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Residents call out racism in East County

 April 21, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Thursday, April 21st>>>>

What east county residents are calling ‘unchecked racism’

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….######

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit system will no longer require masks on buses or trolleys. The agency made the announcement on wednesday. The move follows guidance from the federal transit administration and the California department of public health. MTS is still encouraging people to mask up and practice social distancing if possible. They also advise anyone who has symptoms of covid-19 to take preventative measures and not ride public transit.

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The city of San Diego wants residents to help it identify barriers that would-be business owners find when trying to enter the legal cannabis market. The city announced on Wednesday that it plans to host a series of meetings to ask people exactly that. There will be eight in-person listening sessions at community centers, public libraries, and other public meeting spaces. You can find a calendar of the listening sessions on the city website.

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San Diego State University officials broke ground on 34 -acre river park in mission valley on Wednesday.
The river park is designed to help control flooding along the San Diego River and promote native species.
Rob Hutsel is with the San Diego River Park Foundation. He says the project is a key piece of the plan to connect the entire San Diego River watershed.

“Its nearly a mile long of a 52 mile long vision. Imagine that. I’ve been working on this for more than 20 years.”

SDSU officials hope the river park will be ready by the end of next year, but, they say, it may not get done until 20-24.

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From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.
Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

On Tuesday night at a town hall meeting in Lakeside, the Sheriff’s department told community members that a 16-year-old white boy, who they believed stabbed a 16 year old Black girl over the weekend, was arrested Monday. They booked him on charges of attempted murder and a hate crime allegation. Community members attending the town hall say the attack is yet another example of unchecked racism in East County.

Midday Edition Host Jade Hindmon spoke about the incident with KPBS race and equity reporter, Cristina Kim.

Q. First, how is the 16 year old girl who was stabbed doing?

CK: Because the girl is a minor her name has not been released and her immediate family was not present at the townhall. What we do know is that she was released from the hospital where she was taken by paramedics on Saturday night. According to a longtime San Diego activist, who is in direct touch with the family, her mother is taking care of her and the girl has suffered a collapsed lung.

Q. Can you tell us what is known about the violent attack that happened in Lakeside on Sunday?

CK: According to the authorities, an incident took place between the 16-year-old Black girl and 16-year-old white boy before the alleged assault – but did not release more information.

Then at 11pm – the assailant attacked the 16-year-old girl, stabbing her two times in the back while yelling racist slurs. He was accompanied by a group of three adults and another minor who witnesses say were also yelling racist slurs.

Lt. Wray who heads up the Lakeside substation says they are under investigation. The victim was then taken to the hospital by paramedics and the alleged assailant was arrested on Monday … on charges of attempted muder and hate crime allegations.

Q. The sheriff’s department charged the 16-year-old white boy who they believe stabbed the 16 year old victim, but community members say that adults who are believed to have been present during the attack, didn’t stop it and are also alleged to have yelled racial slurs, should also be charged…what can you tell us about that?

Q. Why did the sheriff’s department decide to hold a town hall meeting in response to this crime?

CK: The Sheriff’s Department hosted this town hall which is quite rare in order to start and dialogue and answer the community’s questions about what happened in response to a lot of people feeling both afraid and outraged at this act of violence over Easter weekend. Lt. Wray kept saying this was about being transparent and listening to people because he recognizes that this incident was upsetting and also bringing up a lot of issues regarding where Black people and people of color feel safe and protcted in the county.

Q. What did community members you spoke with have to say about how this fits into a pattern of racism in East County?

AX: Danielle Wilkeson co-founder of the East County BIPOC: “And it is a running joke that East County is racist…but that humor is damaging because the racism is real, the racism is alive and we have a victim this week from heinous acts of violence.”

Q. What has the victim’s family had to say about how this crime is being handled by authorities?

CK: Again the family was not present at last night’s town hall meeting but according to Tasha Williamson and Danielle Wilkerson of Easty County BIPOC who set up a GoFund me for the family… they said the family didn’t think that all the witnesses were properly questioned at the time of the incident or search the suspect’s home. They say the family wants to see three adults charged and see if there are any federal charges that can be brought forth due to this incident.

And that was KPBS Race and Equity reporter Cristina Kim, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host Jade Hindmon.

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North county is one of the most diverse regions in San Diego, and with it comes diverse growth. supervisor jim desmond gave an update on the state of the north county on wednesday…

KPBS reporter Tania Thorne was there.

North county elected officials, community members, law enforcement and volunteers filled the el corazón senior center in Oceanside on Wednesday.

San Diego County supervisor Jim Desmond held a state of the north county address for the first time.

“From the Pacific Ocean with Carlsbad and Oceanside, we’ve got the beautiful beaches, we've got high tech, we’ve got biotech. We’ve got very high income jobs here in North County.”

Desmond spoke about the growth North County has seen in different sectors but spent the majority of the time touching on what's to come.

Honelessness was a key topic and Desmond said his office has focused on mental health services and homeless prevention to combat the problem.

Other areas Desmond proposes to work on are child and family safety, affordable housing, drug overdose prevention, and infrastructure.

TT KPBS News

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The head of the VA was in San Diego Wednesday. KPBS military Reporter Steve Walsh says he touted the VA’s homeless strategy and outreach to women.

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Help is on the way for San Diego County military families in need of resources and some fun.

KPBS Reporter M.G. Perez has more on the drive-through giveaway happening this afternoon.

April is the month of the military child. Many of those children need support to cope when their military parents are on deployment or constantly relocating their families for service assignments.

The Cohen Clinic Veterans Village San Diego provides families with mental health services and other resources. Thursday afternoon, the V-V-S-D will host the WE-LOVE-OUR-MIL drive-thru giveaway…with free meals and entertainment.

Outreach Coordinator Jenny Lynne Stroop says San Diego military families are sometimes overwhelmed when trying to find programs to help them.

“we often have so many that folks don’t know where to go when they need something. So, we are hoping to bridge that gap and bring them great services…and some fun!”

The drive-through event is happening in the parking lot of National University in Kearny Mesa from 2-5 p.m. Thursday. MGP KPBS News.

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Coming up.... Local Researchers are looking at San Diego’s wetlands for solutions to climate change. We have that story and more, next, just after the break.

Last year a partnership called Tiny Gardens began as a way to get food and the means of growing it to people during the pandemic.

KPBS’s john carroll reports on how the program has held up for a second year.

IN THE PARKING LOT OF BAYSIDE COMMUNITY CENTER IN LINDA VISTA, THERE WAS MORE SOIL, SEEDS AND PLANT SEEDLINGS THAN CARS ON THIS WEDNESDAY.

IT’S A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN BAYSIDE AND SUPERVISOR NATHAN FLETCHER CALLED TINY GARDENS. 50 CARS WERE LOADED WITH A BAG OF SOIL, ALONG WITH A TOMATO AND CILANTRO PLANT, DRIP TRAY AND A WATERING CAN. SUPERVISOR NATHAN FLETCHER SAYS THE GARDENS HELP PEOPLE AND THE PLANET.

“IF YOU CAN LOCALLY GROW, YOU’RE GONNA GET ACCESS TO FRESH PRODUCE AND VEGETABLES, YOU’RE ALSO GONNA HAVE A POSITIVE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT BY NOT TRUCKING THINGS ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND ACROSS THE WORLD AND IT’S NOT AS HARD AS IT SEEMS.”

STUDENT VOLUNTEERS FROM HIGH TECH HIGH IN CLAIREMONT HELPED WITH THE HARDEST PART - SHOVELING ALL THAT SOIL INTO ALL THOSE BAGS! JC, KPBS NEWS.

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San Diego researchers working to stave off the worst impacts of global warming are looking for answers in the region’s wetlands.

KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson says cattails could be part of the answer.

San Diego’s Bataquitos Lagoon is sits right beside one of the region’s busiest highways, interstate five. But it is the gently swaying stalks of cattails that’ve captured the interest of two researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

“You can see how hard it is to dig out, that’s why it holds the sediment extremely well.”

Joseph Noel watches his colleague Todd Michael use a small hand shovel to cut into the dirt around the base of a cattail stem. Michael lifts up a newly liberated plant.

“Yup it’s an example, it still alive so you can see a new shoot is forming.

The plant’s roots are coated in a sticky black mud. The rich wet dirt is created by the constant push and pull of this coastal wetland environment. Michael says saltwater regularly flows into the estuary, pushing back or even killing the freshwater cattails. The ones that replace them grow over the dead and that replaces the sediment

“So this is the rhizome. And its hard to see because it’s all muddy.”

The rhizome is an underground stem that grows sideways, much like roots of grass found in Southern California yards. But that’s not what Noel is interested in.

“Turns out that wetland plants. Plants that have wet feet. Either like this or even fully submerged. They make a lot of suberin, particularly in their roots.”

And suberin has the Salk team’s attention. Suberin is a waxy layer covering small root structures. It helps cattails regulate water. They can block salt water and allow freshwater in. Michael says the suberin covered appendages are full of carbon molecules.

“Plants are naturally carbon accumulating machines, right. They suck carbon dioxide out of the air. All this right here (he grabs the plant’s stem) all this biomass is basically just carbon.”

And the carbon molecules in suberin don’t break down when the plant dies. Noel says the carbon lingers in the mucky sediment.

“You can almost see it. It’s very dark and black. So it’s full of carbon. In fact, I bet if you dug down, up to ten feet below this, depending how long this existed, it would be a huge amount of carbon that is stored.”

Noel and Michael has sequenced the cattail genome and they hope to transfer the plant’s ability to make suberin into crop plants like corn and sorghum.

“With these new gene editing technologies, we really think we’re going to be able to go into these crop plants and tweak them to make them more like typha so the roots will have more of this substance.”

The impact could be huge. Crop plants with the modified roots could pull as much as a quarter of the planet’s excess carbon out of the air. That’s enough to have a real impact on climate change. This is a key part of the Salk Institute’s harnessing plants initiative. And Michael says cattails – or typha – have other traits that could make plants more resilient.

“Each cattail, makes 300-thousand plus seeds. If you’ve ever seen a cattail release its seeds it looks like snow. And all of those seeds have the potential to be a new stand of typha.”

But the habitat that is so efficient at storing carbon, has been under assault for decades. Darren Smith is a senior environmental scientist with California State Parks. He says urbanization has eliminated 90 percent of the state’s coastal wetlands.

“There’s been a big change with people. I think wetlands were something, almost like an oasis early on in California where you just didn’t run into fresh water very often .”

And those same wetlands that are giving researchers hope about slowing climate change, are under a lot of stress. Smith says people are making it hard for the habitat to adapt.

“We built right up to them. We build up the watersheds and we built right up to the edges of them. And so for them to do what they do, to retreat or for the water to back up and form new vegetative wetlands further upstream there’s just got to be the space to do it.”

Researchers say giving the habitat that space allows scientists extra time to find other plant traits that could play a role in reducing the speed of climate change.

Erik Anderson KPBS News

That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

San Diego Sheriff’s Department officials faced community outrage Tuesday in the wake of an alleged stabbing of a 16-year-old Black girl by a white boy, who is also 16, over the weekend in Lakeside. Also, the head of the VA was in San Diego Wednesday. Plus, researchers look to San Diego’s wetlands for answers to climate change.