MRAP it up
Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto announced on Monday that his department wouldn’t accept a free mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle from the FBI after the public expressed fears of a militarized sheriff’s force busting out its new toy for peaceful protests. “While Sheriff Prieto empathizes and agrees with some of these concerns expressed, ultimately, taking into careful consideration the backdrop of the current national political climate and the fear of police militarization, the Sheriff believes community confidence and trust are more important than the acquisition of an MRAP vehicle,” a sheriff’s department release stated. The department said it would continue relying on West Sacramento and Woodland police departments if and when it needs an MRAP to respond. Woodland PD acquired its free rig last year after community outcry prompted Davis police returned its one to the military. An MRAP costs about $200,000, Prieto’s release said.
Cause for celebration
Reviving the Right-to-Rest campaign as a weekend block party, the Sacramento Youth Council and Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee co-hosted a SafeGround StakeDown on April 1-2 that advocated for affordable housing, “resident driven” encampments and an end to anti-homeless laws. Mixing marches with street theater, the two-day fest at 12th and C streets pointedly coincided with the closure of winter-season shelter across the city and county of Sacramento, and reminded officials that the movement is not going away.
Incognito no more
On March 29, the Republican-dominated Congress passed legislation that will allow internet service providers to sell and share their customers’ browsing history without consent. Congresswoman Doris Matsui slammed the dystopian law’s passage, saying that now “consumers understand who is on the side of their privacy.” If President Donald Trump’s tax returns could generate profits for multinational corporations, best believe those bad boys would have been out months ago.
Under current California laws, it is a felony to not disclose one’s HIV status before engaging in prostitution, unprotected sex or donating blood. There’s also three-year sentence enhancements for HIV-positive people who commit nonsexual crimes. No other disease is punished this harshly, despite HIV’s nearly nonexistent transmission rate when treated with medication. Health professionals believe these laws counterproductively discourage people from getting tested, disclosing their status and seeking treatment. On March 28, the Senate Public Safety Committee advanced Senate Bill 239, which would repeal these harsher penalties because there are far more effective treatments for the condition than jail time. The proposed legislation has a few floors to go before it can reach the governor’s pen. As always, it’s a slow march to progress.
On April 1, The New York Times reported that Bill O’Reilly had racked up $13 million in settlements with five women alleging sexual abuse. Two complained after the dismissal of Fox News honcho Roger Ailes, who got accused by more than 20 women of sexual harassment, indicating the network’s culture hasn’t changed. According to the Times, O’Reilly had allegedly made unwanted propositions for trysts, phone sex and threesomes, then threatened the career prospects of the women who rebuffed him. Despite some of his advances being recorded, he denies any wrongdoing, a very presidential move.