Gov. Gavin Newsom expressed his support for ending the use of carotid holds on detainees, which is similar to the one used on George Floyd in Minneapolis, during his Friday, June 5, press conference.
"Across this country, we train techniques on strangleholds that put people's lives at risk. Now, we can argue that these are used as exceptions, but at the end of the day, a carotid hold, that literally is designed to stop people's blood from flowing into their brain, has no place any longer in the 21st-century practices and policing," he said. He has directed police departments to end the practice and its training immediately.
Newsom's comments come a day after Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson, introduced Assembly Bill 119 to make it illegal to use carotid restraint.
The state banned chokeholds, also known as neck restraints, by officers decades ago, Newsom said, but strangleholds were still being used. He said there has been a hierarchy of values that diminished on certain people based on the color of their skin, and it must change.
Newsom used the press conference, which over the past two months has largely focused on issues related to COVID-19, to emphasize the state's commitment to change and improve its treatment of people of color and to move to parity. He has traveled throughout the state to speak with community leaders about the racial inequities and subsequent outrage over police abuses.
In his interactions and through demonstrations throughout the state in recent days, Newsom said it's clear that youth have expressed with clarity and conviction that they are out of patience.
"They have no patience," he said, adding that there's now a deeper sense of urgency to commit to change beyond policy and to convert that to action.
The black community does not need to change. We need to change," he said. "We can't be long on rhetoric and short on results," he said.
As part of his plan, he announced the appointments of Lateefa Simon, president of the Oakland-based Akonadi Foundation and an advocate for civil rights, racial justice, and juvenile justice; and Ronald Davis, former executive director of President Barack Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing and a 30-year police veteran, as advisers on policing and inequality reform.
Davis served with Oakland police for 20 years as a captain and was police chief in East Palo Alto for nine years starting in 2005. He is credited with significantly bringing down violence in East Palo Alto at the height of the city's homicide crisis through community policing programs.
In the 1960s, video evidence on civil rights shows that "our job was to oppress civil rights," he said of policing at Friday's press conference. Now, the job of police officers is to protect those rights.
But departments across the country must make good on their stated intentions.
"I've seen a lot of chiefs take a knee. Now take a stance," he said.
Davis said that under Newsom's leadership, the state can help change the culture of policing.
Newsom, quoting 14th-century Italian poet and writer Dante Alighieri, said "the hottest place in hell is reserved for those who in times of crisis remained neutral."
The governor said the state will also look at standardizing how force is used in protests, such as the use of tear gas and projectiles such as rubber bullets. Currently, municipalities have their own policies, which vary.
The state enacted Assembly Bill 392 last August, which is the country's toughest law against the use of force. The bill redefines when homicide by an officer is justifiable. Under previous law, a homicide committed by a peace officer was justifiable when arresting a person who committed a felony and the person was fleeing or resisting arrest.
AB 392 limits deadly force to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or to another person, among other reasons related to a threat of serious injury or immediate threat of death.
That bill hasn't stopped violence by police and mistrust, however, he said. Senate Bill 230, companion legislation on implicit bias training and enacted in September 2019, is set to go into effect in January 2021. Newsom said his staff is looking into pulling some features of the bill together faster before that time, however.
He added the state is working to address disparities related to incarceration, prenatal care, early education and other programs. He noted that only 10% of black students have met proficiency standards by the eighth grade.