Hundreds packed First Congregational Church in Downtown Long Beach Tuesday evening to hear the state of the city through the voices of working-class people.
As with previous years, organizations with the Long Beach Rising Coalition focused on social justice issues, organizing the community and the latest campaigns to hit the streets.
The biggest news to come out of the evening was the announcement of the Long Beach Liberation Fund, a community bail fund to help release immigrants living or working in Long Beach who are being held in detention.
Unlike the Long Beach Justice Fund, a program funded in part by the city that provides legal representation for residents facing deportations, the Liberation Fund will be funded through community fundraising efforts.
This program is done in partnership with the Sanctuary Long Beach coalition and the Orange County Justice Fund, which currently provides bail money to detained Orange County community members.
James Suazo, associate director of Long Beach Forward and member of the coalition, said the Orange County Justice Fund will provide back-end support and help run and administer the funds.
Long Beach immigrant rights activists took a cue from the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium’s Borderlands Get Free Fund.
Already, the Sanctuary coalition has raised about $5,000 through previous fundraising efforts, Suazo said.
Suazo noted that the lowest a judge can set a bail amount is $1,500, with some cases seeing bonds set as high as $10,000. While the coalition will aim to cover the full bail amount, in cases where the amounts are higher, they will commit to paying a portion.
“Unfortunately, our bond system is arbitrary,” Suazo noted.
The long-term plan is to work with the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, which was selected by the city to become the legal representatives through the Long Beach Justice Fund, and other attorneys to make sure those receiving legal help can also receive bail funding.
This is the latest effort to help the city’s immigrant community in recent years.
Under the Long Beach Values Act, police were limited in their interactions with ICE deportations, and with the creation of the Long Beach Community Defense Network last year, community members can now alert each other when ICE agents are in their neighborhoods.
Organizers also plan to put pressure on city leaders to recommit $250,000 in the city’s budget toward the Justice Fund, which expires this summer.
As of February 2020 a total of 18 Long Beach residents, including the parents of eight young children, have received legal representation through the Justice Fund.
Those interested in donating or applying for help in posting bail are encouraged to sign up for email alerts at sanctuarylb.com or follow their social media (@SanctuaryLB on Facebook and Twitter) for announcements.
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