Madi Bolanos

Reporter

Madi Bolanos is the immigration and underserved communities reporter at Valley Public Radio. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border. Originally from Fresno, she is happy to be back reporting on important issues in the San Joaquin Valley. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: Black community leaders in Bakersfield are meeting with law enforcement, and calling for more transparency. They tell us about the push to establish a community police advisory board.

Plus, COVID-19 cases are on the rise in every county in the San Joaquin Valley. We bring you our weekly health update. 

Later, we speak to Fresno violinist Patrick Contreras who told us how he’s kept busy during the pandemic, even after losing every major booking for the year.

Amar Shergill

The funeral for a man who was hit by a truck at a Black Lives Matter protest in Bakersfield and later died was held this past weekend. The driver of the truck has not been arrested or charged with any crime. 

Prisons and detention centers across California continue to be at risk for more COVID-19 outbreaks. An ACLU attorney representing detainees at the ICE processing facility in Bakersfield says a staff member there has tested positive for the virus.

In a case conference for a class action lawsuit against the Mesa Verde Detention Center, ICE’s attorney said a medical provider at the facility had tested positive for the coronavirus. That’s according to Angelica Salceda, an ACLU lawyer in the meeting. She said the woman went to get tested on her own accord. 

Maria

 

Before the pandemic hit, 59-year-old Maria had steady work cleaning houses in Merced and Winston. But COVID-19 changed everything.

“When the governor told everyone to shelter in place, the homeowners called me and told me not to go to their houses until this is all over,” she said.  

That meant a huge loss in income. Maria made pretty good money, about a thousand dollars a week. But she says her clients were all older people who feared contracting the virus.

On this week’s Valley Edition: Local recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, react to the Supreme Court decision protecting their status to live and work in the United States. 

We also speak with writer Nick Belardes. He wrote an essay for “Boom California” about Confederate imagery in Bakersfield which he hopes sparks a discussion around street and school names, including one called Plantation Elementary. 

And we get an update on the COVID-19 outbreak at Avenal State Prison. 

Madi Bolanos

The Fresno City Council announced the declaration of an annual Black Lives Matter Day at a street art event in front of Fresno City Hall on Thursday. 

About 200 people filtered in and out of the three hour event; many of them helped paint Black Lives Matter in huge letters on P street in front of city hall. Community Activist DJ Kay Rich, who organized the event, says Fresno residents came to him with the idea.  

Fresno Ethnic Studies Coalition

A coalition of five Fresno Unified School District teachers is asking the district to develop an ethnic studies program for the K-12 curriculum. 

Right now ethnic studies classes are considered elective and are currently only offered in high school. Lauren Beal, an ethnic studies teacher at Edison High School, says the class should be a requirement at every grade level.

Centro Binancional para el Desarollo Indígena Oaxaqueño

 

 As businesses in Fresno County begin to re-open amid a continuing rise in COVID-19 cases, one community organization is asking county health officials to ensure the safety of indigenous speaking essential workers. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: Former Fresno City Councilmember Oliver Baines is heading a new police reform commission. He shares his vision for the department, and talks about why previous efforts have fallen short. 

We also speak with men who survived a disease outbreak at Avenal State Prison, not COVID-19, but valley fever. It was almost a decade ago, and they’re still seeking justice today. 

Plus, parents discuss what it’s like to raise black children in the San Joaquin Valley. 

Christian Viscarra

Protesters demanded justice Tuesday for a 16-year-old boy who was shot by Fresno police in 2017. More than 50 people gathered at City Hall chanting “Say His Name” and “Don’t Shoot.”  

The protest was in honor of Isiah Murrietta-Golding who was shot in the back of the head by Fresno Police Sgt. Ray Villalvazo. A surveillance video of the incident from a nearby daycare was released in 2019. Protester Dez Martinez says she saw the video.

  

The Fresno County Public Defender's Office held a protest Monday against police brutality and in honor of George Floyd. About a hundred protesters started at the public defender’s office and walked to the Fresno Police Department. 

Organizers said this protest had a specific message for police officers. Camille Slack, a paralegal, said the organization is calling for police to intervene when they see other officers abusing their power.  

More than a hundred people gathered at an elementary school on Friday in Madera to protest police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death. The people behind the protest were black high school students.

Eighteen-year-old Mary Idowu led the protest which started with a “No Justice, No Peace” chant. A recent graduate of Madera South High School, Idowu said it’s important for society to see a well-organized peaceful protest from young people.

Madi Bolanos

 

More than 100 people gathered in scorching hot temperatures on Tuesday to stand against a potential riot at the River Park shopping center in north Fresno. This group, which included Fresno police officers and community activists, was responding to a social media post that attempted to incite violence under the name of Black Lives Matter. 

 

When a post promoting violent looting in north Fresno gained attention on social media Monday, Fresno State’s NAACP student chapter and other organizations made it very clear that the post was not associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.   

Madi Bolanos

 

More than 3,000 people gathered in downtown Fresno Sunday to protest the murder of George Floyd and other black lives lost to police violence. 

The Fresno State NAACP and other black organizations in Fresno organized the peaceful protest which started in front of City Hall and lasted for about three hours. Student activist Aislyn Brown said she's tired and ready to see a change in the country’s justice system. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: How do health care professionals cope with the death of one of their own to COVID-19? We talk to a Fresno nurse about treating and grieving a beloved colleague who died earlier this week. 

We also speak to two recently graduated teenagers. Since shelter-in-place, they’re taking on new roles: from watching younger siblings while their parents do essential work, to checking in on their elders. 

Plus, San Joaquin Valley authors share essays on living through a pandemic.  

The Avenal State Prison now has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases among the state’s correctional facilities. The prison reported 198 cases as of Tuesday.  

No visitors have been allowed at the prison for months, said Kings County Supervisor Doug Verboon. He said he thinks a staff member had the virus.

 

“Mother’s Day weekend, everybody went home to their mom’s house, had barbecues or whatever. Seven days later we got a spike in the prisons ‘cause someone brought it into the prison,” said Verboon.      

Lilian Marquez

Karla Lopez, 32, currently lives in Stockton with her friend Lilian Marquez. The two met at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield nine months ago and have been friends since then. But Lopez’ journey to get here started way back in November of 2018. 

That’s when a caravan of thousands of migrants made national news walking from Central America to the United States. Lopez decided to join the second wave of people heading to this country.

On this week’s Valley Edition: What is it like to run a family farm during a pandemic? We talk to local growers about the challenges. 

And Tulare County voted to open up businesses this week despite being one of the hardest hit areas in the state. A Visalia intensive care unit doctor tells us the recipe for staying safe is pretty straightforward.

Plus: The cast of a long-running Fresno variety show that features senior citizens takes its talent to YouTube. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above. 

 

Kaiser Family Foundation

On Tuesday, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted to open the county ‘effective immediately.’ This comes in spite of the county having some of the highest COVID-19 numbers in the state.

Pages