Statewide Demonstrations Against the Runner Initiative

On Wednesday May 7, protesters rallied in Los Angeles and Sacramento against the Runner Initiative. Called the “Safe Neighborhoods Initiative” by its sponsor, State Senator George Runner, Republican from Lancaster, the Initiative is a far-reaching measure that stiffens criminal penalties and introduces laws that instead of increasing public safety, would substantially increase California’s prison population.
The initiative would allow the prosecution of youth as adults, increase penalties for drug related offenses, increase penalties for offenses alleged to be “gang related,” create mandatory criminal background checks for housing subsidy recipients, and prohibit bail for undocumented immigrants charged with “gang related” felonies.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the Berkeley City Council have both passed resolutions against the proposed Runner Initiative. United States Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, and Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates all have taken positions against the Runner Initiative, joining the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, California NAACP, the California Church IMPACT, and the California Federation of Teachers among many others.