma. We didn't actually see head trauma. But you could see that in the making."

NAT POP from downtown San Diego protest

She feared the sheer size of the crowds and the road closures meant emergency response teams couldn't reach someone if they were in need. She rallied her colleagues to put licensed professionals on the ground at as many demonstrations as they knew about. They're now invited directly by organizers who are often in their teens and twenties.

15;32;20;18 When they saw that we kept showing up at the ones that we were aware of, I think that that built a sense of trust with them and so they started seeking us out when they would see us there and exchange of numbers and then they would text us when somethings happening

So far -- medically -- Kelley says injuries have been minimal.

15;04;51;07 "Dehydration. It's been exhausting. It's been sun exposure, heat exhaustion, so where we've had to give water. We've seen bike falls because there's some demonstrators that are on bikes and skateboards."

And they've distributed masks and hand sanitizer to keep people safe during the pandemic. But their backpacks are prepared for any situation with supplies they provide themselves.

NATs of Kelley going through her backpack

Kelley notified her employers and the San Diego chief of police about the role they'd serve. The American Nurses Association California chapter endorsed the task force and used Kelley's letter as a template for nurses across the country.

15;11;19;02 so that any other nursing task force that wants to write a letter to their local chief of police to let them of their intentions to be present at demonstrations that they have a platform to do so

Task force member Laura Chechel says they don't only walk behind demonstrators to provide care but to support the fight against racism. The American Nursing Association's code of ethics says nurses have an obligation to social justice to reduce health disparities.

15;23;47;15 Our voice is valued by people you know when you say you're a nurse people sort of listen to what you have to say and you need to get out there and you need to speak up for what's right and what's appropriate in your communities

A recent demonstration in City Heights included task force member Nicole Ward's own daughter.

15;26;14;19 "She wanted to be part of the protest and she's also a trained lifeguard so this is the best of both worlds and as a mama bear, it's better she's with her mama than out here by herself."

19-year-old Kiara Ward says her reason for marching is simple.

15;26;43;11 "I'm a cosplayer so I get a lot of hate because of my skin color, I often get called the n-word a lot so I want to protest because I feel like I have a right to exist without getting hated on."

Demonstrators have marched against that kind of injustice for weeks in San Diego. An early June protest drew thousands that filled streets on an hours long trek through the city. A KPBS reporter was livestreaming the event online when a young woman collapsed.

NAT POP from Matt's live stream: 00;00;36;13 "We might have an emergency here or something"

The location and sea of people made it difficult for city emergency responders to reach her. Kelley and the task force were there, and rushed in. (NAT POP of Matt: "That medical team we were just talking to they are working on that woman right now.")

(NAT POP of Matt: "She was talking to them and they were about to help her up.")

That story from KPBS health reporter Tarryn Mento.

***

Demetrius Antuña lives in La Mesa and took part in this weekend’s skateboard protest. Here’s why he showed up.

***

All right. That’s it. The End. Quick shoutout to my editor Alisa Barba and my favorite guru of sound design, Emily Jankowski. Thanks for listening to the show we put together for you.

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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.