Sheriffs to Receive Summons to Appear at Peoples’ Tribunals

California Sanctuary Campaign Media Advisory

Notice to Appear – Peoples’ Tribunal May 5th

Oakland, CA: On Tuesday, April 10th, 10 am, 1401 Lakeside Drive, Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern’s offices, an alliance of coalitions including ACILEP, Detention Watch Network, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Freedom for Immigrants (formerly CIVIC) and many more organizations representing immigrants, those seeking asylum and groups opposed to mass incarceration will deliver a Notice To Appear [Orden del Pueblo] at the May 5th Peoples’ Tribunal [Tribunal Popular] at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond, CA.

Reverend Dr. Maria Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa of the Starr King Unitarian Universalist Church in Hayward will deliver the summons, saying, “We demand that all elected officials, especially local law enforcement officials, adhere to the letter and spirit of the law by affording everyone due process. We further demand an end to the collusion between ICE and the Alameda County Sheriff’s office and call on Sheriff Ahern to appear before the people and answer to these and other charges.”

At the same time as the Notice To Appear is being delivered to Sheriff Ahern, these demands will also be conveyed to Sheriff Livingston in Contra Costa County and David Jennings, ICE Field Director in San Francisco. Coalition members will  serve Attorney General Jefferson Sessions and ICE Director Thomas Homan in Washington, D.C. tomorrow.

Tribunals are taking place nationwide during April and May to bring attention to the purposeful cruelty being afflicted on these communities by ICE and other law enforcement agencies who promote family separation, exile from community, and mass incarceration. The Tribunals call on agency directors and elected officials to listen to testimony on the harm being done to them and accept the judgement of the people who have suffered directly under these conditions.

Contact: Pamela Drake-510-593-3721, pamelaadrake@gmail.com or Judith Stacey-510-559-0703, judith.stacey@nyu.edu

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Call to Action: Governor Brown & Attorney General Becerra Must Affirm SB54–No Troops, No Loopholes for County Sheriffs

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Governor Brown: Don’t Send Our National Guard to Assist Border     Patrol!

President Trump and his Homeland Security Department are preparing to request US governors deploy National Guard Troops to the border with Mexico to “assist the Border Patrol.” https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/04/trump-national-guard-border-kirstjen-nielsen-502117

The California Values Act, otherwise known as SB54, which took effect on January 1, 2018, prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from using money or personnel to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes, and proscribes other activities or conduct in connection with immigration enforcement by law enforcement agencies. Passage of SB54 demonstrates the resolve of the people of California to refuse to cooperate with Trump’s racist attacks on people of color, including and especially, refugees seeking asylum.

We call on Governor Jerry Brown to act in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the California Values Act and refuse any request for such deployment of the California National Guard. Contact the Governor with this link by twitter @jerrybrowngov or use this link: https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov39mail/

 

Attorney General Becerra: Tell California Sheriffs to Stop Assisting ICE and Stop Posting County Jail Prisoner Release Dates!

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The Sheriffs of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties recently instituted a policy of making the release dates of county jail inmates public on its “inmate locator” website. This coincides with similar steps taken by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to publish inmate release dates as a means of circumventing the state sanctuary law, SB 54.  These notifications benefit ICE in its effort to detain people as they emerge from the jail who may not have committed a crime or who have already paid their debt to the public.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/activists-speak-out-after-calif-county-posts-inmate-release-dates/vp-AAvrytU  

https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2018/03/29/experts-concerned-contra-costa-sheriff-tipping-off-ice-by-posting-release-dates-of-detained-immigrants/

This assistance to ICE is in letter and spirit a violation of California Law. We call on Attorney General Becerra to demand that Sheriffs throughout the state halt this practice and obey current California law. Tweet directly @agbecerra  or contact the Attorney General with this link: https://oag.ca.gov/contact

The California Sanctuary Campaign is a coalition of leaders of the interfaith community, union and other community leaders, as well as community and political organizations.

Please contact Sharon Rose-sharonroseesl@gmail.com or Pamela Drake-                pamelaadrake@gmail.com to join this call.

Call to Action: Stop Urban Shield at the Alameda Board of Supes Tomorrow

Tomorrow at the Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting, starting at 11 am, Sheriff Ahern, our local representative to President 45, will bring his motion to fund Urban Shield, the Law Enforcement Festival of Militarized Mayhem, which  has included organizations like ICE and the Oath Keepers-a right-wing paramilitary organization-to the Board for approval of Ahern’s next exhibition of guns and tanks on a pretense of teaching disaster preparedness.

Many organizations in the Stop Urban Shield Coalition http://stopurbanshield.org/ will be in attendance asking the Board to fund real preparedness, the kind that makes residents feel safer in their communities and empowers them to help each other, rather than a paramilitary expo which further divides our communities.

Here’s the info:

Rally and Press Conference: 

Where: Alameda County Admin Building, 1221 Oak Street, 5th floor, Oakland 94612

When: Tuesday, March 27th, 10 am rally & press conference, 11 am Board of Supes meeting.

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Photo from the Ella Baker Center by Brooke Anderson

The California Sanctuary Campaign is issuing a call to join the groups and coalitions tomorrow to stop funding this raw display of right wing force masquerading as preparedness training. Our communities have needs that this activity makes a mockery of, and now is the time for the Board to radically rethink the entire sheriff’s budget. You can find info on that from the Ella Baker Center at http://ellabakercenter.org/get-involved/save-money-save-lives–audit-sheriff-ahern

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Read this letter from Oakland’s Latino Task Force 

“We are writing to you today because we have learned that the Board of Supervisors will be voting on the distribution of Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative funds on Tuesday, March 27. We are asking that you introduce a motion to exclude funding for Urban Shield for 2018 when deciding on UASI funds.

As the Latino Task Force of Oakland we oppose Urban Shield. You likely have heard the many arguments as to why a militarized approach to emergency response is problematic. We are sure that you have listened to how programs like Urban Shield creates more fear, confusion, anxiety and actual safety concerns in our community. In particular our immigrant community who already is apprehensive in reporting crime, seeking medical attention, and reporting unsafe living conditions will be less likely to participate in neighborhood emergency preparedness. That is why California adopted the Values Act promoting sanctuary and protection for all its residents early this year. By excluding Urban Shield from UASI funds, you will begin to restore confidence and participation within all of our communities.

You and other supervisors play an important role in determining the nature, form, and
implementation of the region’s emergency preparedness. Shifting disaster preparedness
priorities back toward community strength and resilience makes our work more effective.Moving away from war games and militarization makes our communities less vulnerable. It makes them more likely to engage in smarter and stronger preparedness. We have a chance to be a model for the state and the rest of the country.

We ask that you make a motion and vote to defund Urban Shield for 2018 on Tuesday the
27th. We stand with you in recommitting to community-based safety and emergency
preparedness.”

See you tomorrow morning on a beautiful day to Stop Urban Shield and rebuild our beloved community!

 

Oakland City Council Tonight-Housing, Sanctuary, Police Commission and so much more

 

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Sorry this is so late and since it will be quick and dirty, please excuse typos. If you  are concerned about almost any issue, it’s on the Oakland City Council Agenda for discussion tonight. Well, maybe not net neutrality and the fate of former FBI Director Andrew McCabe’s pension.

So here we go-

A number of issues will be resolved and some will be discussed, resolution still to come. If you don’t want to stay for a couple hours and listen to the discussions on other proposals, sign up now for open forum (or submit and ecomment) and try and race through your points in the 1 minute allotted or sign up for all the items and ask for another minute, sometimes this works. However, you must be there for the 5:30 opening in order to speak at the Open Forum part of the meeting.51y2efayiLL

Famous local woman, Betty Reid Soskin, the oldest park ranger at the Rosie the Riveter exhibit at the National Historical Park in Richmond, and author of Sign My Name to Freedom and so much more will be honored. That alone is worth the price of admission- if there were one.

Open Forum OnlySign up to speak–Tenants rights folks will be  announcing the launch of their petition campaign to “Close the Loopholes” in Oakland’s rent laws for an ordinance on the November ballot to permanently remove “Substantial Rehabilitation” from the Rent Law (SR was removed from Just Cause but not the rent law by Meas JJ in 2016), and to remove the current exemption for “Owner-Occupied 2 & 3 Unit Buildings” from both Just Cause and the rent law.

Substantial rehabilitation means that landlords who have long term tenants, have found that they can evict folks in order to update their flats with fancy new kitchens and baths and then charge whatever the market will bear. Remodeling may sound good but it has become an effective tool of displacement where the existing units were habitable but not updated.

Item 7.9-Tenant Move Out Agreement Ordinance– Long discussions with all concerned groups seem to have resulted in an ordinance that requires certain payments to certain tenants when tenants are legally evicted for no cause, as we stated earlier, there are lots of reasons that can still happen. This is expected to pass under consent but worth watching.

Item 7.10_Support of  Temporary Protected StatusSign up to speak–This is only a resolution but it’s symbolism is very important in a sanctuary city. TPS was granted to groups of immigrants due to dangerous situations in their home countries including acts of nature but also civil wars and in many of these countries, the political and domestic situation remains almost as perilous as the original event that led to their seeking refuge. And many of them have settled and raised families here by now.  https://immigrationforum.org/blog/fact-sheet-temporary-protected-status/

In Oakland many Salvadorans, Haitians and Yemenis would face an uncertain future if the federal government were allowed to follow through with their edict to begin removing protections. This should be a slam dunk for our council but it’s important that we show up and speak in favor so that the issue stays at the forefront of voters’ minds and they understand the terrifying ramifications of this type of change.

S7.27 and S7.28-Cannabis Record ExpungementWatch and learn–one is in support of Assembly Member Rob Bonta’s bill AB 1793 which is a follow-up measure to Prop 64, to legalize pot use and to ask the DA to remove or dismiss such sentences (she has to be asked?) don’t foresee any trouble passing these but thought you oughta know. And S7.3 supports the change to the commercial loophole in Prop 13 which also exempts small businesses and will provide much needed funding to our schools and other local community needs-

https://www.evolve-ca.org/press-release/

http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-california-lawmaker-proposes-easier-1515529046-htmlstory.html

S7.31-Support of a State Bank for cannabis businesses-Speak or watch— There are lots of reasons to set up a state bank, a bank that would hold California’s best interests at heart by funding affordable housing, non predatory home loans, small local businesses, and generally use our tremendous financial resources to invest in our state rather than wealthy shareholders and bonuses for ridiculously rich CEOs. But this bill looks to focus on making it safe to run a cannabis industry which is a necessary function since federally chartered banks are prohibited from doing that.  http://sd18.senate.ca.gov/news/1252018-hertzberg-introduces-legislation-establish-framework-cannabis-banking

Item 11 is a biggie-The Enabiling Ordinance for the Oakland Police CommissionSign up and speak--This new commission was supported by 83% of the voters. They long for an independent body which can make policy and impose discipline when necessary on the officers of our very troubled police department. Despite this, the city administration has made it as difficult a process as possible for the commission to get up and running-the charter change was passed over a year ago but this ordinance is still aborning, sigh.  yesonll_gray

And, the city has allowed the police union, OPOA, to take months to try and negotiate away, under an overly broad understanding of what “meet and confer” means, to weaken the new law which amended the city charter’s oversight of the department. This is a longer discussion for another time. The point of passing this measure was to remove the question of oversight as much as possible from city politics and give it to the citizens affected by this department’s failure to resolve issues in the NSA, etc.

Unfortunately, the new ordinance under which the commission would be guided to operate “misunderstands” the core of the measure and tries to return  some of the rights and responsibilities of the Commission and the agency, which conducts the investigations, to city administrators.

For instance, the original ordinance-not the measure but the ordinance which outlines additional details on how it is implemented, so call it the “implementation ordinance”-changes some terms such as “directs the chief to notify” or “provide” the commission and the agency with up-to-date information to “requests” that the information be provided. If you’re a parent, you will probably notice the huge difference between the power of those words. I have also heard that city officials are being advised that the ordinance has to comply with the city charter. Of course it does, but remember that this measure changed the city charter in this area.

Item 13-Moratorium Extension On Substantial Rehabilitation Exemption– Back to the previous argument against the exemption for substantial rehabilitation as a tool for gentrification and displacement. The city has been studying the issue and we want to support the continued study for another 180 days in hopes of some actual legislation. During this period, this exemption to tenant protections on certain units is suspended and those affected renters are safe while the city considers what needs to be done.

That’s all folks, something for everyone—please sign up to speak or register an e-comment on any of the above based on your interest, comprehension and tolerance for BS in our progressive city by the Oakland Estuary.

https://solar.oaklandnet.com/Speaker/form

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My Primary Endorsements-Price, Kalb & a Surprise Write-In

The California Primary is still months away but for local activists, it’s been super heated since last fall. Many Democratic clubs and other activist organizations held their endorsement meetings weeks ago. But for most voters the difficulty of choosing from ten candidates for the state legislature’s 15th Assembly District-North Oakland, and the hills down through Joaquin Miller Park up to Berkeley and Richmond including Hercules- is expected to be a bit overwhelming.  21271272_2033593886872018_3753374795767531301_n

Two things make this primary on the local level exciting. One is that current Assembly Member Tony Thurmond has decided to run for State Superintendent of Schools (go Tony, yes, that is an endorsement) so it’s an open seat which always stirs the pot of local electeds and wannabes alike.

The DA’s Race-Pamela Price   Pamela_attorney-e1485730265186

No one can remember the last time the District Attorney of Alameda County, any district attorney, was in a contested race. Tom Orloff ran the DA’s office unopposed from 1994 to 2009 and Nancy O’Malley was appointed to fill out his term after which she has run unopposed until now.

Civil Rights attorney Pamela Price has stepped forward and is running a serious campaign. She has significant activist support but O’Malley has most of the establishment endorsements.

As the first woman DA in our county, Nancy O’Malley still gets high marks for being  proactive on domestic violence and human trafficking, but in every other way she has followed the traditional prosecutorial path.

O’Malley opposed the passage of Prop 47, an initiative that keeps petty criminals out of jail where they often become hardened criminals. Price favors looking at the effect the DA’s office has on those who are most often shuttled into the prison pipeline and kept there and how that can be changed.

Price also believes that police should be held accountable when they violate the law rather than honor the traditional prosecutor’s cosy relationship with law enforcement. This is especially important in Alameda County given the many layers of corruption which the Celeste Guap case (or law-enforcement-sexploitation syndrome) unearthed across Bay area police departments.

Price also opposes the DA’s traditional overcharging of defendants in order to wring a plea bargain out of those who have few resources and little understanding of the criminal justice system. As a result 95% of cases are settled this way and guilt or innocence had little to do with it. Here’s a description of that system from Price’s own blog including a look at how parts of the Guap case were handled. It’s a good read,  https://pamelaspage.com/tag/police-corruption/

If that weren’t enough to convince you that it’s time to elect a district attorney and one who will see the job in a new way, let me tell you about some of the answers the current DA gave at the Wellstone Club endorsement meeting. She said 1) she didn’t believe in charging youth as adults, and 2) she doesn’t charge demonstrators who engage in civil disobedience as criminals. Neither of those have been true although it’s possible she has rethought her past decisions.

Please check out this comprehensive article, particularly the last third.  You will probably remember something of this disturbing story. It taught me all I needed to know about this DA’s understanding of the other Oakland, the one where folks don’t get the choice of private schools, good jobs, and artisanal cooking oil.

 

 

And I’m sure you remember the Black Lives Matter demonstrators who stopped BART riders heading to SF for a couple of hours one Black Friday, to make a point about the “inconvenience” of dealing with a justice system that locks Black youth away as a matter of course or refuses to hold police accountable for any level of brutality. Ms. O’Malley wanted to charge these folks (who might’ve been called pranksters under different-colored circumstances) with serious crimes but was talked out of it by powerful community pressure.

So while we often focus on our Republican sheriff for his Trumpian policies, the DA’s office has more to do with implementing mass incarceration than the sheriff. If you want to staunch the flow of poor Black and Brown people into the prison pipeline, we need a DA who really stands behind that goal.

15th Assembly District-Dan Kalb  

The open seat vacated by Tony Thurmond has produced a plethora of progressive candidates, some with long track records of legislative achievement and some who’ve just begun their electoral climb but are hoping to jump ahead a few steps.

Rather than discuss them all, cause who has that kind of time, I’ll share my reasoning for endorsing District 1 Oakland City Council Member Dan Kalb.

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In 2016 Oaklanders overwhelmingly voted for Measure LL which is a charter change (something city administrators and some council members still haven’t wrapped their heads around, but that’s a subject for another time) that gives us an independent police commission with the power to implement discipline over officers.

That charter change would have never made it to the ballot without the courage and hours of hard work and analysis that Dan Kalb put into it. There were other CMs who stuck their necks out, notably Noel Gallo and also Rebecca Kaplan but without Dan’s shepherding it through a complex process, it would not have gotten there.

Dan also put all the resources of his office behind the fact finding that led the City  to  29oakland-master768 (1)reject trainload after trainload of coal chugging through Oakland. He has taken the right positions on renter protections and affordable housing and many other progressive issues although he doesn’t get the credit he deserves because he does sweat the small stuff and can appear as a bit of a know-it-all at times (yeah, I know that’s an understatement.)

I appreciate the progressive positions that Jovanka Beckles has taken as part of the Richmond Progressive Alliance and think she’s a very attractive candidate. But Dan has had to design strong positions on a council amid perpetually shifting alliances and no clear enemy. He has created a path through thoughtful if sometimes studious verging on prissy analysis, still when he gets there he sticks to it-he’s more of a legislator than he is a politician.When Dan says he supports a position he’s taken, it’s principled one and that character trait should garner the respect of many of the diverse voters of the 15th AD.

Dan will fight for our environment, constitutional policing, and housing for all-among some of the things he has learned to champion in Oakland-and I trust his ability to develop well-thought-out positions on the other problems that confront our troubled state.

Sheriff, Write-in N.O. Confidence 

Last fall a number of folks in various progressive organizations came together to find a candidate who could could run a serious campaign against long time Republican Sheriff Gregory Ahern, someone who embodies the Trump White House in deep blue Alameda County.  https://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2017/11/22/activists-call-for-audit-of-sheriff-ahern

We called it the New Sheriff in Town Coalition but we ran into problems finding a candidate who would run against a sheriff with a huge war chest and lots of name recognition; it’s the kind of campaign that would likely prove career ending to many a law enforcement professional.  https://www.facebook.com/NewSheriffAC/

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As of now Sheriff Ahern who invented the Urban Shield Law Enforcement Festival and Extravaganza that would put any military parade to shame and turned emergency preparedness into a celebration of militarized policing against domestic dissent, has no opponent.

Recently against a back drop of lawsuits by prisoner rights organizations and community forums led by the Interfaith Council of Alameda County in support of sanctuary for immigrants and refugees, I attended a hearing with Prisoners United. I heard too many harrowing stories of regular folks ensnared by an inhumane system that this sheriff gladly administers in as repressive a way as he can get away with. The final straw was hearing that persons awaiting trial may get their hour for their phone calls (to family or attorneys) granted in the middle of the night and that they are allowed a clean jumpsuit only once a week while 11% are regularly left in administrative segregation or solitary confinement for seemingly arbitrary reasons.

https://oaklandnorth.net/2018/02/09/activists-bring-concerns-about-jail-conditions-to-alameda-county-supervisors/

So some of us have come together to find a write-in candidate and found the perfect sort-of-person, the gender non-conforming negation of everything this Jefferson-Beauregard-Sessions-loving lawman stands for and to top it off, our candidate has recently immigrated to this county from another astral dimension, an actual alien if you will. Let me introduce Mx N.O. Confidence who is eminently qualified to be a write-in candidate.

They, Mx. NO Confidence, believe that ICE should not be able to hunt those who act on the supposed American creed, to offer refuge and opportunity for all who seek it, nor to deny basic human rights to people awaiting fair hearings in our jails while being forced to wear dirty underwear and languish in isolation for long periods. We are awaiting a word from the county registrar on how likely it will be that our friend from another dimension’s write-in vote will be counted but, whatever, it’s still a better choice than the alternative. download (1)

 

2017 at the Movies, the Oscars and the Others

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All the critics agree, it was a great year for film, but I’m not sure I buy that. Nor can I buy that it was a good year for women and minorities unless the Academy Awards nominating one movie by a Black writer/director and one by a woman are significant improvements, sigh. And, there’s no nail biter for best picture for me as I didn’t see many films that stayed with me for long. Realistically, a best picture award should be given for an extraordinary film and that would not happen every year. Nominate away but the flick selected should be exceptional.

That said, I’m still fascinated by the event and even more so by what the movies say about us and our moment in time so let’s talk about some of the nominees–and some that weren’t nominated but worked for me.

Since many movies ostensibly released in December are not available for viewing until January, February or March of the next awards year-and there are some you’ll never see on your local marquee unless you live next door to an arthouse-I’m going by the films I had an opportunity to view this year.

One of my favorite little movies of this year which actually opened in 2016 was Kedi. It’s Turkish for Cats and is a travelogue-documentary movie about the felines who live in every nook and ancient cranny of Istanbul, seemingly feral but lovingly attended to by the shopkeepers, waiters, and apartment dwellers of that cat friendly and vibrant metropolis. If you like people, cats or views of ancient architecture set along the MV5BOGQzNWM0NmQtZTQ3My00MGMzLTk4NDItNjQ1MGY5MjNhZjhmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTkwNzI3NDY@._V1_UY100_CR39,0,100,100_AL_Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Aegean, this film is a little R & R. BTW, better to visit but for now, since the Turkish government recently reacted to the American government’s visitation restrictions by refusing visas to US residents, you’ll have to wait.

I couldn’t wait to see Get Out and caught it the first weekend. I wasn’t surprised that Jordan Peele made a horror movie because on his show Key and Peele with partner Keegan-Michael Key, the duo produced many skits in the horror genre. Here’s just one of their zombie sketches.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xyhVO-SWfM

It’s an iconic film,  I believe, mostly because it’s one of the few films ever to openly poke fun at American racism from a Black auteur. The catch phrase, the sunken place, and the title itself , something audiences like to shout at the screen when the monster is about to burst through the door, are now part of our film (and social) lexicon. The_Sunken_Place

But there are some small disappointments in this genre busting movie–is it horror, is it comedy, is it satire or all of the above? For instance, the fright scenes were frequently less scary than the build up to them, much of the movie was tongue-firmly-in-cheek, but at other times the tongue was more loosely-in-cheek and the payoffs were sometimes more academic than immediate. It is almost as if Peele wanted to tell us about our racism and confront us with our stereotypes without offending us too much. But it’s thought provoking and entertaining and ultimately one of the movies of this year that will stay with us, or at least until Peele’s next eagerly awaited project.

The Zookeeper’s Wife came out in March and made an impression on me at the time but the reviews were decidedly mixed–many were offended by Jessica Chastain’s Polish accent. Maybe that’s why she was nominated for an Oscar in Molly’s Game rather than this otherwise wonderful performance.

Here are 3 things I know about the problems with the Zookeeper’s Wife 1) it’s a little too glossy for a film set in war torn Warsaw, could’ve been a bit grittier given the subject, 2) the hero of the movie is a soft spoken seemingly naive woman, not the type of hero we want these days, see Frances McDormand, 3) most people including the critics couldn’t stomach the early long scene where the zoo’s tame animals are being slaughtered one by one by the soldiers. But it’s a true story of a couple that were honored by Israel as Righteous Among the Nations, and it’s inspiring without being smug. See it if you can.

Here are three more movies I also liked but only one of them got any Oscar nominations. They were: The Big Sick, made in indy style with an awkwardly slow beginning but its touching true story wins you over soon after–Holly Hunter’s acerbic mother has much to do with that and even though The Indy Spirit Awards and others nominated her for best supporting actor, Oscar ignored her. However, the clever husband/wife screenplay was nominated.

The Glass Castle which passed by unnoticed, a young woman’s memoir of a childhood spent with her extremely dysfunctional but fascinating parents. The critics apparently dispute that the main character was able to cull some good memories from her childhood and seemingly panned it for that reason. I was moved by its complex portrayal of family life or maybe it just made me feel better about my own.

And Marshall, which actually lost money, perhaps because so few people can recognize the last name of one of our most important Supreme Court Justices Thurgood Marshall, more’s the pity. It’s a very interesting slice of his early life as an attorney traveling the country defending Black suspects and alternately commanding and alienating allies to the cause. It stars the very charismatic Chadwick Boseman whose next film has been sold out in theaters for weeks, the Black Panther. Maybe his star power can resurrect this movie so more people can see itdownload (3).jpg

There was Beatriz at Dinner starring Salma Hayek in a satire which hammered you with its message including an ugly peek at the lives of the rich and powerful entertaining each other in the decadent canyons of southern California. It might also be titled, “Everyone was Sad Today,” dunno, left me as cold as it was designed to do.

Should we talk about Wonder Woman, nah, let’s not. How about Wind River, yeah, beautifully filmed, touchingly acted, a modern-day cowboy flick [centered around the brutalization of young attractive women, what else is new and guaranteed money making?] also deeply sad, hmmm, is that a theme? I left the theater and then I realized, oh shit, once again, I was led down the garden path where the white people were the saviors and the Indians were the noble victims or the hapless criminals, substitute any other despised ethnicity and voila, the same old same old but with a touch of cultural sensitivity thrown in. images

Locally, those of us who’ve been fighting for years to reform OPD, went to see The Force because the film’s producer also made the award winning The Waiting Room but instead we got the local version of  mainstream media embedded with the troops in some foreign place. Here’s my longer review, https://draketalkoakland.com/2017/10/01/the-force-the-oakland-police-accountability-coalition-a-story-untold/.

And what about the phenomenon of 3 films revolving around the same WWII episode, Dunkirk, the story of the almost unbelievable rescue of 300,000 British and French troops from the coast of France right as the German army overran continental Europe and was poised to invade Britain.

In The Darkest Hour--it was so dark in those conference rooms and tunnels, I could barely see Gary Oldman’s Churchill giving the famous “we will fight them on the beaches” speech–would not have made much sense without having first seen Nolan’s Dunkirk, unless you’re a WWII  history buff. Then finally there was the British tragicomedy Their Finest which I found as entertaining and moving as the other two.

Does this confluence mean that Winston Churchill, the conservative leader of the British Parliament who hated socialized medicine among other proletarian benefits, is the leader we long for? Perhaps, but I doubt it. To me it means we know we have just entered one of the scariest periods in modern history and we’re not sure how or if we will survive it. F. Y. C. Knox

In Dunkirk, the flick which shows the terror in real time as the powerful Luftwaffe bombs and strafes the retreating soldiers, we also see close up the human face of courage and compassion. In the Darkest Hour we get the one-person-stands-alone-in-the-face-of-confusion-and-cowardice [in truth much of the British aristocracy sympathized with the Nazis before they opposed them.]

In Their Finest, a film within a film which depicts the making of a British propaganda piece about the Allied troop rescue, we find the beating heart of humanity under the seemingly cynical manipulations of the media. The story within a story also illustrates the struggle of women’s changing roles during times when the men were sent to die by the hundreds of thousands, women were reluctantly allowed to take over some of their roles, including screenwriting (and we still struggle with women’s roles in that industry.)

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The lesson for our time lies in how this heroic rescue took place-it worked because average British fishermen and their families took it upon themselves to become a navy of brave individuals with little coordination or top down command, and saved most of their army for the fight to come. Whichever angle you prefer to view that period from, people are drawn to these movies and they are all worth seeing.

I admit I didn’t see all the films nominated for best picture but I did see a few more that are worthy of your weekly latte money. Let’s talk about Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri which was filmed in and around Asheville, North Carolina. It was an obvious Oscar nominee. The writing was sharp to the point of painful, the characters were all played by outsized actors and the theme of (white) female rage hit hard and on target.

I admit I was in disbelief that the character Sam Rockwell played so well seemed to morph too easily into a human being from an idiotic and vicious racist cop. Of course, Frances McDormand’s badass grief-stricken mom was not so much believable as symbolic. McDormand served as the anti-hero that women have been craving, that is if you feel like tossing Molotov cocktails at buildings or people–and maybe you do.

The controversy-and there really could be many–is this your vision of feminism, who deserves redemption-centers around the ultimate acceptance of a cop who is known to have tortured Black suspects as a character who is capable of earning the sympathy of the viewer, depending on whether he in fact did earn it? Did indeed anyone and was anyone really redeemed? The movie doesn’t make that clear. Anyway, here is one critique if you wanna know more, Alison Wilmore in 171113_r30902.jpgBuzzfeed,  https://www.buzzfeed.com/alisonwillmore/three-billboards-outside-ebbing-missouri?utm_term=.wsZLVOyoDM#.mhaJv4gqX” “He [filmmaker Martin McDonough who is Irish] has a solid grasp of how a woman can be dismissed as crazy, as a bitch. But when it comes to American racism, he’s playing tourist.”

As to working class white women who can’t seem to fit the mold, there’s I, Tonya which takes the anti-hero and then flips it sideways. Its perfect sardonic tone takes aim at the audience because the film knows that we were as easily manipulated as Tonya, an abused girl who came close to achieving the American dream but became the punchline to a bad joke instead. It doesn’t answer any of the ultimate moral questions or explain away all the ugliness plus Margot Robbie is way too pretty to be the pinched face protagonist, much less playing her as a young teen. But the movie works, it’s entertaining and thought provoking, what more could you ask? download (5)

The Post came out in December and I saw it with a group of friends that first weekend. Sitting with a crowd at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland, CA, watching a movie about what the press can do to an out-of-control-president is heartening enough to make it worth the price of the ticket. That the movie had an outstanding cast and an important message was even better.  MV5BYmQ1MGM4ZjAtODlkOC00MThmLTg5MWYtMGVlNjgxYmQwYmNlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzQ4MDUzNzI@._V1_UY100_CR23,0,100,100_AL_

There’s lots more to the story of Ben Bradlee’s cozy relationship with presidents and CEOs https://www.hbo.com/documentaries/the-newspaperman-the-life-and-times-of-ben-bradlee and to Katharine Graham’s ultimate betrayal of many of the workers who made her paper great that was barely hinted at by the film, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/wash-post-busted-pressmens-union-in-1975-strike-why_us_599eed71e4b0cb7715bfd3b2.

The only real fault I had with the set-up was Spielberg himself. Sometimes he just had to tell us how to feel by pumping up the John Williams score when silence would have sufficed. And what was that bit with the bewigged hippie spouting Mario Savio’s words in  DC at a 1970 demo, “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop!”

Sorry, that was a different time and place, 1964, Sproul Hall, Berkeley at the height of the Free Speech Movement. For many in the media these days, the movement of the 60’s and 70’s from the Civil Rights era and the anti-HUAC struggles to Anti-Vietnam War movement and the Counterculture was one decade long period of foment but it was more complicated than that and those complications have consequences that still mean something today.

And now to the great Shape of Water divide. It leads the race with 13 Oscar nominations. I nominate it for silliest-and-darkest-version-of a-Fred Astaire-minus-Ginger-musical-fairy-tale, replete with stereotypes you haven’t seen since Stepin Fetchit, slack jawed dramatics, wince-inducing-preciousness-over-the-top–hit-you-on-the-head message movie of the year.

For instance, while Sally Hawkins was able to fill her bathroom with water almost to the ceiling by stuffing towels under the door (for you know, a romantic midnight swim) in her dreary apartment lit only by nostalgic movie theater marquees all the while with the same dumbimages (2)founded expression on her kisser, Octavia Spencer’s sidekick existed as a stereotype of a Black woman who chatters endlessly about her no-good husband and Michael Shannon reprises his trademark role as the vicious Trumpian villain. Ah well, gotta love the nostalgia and simplistic symbolism.

The headache inducing winner of the eye-roll contest was the Last of the Jedi, here’s hoping it’s the last of the Star Wars resurrections. Let’s remember the originals with fondness like you do old friends before they revealed they liked The Shape of Whatever That Was.

Here’s to not nominating any more beautiful films like Call Me By Your Name except of course for the cinematography, each frame a picture to behold, that is until you begin to worry this movie might never end and you have to use the restroom sometime. It was sort of s backlash to last year’s winner, no, not LaLa Land but Moonlight, that beautiful coming-of-age film set in Florida about a young man who had nothing and was loved download (4)by almost no one but which was able to maintain that quality of wonder that Call Me sought to depict.

Even as a middle class, reasonably well-traveled white woman, I could identify with very little about this wealthy, multi-lingual family vacationing at their summer villa in Italy while their young son develops a hot romance with a beautiful older man. I got the scenes of sweltering summer sexuality-when the search for romance and sex were all that counted. I just couldn’t relate to long scenes of cigarettes being inhaled while gently ordering the housekeeper to prepare dinner a little earlier this evening, thank you. a422c8840d719bae599ef170f27a6c4dd6491b1091fc20e9ae7c7e22b093ff99-195x195.jpg

Since filmmakers so often replay the same stories, why not suggest some that haven’t been told. Here’s one of mine: The Warmth of Other Suns, the Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, tells three in depth and true tales out of the millions of Black people who found their way north and west during the period between the two World Wars and beyond. The stories are as heartbreaking as they are inspiring and  worth telling. Just one would make an epic film about the struggle for the American Dream. It would be hard not to make it entertaining and thought provoking and what else could a movie goer want?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join the Friday Vigil at the Federal Building-We Refuse to Tolerate Ethnic Cleansing

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Press Advisory

Federal Building Vigil this Friday–We Refuse to Tolerate Ethnic Cleansing

Oakland, CA: On Friday, January 19th at noon the California Sanctuary Campaign, the Alameda County Immigration Legal & Education Partnership, Mujeres Activas Y Unidas, the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, CAIR-SF Bay Area, Haiti Action Committee, the Qal’bu Maryam Women’s Mosque, Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, the Oakland Justice Coalition, Latino Task Force, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, the East Bay Young Dems, and the Coalition for Police Accountability will come together in front of the Oakland Federal Building to stand vigil against current White House policies which directly threaten the lives of people of color in this country and abroad.

According to Rev J Alfred Smith Jr of Allen Temple Baptist Church, “the president’s stated policies and actions will promote the ethnic cleansing of whole swaths of Black and Brown people whether native born, immigrant or refugee, seeking opportunity and the ability to raise their families in dignity. The president repeatedly makes racist and misogynistic statements which result in directives from his DOJ and the Congress while families are separated by federal authorities, children are left without healthcare, jails fill with our youth, and refugees are refused asylum.  We must take a moral stand against the president and his party before these destructive attitudes and actions do any more damage.”

The vigil is being held the day prior to the historic Women’s March which will take place in cities and towns across the country to assert that women’s rights are human rights. The vigil calls attention to the special jeopardy that women of color face as a result of current policies which threaten not only their economic well-being but their safety in the streets, at their workplaces, and in their homes.

We call on other cities to protest outside local federal buildings at noon on Friday, January 19th. If we cannot look to our president or the Congress to uphold the moral authority of our country’s stated values, then we must do it ourselves.

Contact: Pamela Drake, pamelaadrake@gmail.com, 510-593-3721

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Oprah & My Endorsement for the 15th AD Primary

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There are nine candidates running to replace Tony Thurmond, current Assemblyman of the North Oakland/Berkeley/Richmond District in the state assembly since he has decided to run for State Superintendent of Schools rather than continue in the Assembly.

Most of these candidates are not household names, although it may be argued that most assembly reps are fairly unknown even to their constituents. Go on–ask the next 4 people you meet who their state rep is, either assembly or state senate. I’ll bet if 1 in 4 can name them, your friends can be classified as political activists.

#Oprah2020

Most folks can tell you that Oprah may (or may not) be considering a run against Trump or Pence or Ryan or Hatch or Tillerson or the monster from the Upside Down… Liberal women and many men are excited at the prospect of an actual self-made billionaire who is also a Black woman that white women might actually switch racist allegiances for while my lefty friends are freaking out over another celebrity presidency. Lighten up folks, it was just one speech, one heart melting, tear inducing vision of justice and compassion and a way forward out of despair…sigh. Anyway, I only brought it up to trick you into reading this blog.

The Nameless Faceless Masses…

For the 15th AD are in no particular order, really, none:

 

Among these I’d give Buffy, Dan, Jovanka and Judy top mentions as the candidates most likely to succeed– and I bet you never heard of Buffy but that’s how big time endorsements and piles of cash work. Two of these hopefuls have to get through the June primary after which they will run against each other in November for the spot in Sacramento.

I have my faves but I still need to see a little more from these folks to make my decision, as much as my decision matters, unless it can help  you make yours. But first you have to know my criteria. Here some of them are—

Costa Hawkins Repeal or will you support cities being able to protect renters?

That’s the gist of a 1995 law that outlawed local municipalities being able to enact renter protections on single family homes and units built since at least 1995 which also allows vacancy decontrol-where the landlord pushes you out so they can raise the rent. A huge percentage of renters in Oakland are threatened with displacement daily based on this law.

Assembly Members Bonta [hint:many of my readers may live in his district https://a18.asmdc.org/district-map] and Chiu are sponsoring the repeal of this regressive law. It doesn’t mean protections will then be enacted but it no longer prevents them from becoming law.

Hearing in Sac on Thursday

So if you want my undying love and maybe even my endorsement-which translates to a vote in the local Democratic Party-show up for the hearing, this Thursday, January 11th, 9 am at the State Capitol, maybe even speak in favor but the least you can do is endorse it, AB 1506.

Beyond renter protections what additional ways/revenues will you propose to increase all levels of affordable housing? This is an issue of desperate importance to most Bay Area folks and probably to most Californians. so be prepared with solutions.

Make it Fair California/ Close the Corporate Loophole, etc

These have been the names/branding of the movement to reform Prop 13 which ended up benefiting corporations more than homeowners and shrinking the budget for schools and roads, etc, permanently.

“Make It Fair closes the $9 billion commercial property tax loophole by assessing under-valued commercial properties at their actual value. This creates a level playing field among businesses and ends the unfair advantage given to big corporations. Make It Fair guarantees Prop 13 remains in effect with no changes for homeowners, residential renters and farmers. This is only about changing the commercial property tax loophole.”

http://makeitfairca.com

You gotta support it and tell me how you’re going to help it pass-requiring  a ballot measure-since it could result in at least $9 billion added to the state treasury. Given the new GOP tax law that will really hurt California, this is more important than ever.

Criminal Justice Reform-Who’s watching the “Protect & Serve” Crowd

It’s time to repeal the Copley Decision in which “the court ruled that police disciplinary hearings are closed — and the public has no right to learn about allegations of police misconduct, even when they are aired in a civil service commission.” Rather than lead as we have done in other policy areas, California has lagged behind most other states since 2006 in our ability to police the police.

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/sdut-sweeping-impact-copley-decision-significance-2015may30-story.html

The Copley Decision has not even gotten a fair hearing by legislators as they are afraid to challenge police unions on the basic rights of the policed, especially the overpoliced. Will you stand up to this special interest group?

Ferguson Report & California

I have seen a willingness of the current legislature to reform the kind of punitive measures that the DOJ’s Ferguson Report documents, “The city’s practices are shaped by revenue rather than by public safety needs.” 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/03/04/the-12-key-highlights-from-the-dojs-scathing-ferguson-report/?utm_term=.6cba763c5086

But we still use revenue enhancement to guide criminal justice laws in our state and local governments rather than making the criminal code less punitive to poor people where the infraction is less a public safety threat than a bureaucratic means to filling government coffers. And that reminds me, will you vote to end money bail as proposed in SB 10, https://www.aclunc.org/article/california-money-bail-reform-act-2017. It didn’t make it through the last legislative session so may come back with a new number designation but please tell me you can vote for it or campaign for it right now?

Healthcare for All is more than voting for SB 562

If you’ve read the controversy on the stalled California healthcare overhaul, you might agree that it’s a multi step process and may have to be carried out in increments rather than one fell swoop. Our system is a hodgepodge, some of which works for a segment of the population, much of which leaves large swaths out. But we know from the first years of Obamacare that confusion breeds fear and we need as smooth a transition to full coverage as we can get.

So tell me how you will attack that need and what steps might see us through to our ultimate goal of healthcare for all? I really don’t want to hear simplistic notions of an easy answer to please the crowd. I wanna know you understand some of the complexities of switching out of private, federal and state coverage without leaving folks behind. It is doable so how will you do it?

https://www.thenation.com/article/medicare-for-all-isnt-the-solution-for-universal-health-care/

https://draketalkoakland.com/2017/07/04/has-sb-562-actually-moved-universal-healthcare-forward/

You may be tired of reading cause you are running a campaign, dialing for dollars, hiring consultants, filling out lengthy questionnaires, and finding someone to go out for your dry cleaning so I’ll list some of my other “demands” just in case you care:

Full support for SB 100 and a return to local control in regulating air pollution from refineries, transparency for charter schools with a goal of ending the privatization of our public school system, a return to the Higher Ed Master Plan, a way to end any kind of support for private prisons, a bill of rights for immigration detainees, sigh, so much more. Now tell me your priorities…

Yours,

Pamela A Drake, local Democrat  download (9)

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This is Recy Taylor, if you don’t know who she was, google her.

 

This Week in Resistance from Oakland to Sacramento

Starting with Friday, January 5th, we have a very busy activist week coming up–important stuff from sanctuary to rent control, coal to electoral organizing, it’s all happening from the Bay Area to Sacramento. Get your walking shoes on, hop on BART or Amtrak, you are needed.  images

Friday, the 5th [from the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant]3 pm at the San Francisco Federal Building, 90 – 7th Street

Rally to Save Temporary Protected Status for Immigrants

“The Trump administration is threatening to remove Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from Salvadorans, Hondurans, Nicaraguans, Syrians, and Haitians and send them back to situations of life-threatening violence.  Many came to the United States because of former wars and natural disasters and have been here for years, and for some, even decades. Removing Temporary Protected Status will put hundreds of thousands of people at risk of deportation. Sending them back to countries where there are ongoing conflicts or economic instability is a human rights disaster.” haitians

Bay Area Coalition to Save TPS-
For further information, contact CISPES at 415-503-0789 or bayarea@cispes.org   

Saturday, January 6th, OJC, 10 am, at the ACCE Office, 2501 International Blvd, Oakland Electoral Organizing for 2018-

The Oakland Justice Coalition is calling progressives together to strategize for the upcoming elections this fall when the mayor’s office in addition to city council and school board seats in Districts 2, 4 and 6 will be up and some challengers are already running. “Our elected officials do not deserve a free ride in 2018. Who is ready to step up?”    25594003_10159734810420150_3593693008047131124_n

 

Tuesday, January 9th, Oakland City Hall, Council Chambers, 6 to 9 pm

Deport Ice– The Public Safety Committee of the Oakland City Council will consider a Resolution by CMs Kaplan and Brooks to prevent OPD from assisting ICE in deportation raids such as happened on August 16th 2017.  images (8)

The resolution had been postponed during the December Workers’ Strike and after the City Council prevented the Public Safety Committee from hearing the issue in November.

https://www.facebook.com/events/758631214332796/

Wednesday, January 10, SF Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate, 8:30 am

“Join No Coal in Oakland on January 10 at a crucial hearing that could put an end to developer Phil Tagami’s lawsuit against the City of Oakland. NCIO-150x150

Rally outside the courtroom at 8:30 am (but come even earlier to make sure you can get a seat inside the courtroom if you want to attend).”

Wednesday evening, 6:30 pm in City Council Chambers, 3rd meeting of the Oakland Police Commission

The new police commission is still getting its sea legs and is not yet staffed. Members of the Coalition for Police Accountability have been present at each meeting and the commissioners claim to have learned more about their mission and its implementation from them, audience members, than the city administration. We’re all beginning to wonder if the current administration is up to working with citizen groups like this and others like the Soda Tax Advisory Board.

 https://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/oakland-has-yet-to-spend-soda-tax-funds/Content?oid=11372565

Check https://www.coallitionforpoliceaccountability.com for more info on police commision meetings.

Thursday, January 11th, Rally Against Costa Hawkins, in Sacramento [from Tenants Together] http://wellstoneclub.org/rent-control-for-all-repeal-costa-hawkins/

“A first vote on the bill to to repeal the state restriction on rent control – the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act – AB1506 – is scheduled! This was hard fought. Housing justice groups across the state have been pressuring Housing committee chair Assemblymember Chiu, lead author Assemblymember Bloom, and Assembly Speaker Rendon to bring this to a vote.

Meet us in Sacramento at the state capitol on Wednesday January 11th at 8:30am in State Capitol, Room 4202 at the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee meeting. It’s important to get their before early so we can get seats in the hearing room. Stay tuned for lobby days prior to the vote!”

https://www.facebook.com/events/161315931153430/

Women’s March Redux, , Saturday, January 20th in Oakland and other cities around the country-

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https://www.facebook.com/womensmarchoak/

Stop circling the Firing Squad!  

All this great stuff, progressive change and signs of resistance should energize us but we have more enemies than Trump and the GOP or the moderate Dems, we have ourselves as Pogo once said, and we’re a tough audience.  images

We are losing KPFA–the only listener sponsored radio, no Kochs, no commercials a la NPR–founded in 1949, then developed into a network called Pacifica which now has 5 stations including our successful one in Berkeley. But the wolf is at the door of WBAI in New York due to their own incompetence masquerading as ultra left purity, and because they are clueless and see conspiracies where there is actual failure, they have led the wolf directly to the door of KPFA too. It is probably too late for us to rectify this situation and because so many listeners have heard the cry of the wolf too many times, they may no longer care but this is a grave loss. And it is ours to own, not the Right’s, more’s the horror and the pity.

Then on a smaller scale, a brilliant and witty progressive senator has been taken down by our own Democratic women andd many of us are left wondering which of the charges brought against former Senator Al Franken were actually valid and how serious were they anyway?? His name is now mentioned in the same sentence as accused pedophile Roy Moore and serial abuser Harvey Weinstein!

How did we let that happen without any type of investigation of the incidents or analysis of how to handle them? And BTW, let’s retire the term zero tolerance or let’s admit that it also means zero nuance, zero thought and no tolerance at all for mistakes.

Ok, enough criticism-self-criticism, onto the fights at hand but don’t forget how easily we become our own enemies, no more nose spiting or cutting off or whatever, we can’t spare the blood-we no longer have the bandages. We’ve got a civilization to save and hopefully improve.

Let us know what you are willing to help, drive a carpool, sign up to speak at a meeting, make a phone call, carry a sign in the next march or all of the above?

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Media Advisory: Oakland Holds 1st Police Commission Meeting since passage of Measure LL

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City of Oakland Holds Inaugural Police Commission Meeting

Oakland, CA.-On Wednesday, December 13 at 6:30 pm in the City Council Chambers, the Oakland Police Commission will hold its inaugural meeting and the Commissioners, picked by an innovative process, a Selection Committee drawn from the community, who in turn nominated four of the Commissioners with three chosen by the Mayor directly, will elect a chair and vice chair and begin setting procedures and time tables including developing unique procedures toward implementing police oversight and reform.

Members of the Coalition for Police Accountability, consisting of almost thirty organizations, will be on hand to celebrate the electoral victory and to ensure that the new board is able to provide the oversight that the voters demanded when they said yes to Measure LL by an astounding 83%.

The Reverend George Cummings of the Imani Community Church in East Oakland and Executive Director of Oakland Community Organizations said this about today’s momentous event, “The establishment of a Police Commission in the city of Oakland, after so many years, sends a powerful message to the Oakland Police Department, that its residents are prepared to act to ensure that fair and just procedures are followed by those who have been tasked with providing for the safety of our city.

In addition, the Coalition for Police Accountability has demonstrated that the people can be agents of change, and ultimately, must define what ” law enforcement ” means for us. Oakland Community Organizations is honored to be a part of a coalition that was successful in creating a pathway for residents to participate in the oversight of law enforcement services in Oakland.”

file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/Police%20Commission%20Meeting%20Agenda%2012.13.17.pdf

Contact Rashidah Grinage, 510-306-0253 or Pamela Drake, 510-593-3721

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