One-On-One With Independent Mayoral Candidate Malikah Saleh
Malikah Saleh addresses the crowd at Saturday night's campaign announcement
On Saturday night, Malikah Saleh announced her campaign to be elected city Mayor.
LSNN decided to take the opportunity to follow up on questions raised at the announcement and in subsequent posts, along with some further questions of our own.
No questions were discussed or provided in advance of the interview. Only one item, a map of the contested Tongvan land claim was provided before the interview. No discussion was entered into about the relevance of the map.
All answers by Ms. Saleh were provided in real time in response to questions asked by Nayeli Greyfeather. The interview spanned four and a half hours.
Notably, while the interview was being conducted, Charles Galloway, Chairman of the LS Democratic Party, announced that he was both bowing out of the race and also personally endorsing Ms. Saleh.
LSNN will be reaching out to the Democratic Party District Representatives to determine their views on the endorsement by Mr. Galloway.
LSNN has contacted Mr. Oswald Halford's campaign manager with a view to conducting a similar on-on-one interview with the Republican Mayoral candidate.
Transcript of the Interview
1. So, who is Malikah Saleh?
I'm a fighter. I fight passionately for what I believe in and I've done it all my life. But every year on my birthday I re-ask myself "Who is Malikah Saleh?" so that I am always challenging my perception of who I am and what I was put on this Earth to do. For the past few decades I always come back to slightly different answers in approach but the meaning ends up being always the same. To stand up for those who aren't given a voice in society.
2. What about your background, where you're from, that type of thing?
Well, the cat's out of the bag on my age. I was born in 1963 in Sana'a Yemen. A beautiful city so full of history and culture, yet throughout my life it was ravaged by war and strife. I was married at quite a young age to a man from a family my family thought was respectable. He was in the military and his career inspired me to join. I was placed with the Communications Division after my basic training. I left the military on my own recognizance, finding the structures of power to not always serve the best interests of the people. That's why I went into Law. I felt as a lawyer I might be able to do more good independently. Unfortunately, when my husband died, the corrupt individuals in local government began to persecute my family. I lost many family members, but I managed to escape the country with my son.
3. Do you still have family in Yemen?
I'm afraid not.
4. Your son, do you have a close relationship with him?
I love my son more than anything in the whole world. Unfortunately. During the persecution he was assaulted quite badly on his way home from school. When we got to America, he wanted to go his separate ways to distance himself from that trauma. I do not blame him. I would say he is my biggest inspiration.
5. In what way?
I've never met a young man so brave. Even me at his age, I wasn't that brave. He was a gay young man living in Sana'a, was tortured by ignorant men, and still last I saw him he had the gleam of the sun still in his eyes, even after all that shadow. He inspires me to get through the cloudy days. And smile on the sunny ones. I keep him in my prayers.
6. You're a defense attorney. Firstly, where did you study?
I have a JD from Sana'a University in Yemen, but had to do some intensive courses before taking and passing the bar in Liberty City, then Arizona, and finally the hardest of them all, the dreaded San Andreas Bar.
7. What's a JD?
Doctor of Jurisprudence, it means I completed law school, in short. The trick with law is that it varies so much place by place. If you move, you have to learn it all over again in a sense, but I love learning.
8. My second question on this, why did you go into defense work - specifically criminal defense?
I noticed a tricky thing in our society. I noticed that folks who have a whole lot of money seem to get access to a standard of legal protection that the average citizen can't imagine. I know my work ethic, I know I am a skilled lawyer, so to my mind it was my responsibility to follow my ethos and offer my services to those who are often the least served. And to do so at a cost that scales to their economic situation or no cost as it may be. It's why I was proud to help the Los Santos Public Defender's Office at a time when cases spiked.
9. As a a criminal defense attorney, what would you say about the "beyond reasonable doubt" standard of proof - how important is that?
It's critical. In our society, its important to afford every citizen due process, that includes the presumption of innocence until a verdict is reached. If we condemn people based on anything less than a vigorous standard, we abandon the ability of our courts to act as just and fair interpreters of law and it's application. When I am working with clients and notice that standard has been met by the prosecution, I don't lie to them and tell them otherwise. I tell them exactly what I assess and I give them the best path forward so they can accept a sentence and serve their time.
10. That's fair. I'll circle around to a specific case of yours soon, but I wanted to ask about your work at ULSA. You teach alternative religions?
So I am an Associate Professor of Religious Studies. During my time at Sana'a University, I also studied to get a Masters in Religious Studies. The class I've unfortunately had to put on hold is about Alternative Religious Trends in Society. Covers everything from the Quakers and Mormons, down to more unique faiths in Los Santos such as Epsilon and the like. Large parts of it encourage my students to think critically and not get snapped up by cults, but it's quite a fun class beyond that. Lot's of field trips.
11. I imagine that it will have to be on hold indefinitely if you win, right?
It's definitely on hold, I don't like conflicts of interest in any parts of my life, but I do love my students. I'm going to see if I can rope another professor into taking my lesson plan, the school bus, and finish it off in style.
12. Now to circle back to your legal experience, I want to ask a few questions about Ashe Fjellhol.
I'll have to be careful out of respect for the privacy of her family, but I'll absolutely try to answer what I can.
13. Officer Leclerc said that, "the Defendant did not claim to be 'sexually harassed', but in her own words said 'And these two approached me. Trying to flirt with me'." Leclerc also said, "So, you're telling me, Miss Fjellhol that you, while a man was running away from you, consciously loaded your firearm, and discharged not once, not twice, but THRICE in his direction?" I understand that your client was found to be of unsound mind. How does that finding match with this evidence?
Ms. Fjellhol was a woman who was raped on a regular basis by her father during her upbringing, repressed that trauma for years wherein it only surfaced when her personal space was invaded. She had begun to process some of it when she married her husband but when they were robbed earlier that month, it brought back a flood of repressed trauma and began a series of mental health events that culminated in the tragedy we saw in court.
This is a complex scenario, no the boys did not deserve to be harmed in any way, even if they did ask her to turn out her pockets and brandished knuckledusters, but unfortunately for everyone involved Ms. Fjellhol was not operating in a manner that was of sound mind. It was confirmed by three independent psychologists that she experienced a disassociative episode wherein her memories, thoughts, and actions were mixed up and she lost control of her ability to judge right from wrong. Her one year old child slept upstairs when the gunshots rang out that would change their lives forever. My goal was to ensure that the baby and her mother would not be separated, even when Ashe served time or in this case was put into life-long mental health confinement. Unfortunately, it seems they have been, and I carry the weight of this with me. I never forget.
14. I see, but does it not give you pause for thought - even doubt - that the evidence was that your client (some may say) coldly and rationally shot a person as he was running away, but could still be considered not to be acting rationally at the time by a few medical practitioners you, I presume, paid?
Fair question, but frankly, when I hired these psychologists I did so by first establishing that their findings, whatever they may be would be entered into the court record as-is. I trusted those professionals to uphold that standard as all had been both reputable and had no prior relationship with Ms. Fjellhol with the exception of Dr. Hudson who had actually seen her for the first time the morning of the event. A unique perspective for sure.
15. You mentioned just then your client's child. Is it your position then that women with children should get preferential treatment before the courts?
Nope. Equal treatment under the law, but - and this is the key here - if a mother is separated from a one year old infant for the second year of that child's life, medical experts all agree that that child is at a higher risk for developmental delays, aggression issues, and overall a lower standard of life. What I believe is that the courts should not punish a one year old baby for the crimes of a mother, so each step of the way I outlined sentencing guidelines that if she were to be found guilty by the courts, that she be under house arrest for whatever duration the judge deemed fit in order for her child not to be harmed by the sentence.
16. This could equally be said for fathers, right? By that I mean in some minority demographics, fatherlessness is a big social issue - I know it because I've experienced it - so should the law be lenient to fathers also? In fact, it's arguable that one of the key indicators --
I didn't say we should be lenient to anyone. Just as a note.
17. Oh, of course. I chose the wrong word, but --
Oh I take your meaning, I'll answer. The studies I'm referencing are largely done on maternal separation from an infant. The factors increase when we realize that young Angel Fjellhol was a premature baby who was breast-fed. There's chemical factors at play. I think it's honestly case by case.
18. Shouldn't the considerations you put forward also apply to fathers and if so, when have you argued that before the courts?
If it's a single father, the primary caregiver, I think it could be considered but ultimately people should be treated fairly under the law and sentences should seek to only penalize those found guilty of crimes and remediate collateral damage of incarceration.
19. I understand, but there are numerous studies that demonstrate the adverse impact of fatherless homes.
I think there are other ways we can tackle the fatherlessness problem outside of this scenario.
20. Is this something you'd be prepared to argue before the court - the impact of loss of a father in the home?
The considerations in the Fjellhol case were unique to her particular circumstance. If the entire situation was replicated but Ms. Fjellhol was in fact a father, I would have argued it with the same passion and conviction. Children should be protected at all costs by a just and fair society. Period.
21. You said there were other ways fatherless homes can be remediated?
I believe if we actually invest in our communities in a tangible and meaningful way, in sexual education and contraception, in enabling folks to get a legal job that offers stability, if we offer homes to people in need, I believe all of these initiatives would actively make a difference. A lot of homes become single parent households for a variety of reasons of course, but if society can lend critical support to families before they are broken, I think we can really make a difference.
22. Now back to your military experience, are you prepared to release your military records for public scrutiny?
I would if I could. Unfortunately, one of the first ways my family was persecuted was by invalidating documents under the governments care. That includes my sons birth certificate and unfortunately my service record. When I first joined SAVA, I explained that circumstance to the leaders and they understood my situation. That said, I can tell you it was rather uneventful. I worked in Communications which was largely operating a switch-board early on and helping repair satellite dish arrays. Also doing the odd bit of clerical work. On the up side, if it was anything less than sterling, it would have been retained and used as a point of condemnation by those officials, so folk can make an info request to the Yemeni Consulate and see what comes up. The frank answer is not much outside my educational records.
23. I see. Though, presumably you have your own documents. Would you release those as well as to provide a statement about the scope, type and substance of the tasks you undertook while in the military?
I actually do not have my own documents. I have an old service uniform collecting dust in a storage unit in Alderney, but all documents pertaining to that part of my life were left in the custody of the government when I left. I am willing to provide a comprehensive statement on my website though, that's an excellent idea.
24. Could you not seek an info request from the Yemeni Consulate for that material?
What I would receive is a kick back stating that there are no military records pursuant to Malikah Saleh as an individual. They were destroyed alongside my citizenship identification which was used to drive my family out of the home my mother and grandmother were raised in. I can make the request though and put it on my website. I would rather it be tried than not.
25. Wonderful. Let's now move onto your campaign. Why enter the race now?
Well, it's been on my mind for a few months to be fair, but you're right I'm jumping in quite late. First of all, I see such a diversity of thought among the citizens of Los Santos that isn't represented by the traditional Democrat versus Republican match-up. I want to challenge that. I want to offer solutions that offer innovative new solutions, tried-and-true solutions that have worked for other cities, and some of the best ideas from both the parties and make a true movement towards listening to the public need and addressing it with meaningful legislation. There are too many people suffering to play the same old political ping pong game with their needs. The game's over. Everyone recognizes it for what it is.
I frequently call out that kind of game when it's used in court and when I began to offer political consultation services, I realized that I not only had the capability to listen and understand folks pain and suffering, but I knew how to draft actual legislation to make real change a reality for them rather than something to just hope for. People have been a little nervous about the three-three split in City Hall, but I was excited. I knew that this would be the opportunity for these phenomenal elected officials to show Los Santos that differences of political identity don't need to divide us. They can empower us. That's why the legislation I've worked on has cosponsors from both sides of the aisles. I know don't play the games, I do the work.
26. Some of the criticisms leveled at you are that you entered the campaign too late. That you're under-prepared. And that you lack the apparatus and expertise to even campaign let alone govern - what do you say to that?
Well. I'm just going to say that I'm the only Mayoral Candidate who has personally written the legislation that speaks to the issues I'm talking about. I'm the only Mayoral Candidate who has then taken that legislation to elected officials from both parties and gained their support. I'm someone who people turn to when they want the job done and they want it done right. Now you're right, I did enter the game late. I don't have a large political apparatus that most parties have that ensures an ample flow of funding and campaign workers, I have to rely on grassroots support. Volunteers from all parts of the city who want real and meaningful change.
27. Can you tell our readers when it was that you decided to run for mayor?
My decision was made when I was staying up one late night after the inauguration of the District Representatives so empowered by their journeys, so inspired by their willingness to reach across the aisle. I decided that night when I thought about what the Hate Crime Act would mean for young people across this city like my son, so they might feel the safety he wasn't allowed to enjoy to help them live free from fear. That's what freedom is. No fear.
28. You also said before that you'd been thinking about running for mayor for a couple of months right?
Yes. Every time I'd go to the bar and talk about the changes I'd like with friends and strangers, I'd get one or two idealistic young folks saying that I should run. It stuck in my head but it's not a choice you can make at a bar, it's not a choice that can be made lightly at all. You're asking for the publics trust and faith. But I have this idea, you know, that if you bear yourself to the world with true and genuine authenticity, those who recognize that level of honesty will see you for who you truly are. Like the sun shining, it casts away the clouds of illusion, and leaves the truth shining there.
29. Of course. Now, in my recent article on your announcement, I set out four items of legislation you provided to District Representatives --
I like that idea and so I'm doing my best to shine for folks with regular events. I've got one at Del Perro planned, another at Sadie's Bar & Grill, I'm in talks with one at Trinity, and I'd be delighted to have a night at the Crypt or at a business in Mirror Park.
30. When did you first start to provide those bills to them? Like, which was first and when?
Before my run, I believe I started drafting when I was finishing up my consultation work for the District Representative race. The first one was the Hunting Zoning Commission and the Hate Crime Bill at the same time. Both around that time. The Hunting Zoning one is a bit of a no brainer but it also ensures our second amendment rights are respected and not insulted by our government. The Hate Crime Bill, as I mentioned, is part of a fight that I take incredibly personal.
31. Oh, of course. I'll come to it soon. What was the last item of legislation that you presented to the District representative and when did you present it?
Last legislation I presented was the Sex Offender Registry Act of 2020 to District Representative Jonathan Spencer of the North District. A member of our cities Republican Party. That was five days ago. He's expressed enthusiastic support.
32. Five days ago, so you're still working hard on it - before I go on with that, I just want to go back to preparedness. I visited your Facebrowser profile today and I saw you post about your webpage - which is really good, by the way - but unfortunately, I had to actually copy and paste the web address into a browser to get there --
Well it's actually mostly finished by the way, just figuring out which agency would be comfortable maintaining it. Police Chief Lagorio is having someone meet with me regarding the LSPD taking it on so we'll see.
33. I couldn't just click and go - could I not see this as an example of not being entirely prepared?
I think it's an example of a fifty six year old woman taking on a digital campaign.
34. But isn't that also a problem - let's forget the democrats for now because who knows what's going on there --
This is why I have a bright team of interns who help me every step of the way. It's definitely an example that shows that my campaign isn't a focus-group-tested and polished political machine- but what has that gotten us in the past? In the past we've gotten from these highly 'prepared' campaigns a whole lot of the same old promises. I do believe I can be rough around the edges, but that's just because I put my effort into what matters to the people of Los Santos- the work of the job. Now let me be clear. Mr. Oswald Halford is someone I deeply respect. He is incredibly capable and I'm in no way referring to any form of inadequacy on his end or his campaigns. I am referring to something larger and systemic.
35. You say you have a bright team of interns, is there a reason they couldn't have ensured that I could click through to your website using your Facebrowser post? A cynical voter might think that this is all being done on the fly.
Well, I take privacy incredibly seriously, especially online privacy. As much as I love my interns, I don't want them having access to my page itself. I take your point though, I do need a stronger digital infrastructure that is more user-friendly because it matters whether folks can easily access the full platform of my ideas on www.votemalikah.com. I am going to be establishing a separate Face Browser page purely for the campaign, we wanted to prioritize the website first naturally, but keep your eyes on the feed for the release.
36. Great. Let's go back to the timings of you drafting and presenting legislation. You say that you were solid in your mind that you wanted to run at the inauguration - that was on 5 October. But you also say that you presented, I think the Hate Crimes Act to Mr Spencer about five days ago?
Correct. So the real art in drafting legislation is the magic that takes place behind the desk and on the keyboard, it's out in the streets. When you seek to draft legislation, you have to talk to every single party that could be conceivably impacted by the consequences of the laws you're seeking to draft and pass. For example, the Marijuana Decriminalization act requires me not just to talk to communities impacted by the enforcement of current marijuana prohibitions, but also the police officers, the District Attorney's office, and business owners as well as citizens.
37. I see. That's really cool. But, if I was a cynical voter, wouldn't I just see your efforts in drafting and presenting this legislation as a blatant tactic by you to lend your mayoral campaign legitimacy?
I consider myself fully guilty of actually putting tangible work behind my strongly held beliefs. I told many folks whether I run for Mayor or not, I'll have these bills drafted and passed. Now I just say whether I become Mayor or not, I'll continue to draft and advocate for the myriad other laws that need to be passed to make our society one that prioritizes the needs of those suffering the most. This isn't just a political idea. This is a moral one for me. It's part of my fabric.
38. But I want to explore this a little, okay?
Let's do it.
39. If you didn't have these items of legislation, you'd have no real policy - can't I then surmise that you drafted them at least in part with a mind for your own potential election campaign? If so, then how could I be confident that you believe in them at all, rather than just presenting them to obtain power?
Well, I disagree with the notion that if I didn't have four items of legislation that I wouldn't have real policy at all. My website goes beyond my drafted legislation and explores the different issues plaguing Los Santos citizens. Now what I will say is that I decided to run for mayor during the drafting process of one of my bills because I thought wouldn't it be a refreshing change to have a Mayor that not only knows how to support the right policy, but could draft it themselves? It was such a tempting idea combined with my knowledge of my work ethic, that I made the decision.
40. You worked for the Republicans during the District elections. Why?
The Republican Party of Los Santos has notable differences to the national party, namely they support the same civil liberties that I support and didn't seek to infringe on folks rights to live lives free and happy from harassment, abuse, and oppression. I was offered a big bid for my political consultancy which is essentially strategy work, giving them pointers on how to reasonably meet the needs of the people and to do it effectively. The Democratic Part of Los Santos has a similar commitment, but were not interested in my services so I didn't pursue the issue.
41. I see. And what do you say to some of the commenters who say this is evidence of disloyalty and may affect your suitability to be mayor, you running now against Mr. Halford?
Frankly, I have one loyalty and it's not to political party or to any special interest. It's to the people of Los Santos. Mr. Halford is a capable man who I am happy to say would be one of my choices for Deputy Mayor. The difference we have is in approach. I don't believe that the party system serves the needs of all citizens, it creates unnecessary divides, it teaches us to look at folks different from us and make flash judgments. I want to take on that division directly.
42. Are there any Republican policies you disagree with?
Sorry let me add to the previous one moment. Mind you, my other choice in Deputy Mayor would be an individual who represents the interests of the Democratic Party and Democratic Voters. I believe in a government that represents all voters, having two Deputy Mayors empowered to address the needs of their respective parties would be an exercise in democracy I'd be honored to oversee.
43. What about policy disagreement with Republicans, do you have any?
I don't disagree with most Republican Policies, but I do enter territory they might not necessarily cover. Well, I recognize the uptick in Hate Crimes on Vespucci Beach and throughout Los Santos. It's a key part of my campaign to combat hatred and bigotry where it exists and ensure that there are severe penalties on hate crimes. The right for all of our citizens to life free and happy lives as they see fit to me is a core component of our democracy and needs to be addressed head on by anyone seeking the office of Mayor over our diverse city.
44. I see, but I wonder. Since you already presented that legislation to Mr. Spencer, couldn't you just get it passed into law by remaining as a consultant for the Republicans? I mean, if this is the point of difference and there's another way. Why run at all?
Because I want the next Mayor of Los Santos to lead on the issues, not follow nameless consultants. I want to be a Mayor who not only advocates for LGBT rights, but actively addresses the problem with tangible legislation. We need someone who will rally our legislators around the monumentous task of taking on this level of pervasive fear that makes some of our citizens afraid to leave their homes at night. My website has a dedicated page to combatting hate crimes, and that's the type of Mayor I would want in the city my son lives and loves in.
45. I understand, but were you concerned that Mr Spencer and the Republicans wouldn't be amenable to implementing the legislation you gave to him?
I gave the Hate Crime Bill to Ms. Tanya Sun. The Sex Offender Act to Mr. Spencer.
46. Oh, sorry -- my mistake entirely. But --
No no, it still stands.
47. I ask the question again. Are you concerned the Republicans wouldn't be behind it?
I was not concerned. I know how to bring people out from their political identities, out from their vision of what is politically possible. No. I know how to break the illusion that we're all somehow enemies and incontrovertibly different, I know how to remind folks that we are all part of one human family and when one person suffers, we all suffer, and when one person is cherished, we are all cherished. These men in suits have hearts. I know how to speak to those hearts.
48. And you can only do that as Mayor?
No, but leadership is more than what you can do, it's what you lead on. I lead on vanquishing bigotry because I've made the conscious choice to have it as a central plank in my platform. The Mayorship requires more than the ability to accept good ideas when they slide by the desk, it requires someone who can listen to the people, rally the public to support change, rally the elected officials to draft the legislation or if you're me get in the weeds yourself and draft up a little something yourself and then proudly sign it into law on that desk.
49. Let's beat the dead horse of loyalty one more time.
50. What guarantee would a voter have that you would not sacrifice some policy positions to win others -- I'll give an example; how could a second amendment single issue voter be sure you'd not water down your position to get support for your Hate Crime bill from people in the Democrat party? Obviously the same goes for democrat voters too.
Fair question. First, I'm going to be a little bit of a troublemaker and dispute the myth of the single issue voter, I think even folks who are incredibly concerned about one issue can be brought to recognize the weight of the others. But to answer directly, I believe in laws that are narrow in scope and firm in moral foundation. If I am discussing support for a Hunting Bill, I am talking with the elected official about the moral underpinnings, the public interest, and the individuals impacted. As a lawyer, I've been trained to hone in one arguments and make the case for them individually. I do not allow the public interest to be held hostage by partisanship if I'm ever given an ultimatum I sense is unsatisfactory to the public good. I'm not afraid to make that ultimatum public. But frankly, when we get down to the brass tacks, the current slate of District Reps have shown immense willingness to cosponsor legislation from across the aisle, including the Hate Crime Bill, the Sex Offender Registry Act, and the Hunting Zoning Act.
51. I see. Let's talk about your Hate Crime bill.
52. How do you define "hate"?
Whenever someone is targeted for hostility based on their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, age, disability, political identity or sexual orientation, they've been on the receiving end of "hate" in this context.
53. In your bill, you say that the standard of proof to assess whether hate exists is "clear and convincing proof to suggest" that an offenders bias motivated the attack. A few questions on that; What does clear and convincing mean at law? How is it assessed? What is "suggest"? And doesn't this test go against your conviction that "beyond reasonable doubt" is so crucial? Particularly since Hate crime offenders will be punished harsher.
The different burdens of proof are like tools in a box that should all be used for different purposes. For example, in Civil Cases, we use a 'preponderance of evidence' which considers the threshold to be met if it's more likely than not, or fifty --
54. But this is not civil law.
Exactly. Rolling into that, just setting an example out for why we use different standards; Fifty-one percent likely to have happened than not. The Clear and Convincing evidentiary standard is appropriate for this type of sentencing enhancement because it is an argument on someone's beliefs influencing their actions. We're not adding a new criminal act, but we are however making punishments pursuant to criminal actions that are proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have happened more severe if the evidence suggests that there is a high likelihood that it was motivated by those biases I mentioned earlier. But what does that actually look like?
55. But now you've introduced a new test - "high likelihood"! I'm sorry, I don't mean to be rude.
No. it's not new. It's the test for clear and convincing evidence which means that the evidence presented by a party during the trial must be highly and substantially more probable to be true than not and the judge must have a firm belief or conviction in its factuality. It's greater than the preponderance but lesser than beyond a reasonable doubt because the matter is one of judicial interpretation rather than arguing whether a material event occurred. Highly and substantially more probable would be what I meant by high likelihood, I just spoke fairly off the cuff, apologies for the confusion.
56. But, aren't you just introducing "balance of probabilities" into an area that it shouldn't be in? After all, you're now going to have someone serve a more severe punishment, based pretty much on balance of probabilities.
I don't believe so. I believe that because this only kicks in when the crime has been established to have happened beyond a reasonable doubt, the sentencing addition offers a judge who believes that this proven act was both clearly and convincingly performed as an act of hate, they are now at liberty to increase the sentence of the individual by up to six months per charge that is deemed to have been influenced by hate. Each charge must be independently assessed first for whether they are guilty of the charge, and in cases of hate crimes, whether there it's highly probable based solely on the evidence that it was done as an act of hate.
57. Would the prosecution have to charge with a hate crime in first instance or do they just ambush the defense with that at sentencing? And if they charge it at first instance what evidence do they require to meet the standard?
So I would say the prosecution should make the allegation up front and provide all necessary proof. The law itself doesn't change the times by which they are allowed to file additional charges or sentencing additions because that would involve amending court procedure which would need a separate heavy bill.
58. Does the crime have to be done solely because of hate, or only partly for it to be considered a hate crime?
It has to be exhibit malicious intent on the targeting of an individual or the amplified severity of the crime. So for example, an LGBT person leaving a gay club might get called a slur and jumped by men waiting outside. The prosecution would need to furnish the judge with the evidence that suggests this was an attack that either targeted the individual based on their membership in a protected category or than the criminal act would not have been more severe had the individual not been assumed to have been part of the protected category.
59. I see.
There's no one size fits all solution often, it's a case by case scenario but this expands the power of a judge to duly punish those who prey on the folks in our society already under attack.
60. Would hate crimes as they relate to race also involve - as an example - an African American man targeting a white man?
Any instance of racial hatred or targeting based on race must be punished. Any.
61. You already know that I'm in a mixed race relationship, my next question is more general. I had a conversation with someone who tried to tell me that it's impossible to be racist to white people because minorities don't have the power to enact racism. What do you say to that?
I think that the issue is an important one. In colleges, we have a vigorous debate on whether groups with traditionally less institutional power hold the same weapons in the arsenal as members of traditionally dominant racial groups. This goes for every country mind you, whether it be the minority religious groups in the Middle East who are at times violently repressed by the dominant or otherwise. It's my personal belief that racial hatred of any kind will not be tolerated in one of the most diverse cities in the United States. I'm not one for labeling people racist or not racist, I label rhetoric, words, and actions those things when they exhibit the telltale signs.
Labeling people has become trendy. You're loyal, you're not. You're an ally, you're an enemy. You're a racist, you're not. I don't think people have productive conversations after they get labeled, so I don't label them. I listen, I engage, and I exchange experiences.
62. Respectfully, I'm not sure you answered my question. Yes or no, can I, a minority, be racist to my white boyfriend?
I believe you can use racist terms, discriminate meaningfully, and actively perform a hate crime on him. But for his sake, I'd hope you wouldn't! I don't engage in labeling people and I don't encourage others to. That's the real answer.
63. So, again to be sure. Minorities can be racists to white people - is that what you're saying?
I think while in many cases it doesn't have the same impact as it might if the tables were turned, but I do believe individuals can engage in actions that are discriminatory and meet the standard for racial hatred across the board. Apologies that I'm unable to furnish you with a simple yes or no, but it's quite the complex issue and I want to do it proper justice. It gets at philosophical questions of what it means to be racist and who decides whom is racist or not. This is why I stick to calling out actions borne from bigotry and patterns where they exist. It leaves the door open for people to recognize the behavior and change rather than closing the door on them entirely. I want folks to come to the table and see their neighbor as part of their human family, I don't want anyone to think we've abandoned them.
64. Well, the dictionary definition of racism is belief that a racial group is inferior or superior to another. We hear a lot about white supremacists - can there also be black supremacists?
There can be. It's just not as frequent according to the FBI Sourcebook.
65. Cool. Thank you. Your Civil Liberties Pledge, you've had a few District representatives sign it - what's it's purpose?
Well. I was talking with folks about the ways politics in Los Santos differs from the national conversation. For example we have a Republican Party here that recognizes the local need for certain social programs. The Civil Liberties Pledge was an attempt for me to highlight the bipartisan agreement we all have, Democrat, Republican, and anything in between, that we have certain civil rights that should be respected no matter what office you hold. More daringly, I also included the UN Passed Human Rights Resolution which goes further and recognizes rights beyond national borders, so it would extend to individuals who are not citizens but might be visiting. Even more daringly, I included the Economic Bill of Rights by Franklin Delano Roosevelt who wrote that people have a human right to decent housing, a fair wage, and a job they can be proud of. These are all nonpartisan. This gets at the core reason why anyone should run for office.
66. You also included the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but the USA has refused to ratify that, so there are some practical problems here --
Just because our Federal Government may be slow to act, does not mean we cannot align ourselves as a city with the principles therein. This is a pledge, rather than a ratification. It entrusts the signer to abide by it individually, rather than creating legal mechanisms for enforcement. It states agreement and declares it before the public to hold them accountable. The public and the media.
67. Sure, article 24 of the Declaration gives rights to health and well being, food, medical treatment - no, please wait for me to finish - along with medical care and social services, but the Constitution guarantees none of these things. Practically, how can you bind any city official to international law that has not been ratified at the Federal level? Isn't this just unnecessary window dressing that might work on people who don't understand that the Declaration has no place in city business? Isn't it grandstanding by you?
I'd disagree with a few premises. I disagree with the premises that it legally binds any city official to international law. It asks them the mere question whether they hold themselves to the standards it outlines. Furthermore, I disagree with the notion that the Declaration has no place in city business when it's in cities where humans live, and specifically our city where humans live lives that should provide for their basic needs in a meaningful way. In our constitution for example Article I, Section 8, allows the Congress of the United States to levy taxes and pay debts to provide for the General Welfare of citizens. I think that aligns neatly when we realize what we're essentially talking about is people's basic level of well being that should be prioritized by the government they elect to represent their needs. The pledge doesn't punish the breaker legally. But it does inform citizens whether someone is willing to go back on their word if they try to sign any piece of legislation that infringes on their rights in a meaningful way.
68. Yes, but, if the government levies taxes in an unlawful way, there will be legal consequences - what consequences are there if the District representatives don't bother legislating within the parameters of the Declaration? Or even the spirit? Isn't this just a meaningless pledge?
The only way District Reps could break the resolution is if they attempt to eliminate social programs that folks rely upon, seek to create laws tangibly oppressive to our people's basic needs, or in any way attempts to silence the voices of citizens who are concerned and expressing their discontent lawfully. I would not say it's a meaningless pledge because I believe that if our elected officials cannot pledge to protecting folks basic needs and civil liberties, the public has the right to be made aware of that disagreement and for the official to be held accountable by the media for why they seek to in any way infringe on those values.
69. At your announcement, you said that you've seen people arrested for "smoking a blunt" - do you regret that now?
Much like when I said I've seen hate crimes rise, sexual assaults rise, I think it's fairly obvious that I did not personally pull up a lawn chair and watch someone undergo sexual assault in every instance I'm referencing. I regret not being clearer in that I was referencing what the citizens of Los Santos have reported to me as an issue that matters to them, but yes, my phrasing could have been furnished more clearly and less flippantly.
70. But, are people arrested just for "smoking a blunt" or not?
For the sole reason of smoking a blunt, absolutely not. But are they criminally held accountable for using or possessing in small amounts? Yes and any amount of criminalization of marijuana is too much. The real art is approaching the topic in a nuanced way. I was speaking with a Law Enforcement Officer yesterday about how this needs to be approached wisely otherwise it opens funding opportunities for street gangs. That's why my Decriminalization bill starts off small, but the larger battle for legalization needs to have the input from our law enforcement agencies, district representatives, and community members.
71. So, your policy is decriminalization, not legalization?
My current on paper policy is decriminalization. My goal is legalization. Should I become Mayor, I'll be assigning pairs of legislators to head up different committees which are designed to draft a legislative path way to the big goals. For example, education is a big topic. We need to expand our public education resources, but that's just a soundbite until it becomes acted upon. I want to eliminate the chances for stalling and have folks show me some real, on-paper, action on issues like that.
72. Another criticism you received is on funding - I have some transcriptions to read out for you. You were asked, "Change and citizen welfare is good, but how do you plan to implement your promises without the city going broke? Have you any prepared budgets?" And then you replied, "The city is not going broke. We pay insane amounts of taxes. Unless you have evidence to suggest that, I'm not going to pretend all that money just flies into the ocean." I have some questions on this - you were then questioned about the sources of your knowledge of the financial status of the city and whether they were trustworthy. So, who are your sources? What's the current rate of taxation? In the event that the city does not have the money to implement your programs, will you guarantee not to cut other programs or to raise taxes? Sorry, that's a lot of questions at once!
It's quite fine, I've been looking forward to them. Alright so first up, at that event I heard "with the city going broke" and that sort of to my mind set off a false premises. There was a lot of cross chatter than day and I tried to answer everyone's questions quickly and effectively... but let me be overwhelmingly clear. The city does not release budget information. Not Halford, not I, not LSNN, nobody knows the total tax revenue that goes to the government or the total expenditures by the government. Now the reason why I answered that the city is not going broke is because I do not see evidence of that. Evidence would include layoffs in all levels of government, including in the Public Defender's Office with which I worked dutifully, in fact when I signed on they were offering incentives to boost recruitment. I, nor anyone, has knowledge of the city budget, so we are left guessing based on these experiences and reports from citizens. Now the final part, if when I consult with the Department of Finance as Mayor and we are found to be in a budgetary short fall, I do not mind increasing taxes on luxury goods but I'm not interested in raising taxes on folks who are already struggling to make ends meet. Now I believe firmly that through public and private investment, that means creating trusts that can be added to by philanthropists and community leaders, we can have ample funding for the short term emergency solutions to our problems. But long term solutions need long term funding and I'd need to sit with the DOF to iron out what those long terms solutions might be.
No household making under two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year should be concerned however.
73. We're onto the last bunch of questions, and thank you for giving me so much of your time.
Anytime love, a four hour interview is a delight when the questions are good.
74. Do you have any policies specifically aimed at women?
As much as I hate to say it, my Sex Offender Registry Act is going to put a lot of us at ease. It's somewhat unsettling to know there are sexual predators out there, who disproportionately target women, and we have no clue where they could be lurking. I do want to explore sentencing additions for domestic violence which also disproportionately effects women.
75. Do you have any policies aimed at improving the lives of Native American people?
When we talk about Native Americans in Los Santos, we're talking about three main groups and a whole lot of indigenous folks from all over Los Santos. The main three we have here are the Tongvan peoples, the Chumash, and the Tataviam. The Tongvan are the largest so I'll address my intentions toward them first.
76. Do you yet have any intentions?
Right now, on their ancestral lands perhaps even where their ancestors lived and were buried, we have a Winery and a Rehab Clinic. I can't really think of a bigger insult than that. I believe the Tongvan people should be able to be not close to... not...nearby... not even across the street but on their lands. This is not a matter of partisan debate. This is abiding by treaties we signed many years ago.
77. Recently the Sioux people of Standing Rock won a case that now requires the Army Corps of engineers to conduct an appropriate environmental feasibility study in relation to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Will you consider legislative changes to protect the Tongvan peoples' claims in the hills area by requiring anyone who wishes to start a business or conduct an event to be mindful of Tongvan claims over the area?
I think Tongvan people should have right to first refusal, first of all, which means if a business is being sold in the area it should be presented to the tribe first. I furthermore think that economic grants should be offered given the fact that we looted the land to begin with and held it as economically prosperous for years. I think when it comes to the Yellow Borders, we get into an extended discourse on current residents rights versus indigenous. I'm speaking more specifically about red borders, but I take all of our covenants extremely seriously.
78. Sure, but should government and business be required to have legal consideration of Tongvan claims - for example, consultation? Before anything happens on Tongvan reservation land?
I think businesses seeking to open up on the Tongvan hills absolutely require consultation with the rightful owners of that land. With regard to the contested land, I believe that it's important that we offer incentives toward Tongvan businesses opening in that territory and that any new buildings or edifices be done in consultation with the Tongvan peoples although I think I would need to examine the treaties first-hand to ensure their spirit is being upheld to the standard that was expected by their ancestors. I do not anticipate halting economic growth in the contested territory but enhancing Tongvan economic autonomy in it and providing some form of restitution in that way- although obviously insufficient to encompass the true magnitude.
79. The yellow zone - or contested area - covers some fairly wealthy parts of the state and city. In the event that it is not feasible to hand this land back to the People, are you open to the idea of reparations?
How do you put a number on the suffering of not just one generation but many? This is genuinely a question I think about. Is any number good enough? No. We owe far more than money, but in pursuit of the spirit of tangible restitution I think we need to offer robust educational and economic opportunities to the Tongvan people, grants to ensure they need not worry about education, putting food on their table, or having adequate housing on their own land. I don't think cash reparations would frankly do the trick on this one, I think it needs to be solid long-term solutions that provide them tangible opportunities.
80. So, you're ruling out paying reparations?
I think that the amount we owe goes beyond a one time cash hand off to make the generations of looting and abuse go away. I'm not ruling it out because I don't like unilaterally deciding based on my experience alone, I believe that in consultation with tribal elders, our DOF, and our elected officials, we need to have all options on the table for lifting these people up after what we have subjected them to for generations. I believe firmly in educational and economic grants to ensure they can retain their ability to steward their land and reap the economic benefits that we've so enjoyed.
81. Oh, great. Um, are you aware that Mr. Galloway has just now endorsed you? A statement has been released, is there anything you'd like to say about that - how it came to be?
So while I heard rumours that my message was resonating with individuals regardless of political party, I'm frankly truly heart-warmed to accept his Endorsement even as I run to be Los Santos first Independent Mayor. I believe that when the message of unity is embraced not just in words but in actions, good men with good hearts like Mr. Galloway recognize the authenticity and meet it in kind. I am more than ready to look at my brothers and sisters, both republican and democrat, and stand with them to make the change we need.
82. I see. Do you know if all of the Democratic District representatives are on board with this?
I do not, but I welcome their support with open arms. I know they're a phenomenal bunch to work with.
83. Okay, well. That's a bit of a surprise - but maybe not so much for you. Does this mean that you will more easily align with Democrat values than Republican? In other words, are you now the Democrat candidate in all but name?
I firmly believe we all share a group of core values. I do not however accept institutional support like funding from any political party. I am an Independent, I have my own policy and my own perspective on issues ranging from Hunting to Open Carry within Blaine County. I do not expect all of us to agree on all points, but I do expect us to work together to address the core issues facing Los Santos citizens and by and by large Red, Blue, or Independent we are largely in agreement on that. What we might disagree with sometimes is on pathway.
84. Okay, so last question.
85. Last ditch pitch - at least for this interview - why should voters choose Malikah Saleh as their mayor?
This election cycle, I wanted to give voters the opportunity to elect someone who isn't just dedicated to prioritizing the needs of those suffering the most, but someone who has done the work and will continue to do the work needed to make that change more than just a political talking point. If you believe in the destiny of Los Santos to be independent and unrivalled in our approach to civil liberties, human rights, and providing for the well-being of our people, then vote Malikah on October 23rd.
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