Community leaders gathered with hundreds of marchers to protest the discriminatory Senate Bill 793. The goal of SB793 is to ban the sale of flavored tobacco, prohibiting e-cigarettes and vaping; however, menthol cigarettes are also included in the band while excluding hookah. A clearly racist and discriminatory exclusion.
Many would ask, why is this discriminatory? The fact is, studies show that eighty eight percent of African Americans who smoke, smoke menthol cigarettes. If the simple act of a consensual adult purchasing a menthol cigarette becomes a criminal act, then that makes the SB793 a direct hit towards African Americans.
The community leaders’ concern is the unintended consequences of this bill will be over-policing and enforcement in communities of color, which already suffer from systematic racism and police brutality. With the Black Lives Matter movement in full effect, bringing attention to the injustices that are already happening, SB793 gives law enforcement another reason to stop and harass people of color.
Hundreds of people marched in front of the home of California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, letting their voices be heard. Alongside faith leaders and other activists, the protest was peaceful while wearing masks and practicing social distancing. “We must defeat this bill; it is another reason for African Americans to be at the mercy of law enforcement. So many already have the anxiety of being stopped, beaten and or killed at the hands of aggressive police officers, we do not another neighborhood to prison pipeline. We don’t send people to Sacramento to make laws that will give law enforcement a reason pulls us out of a car, beat us or to jail us…” states Pastor K.W. Tulloss president of Baptist Ministers Conference. “Today we served notice to California Speaker of the House that SB 793 is a bad bill that’s not good for California. The unintended consequences are real. Bills like this take us backwards and not forwards.”
Just last week Mayor Aja Brown of Compton shared with us about her being stopped and harassed by law enforcement for a no apparent reason. If this is the kind of treatment that a Black Mayor in her city gets from rogue officers, we certainly do not want to give more reasons for them to stop or harass the great people of California.
Nearly 200 people of color marched against separatism, racism and discrimination today, all coming together to stop SB793.