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    Fighting for a More Just and Equitable World

    By Assemblymember Phil Ting–

    Like so many of you, I was horrified by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis law enforcement. A life taken over a counterfeit $20 bill. People have taken to the streets around the world to peacefully protest the police brutality and racism on display not only in this case, but also countless others that should never have happened.

    With my face covering on, I joined a couple of Black Lives Matter marches earlier this month in San Francisco to seek justice and demand change. I also participated in an event at the State Capitol, kneeling in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the time Floyd struggled to breathe before he died.

    As we approach the 50th anniversary of Pride, I can’t help but see the parallels of today’s demonstrations to those that gave rise to the annual LGBTQ celebrations. The progress LGBTQ activists have made since the 1970s is rooted in a juncture of time when a marginalized community began defending itself against hostile police tactics.

    The Pride movement was born out of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, which are often regarded as the start of the modern gay rights movement. New York City police continually harassed and brutalized the gay community as they hung out at the Stonewall Inn. It reached a boiling point on June 28 of that year, resulting in days of riots and protests. The following year, on the same date, advocates organized an anti-police march, which later evolved to parades and other commemorative events.

    Fast forward to 2020, and law enforcement has continued its long history of aggression and violence against certain groups. In particular, we’ve seen over and over again the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police. But one notable difference today is the prevalence of cellphones to document and share such behavior by officers.

    As a California State Assemblymember, I am in a unique position to make a difference and am committed to taking steps that will transform the system into one that’s more just and equitable for everyone. With respect to LGBTQ rights, I authored the nation’s first law mandating that single-user restrooms be available and accessible to all gender identities.

    I have also tackled our criminal justice system that disproportionately incarcerates people of color. One of my reforms, AB 2942, took effect last year, allowing local district attorneys to review convictions resulting in excessively long prison terms and to reduce one’s sentence with court approval. I also pushed to close two state prison facilities through the budget process and focus more resources on rehabilitation.

    Lastly, I’m proud of my legislation to increase police accountability and reduce the potential for abuse. Beginning in 2019, AB 748 requires law enforcement agencies to release body camera footage within 45 days of a critical incident following a serious injury or death. The hope is that, with increased transparency, the relationship between officers and the communities they serve will improve. My other bill, AB 1215, bans the use of facial recognition software in those body cameras. Because this technology has a high rate of error, especially among people of color, it would have subjected folks to perpetual police lineups.

    But ultimately, you don’t have to be an elected official to exact change. I encourage you to do something—even if it seems small—to move us forward. You can talk more openly about race with friends and family, join advocacy groups, and/or vote for candidates who best represent you. We must keep the attention on this movement.

    Like we’ve seen in the fight for LGBTQ rights, change won’t happen overnight. Just this month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay and transgender workers are protected by anti-discrimination laws, proving the battle for equality is really not over. We have to keep pressing on, working toward a better world for all.

    Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the Westside of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma, and Daly City.

    Published on June 25, 2020