Students at Sacramento Charter High School take part in the nationwide walkout on March 14th, 2018.
Four years ago, the Human Rights Society dubbed Sacramento with the title of “Second Worst City in the US for Human Trafficking.”
In December of last year, Elan Seagraves, a soccer coach at John F. Kennedy High School, was arrested on human trafficking charges and for pimping at least two minors.
In early February, 58-year-old Yun Escamilla was booked into Sacramento County Jail on five counts of felony pandering–the act of persuading/forcing someone to become a prostitute. Escamilla housed five young women, constantly transporting them between three different Sacramento residences. It was reported that some of the women being prostituted were from Hong Kong and all were of Asian descent.
“Sex trafficking”, as it is called, is a global epidemic.
Thousands of people worldwide have been sold into, coerced or manipulated into sex-slavery. It has poisoned countless communities, but how big is Sacramento’s human trafficking problem?
“It’s been highlighted that there is more human trafficking in Sacramento than in other jurisdictions, but I think that it is equal to other jurisdictions,” Cindy Stinson, Lieutenant for the Sacramento Police Department and co-founder of Community Against Sexual Harm or CASH, told AccessLocal.Tv in an interview. “One reason that, if there is more human trafficking on Sacramento is because we have lots of freeways that run through Sacramento and there’s something called the circuit, where women will be driven to different cities where the freeways are close.”
Lt. Stinson thinks that another one of the reasons human trafficking in Sacramento is so highlighted is because the city is so informed on the issue and strives to do more about it through nonprofit organizations like CASH and WEAVE.
But is there any way individuals can fight against human trafficking in Sacramento?
“One way we can fight against sex trafficking in Sacramento is to focus on the demand,” Lt. Stinson explained. “So instead of going out and arresting the women or focusing on forcing action on the women who really are the victims, we can really focus on the men who are creating the demands to buy women–who are trolling around looking to buy girls and women for sex.”
“If all the law enforcement agencies in Sacramento got together and decided, ‘Hey, we’re not going to put as much of our effort on arresting the women, we’re going to put a lot of our effort on arresting the men who are pimps, who are trafficking the women, that would have a huge impact. It would also deliver the message that Sacramento is not a place that you want to come to buy women or traffic women.”
If you or someone you know is or might be a victim of human trafficking, please encourage them to call 1-888-373-7888, or text HELP to 233733.
Sacramento tenants have suffered one of the highest rent increases in the country during the past year. Rents in Sacramento have increased nearly 10 percent in 2017, making it the highest rental market of any city in the entire nation.
Renters have had enough. Housing advocate group Organize Sacramento intends to collect signatures to have a measure added to the November ballot that would encapsulate the tempest that has become Sacramento’s housing market.
“How many years can we have nearly 10 percent average rent increases?” said Michelle Pariset, one of the ballot’s authors and a board member with Organize Sacramento told the Sacramento Bee. “Who making minimum wage can deal with 10 percent year-over-year rent increases?”
The measure named the Sacramento Renter Protection and Community Stabilization Charter Amendment, would cap annual rent increases on older buildings at 5 percent, implement “just cause” protections for tenants, and require financial relocation assistance for renters that are forced to move out.
This measure could be very helpful to elevate Sacramento’s growing homeless population, as many of renters, particularly those who are low income, suffered greatly from the rent increase.
However, a lot of landlords feel as if the measure will do more harm than good.
“Rent control is the wrong solution to our shortage of affordable housing in the region,” senior vice president of the California Apartment Association, Jim Lofgren, expressed on the CAA website. Lofgren believes that the measure will only discourage investors and developing companies from building in Sacramento. “We’re sympathetic to the plight of renters, we recognize there is a problem, but this is the wrong solution. We need to attract more investment in housing, and rent control only scares it away. It’s counterproductive.”
Many other California cities have already adopted rent control measures like Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco. Organize Sacramento has until May to collect nearly 40,000 signatures to put its proposition on the November ballot.
After the Trump Administration filed a lawsuit over its Sanctuary State laws, Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared in Sacramento for a speech covering his issues with California. This appearance ignited a protest right outside of the Sawyer Hotel in Downtown Sacramento.
In honor of National Women’s Day, local organizers put together a march to discus prevelant issues that all women deal with, as well as the women in Sacramento. There was a heavy emphasis on diversity, and inclusion. There also was live music, as well as speeches given by different organizers.
The largest expansion of youth voter access in American history will occur next year. A new bill, known as AB 1407, was signed by Governor Jerry Brown, on February 26th, 2018, that will automatically pre-register all eligible sixteen and seventeen year olds to vote when they receive a California Driver’s License or California State ID. This bill will automatically pre-register approximately 200,000 sixteen and seventeen year olds to vote annually. AB 1407 was proposed by Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher and was sponsored by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
AB 1407 updates the 2015 New Motor Voter Program, which allowed every eligible citizen, who requested a driver’s license or state ID, to be automatically registered to vote. This update will simply include automatic voter pre-registration for youth. Of course, young people have the option to opt out of pre-registration, if they wish.
“AB 1407 will increase voter engagement by removing the unnecessary step of pro-actively registering to vote, increasing the likelihood of a young person voting in future elections,” said Assemblymember McCarty. “We need more young people engaged in the political process and impacting issues like college access and affordability, climate change, healthcare, and housing. Voting is the first step to make a citizen an active part of the political process. This measure will make sure that all voices in California are heard.”
This bill is scheduled to take effect on January 1st, 2019.
Meanwhile, on March 5th, Sacramento County’s Department of Voter Registration and Elections hosted an open-house meeting where Sacramento residents were invited to learn about the California Voter’s Choice Act’s effects on available voting options and to experience the new voting system technology that will be implemented in the June 2018 Primary Election. The open-house meeting was hosted at the Department of Voter Registration and Elections building from 2:00 PM – 7:00 PM.
As per the procedure of the California Voter’s Choice Act, all Vote Center locations will be open two weeks before Election Day so that voters may vote on a day that is convenient with their schedule. Voters can visit any Vote Center within the county and staff will be available to provide assistance in multiple languages, help voters with disabilities, and update voter registration information. Of course, rather than attending Vote Centers, voters will have the options to vote by returning their ballots through mail or by dropping it off in the nearest county drop-box.
After the shooting at a Florida high school, students from all accords the United States have decided that they are going to band together and walk out of class on March 14th. But with principals threatening suspensions, some students are worried about how their activism may hinder their academic success. The ACLU put together a livestream video to reassure students of their rights, and what is equal punishment versus excessive punishment, and what you can do to assert your rights.
The NRA and US government couldn’t see it coming.
Never before has youth activism like that seen after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, Florida been this elaborate, efficient, or monumental.
Students are angry, as can be expected, by the horrific shooting that took place two weeks ago. They were further angered to learn that the gunman was able to buy a semi-automatic assault rifle legally and easily.
Regardless the shooters frequent threats of violence, social media posts of him posing with various weapons, and later unveiled allegations of domestic abuse toward his partners, many politicians are preferring to focus on the shooter’s mental health and the United States’ “mental health issue” rather than on gun control. But the survivors of one of the worst school shootings in recent history refuse to allow politicians to ignore the elephant in the room.
“This is something that people can not get used to,” said student David Hogg to ABC News. “This is something that we can’t (let) keep happening. If we do, and we get used to it, it’s going to happen again.“
Marjory Stoneman Douglas students like Emma Gonzalez and Cameron Kasky have worked together to help launch the #NeverAgain movement and the March for Our Lives protest on March 24th to “demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues,” according to their mission statement.
Three million people viewed the CNN town hall meeting in Florida, Marjory Stoneman Douglas students had their opportunity to talk to Senators like Marco Rubio and ask them bluntly “will you continue to accept donations from the NRA?”
Youth activist groups have never gained publicity like this before but Never Again MSD, founded by Cameron Kasky, have already raised nearly $3 million in just one week for March for Our Lives. And the publicity keeps growing.
On February 5th, a racially charged science fair project was put up by a student of McClatchy High School in Sacramento. The student’s hypothesis was “if the average IQs of blacks, Southeast Asians, and Hispanics are lower than the average IQs of non-Hispanic whites and Northeast Asians, then the disproportionately in HISP (an advance student group) is justified.” The student used an online quiz to develop his conclusion that “As can be seen, non-Hispanic whites and Northeast Asians have an IQ advantage of fifteen points over blacks and Southeast Asians, and ten points over non-white Hispanics. Therefore, the hypothesis is accepted…” For obvious reasons, this created significant controversy and raised a plethora of questions about McClatchy and the “Humanitanities and International Studies” program.
The project remained standing for two days; it was taken down in the morning only after students, staff, and parents complained. The project also had to have gone through a teacher to be approved before being showcased. This has raised many questions about the school staff’s ethics.
A week after the project was taken down, a forum was held to discuss whether top academic schools were disproportionately excluding minority students access to their schools. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Superintendent Jorge Aguilar, and roughly 250 concerned Sacramento citizens gathered to have this discussion.
“What we see, is that of the 184 students that apply and are in the lottery, only 7% are African American,” Superintendent Jorge Aguilar stated during the meeting. “Even though they make up 14% of our class, and of the 349 that didn’t apply, they’re only 6%”
“We can’t tell ourselves that we’re going to wait until we’ve addressed the roots of this issue to start addressing the (topic point),” Amos Karlsen, a senior at McClatchy High School said during the discussion. “So one of the things I noticed, one of the things I wasn’t surprised by was the fact that only one student of every 40 who met the criteria that the district created (applied).”
This, however, is not the first time a staff member of McClatchy did something questionable. On October 3rd, 2016, a coach named Joakima Gregg called out three girls by their color instead of by their names, saying “three little black girls go sit down”. Coach Gregg did not face repercussions, and was claimed to have only given “vague individual apologies and only a vague mention to the teams.”
There is currently an investigation into HISP programs and how they select their students. Whether the HISP programs will become more diverse with the people they let into their programs, or if they continue to be the way they are, remains to be seen.
In the era of “fake news”, youth media organizations from all over California came together for the 2018 Youth Media Statewide Conference to sharpen their skills in journalism. This event was held in Oakland between February 17th – 18th at the Waterfront Hotel and was hosted by Youth Radio, a nonprofit media production company, an institution that prepares young people for the 21st-century digital workplace. The conference consisted of speakers and their experiences as freelance journalists, workshops on topics concerning photojournalism techniques and social media management, and networking opportunities.
So why is it important for young reporters to learn skills about media literacy and journalism? In light of the 2016 election, many American consumers of digital news and social media are aware of fake news and many young reporters in California are working to combat that with training in media literacy and in the production of quality, reputable local news.
“I really enjoyed meeting other youth media programs at the conference,” said Jazmine Justice-Young, a fellow youth media reporter. “I think my team and I learned a lot from the workshops they had that we’ll be taking back with us.”
Various workshops were provided to train young reporters to create quality news content. Erika Aguilar, a Podcast Producer and Reporter of KQED Public Radio in San Francisco, and Laura Klivans, a Community Health Reporter of KQED Public Radio who is also stationed in San Francisco, gave lessons in podcasting – and what different formats they consist of in terms of the level of production – as well as some techniques to ensure maximum audio standards for the audience’s experience.
Noah Berger, a freelance photographer who works for national and international news outlets such as the Associated Press, Reuters, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the New York Times, did a presentation concerning his experiences, techniques, and ethics of photojournalism. He demonstrated hands-on lighting techniques and discussed the best approaches to covering protests and other potentially-risky assignments.
Annie Yu, an Audience Engagement Editor of the L.A. Times, taught strategies of using social media in journalism to be more engaging to the audience. The basics include making a social media plan for a story, leading crowdsourcing campaigns, and building an audience.
The 2018 Youth Media Conference was overall a success as many youth reporters learned from experienced journalists and the training and support provided by the conference helped to sharpen the skills needed to be a credible, self-sufficient journalist.