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. 

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.

On this week’s Valley Edition: How are students in the San Joaquin Valley keeping up with their studies from home? We talk to education reporters about the challenge of distance learning and how access to technology deepens educational inequity.

Also, many college graduations are taking place this weekend and over the next month. What’s it like for students without the traditional pomp and circumstance?

Plus, we hear from a small town mayor about leading a mostly farm worker community through the pandemic.

Elieth Martinez

The Latinx community is being hit the hardest in terms of the number of COVID-19 cases, according to the latest demographics from the Fresno County Department of Public Health.

ACT for Women and Girls

Mi Familia Vota is an organization that focuses on Census outreach for communities who typically do not fill out the form. Prior to COVID-19, the organization had planned to co-host events with Fresno Barrios Unidos and the Fresno Unified School District. 

That all came to a screeching halt in mid March when shelter-in-place orders took effect. Mi Familia had to come up with new strategies for reaching out.  

On this week’s Valley Edition: How are people in the Valley staying fed during the pandemic? We hear about the growing reliance on food pantries, and also get an update on business from local restaurants.

And despite the pandemic, the 2020 Census is still happening. Community organizations are figuring out new ways to reach the hardest-to-count areas, from online messaging to working with churches. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement released 18 women this week detained at the Mesa Verde Detention Center in Bakersfield. But neither the women nor their attorneys were given advance notice to make accommodations. 

Lilian Marquez, 45, was detained at Mesa Verde for 11 months. But on Wednesday, she and another woman were released without explanation. 

Central Valley Meat Co.

 

Rural Kings County has seen a large spike in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks. The majority of those cases can be traced back to the Central Valley Meat Company in Hanford.

As of Wednesday, Kings County reported 211 cases of the coronavirus; 138 of them are connected to the meat packing facility, which is still operating.  County Supervisor Doug Verboon says he’s not surprised by the spike.   

It got into the facility, said Verboon. “Someone got the virus and took it into the workplace and it spread pretty fast there.”

Advocates, lawyers and people detained inside a Bakersfield ICE Detention Center have been pushing for the release of detainees who are considered at risk of contracting the coronavirus. On Wednesday, a judge made a ruling in favor of those efforts.

The judge's ruling will allow people detained in Mesa Verde and Yuba County Jail to apply for release based on the threat of contracting COVID-19. Attorney Jordan Wells said the judge's decision to put all detainees in a class is a step in the right direction. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: How do we navigate our complicated emotions in the middle of this global health crisis? We talk with Fresno-based author Armen Bacon about how our collective feelings look a lot like grief. 

We also hear from a high school student in foster care about the struggles of social distancing, from not seeing her siblings to missing out on classroom interaction. 

Later, the Kern County Public Health Department reacts to a call to reopen the economy after two Bakersfield doctors drew national attention. 

Rolando Castro

Mendota currently has 8 confirmed cases of the coronavirus but Mayor Rolando Castro says he thinks the number is higher.

Rural farm towns like Mendota are home to large populations of undocumented people. Many of those undocumented residents think getting tested will lead to other problems, Castro says. 

“They’re worried because of their legal status, that they’re undocumented, so they don’t want to get tested because they think that they’re going to be held by ICE or held by somebody and be deported,” said Castro.  

 

 

The McFarland City Council on Thursday voted in favor of a plan by the GEO group to expand the company's for-profit detention centers in the small farming town. Despite calls to postpone the meeting, one council member says the decision was rushed due to the town's financial situation. 

Councilmember Rafeal Melendez said, like many others, he wanted to know why the city rushed to a meeting that would impact much of the community.

Roxana Espinoza Trigueros

 

 

Last June, Roxana Espinoza Trigueros and her wife Carolina Espinoza Trigueros applied for asylum in the United States after living in Mexico for three years. The women said they were discriminated against for being a couple.   

Once they were notified that their application was being considered, they went to an office in San Isidro near the border. There, they spent 11 nights in a room they said was referred to as the “llelerar” or the freezer.

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