A map created by Dr. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai to show where elevated levels of four elements were detected in residents, resulting from a community health biomonitoring survey. Photo courtesy of Dr. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai.

Bayview Residents Sound Alarm Over Potential Dust From Toxic Site

San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood has been hit especially hard by COVID-19, and residents sheltering in place in the area have for years faced elevated levels of air pollution from a variety of nearby sources. Recently, advocates have raised concerns about potentially toxic dust they fear is being generated by a nearby construction project.

Police-at-Castro-Street

Critics Applaud S.F. School District Move to End Police Presence

Parents applauded the San Francisco school board’s recent move to cut ties with the San Francisco Police Department in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests that have highlighted racial bias in policing. The Board of Education voted on June 23 to overhaul the San Francisco Unified School District’s relationship with police. The decision means that from now on, police can enter San Francisco’s public schools only in emergencies, such as in active shooter cases. Advocates, parents and former teachers say that school resource officers – as police designated to work with schools are known — are often called by staff and parents in situations that don’t warrant police intervention, such as for schoolyard fights or to discipline misbehaving students. This often escalates already tense situations and leads to disproportionate disciplining of Black, Latinx and other minority students, critics say.

ICE detention video

S.F. Immigration Lawyers Cut ICE Detention Centers Population by Two-Thirds

In late March, a cell phone video made by detainees was leaked to the public from Mesa Verde Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center in Bakersfield, Calif. Dozens of men in orange jumpsuits walked past the camera while Charles Joseph read a petition. “Many of us have underlying medical issues,” he said. “This turns our detention into a death sentence, because this pandemic requires social distancing and that is impossible in this environment. We request that you give us parole or bond so we may return to our families.”

Joseph’s plea caught the attention of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, which joined a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, and two law firms — Lakin & Wille, and Cooley LLP — seeking the release of detained immigrants with pre-existing health concerns.

The subjects of “Unsettled”: Junior, Mari, Cheyenne and Subhi. Photo courtesy of Open Door Productions

LGBTQ Refugee Doc Debuts on Public Television, Streaming

The San Francisco Bay Area has a reputation for being a kind of “queer promised land,” says filmmaker Tom Shepard. In the documentary “Unsettled,” that notion is put to the test. The film follows four LGBT refugees as they try to build new lives in San Francisco after fleeing violence and discrimination in their home countries.

A march for racial justice and against police killings moves down Market Street at Van Ness Avenue on June 19, 2020. Brian Howey / Public Press

Demonstrators March Through San Francisco to Mark Juneteenth

Hundreds marched through San Francisco on Friday afternoon to mark Juneteenth, protesting police killings and calling for racial justice. The San Francisco Public Press followed the demonstration, which made its way from the Ferry Building to City Hall and then on to the school district building. Read updates from the march below, and hear a compilation of reflections from demonstrators in this recent episode of our radio program and podcast, “Civic.”

4:25 p.m.

With some 250 protesters still in front of the school district administrative building on Franklin Street, Indigenous dancers performed a ceremony while protesters sat and knelt. Lexi Hall sang “Lean On Me” with some demonstrators occasionally chiming in for the chorus. 

“I think it’s definitely important for the youth to be a voice for the Black Lives Matter movement,” said Hall. “And we all came together, all of the creatives in San Francisco to put on a show and celebrate Juneteenth for the city.”

Hall’s partner, 19-year-old rapper Xanubis, had performed several times at the march that day. Xanubis and Lexi Hall.

Out in the Bay producers

LGBTQ Show Returns, Explores Lessons for Activists

As San Francisco marks the 50th Anniversary of the first LGBTQ rights march, the program “Out in the Bay” is returning to the air on KSFP, a radio station created by the San Francisco Public Press. “Out in the Bay” returns after a four-year hiatus. It ran weekly on public radio station KALW from 2004 to 2016, covering a pivotal period in the LGBTQ rights movement that saw the legalization of same-sex marriage, the enactment of hate-crime legislation and major advances in the rights of transgender people. Mel Baker, producer and contributor for “Civic,” spoke with “Out in the Bay” founding producer and host Eric Jansen and producer Truc Nguyen about the show and the parallels between the LGBTQ rights movement and the broader fight for civil rights. The brutal, homophobic murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998 energized nationwide protests against hate crimes, Jansen said.

Shayla Jamerson, founder of events company SoOakland, launched a fundraiser for black-owned businesses in Oakland that has brought in more than $300,000. It's just one of several such community efforts; collectively, local groups have raised more than $1 million. Courtesy SoOakland

Community Efforts Raise Nearly $1 Million for Black-Owned Oakland Businesses

As damage from looting and property destruction added to the financial pain of black-owned businesses already hurting from the coronavirus shutdown, Oakland nonprofits, business leaders and community members swung into action, collectively raising almost $1 million to help those businesses recover. Two of the biggest fundraisers were launched by black women – one a business owner and one a community member acting on her own initiative – who together raised almost $400,000.

Protesters Weigh In on Defunding Police

At the demonstrations against police brutality and racism that have brought thousands to San Francisco’s streets in recent weeks, many protesters have carried signs carrying a demand to “defund the police.” The uprising sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer has turned a spotlight on this proposal, and locally, Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Shamann Walton have announced they are developing a proposal for something in that vein. How much money exactly is in play is unclear, but Walton and Breed have indicated they intend to redirect a portion of the SFPD’s nearly $612 million budget to benefit the city’s African American community. At a June 9 protest in front of City Hall, the crowd cheered and clapped when Breed brought up that proposal in her remarks. “Civic” spoke with people demonstrating about whether the idea of defunding the police department appealed to them, how drastically they would reduce funding, and what they would like to see money reinvested in. “I think that the defunding is different than reform.