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The toxic health crisis, one of the most underreported and serious health conditions in the United States, affecting as many as 35 million children, is moving under a giant spotlight this week, with historic new leadership on the issue and ambitious new advocacy efforts. California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s appointment today of toxic stress leader Dr. Nadine Burke Harris as the state’s first surgeon general is a ground-breaking step and an important validation of the need for greater awareness of toxic stress.
If only I’d known on that day, as I taped onto the front door of apartment 11 on 575 Berk Ave. in the Monterey Pines Apartments in Richmond, California, a flyer that read, “Fight CPS and COURT CORRUPTION. Recall Judges Rebecca Hardie, Lois Haight, and Jill Fannin” – if only I’d known that behind that door would be the scene of a gruesome and senseless murder just three months later.
It was September of 2016. I was currently under CPS supervision from an unfortunate case that had been opened due to domestic violence (I was the victim) and substance abuse. Initially, CPS was going to award me full custody but chose to place my son in foster care after I allowed my domestically-abusive husband to see our son on my birthday. After Maryela Padilla was assigned to our case, things changed for the worst.
The 13th Amendment reads in Section One: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Understanding this contradictory character of the 13th Amendment sheds light on the utilization of the criminal justice system in the perpetuation of bondage for the purpose of institutional racism and class exploitation.
Cherie Williams, a 35-year-old African-American woman in the Bronx, just wanted to protect herself from her abusive boyfriend. So she called the cops. But although New York requires police to make an arrest when responding to domestic violence calls, the officers did not leave their car. When Williams demanded their badge numbers, the police handcuffed her, drove her to a deserted parking lot and beat her, breaking her nose and jaw and rupturing her spleen. They then left her on the ground.
In light of increasing monumental weather events, I ask the following question: Can the U.S. military do some good in helping address some of the effects of climate chaos? Yes, I know it’s very strange for me to be considering this, being one who has for so long advocated against giving one single penny to the murderous, fascist and corrupt shock force of U.S. imperialism on this continent and abroad. But, after all, isn’t the U.S. military one of the major instigators of this dangerous temperature rise on our planet?
Parents are people. We are imperfect. We make mistakes. We struggle. And, sometimes, in the heat of the moment we say and do things we do not mean. For Donna Levey, her mistake was calling San Francisco Child Protective Services, or CPS, for support when her family was in crisis. If only she had known that that phone call would come to represent the point of no return. If only she had known that CPS would catapult their family crisis into a life-altering nightmare.
The abuse and traumatization of children strikes a chord in our society, perpetuating a vicious cycle that results in poor outcomes in adolescence, adulthood and beyond. Victims often end up in abusive situations again as adults and are more prone to substance abuse, incarceration and mental illness. For many children who have been abused, the trauma unfortunately does not end after Child Protective Services intervenes. Failure to Protect laws serve to remove these children from nonoffending parents, revictimizing the same children the system is supposed to safeguard.
Eight years ago, Melinda Garrett was induced into labor a month and a half before her due date. To Melinda, the baby represented a new beginning, a way to right all the wrongs and trauma and abuse she herself had endured as the survivor of childhood sexual and physical abuse, sex trafficking and a previously stillborn birth. She swore to break the cycle of abuse and to give everything she never had as a child to her newborn baby. She was never given that chance.
Oppression is multi-faceted and disproportionately affects the homeless and people of color residing in the outer districts of San Francisco. Discrimination in the child welfare and family court systems is especially prevalent. When state and federal statutes and guidelines are adhered to, Child Protective Services safeguards children and promotes family preservation and well-being. However, Parents Against CPS Corruption alleges that CPS and family court corruption is hurting children and families more than helping them.
Join us in resistance and solidarity from inside to outside the prison system in an undertaking to educate and mobilize ourselves for dignified struggle to abolish the modern institution of slavery which operates today as a mean coalition consisting of the police, the courts, racist and bigoted judges, unscrupulous prosecutors, ravenous and greedy sheriffs, cash-strapped school districts, under-funded indigent defense systems, and unfriendly and hostile prison officials.
A Safe Place is Oakland’s oldest domestic violence agency and Oakland’s only shelter for those who are suffering from intimate partner violence. The mission at A Safe Place is to end domestic violence by providing battered victims and their children with a safe shelter and resources to break the cycle through outreach and education. We also have a burgeoning Teen Program in which we hope to provide education and preventative services to youth about teen dating violence and family violence.
Often, women’s experiences are less present in the stories of how violence has decimated lives, families and communities. From these women writing from inside, we learn of remarkable efforts by families to resist police violence and terror, confront criminalization, and refuse state efforts to turn communities against each other. These stories are critical to the histories emerging from Compton and other sites of ongoing struggle.
Supporters of Marissa Alexander in Jacksonville, across the U.S. and all around the world are overjoyed that she has been released from jail after serving three years behind bars for defending her life. In 2010, Alexander, a Black mother of three from Jacksonville, Florida, was forced to defend her life from a life-threatening attack by her estranged husband by firing a single warning shot that caused no injuries.
The U.S. State Department recently released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, posing as the world judge of human rights again. As in previous years, the reports are full of carping and irresponsible remarks on the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China. However, the U.S. turned a blind eye to its own woeful human rights situation and never said a word about it.
Young women at the Chowchilla Freedom Rally Jan. 26 spoke out passionately for their sisters in a prison packed to nearly double its capacity, demanding that the 4,500 prisoners eligible for release be freed. At least 400 people came from all over California to show their support for the women locked up in the Central California Women’s Facility, currently the state’s only women’s prison.
In our current climate, it is increasingly hard to see how some of the alternating proposals flowing from these debates, namely, a “good guy with a gun” in every school or a generic “gun control” that bans all bad guns and gun accessories will be anything but a distraction from truly understanding and addressing the root of what is causing people to die.
The Clean Lounge, a clean and sober space located in Bayview Hunters Point in San Francisco, was full of Fired Up! women and supporters, family and friends.There was so much collective healing wisdom in the room. Fired Up! is an insider-outsider grassroots network founded by CCWP former prisoners that meets weekly in the San Francisco County Jail.
Raising awareness about domestic violence must be a continuing effort all year long, because it’s the only way to break the cycle that has become a part of this society’s collective psyche over the centuries. Today, I promise that I will continue to be my best toward all women. I hope to lead by example for others to emulate.
The history of the center is well known, and its accomplishments far outweigh its failures. Although 95 years is an extremely long time, what the center does not have right now is time – and time will be the deciding factor on whether or not Visitacion Valley Community Center survives.
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