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Author Archives: WSS News

Resolve to Rise Celebrates #SAAPM by Encouraging Communities to Stand Their Ground

HAWTHRONE, CA- Resolve to Rise held its first annual symposium entitled “Stand Your Ground –Fighting Sexual Assault Together,” at the Hawthorne Memorial Center, this past Saturday. With the month of April being observed as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (#SAAPM), Yolanda Dunn (founding Director of the non-profit) birthed an event that spoke to the subject through raising awareness, education, empowerment and prevention.

As a survivor of sexual assault, Dunn is passionate about taking the necessary steps to inform the community of the widespread issue. She explains the importance of the event saying, “It’s important to me to try to prevent sex crimes from happening to other families and prevent them from enduring the same emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual trauma that my…daughter and I have endured.”

According to RAINN.org (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And every eight minutes, that victim is a child. Meanwhile, only six out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison.”” Dunn, 37, asserts her goal is to continue to raise awareness in the community and bring them together to stand and be able to be a voice to those that don’t have a voice…report crime and also be more vigilant of their own surroundings.

Officer, Christina Chiarello, Special Victim’s Detective at Hawthorne High School opened the event with a presentation about the subject matter. During her presentation, she expressed that sexual assault amongst high school students is common and many times the victims aren’t aware they’ve been victimized.

Panelist, Dr. Sonya Smith, Director of Pupil Personnel Services for the Hawthorne School District, argued amongst the panel the importance of listening to the victim. Dr. Smith further exclaimed that she, too is a survivor of sexual assault. Like Dr. Smith, panelist Tika Thornton is also a survivor. She briefly shared her story about being a victim of sexual abuse starting at age six. She further disclosed that she was also a victim of sex trafficking from 12 – 18 years of age. Currently, she is the Crisis Response Case Manager for a non-profit organization called Journey Out. She says, “I use my pain as power.”

During the panel discussion, Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney, Craig Rouviere and Dr. Vanessa Hurwitz (Psychologist at Harbor UCLA) provided their take on how to communicate and understand someone who has been sexually abused. Attorney Rouviere provided the best way to approach someone who has been sexually assaulted is to build a rapport and identify with them. Dr. Hurwitz debated that sexual assaulted victims sometime suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Dr. Hurwitz explains “People with PTSD are at greater risk of being assaulted, again…it’s difficult for [them] to [identify] a threat.”

City officials Mayor Pro-Tem, Haidar Awad, Councilwoman Angie Reyes English, Councilwoman Olivia Valentine, Councilman Milo Michelin and Hawthorne Police Chief, Robert Fager were all in attendance to support the cause. Toward the close of the event, pro MMA fighter, boxer, kick-boxer and owner of Systems Training Center (a Krav Maga self-defense training studio), Marcus Kowal, took the stage to demonstrate defense strategies for certain attacks. He also spoke about the death of his 15-month-old son, Liam, who was killed by a drunk driver in Sept. 2016. Since the tragedy, Kowal and his wife started Liam’s Life (www.liamslife.org); a non-profit whose mission is to change the social culture toward drinking and driving; “I will die fighting for my son,” he declared.

Following Kowal’s presentation, Mayor Pro-Tem, Haidar Awad, presented Kowal with a donation to Liam’s Life Foundation. Closing remarks were provided by Resolve to Rise’s founding Director, Yolanda Dunn. She gave thanks to all sponsors, supporters, vendors and event committee (Hawthorne Police Department, Mayor Pro-Tem, Haidar Awad, Systems Training Center, Target, Costco, Resolve to Rise, New Star Family Justice Center, Ooh ahh Productions, LW Special Events Management, Underground PR, HCTV 22, Stella Grafx, Trader Joe’s, NorthGate Market, Food 4 Less, Ralphs and the YWCA).

About Resolve to Rise – Resolve to Rise is dedicated to ensuring the welfare, wellness and well-being of children, adolescents and adults by raising awareness against sexual assault. We exist to empower children, families, schools, communities and survivors to rise above the stigma and aim to live fulfilled lives. To learn more about the organization, or to make a donation, visit www.resolvetorise.org

If you, or someone you know is eing sexually abused, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.4673 (24/7).

Youth Poverty Symposium Addresses Challenges Faced By Our Children, Young Adults

SAN BERNARDINO, CA- Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County (CAPSBC) held a High Desert Youth Poverty Symposium at Victor Valley College on Tuesday, April 11.  Students and educators from the High Desert Region were invited to attend the symposium to discuss poverty challenges for youth and to provide resources and guidance to help address these critical issues facing our children and young adults. 

Victor Valley College sponsored the event which was designed to empower youth to help themselves and to be advocates for each other.  Robert Sewell, M.A., Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Victor Valley College commented, “It is vitally important to provide our youth the opportunity to share how they see poverty and how it affects them. Through their valued input we can develop and share tools that can help to mitigate youth poverty.”

Event attendees were greeted by Dr. Margaret Hill, Board Chair for CAPSBC, who also serves as member of the Board of the San Bernardino City Unified School District, Thomas Rice, Esquire (CAPSBC Board member and Attorney at Law with Best, Best and Krieger), Patricia L. Nickols-Butler (CAPSBC President and Chief Executive Officer), Supervisor Robert Lovingood (Chairman of the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors, 1st District Supervisor), Assembly member Jay Obernolte (California State Assembly District 33), and Dr. Roger Wagner (President of Victor Valley College).”

The general session featured keynote speaker Dr. Tayari Kuanda, a professor at the University of Redlands and high school science teacher. He is also a former student at Victor Valley College. Dr. Kuanda shared his personal experiences with poverty growing up in Detroit, Michigan and South Central Los Angeles. Dr. Kuanda’s self-proclaimed mission in life is to help others, especially our youth. From the time he was 10 years old, he has tutored those in need. As an adult has volunteered at schools in at-risk neighborhoods. Dr. Kuanda discussed how he overcame poverty through education, eventually earning his Doctorate of Leadership in Education for Social Justice. He shared with event attendees how important it is to find people to support you, like teachers and counselors.

The afternoon sessions featured several workshops on poverty issues such as homelessness, food insecurity, employment, crime and justice, healthcare, and civic engagement. Many presenters also shared inspiration stories of their personal struggles with poverty and how they overcame the challenges they faced. The afternoon workshops were:

  • Poverty & Public Policy – Presented by Assembly member Jay Obernolte, California State Assembly District 33 and Fred L. Valentine, Jr., Attorney at Law.
  • Homelessness: Can I Avoid It? – Dr. Dee Gilbert, Moretta, Community Development Foundation
  • Poverty, Crime and Justice – Phyllis Morris, The Public Defender
  • Education, Employment & Entrepreneurship – Marcelino Serna, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools
  • Medical & Mental Health Services – Dr. Ernelyn Navarro & Sommer Hail, St. Joseph, St Mary Medical Center
  • Civic Engagement & Voter Registration – Marcelino Garza, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools
  • Food Insecurity: Feeding Those in Need – Bill Edwards, Victor Valley Rescue Mission & Brandon Romano

Presentations were carried on a Facebook Live video stream on CAPSBC Facebook page. The videos will remain on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/capsbc or on CAPSBC’s website where the public is invited you to view, give comments and emojis. We also have made available presentation materials than can be downloaded from CAPSBC’s website.

CAPSBC CEO Patricia L. Nickols-Butler stated, “We are grateful for the opportunity to inspire and educate these students to help them in the future. It is critical for them to become productive, successful citizens for all of our futures. Through this symposium, we are understanding more about the challenges our youth face and what they need to help them.”

The Poverty Steering Committee who planned and implemented this event was led by CAPSBC Board member Thomas Rice. The committee will convene a meeting in the near future to further discuss what has been learned and develop strategies to help address the issues.


Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability Holds 8th Annual Community Meeting

Tanya Humphrey,        Awardee, Ray Lewis Award for Police Accountability, 2017

Tanya Humphrey,        Awardee, Ray Lewis Award for Police
Accountability, 2017

By John Coleman, Community Photographer

RIVERSIDE, CA- The Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability held it’s 8th Annual Community Meeting and Awards Ceremony at the Kansas Avenue Seventh Day Adventist Church in Riverside on Feb 27.

Riverside Police Officer, Cheryl Hayes, received the RCPA  2017 Bill Howe Award for Police Accountability in recognition of her career roles in law enforcement since 1985, including her employment by the Riverside Police Department.

Tanya Humphrey, RCPA Member/Community Activist, received the RCPA 2017 Ray Lewis Award for Police Accountability for providing police accountability training and education; and for her community outreach and service.

In recounting the history of the Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability, Michael Dunn, the (RCPA) spokesman reminded that the coalition formed rapidly in the furore following the Riverside Police shooting of  Black, American,  female, adolescent, Tyisha Miller, 3 days after Christmas, 1998.   Over the days, weeks,  months, and currently, after almost three decades,  the Coalition continues the struggle with Riverside City officials & the RPD over ‘real’ police accountability. 

Officer Cheryl Hayes,  Awardee, Bill Howe Award for Police Accountability, 2017

Officer Cheryl Hayes,  Awardee, Bill Howe Award for Police
Accountability, 2017

In the wake of the Tyisha Miller shooting, by a 60 percent vote and over the powerful opposition of the police union, the people of Riverside, supported  the Coalition “in the creation of the Riverside Community Police Review Commission and equally remarkable, authorizing a CPRC role in Officer-Involved Death (OID) Case Evaluations.

Times have changed. The City of Riverside ‘Home Page’  reports the role of the Community Police Review Commission is, “when deemed appropriate by the Commission or Manager”  to conduct  an independent investigation….   (then)…..”provide citizen input to the Mayor and Members of the City Council…”

In fairness, the City reports: CRPC investigation of all officer-invoved deaths “is a work in progress  that will become stronger and more effective only if the community has the political will to stay involved with it.”


Oliver Thompson, Phd, Keynote Speaker

At this community meeting of the Coalition for Police Accountability the  Mayor and members of the Riverside City Council, to whom the Riverside City Police and other city employees are accountable were not in attendance.  No current or retired Chief, Riverside Police Dept was present.

There were 2  retired chiefs of police in attendance.  One, William Howe, began his law inforcement career as a Sheriff in Riverside County before becomming Chief of Police for over 6 years in Corona, CA and Chief of Police at UC Riverside, from which he retired in 1988. Howe introduced the scheduled 8th Annual Community Meeting, Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability, Keynote Speaker, Oliver Thompson, PhD,  Professor,  Police Science/Criminal Justice, Riverside Community College, Riverside,CA.

Dr Thompson, following 27 years background and wide range in assignments and responsibilities in the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for more than 5 years as Chief of Inglewood CA Police Department believes that police accountability is a great idea. A goal worth pursuing. A project sometimes planned, but seldom met.   He may even agree that the RCPA and it’s offspring, the RCPRC may, at times be able to ask ‘accountability’ questions and demand answers. (Despite the increasing pace  of people moving in and out of our communities, Riverside continues to be ‘blessed’  with numbers of civically engaged people whose voices still can be heard).

Dr Thompson also has the perspective of almost 40 years teaching community college students to become police, sheriffs, security and other guards and following their careers and experiences; sees some complete college classes continuing to believe in “protect & serve,” but complete police academy convinced they have and ARE ‘the authority’ in most situations. (And have the badge & tools to prove their superiority).  They become molded into the ‘police culture’ of their fellow officers, superiors and Commanders, whether the mold produces oppressive or responsive and responsible law enforcement.

He spoke of communities where many families earn less than $30,000 to less than $50,000 per year; but officers, recent grads, start at $60,000 with ways to ‘take home’ more;  and  circumstances where
officers who shot and killed someone not only were not investigated, despite unanswered questions, but were enabled to take early ‘disability retirement’ BENEFITS.

The major factor which Dr Thompsom identified and considers a force, super strong, much, like a weight, always there, like gravity.  It’s ever present,  all around, You feel it’s effects, but you can’t see
where it begins or ends.  In the US, Black folks and other People of Color identify it as ‘racism;   Women, as ‘sexism or ‘mysogeny’,  This takes many forms/names.    Oppressed people often feel the weights that keep them (as an identified group) down.  They know their needs, their humanity is disregarded by others who claim superiority.

The standard for full & high status in the US was set early, over a century BEFORE the writing of the US Constitution, which established the bases of US laws and justice/injustice.   Some ‘standards’ are
written into law.  Much are un-written.  ‘Police’  are among those ‘society’ empowers to ‘chose’ who fits where and gets what ‘treatment’.

In summary, Police also are an ‘identified group’, operating under rules  imposed on and within law and custom and ‘Society’.  ‘Police Accountability’  will emerge as law, custom, and ‘society’  permit. Congratulations for all RCPA has accomplished.