Following a weekend of riots and protests across California and the country, Gov. Gavin Newsom resolved to “do better” for black Californians to address systemic racism.
“The black community is not responsible for what is happening in this country right now,” Newsom said. “We are. Our institutions are responsible.”
Newsom did not propose specific changes, but promised protestors and black Americans he had heard their anger and frustration and committed to “own up to our own responsibility” to respond accordingly.
“Program passing [is] not problem solving,” he cautioned. “You gotta change hearts, minds, you gotta change culture — not just laws.”
Newsom held his press conference Monday at the Genesis Church in Sacramento, where he met with pastor Dr. Tecoy Porter and other community leaders earlier Monday to discuss what Porter called “the double pandemic” of COVID-19 and racism.
The governor said leaders including himself “have been paying lip service” to African American communities “for generations.”
“We indulge on the margins but we don’t systemically, foundationally, address the root of these issues,” he said. “We prune. We don’t tear out the institutional racism from all of our institutions, large and small.”
“You matter,” Newsom said to demonstrators. “You’re right to feel the way you are feeling. We as a society have a responsibility to you to be better and to do better.”
But the Democratic governor condemned violence and property damage as “not serving the greater good.”
“The looting, the violence, the threats against fellow human beings — that has no place in this state and in this nation,” he said.
The governor said more than 4,500 California National Guard troops were ready to deploy to cities and counties that request assistance preventing violence, vandalism and theft.
Over the weekend, Newsom activated the National Guard to respond to violence in Los Angeles. He said troops would be held back until they are requested by local leaders. Sending in the National Guard “without collaboration” is “a recipe for more problems,” Newsom said.
Newsom also dismissed a call with President Donald Trump and other governors earlier Monday as “noise.”
“I have a choice,” he said. “I could be part of the daily back-and-forth in the news cycle and to continue to perpetuate the problems in this country ... or I could choose to focus a message that I think is so much more powerful.”
Watch live at 12:30 p.m. as California Gov. Gavin Newsom gives an update on demonstrations across the state and on the state's continued response to COVID-19.
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