Protesters stood outside Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s house on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, giving her a “people’s inauguration.” Demonstrators went to Schaaf’s house at 5 a.m. to express frustrations that the newly elected mayor spent her first day on the job at the Oakland Police Department instead of with the people of Oakland. The group made the words of King very clear by spelling out “Dream” in honor of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, projecting King quotes on Schaaf’s garage door and drawing chalk outlines of bodies on the street. The protestors chanted “Wake up Libby!” as well as “No sleeping on the job!” and “You chose to prioritize blue, but today you will hear black.”
According to InsideBayArea.com, one of the protestors said, “This is the people’s alarm. You chose to spend your first day as mayor with the Oakland Police Department, a force that has terrorized the black community since its inception.”
The protestors also arrived with a list of demands that include increasing funding for school libraries, firing officers who use excessive force and placing officers who are under investigation on unpaid leave. The Oakland police were there to monitor the crowd and made four arrests.
According to Reuters, hundreds of protestors arrested during a 2012 Occupy Movement demonstration in Oakland, CA won nearly a $1.4 million settlement of a lawsuit that accused authorities of violating their civil rights, an attorney said on Jan. 15. The federal lawsuit against Oakland and the county of Alameda said the mass arrests on Jan. 28, 2012 violated the protesters’ constitutional rights to free speech, due process and protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. According to the demonstrators, who were held in jail for between 12 and 80 days, they endured unsanitary and overcrowded cells and were denied their rights to contact family members. Mayor Libby Schaaf said Occupy Oakland was a very costly experience for the city and she is very committed to never face “this level of liability” again.
According to SFGate.com, Mills Alumna Lateefah Simon, 37, who is one of 13 nominees for Visionary of the Year, has been aiming to “create a Bay Area that’s good to its people.” She fought for job training and child care for young women caught up in the criminal justice system, education and housing for parolees. A former high school dropout, teenage mother and delinquent, she understood the cycle some of the Bay Area’s young men and women were trapped in: unemployment, jail and drug use. Some of the previous honors Simon has received include the MacArthur Foundation grant, a Levi Strauss award and a spot on O Magazine’s first Power List. The Visionary of the Year award, which includes a $10,000 grant and another $10,000 established in their honor at St. Mary’s College for graduate business students, will be presented in a ceremony in March.
According to the New York Times, President Barack Obama, on Jan. 20 addressed the improving economy and supported an expensive domestic agenda aiming to improve the fortunes of the middle class in this year’s State of the Union address. Obama plans to use his final two years in office to focus more on other programs. He called to make community college free for most students, enhance education and child care tax credits, and improve new taxes and fees on those earning a high-income and large financial institutions. In addition, the President called to continue a foreign policy that combines “military power with strong diplomacy” and called on Congress to lift the trade embargo on Cuba, authorize legislation on the fight against the Islamic State, push forward with aggressive action to fight climate change and would not back down on changes to the nation’s immigration system. In addition, Obama was the first president to say the words “transgender,” “gay” and “bisexual” in a State of the Union address, making history.
According to the New York Times, the Supreme Court on Jan. 16 agreed to decide whether all 50 states must allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. The decision came just months after the justices, in October, refused to hear appeals from rulings allowing same-sex marriage in five states. The number of states who legalized same-sex marriage recently expanded to about 70 percent of the states.
Lawmakers are renewing efforts to allow California’s terminally ill greater choice over how and when they die, according to InsideBayArea.com. On Jan. 21, two state senators and the family of the late Brittany Maynard, who inspired the bill, will unveil the End of Life Option Act, which allows doctors in California to prescribe a lethal dose of medications to terminally ill patients. States such as Oregon already have 17 years of experience with the law and have not used this legislation often nor triggered any legal disputes. The goal of a more compassionate and cost-effective way to end one’s life has taken on growing resonance with the aging population. Opponents have seen this proposal as a moral violation and believe that this may provoke the very sick or disabled patients who feel family or economic pressure to die. Lawmakers have pledged to introduce aid-in-dying legislation in 12 other states besides California.
According to the Los Angeles Times, The California Department of Public Health was investigating nine measles cases tied to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park, officials said on Jan. 7. The cases, reported in California, Utah and Mexico, occurred when those affected visited the theme parks during the holidays from Dec. 15 to Dec. 20, according to officials. Health professionals say the best way to prevent measles, which is airborne and can be spread easily through coughing, sneezing or coming into contact with an infected person, is to get vaccinated. The recent outbreak has made a comeback since being declared eradicated in the United States in 2000. As of this week, according to USA Today, 70 people have been diagnosed with measles and hundreds more have been exposed at various public places such as schools, hospitals and malls. The outbreak has been reported in 27 states in 2014 according to the CDC.
On Jan. 7, 12 people were shot dead and at least four were critically wounded in the Paris office of satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, during their daily editorial meeting, according to BBC World News. The masked attackers opened fire with assault rifles in the office and exchanged shots with police in the streets outside before escaping by car. The attack was believed to have been sparked by a caricature the magazine published of the Prophet Muhammad. Charlie Hebdo’s website, which went offline during the attack, shows the single image of “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) on a black banner, referring to the most popular hashtag in Twitter history that is trending in solidarity with the victims, according to The Telegraph.