California Gov. Gavin Newsom Launches Police Reform Task Force

Courtesy of Governor Gavin Newsom
Governor Gavin Newsom

During his Friday press conference, the governor stressed that protesters must be able to participate peacefully without being harassed.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke on racial inequality in California amid protests taking place across the country following the deaths of George Floyd and other unarmed black people at the hands of police. 

The news conference follows recent meetings Newsom has held across the state with faith and community leaders, elected officials and small business owners, all to "discuss racism, systemic injustice and how we move forward as a state," according to a news release from Newsom's office.

Speaking from the California Museum's Unity Center in Sacramento, Newsom shared how he was most impacted by the "clarity and conviction" of the state's youth in response to systemic injustice.

"They have no reservoir of patience," he said. "They want this moment to be met with a deeper sense of urgency and want their cause to be clear — a cause of peace, a cause of progress."

During the Friday conference, Newsom stated that protesters must be able to demonstrate peacefully without being harassed, while also calling for a new statewide standard for use of force during protests. He also directed the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training to end the practice of the carotid hold for officers. 

In regards to the ongoing pandemic and a potential surge following recent demonstrations, Newsom cited counties' attestation plans and that the state is assessing its health care resources as more sectors reopen, which could also cause a rise in coronavirus cases. Newsom added that "many more" guidelines for the reopening of different sectors of the economy would come this afternoon. 

Newsom also announced a new police reform task force led by Lateefah Simon, current director of BART and president of the Akonadi Foundation, along with Ron Davis, former East Palo Alto police chief who also served during the Obama administration.

"This inflection moment in this country and, frankly, around the world suggests that we get it right, that we identify this moment for what it is," Simon said. "And facing race and racism and deep injustice and the work that we will do together will not simply be folks around the table. This call that the governor is asking us all now to accept is to rapidly bend the arc toward justice."

Simon added her appreciation of Davis, who she commended as being "a national champion for police reform."

"We will work with other stakeholders, swiftly with this office, and with law enforcement to not only shift the conversation but shift the practice," she said.

"I’ve seen a lot of [police] chiefs take a knee," Davis added during the conference. "Now, take a stance."

Following Newsom's announcements, during Los Angeles County's daily coronavirus briefing, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County Public Health Director, reported 36 additional people have died. Among them, 25 were over age 65 and 22 had underlying health conditions. Nine people were aged 41-65 and six people had underlying health conditions. One person between 18-40 died, also with an underlying health condition. Twelve of the 36 people were residents at skilled nursing facilities.

The total death count in the county is 2,565, with 61,045 reported cases. This includes 1,445 new cases. "94 percent of people who have died had underlying health conditions, and this number has stayed consistently high," said Ferrer. 

Further, Ferrer noted there are 447 confirmed cases among the homeless population and two unsheltered people have died. In total, there have been 13 total deaths in the homeless community.

Among the confirmed cases, 1,488 are hospitalized and 20 percent are in the ICU. There are 14,519 cases in institutional settings, including 5,070 staff members. Additionally, there are 954 confirmed cases in jail facilities and 242 cases among staff. Juvenile facilities currently have 26 cases.

Ferrer encouraged the community to call 211 if they do not have a health provider and emphasized how important it is that access to testing be expanded.