PALMDALE – A One Way Up Community Meeting aimed at educating low income families on the benefits and services available to them through the Department of Public Social Services, evolved into a battle cry for voting to change the leadership in the Antelope Valley.
“People complain about the Mayor of Lancaster, but he was voted in,” NAACP President Juan Blanco told the audience, Saturday afternoon, at the Palmdale Moose Lodge. “The ones who voted are the ones who got what they wanted; it’s the ones who didn’t vote who are the ones getting hassled, pulled over and harassed.”
Blanco’s comments came in response to several members of the audience who complained of unfair treatment from law enforcement as well as local lawmakers.
One lady said she was stopped by deputies for drinking a can of soda in a brown paper bag while driving. She said deputies aggressively searched her car, and after finding no evidence of drugs or alcohol, she was ticketed for a missing back light.
Another man said when it came to his teenaged boys, he was more worried about law enforcement than he was about street gangs.
“If they get pulled over by the sheriffs, I’m scared,” said Palmdale resident Alan Lee. “In many cases, I’m more scared of them getting jacked by the police than getting jacked by Nut-Nut from such and such gang, and that’s just the reality of being a father, and it’s an uncomfortable reality.”
Blanco told audience members that the only way to change their reality was to make a difference by casting their votes.
“Get somebody sitting in those seats who understands your plight,” Blanco said. “Otherwise you are paying these people to beat up on you; your tax dollars pay for this.”
Diana Love, Regional Director of the California Democratic Party, asked for a show of hands from audience members who knew when the next voting cycle was. Few hands were raised.
“The next voting cycle is next month,” Love told the audience. “That’s when you get an opportunity to vote for your [Palmdale] City Council, the mayor, school boards and others, but if you don’t know when this is occurring, you miss out on these opportunities.”
Love said she would personally provide audience members with information on how to register to vote, when to vote, background on the people who are running for office, as well as California felon voting rights.
“So that you are educated and you know your rights,” Love said.
Other rights were discussed at the Community Meeting, including the rights of low income families to secure CalFresh benefits for their families.
CalFresh, formerly known as Food Stamps, is available to help families and individuals to purchase food; however, many are not aware that they could be eligible, said Elizabeth Kono of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services.
“Did you know that people can work and get CalFresh benefits at the same time?” Kono asked. She also said CalFresh benefits were available to some immigrants.
“Applying for and receiving CalFresh benefits will not impact your status as a permanent resident,” Kono said. “Children of immigrants may be able to get CalFrash benefits even if their parents do not qualify.”
She said seniors and those receiving Social Security benefits may also be eligible.
One Way Up CEO Cynthia Beverly also gave an overview on the process for getting tickets cleared through the homeless court.
“If you were ever homeless and you started the [DPSS] Gain program or the Grow program, then you qualify to get your tickets cleared up, I don’t care how many of them you’ve got,” Beverly said.
She said the process involved going to your case manager for an application for expungement, getting a free fingerprinting and background check, and then going to the different courts where the tickets were issued.
For specific information on getting your tickets cleared, contact One Way Up at 661-213-8249. To apply for CalFresh benefits, log on to www.dpssbenefits.lacounty.gov, or visit any local DPSS office.