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Newsom Calls To End Police Strangleholds, Standardize Law Enforcement Response To Protests

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Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke about making changes to how law enforcement interacts with protesters, other issues of racial justice, and more in his Friday press conference. You can read highlights below or watch the full news conference above.

STANDARDIZING HOW PROTESTERS ARE TREATED, ENDING STRANGLEHOLDS

Newsom said that he was inspired by images of peaceful protests, and asserted the rights of peaceful protesters.

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"Protesters have the right not to be harassed," Newsom said. "Protesters have the right to protest peacefully. Protesters have the right to do so without being arrested, gassed, or shot at by projectiles."

Some are being denied those rights, Newsom said. While the California Highway Patrol and the National Guard have standards over how force is used to protect the peace. However, local municipalities have different approaches, and those need to be standardized, Newsom said.

The governor said he was immediately directing police officer training to end the training of the "carotid hold," aka a stranglehold. He also said he would support and sign a law that has just been introduced in the Legislature by Assemblymember Mike Gipson to end that practice in California.

Newsom said that the state will work with journalists, advocates, and law enforcement to standardize how the state engages with protesters. That effort will be led by civil rights advocate Lateefah Simon and former director of President Obama's 21st century policing task force Ron Davis; they both spoke at the governor's news conference.

CORONAVIRUS

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The governor cited counties' attestation plans, in response to a question about a potential surge in coronavirus due to recent protests. Newsom said that the state has been working on preparing its capacity as the state reopens and faces an expected rise in coronavirus cases.

Guidelines on how to reopen nail salons are coming soon, and "many more" guidelines for how to reopen different sectors of the economy are coming this afternoon, Newsom said. It will then be up to counties to decide when to reopen those sectors.

STATE BUDGET

The governor promised not to take the $4.4 billion in the state budget away from school concentration funding for black and brown communities, former foster youths, low-income, and ESL students. If the Legislature tries to do so, he said he won't budge on that proposal, Newsom said.

RACIAL JUSTICE

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Newsom shared the story of a young woman with one lung who he worked alongside as he scrubbed graffiti off a building with members of the public. The governor noted that he flew down to Southern California and visited South L.A. with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and others, speaking with people in the community.

"The black community does not need to change. We need to change," Newsom said.

He noted that institutions need to change. The governor talked about racial disparities in the criminal justice system, as well as the civil rights reasons behind legalizing marijuana in California. Newsom cited work that the state has done on criminal justice, including a moratorium on the death penalty.

"One thing we know about our criminal justice system: it's not blind. It discriminates based on the color of your skin, it discriminates based on wealth," Newsom said. "We have a criminal justice system that treats people that are rich and guilty a hell of a lot better than it treats people that are poor and innocent. You know that, and I know that."

The state's conversation can't just be about criminal justice, Newsom said — it must also include social justice, economic justice, and environmental justice.

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The governor said that we can't go back to normalcy after this moment.

Newsom spoke Friday from the the California Museum in Sacramento, which he noted was also the home of the California Hall of Fame.Newsom noted that he'd recently had a chance to speak with Rev. James Lawson at the museum, who brought Gandhi's nonviolent tactics back and brought them to the attention of Martin Luther King Jr.

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