Statement of Condolence from Black Lives Matter Long Beach Chapter

Wednesday, July 30, 2020 - Long Beach, CA

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia,

The members of Black Lives Matter Long Beach extend our heartfelt condolences and deep sorrow to Mayor Robert Garcia and family in the passing of his mother, Gabriella (Gaby) O’Donnell.

These are difficult days for our city —our Long Beach Family—and serves as a humbling reminder to all of us how precious life truly is. Gaby contributed to the world as a dedicated healthcare worker on the front lines during a crucial time in our city and around the world. We want to take this moment to remember Gaby for how she lived, caring for others. In this spirit of caring and compassion, it’s critical for our Long Beach community to take seriously this crisis we are all in. Black and Latinx members of our community are seeing disproportionate numbers of COVID-19 cases that by far affect our communities the most. A city response that reflects and addresses these kinds of disparities is essential and we hope to see that soon, but right now, we send our deepest condolences to the Mayor and his family. Although we have our differences and continued to call for accountability, we have a shared humanity that calls for empathy. We extend that with our whole hearts.

With Sincerity,

BlackLivesMatter LBC

Letter to Long Beach City Council re: CARES Act, Coronavirus Aid 7/14/20

To: Mayor Garcia, City Council members, City Manager, Tom Modica 

From: Black Lives Matter Long Beach and Long Beach H.O.O.D. Council 

Date: July 14, 2020 

Re: Item 18: July 14th City Council agenda: Recommendation to review a report on Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding and potential uses and provide input and policy direction. 


This letter is in reference to item 18 of the July 14th City Council agenda: Recommendation to review a report on Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding and potential uses and provide input and policy direction. Documents attached to the agenda item indicate that the city incorporated the Equity Toolkit to inform a Health Equity Impact Analysis to guide the proposed allocations of the CARES Act. 

This assertion that the equity toolkit was used is false as there is little prioritization of the Black community in this budget recommendation. Many of the itemized allocations do not center Black residents and do not take into consideration the tragic positioning that systemic and institutional racism have situated the Black community and resulted in COVID-19 hospitalizations and death. All of the Long Beach data to date shows that Black people have experienced a disproportionately high number (29%) of COVID-19 hospitalizations and death compared to the proportion of the City’s Black population (12%). This is an unacceptable health disparity that necessitates an immediate targeted response to address the impacts of more than double the Black population share. 

Where was the community oversight to help determine the allocation of funding? The city’s effort at community engagement did not reach those most impacted because the outreach was late, the singular mechanism was ineffective and the entire process was inappropriate. The City Manager, Tom Modica made comments during the recent listening sessions facilitated by the city, that he would listen and respond to the needs of the Black community. Recommendations that do not center the Black community say otherwise. 

We are aware that the program funding allocation will be approved tonight, as the city is required to deliver to the state by July 17, 2020 reporting costs incurred during the emergency response period March through June 30, 2020. What portions of the city’s emergencies constituted $19,130,494? Since March, we have not only been in a health pandemic but also a continued public health crisis of racism and anti-Blackness, as declared by the city. Since the uprisings occurred because of a crisis manifested in police brutality, none of these resources should be utilized to fund the police budget in any way. 

It is up to the city council to step into bold action. Our budgets must be built for OUR city with input from our most impacted community. Budgets must align with the values we purport to stand for. The disparities starkly unveiled yet again, this time by COVID-19 have been long known, ongoing and cannot be addressed with one-time funding. We must remember that the underlying health conditions experienced by the Black community are a direct result of systemic and institutional racism, that includes food deserts, red-lining, environmental racism and so much more. 

We urge City Council members to find your humanity and take the following steps to center Black lives before passing this CARES ACT budget: 

1. Make more specific recommendations to ensure an equity lens by prioritizing Black residents in every line item of the budget; for example, under Basic Needs ensure that Black residents are receiving food, housing and health support as listed. Another example, under the Youth Leadership & Ambassador Program, ensure that Black youth leaders where they already serve are being supported where they are with training for COVID outreach and education in the Black community. 

2. Create a process for real change to occur and a sense of justice for the Black community. For example, under the Black Education Health Program, ensure that programs that serve the Black community, like the Black Infant Health, be fully funded, accessible and visible in the Black community. 

3. Create a system of accountability with input from a variety of Black community voices, not merely a select few. In order to truly meet the needs of broad inequities, extensive input from those most impacted is necessary. For example, within the Grants to the Arts Community for Economic Support of the Arts with $1.5 million dollars being allocated to the arts community, oversight from Black artists should be part of the discussion to ensure that resources are going to them. In addition, regarding the COVID-19 Small Business Transition and Recovery Grants, Black owned small businesses suffering due to COVID-19, should be part of the discussion to ensure these resources are helping them to restore or recover their business operations. 

These categories and all others must be allocated in proper proportions based on the COVID-19 impact to the Black community. 

We are confident the state of California would be very disappointed by the lack of intentional focus for the distribution of CARES ACT funds based on the most impacted communities of Black and brown residents in Long Beach. 

With Care and Duty, 

Black Lives Matter Long Beach

COVID-19, Black Community, a Crisis and Opportunity

Black people are dying at a rate of two–three times our population share from COVID-19. In Los Angeles County, the rate of Black death is twice our population share, which is 9%, but 17% of the COVID-19 deaths. With nearly 900,000 Black residents in the County and just over 60,000 of them in Long Beach, COVID-19 related hospitalizations for Black people constitute 19% of them, while we are just 12% of the population. Long Beach has yet to release information detailing the death rate by race, but given the numbers we have, the trend is obvious; Black folks are affected at rates far above our population share.

What happens in our city and with it’s Black residents is of serious significance to the health of everyone. We know that COVID-19 both affects the Black community at a higher rate because of a neglencence to act on underlying conditions, caused by a prolonged history of racism, specifically anti-Blackness and exacerbates these same conditions. These underlying conditions impact all areas of life, including: policing/criminal justice, housing, health, pollution/environment, education, life expectancy, employment status, income, entrepreneurship and so much more. The following statistics come from the Long Beach Equitable Growth Profile, released in 2019: Black women lead households are more likely to be rent-burden than their counterparts. Black people have higher levels of unemployment, even with higher levels of education. One out of every four Black people live below the poverty line. Homeownership for Black people is lower than all other races. Black entrepreneurs earn less than other racial groups, per their annual receipts. Black students are twice as likely to be suspended compared with all other students.

A failing education system that results in 35% and 36% reading proficiency for math and reading in 3rd grade later leads to only 32% of Black residents meeting a job requirement of an Associate’s degree. Which makes sense when only about half of Black students are college ready. Black residents have one of the highest mortality rates. Residents in North West and South West Long Beach are burdened with the highest rates of pollution, which is also where the most affordable housing is located. Black households are two times more likely to be without a vehicle compared with all other households combined.

All of these conditions create circumstances that make Black people more susceptible to hospitalization and death from COVID-19 and the economic impacts of the shutdown have worsened these conditions that exist because of a history of structural racism and anti-Blackness.

Every level of government is aware of the problem and while several initiatives have been launched nationally, state-wide and locally, none speak to the particular needs of the Black community. The disproportionate and deadly impact of COVID-19 on the Black community magnifies what we have known, that these “underlying conditions” result from an enduring system of racial apartheid and oppression. Interlocking economic, environmental, political and social injustices collide with long-standing patterns of medical racism to make COVID-19 a Black issue that demands an immediate response specific to the needs of the Black community.

In an unprecedented show of vision, unity, and solidarity, more than 50 Black community leaders from around Los Angeles County have crafted a set of 55 demands to respond to the immediate and long-term needs of the Black community made abundantly clear because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 20 Black Long Beach leaders are among those who also participated in the development of these demands and stand firm with them. These demands are immediate- meant for emergency implementation during the COVID-19 crisis as well as long-term and necessary to eradicate the underlying conditions at the root of the disproportionate impact of the public health crisis.

The drafted demands respond to the urgency of the moment in light of the COVID-19 crisis and related fallout. To address the demands, a significant share of stimulus and public funding must be earmarked as grants for the Black community and ongoing program funding should be redirected from police and law enforcement budgets to provide resources that bring real public safety. While the list is substantial, it was written under severe time-constraints and is not exhaustive or inclusive of the total set of Black community needs.

We urge our Long Beach city leaders and elected officials to remember and acknowledge the tumultuous, yet striving 100 year plus history of its Black residents. Let that acknowledgment guide actions that will see the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to respond to the long-standing systemic needs of the Black community with well-led and funded purposeful intent. Let this process and the demands that come from it be truly driven by the community. Now is a prescient moment to get it right.

In Love and Duty,
Black Lives Matter - Long Beach


While the list is substantial, it was written under severe time-constraints and is not exhaustive or inclusive of the total set of Black community needs.

Immediate Demands:

Testing, Public Health, and Patient Rights-

  1. Complete collection and release of Los Angeles County and California data on COVID-19 cases and deaths, with particular focus on areas with large Black populations.
  2. Universal access to non-invasive testing in Black communities throughout Long Beach especially North West, Central and South West areas.
  3. Any COVID-19-related testing or future vaccinations must be voluntary, not mandatory or conditional for employment, education, access to public resources, or any other economic, political, or social functioning.
  4. Prohibit sharing non-COVID-19-related medical information and required destruction of COVID-19-related medical records held by entities other than direct healthcare providers, including government and private parties, to preserve patient privacy rights.
  5. Collection of self-identified racial, gender, income, age, occupation, employment status, geographic residency, and housing-status data at first point of medical contact.
  6. No forced removal of people from their homes under the guise of quarantine, or for any other reason.
  7. Allowance for a support partner and medical advocate of patient’s choosing during any procedure or treatment, and, if needed at time of death.
  8. On-demand, free medical care for Black residents of Los Angeles County during the COVID-19 crisis.

Education and Families-

  1. Adoption of both all Students Deserve education demands and Black Lives Matter in Schools curriculum by Los Angeles and Long Beach Unified School Districts and all districts County-wide.
  2. Continuance of visitation and reunification programs (in distance-learning format as necessary) for parents with children under the authority of the Department of Children and Family Services, and freezing of reunification timelines.
  3. Divest in school police departments altogether and invest instead in health services, arts and culture programming, and student supports.
  4. No criminalization of youth in Long Long Beach related to COVID 19 precautions such as wearing a mask, etc.

Support for Black Workers and Small Business Owners-

  1. Public contracting with Black-owned restaurants and stores for healthy food and supply delivery during the pandemic and beyond.
  2. Resources, not “enforcement,” for Black-owned businesses that have not been able to shut down during the crisis.
  3. Guaranteed, timely assistance filing for economic resources, including unemployment and small business loans and grants.
  4. Support for Black essential workers, especially those who are underpaid (including gig economy workers), by providing hazard pay, protective equipment, hotel rooms to mitigate the possibility of passing the virus to family members, and an ongoing livable wage and paid sick leave.
  5. Income supplement of $2000 per month per adult and $1000 per month per child for all Black residents for the duration of the pandemic and economic fallout.

Public Safety-

  1. Employ properly-equipped, non-violent, community care workers as neighborhood resources, instead of expanding patrols by funding police and law enforcement.
  2. Funding for neighborhood-based community care plans in Black communities throughout Long Beach especially North West, Central and South West areas.
  3. Moratorium on all non-violent arrests.
  4. Dismissal of all non-violent criminal warrants and citations.

Housing-

  1. On-demand, safe housing and supportive resources for unsheltered people and those fleeing unsafe conditions in unused hotel and motel rooms and vacant housing units.
  2. Cancellation of rents and mortgages, and replacement of rental income to non-corporate Black property owners until the pandemic and economic fallout subsides.
  3. Stop all sweeps of houseless settlements and provide bathrooms, showers, hand washing stations, soap, water, laundry vouchers, dumpsters, vermin abatement, and cleaning supplies.

Criminal Justice Reform-

  1. Immediate release of all people who are pretrial, bail-eligible, elderly, youth, pregnant, infirmed, immuno-comprimised and those held on parole/probation violations or infractions/non-serious misdemeanors from jails or detention.
  2. Immediate release of all people who are parole-eligible, parole-suitable, elderly, youth, pregnant, infirmed, immuno- comprimised and those held on parole violations or non-violent felonies from prisons.
  3. Provision of free housing, healthcare, food resources, and community reintegration support (including help acquiring documents like legal identification) for all people returning from prison, jail, or detention.
  4. Continuance of rehabilitative programs offered by community-based organizations to incarcerated people who will not be released through distance-learning to allow them to continue to earn time off their sentences.
  5. Mandatory usage of personal protective equipment (PPE) by all correctional staff in jails and prisons and provision of PPE to all incarcerated people.

Transportation-

  1. Free public transportation for all for the duration of the pandemic and economic fallout.
  2. Cancellation of fare evasion citations on public transportation.

Other Resources-

  1. Funding to provide free, culturally-competent funeral and burial/cremation services for COVID-19 deaths.
  2. Resources for culturally-competent community education on safer-at-home practices led by Black organizers and educators, with a corresponding prohibition of arrests, fines, and citations in response to safer-at-home violations.
  3. Provision of free face-coverings and gloves at all COVID-19 testing sites, food distribution centers, open public facilities, grocery stores, restaurants, and essential businesses.

Long-Term Demands:

Reparations-

  1. Reparations for all Black victims of COVID-19 (or their families in cases of death), who were unable to get support due to the lack of testing, access to healthcare, and/or overall medical racism.

Healthcare-

  1. Universal, quality, accessible healthcare.
  2. Funding for Black-led, culturally-competent, free exercise and wellness classes in Black communities throughout Long Beach especially North West, Central and South West areas.
  3. Funding for free culturally-competent counseling and mental health resources for Black residents of Los Angeles County.
  4. Medical education that centers cultural-competency, and interrogates implicit bias and anti-Black racism and ongoing retraining of medical professionals in these areas.

Environment-

  1. Funding for organizations that address and work to remedy overarching environmental racism in Black communities.

Food Security-

  1. Weekly farmers markets in Black communities throughout Long Beach especially North-West, Central and South-West areas.
  2. Vouchers for fresh produce for Black residents of Los Angeles County that are universally accepted at all places that sell food.
  3. Funding for culturally-competent healthy eating and food preparation classes run by Black-led organizations.
  4. Creation and maintenance of urban farmland and urban farming education throughout Black communities in Long Beach and LA county.
  5. Funding for Black organizations to start and support maintenance of home-based gardens in Black communities throughout the County and Long Beach especially North-West, Central and South-West areas.

Education-

  1. Recruitment of and scholarships for Black students to pursue careers in healthcare, including naturopathy and holistic medicinal practices.
  2. Funding for Black scholarships, student recruitment, retention, and graduation initiatives at CSULB and Charles Drew Universities.
  3. .Guaranteed admission, scholarship, and support programming for Black students to all public colleges and universities, namely CSULB.

Housing-

  1. Declare housing as a human right and provide universal permanent housing for all.

Criminal Justice Reform-

  1. Automatic diversion services for all arrests of those under age 25, covering all offenses
  2. Funding for and prioritization of alternatives to incarceration

Public Safety-

  1. Prioritization of culturally-competent community solutions and resources to address public safety, including livable wage jobs, mental health services, after school programs, and community care workers, instead of police and law enforcement.

Transportation-

  1. Free public transportation for all, beginning with K-12 youth and seniors.
  2. Double the Long Beach Transit schedule and make service available 24-hours-per-day and 7-days-per-week.

Other Resources-

  1. Free, quality, universal childcare.
  2. Provide ample high quality, safe, accessible recreational spaces and cultural services including: parks, facilities, programs, and special events.
  3. Financial incentives to create and maintain worker-controlled cooperatives.