|SPOTLIGHT: Shasta Equal Justice Coalition|
By SCDCC Chair Jenny Abbe
After the murder of George Floyd in 2020, and following national and local protests against police brutality and racial inequality, a group of Shasta County citizens came together to address the need for fair and equal justice in Shasta County. In 2021, the Shasta Equal Justice Coalition (SEJC) was formed as “a committed network of organizations and individuals,” including members of several groups already focused on greater equity in our community.
The SEJC seated their first official Steering Committee in Fall 2021, but the group had already laid the groundwork for reforms in public safety by engaging police in direct dialogue, drafting objectives for advancing equity in county and city government, and developing a comprehensive list of Community Resources for use by local law enforcement.
In December 2021 the SEJC approached the City of Redding and its new Innovation and Equity Manager, with a proposal to participate in the city’s stepped-up efforts to advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion. (Learn more about Redding’s COR Equity Program here, and COR Organizational Values here.) The willingness of SEJC to work cooperatively towards implementing criminal justice reforms is a positive move toward bringing greater awareness and equity to our region. To stay current with the work of the SEJC, or to get involved, check out The SEJC Facebook page here. They deserve our attention and support!
Each of us depends on public safety standards to be upheld and defended, based on established rule of law. But too many of us observe and experience directly the ways bias, misinformation and fear can impact and infect our community—just like a virus. Despite generations of immigrants from diverse backgrounds and cultures having helped build our communities and raise families, entrenched prejudices against native peoples and others of various ethnic backgrounds persist.
Beginning in the 1840s, native tribes populating the Sacramento and McCloud River regions were attacked and massacred by U.S. soldiers, their land stolen, and many pressed into farm work or hard labor. In the 1970s, when an established black community in downtown Redding was evicted through eminent domain, a Baptist church and every home on Linden Avenue was demolished for a planned road that was never built there. Knowledge of these injustices lives on in families and survivors—painful legacies passed down through generations.
Historical context, as well as a better understanding of the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACES), economic dislocation, mental health issues, and addiction, must be included as basic subjects in training new law enforcement officers, if options and outcomes in public safety have any hope of improving.
In addition to the Shasta Equal Justice Coalition, other community groups are taking action relating to public safety reform. In 2022, the Redding Area League of Women Voters will make a presentation on AB1185 to the Shasta County Board of Supervisors. The bill, signed into law by Governor Newsom in September 2020, authorizes California counties to establish an office of the inspector general to assist the board of supervisors with oversight of county law enforcement.
We look forward to seeing how the SEJC, and other community partners, continue to further the cause of justice for all in the coming year.
To stay current with the work of the SEJC, or to get involved, check out The SEJC Facebook page here.