The Lookout: Gov. Newsom Signs Bills Written to Fix Injustices

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Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media

Watching your tax dollars, elected officials and legislation that affects you.

Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a number of bills lawmakers introduced to address injustices.

One such restorative measure is Senate Bill 796 introduced by State Sen. Steven Bradford (D – Gardena) that allows Bruce’s Beach, an oceanside plot of land in Los Angeles County, to be returned to the descendants of its original owners.

“We’re making history by righting historic wrongs. With new legislation that will allow the transfer of Bruce’s Beach back to its rightful owners, we’re taking a step closer to making the CA Dream a reality for all. Thank you to all who have kept the legacy of this place alive,” Newsom tweeted.

Almost a century ago, the Black couple who owned the property now called Bruce’s Beach set it up as a residential enclave and resort for other Black families. They lost their property when the city of Manhattan Beach used eminent domain laws to forcefully and illegally seize their land following White neighbors’ complaints.

Last week, Newsom also signed two criminal justice bills, Assembly Bill (AB) 518 and Senate Bill (SB) 586.

AB 518 will allow a judge to choose someone’s sentence based on their own discretion instead of being required to choose the longest possible sentence.

Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), who authored AB 518, took to Twitter to celebrate the bill becoming law.

“For too long, our laws sought to impose the strictest sentence possible, in every situation — regardless of the circumstance. AB 518 gives judges more discretion when sentencing. A step towards a fairer criminal justice system,” Wicks tweeted.

SB 586, also known as the Kenneth Ross Jr. Decertification Act of 2021 will bar police officers from serving in other California precincts if they were fired for misconduct.

Sen. Bradford named the bill he introduced after Kenneth Ross Jr., an unarmed Black man who was killed by an officer who had been involved in another “questionable” shooting.

Newsom, standing side-by-side with Bradford and other lawmakers, spoke about SB 586 and other criminal justice bills at a press conference he held in a school gym in Oakland last Thursday.

“We have a lot to be proud of but there are areas where we have nothing to brag about,” Newsom said. “California has asserted itself in certain areas but it is remarkable that we still struggle in other areas.”

Newsom went on to express his frustration about California being behind 46 other states when it comes to decertification legislation.

“Why is it so hard to do the right thing,” he asked.

Fouzia Almarou, Kenneth Ross Jr.’s mother, also spoke at the press conference.

“This bill means a lot because it’s going to stop police from attacking, targeting and being racist toward Black and Brown people. I’m tired of it,” she said.

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