LANCASTER, Calif.–The Community Action League (TCAL) will host the Community Justice Forum on Saturday, May 14, at the Palmdale Moose Lodge from 12-4 p.m.

The forum and civil rights seminar will educate citizens about their Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment rights, as well as address police harassment and criminal records.

V. Jesse Smith, co-founder of the organization, says the AV is in need of this workshop, especially due to the high volume of complaints and issues individuals have shared with TCAL.

“It’s going to be twofold,” Smith explained. “A panel will educate everyone on general issues like Section 8 and police harassment. Then the afternoon portion will be workshops that will focus on amendment rights.”

Each workshop will include dramatized scenarios that will help individuals connect, interact, and learn how to react given each circumstance.

Attorneys will be present throughout the whole event to discuss individual cases as well.

TCAL is considered a local watchdog of the AV government entities, and it has fought fervently against what it believes are negative policies and injustices throughout the region. Through the forum, the leaders of the group hope to assist those who have made claims, want to make claims, or believe their right have been violated.

According to Smith, residents have submitted complaints and grievances against the sheriff’s department, claiming harassment and brutality during traffic stops and in public housing.

Smith commented that compliance checks and abuse of power are problems that Section 8 residents have voiced for years.

At the forum, individuals will be given the opportunity to receive the information necessary to exercise their rights and possibly file a lawsuit against the sheriff’s department or entities that may have overstepped their boundaries.

“This is not an adversarial or confrontational forum, but it is for the sole purpose of educating people on what their rights are,” the activist stated.

He also mentioned that many traffic stops and arrests within the Antelope Valley are conducted against African Americans and Latinos. Referring to the Merrick Bob report, he said a disproportionate number of traffic stops, vehicle searches and use of force in Lancaster and Palmdale have involved ethnic minorities, oftentimes without reasonable cause.

The report states in its introduction of findings, “We nonetheless were troubled by a seemingly overzealous use of [arrests] against Blacks in the Lancaster area, where the proportion of Blacks arrested on obstruction charges–64 percent–far exceeded the estimated 17 percent of the Blacks in the overall population. The Palmdale and Carson stations raised some of these same concerns.”

With that, Smith and his colleagues agree that minorities, particularly youth need to understand their rights.

Several other issues will be also be discussed.

Panel guests include Carol Sobel, civil law expert; Ray Webb, an LAPD officer; Amy Konstantelos, a cri-minal defense attorney, and Peter Bibring of the ACLU.

Steve Fox, attorney in the O.J. Simpson trial, and local judges have been invited. However, their participation has not been confirmed.

Residents who are interested in expunging their records are welcome to file paperwork necessary to pursue the court action. Assistance will be provided.

Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit www.TCAL.info or call (661) 382-TCAL.