Megan Beaman: Fighting for Justice in the Community
Why Her Star Shone Brightly in 2013
Attorney Megan Beaman had a stellar 2013. Her independent law practice, Beaman Law, helped numerous community members and organizations fight for their rights in the areas of employment, housing, immigration, civil rights, and policy.
For example, as the attorney for Comité de la Calle Pierce, she led the effort to have the Coachella Valley Water District adhere to the California Voting Rights Act – a big step in the struggle for water rights in the Eastern Coachella Valley. As attorney to Pueblo Unido Community Development Corporation, she helped the organization achieve major overhauls in policies and practices that have prevented infrastructure and community improvements for years.
Explains Beaman, “The Comité and many other residents and advocates have been pleading and fighting for years for water and wastewater extensions to East Valley Communities where none exist–despite that the Coachella Valley Water District includes those areas within its ‘coverage’ zone. The communities have also pleaded for respectful and legal treatment by enforcement and permitting authorities, who have historically not favored the preservation of East Valley mobilehome communities. As a result of these and other struggles, many East Valley communities are often relying on untreated and sometimes contaminated drinking water from privately-dug wells, inadequate septic systems that sometimes backup and overflow into their yards and homes, and inadequate and unsafe electricity systems and other problems for which they still struggle to improve.”
Highlight of 2013
“I am excited and have been honored to be hired this year as attorney to the Comité de la Calle Pierce, as well as several other Eastern Coachella Valley Residents, who this year embarked on a historic campaign to reform the electoral system of the CVWD,” says Beaman. “In that effort, we evaluated the CVWD’s system, and determined that it likely violated the California Voting Rights Act and other laws by diluting Latino votes. We made demands to the CVWD that they reform the system to ensure that Latino voters were able to vote for their own representatives, instead of being outnumbered by white voters in other parts of the Valley, and to request that the district lines be redrawn to make sure that Latinos were neither overly-packed into districts, nor illegally divided.
So far, the CVWD has indicated a willingness to voluntarily comply with our demands, indicating an incredible and historic civil rights and water rights victory is in the making — all thanks to the initiative of a handful of East Valley leaders.”
Biggest Lesson Learned in 2013
“Community allies and opponents exist in all forms — we cannot rush to take sides when community conflict arises; we must evaluate those issues from all sides before carefully making our decisions about action and inaction for the benefit of ourselves and our communities,” says Beaman.
Goal for 2014
Beaman describes her goal for the coming year: “To continue to learn and grow in partnership with residents and leaders, all toward the achievement of justice(s) and health for Coachella Valley communities.”