New NAN Chapter Fights for Justice
By Dianne Anderson
Going into the 2024 election, it seems like voters have a jump on time, but not so fast.
Despite an overwhelming trail of contempt charges, it looks like Trump supporters are pushing for a replay of the last Administration, and that worries Darlene Futrel, president of the Orange County National Action Network.
She said the Black community continues to feel the reverberations of the last four years.
“He tapped into the dark side of America. He’ll do it again if we don’t come together,” she said.
NAN, with over 100 chapters nationwide, is led by civil rights leader and activist, Rev. Al Sharpton.
Structurally, the organization is nonpartisan, but holds strong standing initiatives, including justice reform, Black healthcare, and policy with each chapter also focused on issues that impact their unique regions.
While the big spotlight lately is on redistricting, she said their chapter hasn’t taken on that fight. Compared to their NAN Los Angeles County chapter where redistricting lines impact the Black community, she said it has minimal impact in Orange County.
“Where I live in Anaheim Hills, my representatives are all Republicans other than Rep. Katie Porter, so how they structure the lines isn’t going to matter to me and my few Black neighbors. Our focus is on the justice system,” she said.
From now until the next election, NAN-OC is mainly concerned about voting rights, increasing voter engagement, registering voters and making them understand what’s at stake and what comes next.
The last four years have been harsh on the Black community, and then the pandemic impact brought huge social and economic consequences.
“We have to not give up, not hold back, don’t even ease up off the gas,” she said.
Addressing the potential voting rights impact on the elderly under the new Real ID requirements is another focus for her chapter. Many seniors may not be as easily able to vote for lack of mobility or have access to the new form of identification.
To test it out, Futrel went online. She said that it looks like a stumbling block.
“If you don’t have your birth certificate then you have to come into a DMV office, or you have to get the document online and notarized, it has several steps,” she said.
Another issue NAN-OC is fighting is for LGBTQ and transgender rights. She said that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, and the Black Trans community continues to be a fast-growing target of hate crime.
Since starting the local chapter on July 31, she has held a voter registration drive, and signed off on a Haitian immigration initiative. Last month, NAN-OC co-hosted a webinar along with People’s Budget OC, ACLU SoCal Yalla Indivisible, and OC Justice Initiative. In it, the panel discussed police violence, and the case of Tatiana (Tia) Turner, the activist who tried to flee from white supremacists during a peaceful march in Yorba Linda.
Instead of the Orange County Sheriff keeping them separated, she said they allowed the white supremacists to cross the street to Black Lives Matter protesters.
Turner was released on $1 million bail in August and the case is going to trial. She said that NAN-OC is very concerned with her particular case to shed more light on the pattern of how the system overcharges the Black community for bail and fees.
Police abuse of those experiencing mental health issues also happens more frequently in both the Black and Brown communities. One of the organization’s initiatives is to get social workers at the scene with law enforcement.
“We want to them to come up with a procedure so they can determine if it is a mental health issue or is it really a crime because they’re sending out those who aren’t trained to assess,” she said. “They don’t even want to come out to deescalate a situation.”
NAN-OC is about serving the underserved, and making an impact for the voiceless. She said their oldest senior member in the local NAN is 87 years old.
The chapter is also hoping to develop a program to meet with seniors who are abandoned in convalescent homes or facilities without someone monitoring them. She noticed just how bad the problem was when her father was in the hospital.
“Black seniors are at risk,” she said. I spent every night at the hospital with him and I saw what would happen every night after [guests left],” she said.“They don’t have anyone to advocate for them.”
To attend the upcoming NAM-OC meeting, see https://rb.gy/MDYDOM