California Assembly member Nora Campos wants to enact a law that will address the ongoing national concerns of excessive force by law enforcement and improve the future of young Black men.
The just-introduced bill, called AB 80, proposes to create one of the first interagency task forces in California.
“We must bring all the key agencies together and have a systematic discussion on what’s preventing our men and women of color from thriving. AB 80 is the vehicle to make this happen,” Campos told TV station KCET in an email.
She said she wants to aggressively address the deadly use of force by police officers and the educational shortcomings and income inequality facing low-income, immigrant and LGBTQ communities in California.
“This would start productive conversations between the public and law enforcement, which will bring communities closer and help ease the tensions we see today,” Campos said.
The 21-member task force would consist of members from the Legislature, as well as various state agencies including the Employment Development Department, University of California offices, and California State University offices, according to legislative director Erasmo Viveros. The task force would focus on education, law enforcement, jobs, human services, among other fields. It would conduct a study and then propose recommendations, goals and policies.
The bill would also align with President Barack Obama’s federal initiative, My Brother’s Keeper, which aims to enhance opportunities for young boys and men of color nationwide.
“For almost a decade, we have focused on cutting programs that served our most marginalized communities, all for the sake of balancing the budget,” Campos said. “Well, California’s future prosperity is now in danger. Now is the time to start chopping away at the policies that prevent our young people of color, and therefore all of California, from succeeding,” she added.
“Across California, boys and men of color continue to face serious impediments to success, as evident by the percentage of those who graduate high school, attend college, obtain employment, and are incarcerated,” Assembly member Reggie Jones-Sawyer told KCET in an email. “AB 80 takes a significant step forward to addressing these issues, by convening a task force of leaders across the state to create solutions to these systemic problems,” he added.
Debra Watkins, founder and executive director of California Alliance of African American Educators, added: “What’s needed is long-term scaffolding of their success, just like what we’ve done with our STEM program up here [in Northern California],” Watkins said. “And that’s where you don’t just drop resources on kids and expect them to navigate the system by themselves. No. People basically have to co-parent and stay with them and make sure they don’t fall through the cracks,” she said.