SOUTH LOS ANGELES — U.S. Rep. Karen Bass urged Angelenos to resist President Donald Trump’s administration during a forum on the impact of his policies at the Holman United Methodist Church June 24. Bass was joined by state Sen. Holly J. Mitchell, City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson and other political and community dignitaries for the discussion.
The community forum, titled “Trump’s Assault on Black America—How We Resist and Fight Back,” was an effort by politicians and community members to address what they called the unjust policies of the Trump administration and what they can do and have done to fight back.
Sen. Mitchell spoke about the threats to public services and the fears that undocumented persons face under the current administration. She spoke also of budget policies and funding that are providing resources and services to Californians, including the $50 million taken from the 2016 Tobacco Tax Increase, or Proposition 56, that was directed to expand and increase support for women’s reproductive health.
“Ninety percent of the services provided in Planned Parenthood clinics — which are community clinics — have nothing to do with [abortion],” Mitchell said.
She added that the reversal of the Affordable Care Act and the removal of Planned Parenthood as a Medi-Cal provider are attacks on services that citizens are entitled to.
“In California, Planned Parenthood is third in the ranking of Medi-Cal providers,” Mitchell said. “And so if they can no longer provide Medi-Cal services, we are in trouble. We already have an access issue. We already don’t have enough primary care physicians to meet the population need.”
County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas talked further about the crises that the 900,000 African Americans in the Los Angeles County face.
“It is, in my view, a very fundamental challenge to the dignity of all people that 9 percent of the county’s population is African American and 40 percent of those who are homeless happen to be African American. Somehow, we have to come to grips with the inherent contradictions and racial implications of that.”
With 9 percent of the county being black, it makes it “one of the largest population centers for African Americans in the country.”
“Don’t discount the issue of racial injustice and think it’s something of the past,” Ridley-Thomas said, calling the current administration ignorant. “It’s right now, it’s today, it’s in the White House stronger than it ever has been,”
He added that Los Angeles County is fortunate with respect to its resources and solvency. With its $30 billion budget, the county will continue to “strengthen the safety net of the County of Los Angeles” despite federal budget cuts to the Housing and Urban Development Department and other such agencies.
A few efforts the county is making are Measure H (the Sales Tax for Homeless Services and Prevention), Section 8 vouchers, and CalFresh, which Ridley-Thomas said is helping ease the issue of food insecurity that overwhelmingly affects African-American communities.
Harris-Dawson said that social services like community development block grants are under assault by the federal government. Every year, the city receives close to $63 million in those federal grants, with $2 million going to Harris-Dawson’s 8th District. Their reduction or elimination, Dawson said, would adversely impact projects in South Los Angeles.
Immigration issues also were a recurring topic of discussion during the panel.
“The return to the near police-state conditions that we had back in the 90s disrupts the quality of life for everybody,” Harris-Dawson said, referring to the continual threats of deportation of documented people by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
These fears, he continued, have resulted in almost two-thirds less domestic violence calls to the Los Angeles Police Department, because people are afraid that calling the police to report acts of violence could result in their deportation.
Other speakers included Sydney Kamlager, a member of the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees; representatives of the Congressional Black Caucus, Zack Mohamed from the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, and members of the African American Caucus of the California Democratic Party.
“This is a very different moment in our history. This is a profound presidency that can have an impact on us for generations to come,” Bass said.