Riverside Groups Call For New Task Force
By Dianne Anderson
As the COVID-19 death toll continues to rise in the Black community, Riverside activists are urgently pressing to form a countywide African American task force to address racism as a public health crisis.
Community activist Corey Jackson said that his organization, Sigma Beta Xi, along with Riverside NAACP, COPE. Riverside County Black Chamber of Commerce, The Black Collective, and 100 Black Men of the Inland Empire seek redress on several action items from the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.
“What we are asking is to now pass anti-racism and anti-systemic racism resolutions similar to Milwaukee County, Franklin County and Ohio to begin to deal with ingrained systemic racism that we’re plagued with,” he said.
Jackson, also President of the Moreno Valley City-Wide Coalition, Political Action Chair of the Riverside NAACP, said potential COVID-19 funding is important, but ensuring the task force is properly and effectively implemented is critical.
He said the task force is needed to address systemic racism through policy changes, and ensures that staff who are affected by, or have been taught racism, at these institutions can get proper training to stop perpetuating social injustice.
The COVID-19 mortality rate is not showing any signs of abatement for African Americans, according to APM Researchers.
“21,878 Black Americans are known to have lost their lives to COVID-19 through Tuesday, May 26. This is an increase of 1,683 deaths among Blacks compared to our last report one week earlier (reflecting the same set of reporting areas),” the report states.
In working with several Black organizations, Jackson said one goal is to establish groundwork to hand off the effective county resolutions to the next generation. He said many resolutions are online that can be downloaded for easy access for all local leaders to mold as their own.
“If elected officials really want to do something, we have sample resolutions online for them to take as their own, and tweak it and adopt,” Jackson said.
In light of the protests worldwide, the fight for justice and health issues must start at the local level to root out racism, Jackson said, but added the effort must be sustained for the long haul.
“Policy is the cause of everything, the riots are a symptom of what’s going on underneath. We need to focus on the source of it,” said Jackson. “We can’t just hit the streets once, we have to keep doing it.”
Last year, Jackson took the lead on an ACLU lawsuit against Riverside County’s YAT program, the so-called Voluntary Probation program is funded with state dollars. About 400 teens each year had been placed in the program as punishment for minor offenses, although many never broke a law. They were criminalized for childhood behavior, such as defiant in class.
The lawsuit to restore constitutional rights to teens wrongly criminalized was settled instead of going to court. The judge awarding $1.4 million in a juvenile justice settlement that was awarded to nonprofits hosting diversionary programs.
Jackson is also the first African American elected to the Riverside County Board of Education, and former president of the 100 Black Men of the Inland Empire.
Recent weeks have been nothing short of head-spinning, but Keith Willis, said 100 BMIE is intent on keeping their students focused on the higher education trajectory.
Since starting in 2015, “The 100” has offered after school programs at RUSD, and partnering with Cal Baptist University where they held their Saturday Academy along with several other programs.
Yet, in one week as the school system shut down, it was all over.
To deal with new virtual demands, the 100 BMIE developed an online academy program.
Typically, they hold academic tours at several local and inland campuses, but this year they also participated in online HBCU college tours with several participating campuses. He said it’s important to keep their students tightly connected to the collegiate routine.
“That’s one of the reasons why we [located] college campuses so students are acclimated to the rigors of college life. We want that to be something that is normalized for them,” said Willis, president of the 100 BMIE.
He said that although not everything in the uprising is unprecedented, it has been hard to watch and hard to turn away for students and adults. They are also trying to navigate being at home and dealing with the COVID 19 reality.
With everything going on, the organization is setting aside time to give their kids a way to process the new reality as part of their health and wellness platform.
It’s about giving a way for students to cope with the heinous police brutality that they see every night.
“It’s a sort of flashpoint we’re dealing with,” he said. “Mentors and mentees alike are taken aback. We call it a unique historical moment because we haven’t seen these things, discrimination that happened so blatantly in the public eye.”
To see available template initiatives, see
and see, https://www.sigmabetaxi.com