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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Tell the Oakland City Council-Time for a Fair Contract!

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Oakland City workers are headed into a 5th day of a strike for a fair contract; a contract that includes wages that keep up with the cost of living and working conditions that don’t threaten their health. The city acknowledges its revenues have gone up and that these workers gave back and lost considerable ground during the Great Recession but claims it can only afford small wage increases at this time. Where did the increased revenues go?

How did the Police Department Budget Grow so Fast?

Beyond three new departments with well paid directors under this mayor plus a plumped up staff in her office, last December the council voted, with the exception of Brooks and Kaplan, to accept a grant from the Obama led DOJ for a little less than $2 million which in turn required the city to commit more than $10 million in taxpayer funds-outside of the 2 year budget process. Add that to OPD’s unauthorized overtime costs and we can see how easily increased revenues disappear before the average city worker’s needs are even considered.

But there are more issues being discussed than just pay and in fact, the city and the unions had agreed to wage increases in the first year of the contract. However, the city made second year wages dependent on revenues, which may seem reasonable until you account for the administration’s, like all administrations, ability to hide revenues or to slide them under the table to the police department.

Beyond Wages

The unions have been in negotiations for 8 months without a serious contract offer, there’s been a spike since the Great Recession in maintaining employees permanently as temporary part time workers, and that working conditions have deteriorated in understaffed departments with massive new demands such as attending to homeless encampments and the health and safety risks involved. These all add up.

But the biggie is the attitude of this administration despite the face that Oakland “cheer leaders” show outside the negotiating room. When the mayor declares that your walkout is illegal, “She said the city would file a labor complaint if workers walk off the job. But leaders for Service Employees International Union Local 1021 dismissed Schaaf’s concerns.

“The mayor is incorrect,” said Rob Szykowny, Local 1021’s chief negotiator. “It’s an unfair labor practices strike, which is lawful, protected activity.”   http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Labor-negotiations-end-Oakland-workers-prepare-12404995.php

When the poorest workers like Head Start employees, many of whom have had to move out of Oakland to afford rent, were moved to strike weeks before Christmas in hopes of pushing the city to see the seriousness of the their situation, should the city response be to increase the distrust?

Negotiation in Good Faith?

Last Wednesday when the city council met in closed session to consider the union’s proposal, it was hoped that a settlement would be reached that day but the council was split and the strike entered a 3rd day.  When on Thursday afternoon the mayor offered her “last best final offer” which included a “slight tweak” from the previous offer, the unions had expected that negotiations would continue into the night as so often happens in these dire situations-but that’s not what happened.

According to Kimberly Veklerov at the Chronicle, “Union leaders said they were working on crafting a counteroffer late Thursday. They asked the city’s negotiators to stay on call through the evening.

“We actually thought they were going to come in and we were going to talk all night if necessary to reach a compromise, and they just gave us the end,” Szykowny said. “It seems the city has just decided to be intransigent and try to beat the union down, and that is not going to happen.”

Mayor Libby Schaaf seemed to dismiss the union’s counteroffer, saying just before 10 p.m. the city would accept nothing less than a yes.” http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Negotiations-in-Oakland-worker-strike-end-without-12414230.php

As of today, Sunday, December 10th, ” City leaders said they expect the strike to continue Sunday, Monday and “until further notice.” http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/12/09/city-of-oakland-unions-agree-to-mediation-but-strike-continues/

The mayor declared an impasse on Friday morning and threw the city into a deeper divide and long term disaffection between the city and its workers. Although the strike may end sometime next week and a contract will eventually be signed, the attitude of city leadership, the mayor and the city council, shows an inability to bargain well and little interest in what the lowest level employees need to continue to live in and work for the city many grew up in.  20171206_172445

Some council members have been admittedly more interested in coming to agreement, In statements Rebecca Kaplan, Noel Gallo and Desley Brooks have made it clear they are willing to work on solving this fairly. All the other council members have been what one union rep called “squishy.” If you are represented by one of these other council members, call or email them today!

And here I have to get personal. I was one of the committee members who worked with the city council to put a proposal on last year’s ballot establishing a police commission, a body which, ironically, is set to meet for the first time [it was approved by 83% of the voters]on December 13th [if the strike is settled.]

Three of us sat in meeting after meeting with Council Members Dan Kalb and Noel Gallo thrashing out the details of what we all knew was going to be ground breaking legislation. We had almost reached agreement on most of the important items when we got word from the 2 CMs that Mayor Schaaf wanted to change the innovative structure the coalition designed of using a selection committee, picked from the community, to search out commissioners who would then be another step removed from political influence.

We had been warned that she would not agree to putting it on the ballot unless she had one or two direct appointments to the commission which will have the power to implement discipline over our officers. We argued and fought for a less political process and then we got the word, she would accept no less than 3 appointments out of 7 and it was non-negotiable. As you may know, ultimately we had to agree to this change but it left such a sour taste in my mouth, I could barely speak in favor of it at the time.

[Though our coalition victory was huge, we are setting up a committee to “oversee the oversight board” and make sure that the voters who demanded change get what they fought for.] Now, of course, the mayor doesn’t get to write legislation, that’s up to the council but we knew we wouldn’t have the votes we needed if she had objected and she was clear, her point of view was non-negotiable.

A mayor who does not understand that compromise is the essence of the political process is not only not a good politician, she is not really engaged in politics but in dictating terms which she believes are best for the rest of us.  Her demand that “yes,” is the only answer she’ll accept after which the administration discontinues talks is setting up for Armageddon.

We are in for tough times as it is when our federal government is opposed to the well-being of most Californians (and most Americans) but it seems under this administration our city has taken the same tack to its own workers and dirtied, possibly poisoned the waters we have to navigate in for many years to come. 20171206_172337

Oh and by the way, for all those who read this and say, city services are horrible so who cares, prove it to me! I have worked with our public union members as a council aide and as director of a retail district and almost always found them willing to help when presented with a reasonable request. I honor them as sister and brother Oaklanders who care about our city and do what they can to make it better despite being understaffed and disrespected.

Call Your Council Member, Call the Mayor!

Oaklanders, in the spirit of the season, demand that Mayor Schaaf and your council members-you have 2, a district rep and the at-large member-get this settled fairly and do it now! www2.oaklandnet.com

 

 

Progressive Women and the Franken Divide

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Senator Al Franken has resigned – and it could be argued that he had lost his powerful voice anyway after so many allegations of groping had come out. But another argument could be made that by admitting he had made mistakes [although he denied the latest allegations] and submitting himself to criticism and formal investigation, he gave his power away in order to keep the high moral ground that Democrats are now claiming.

It’s a Wonderful Life, Ted Kennedy Version-

Reflecting on Franken, undisputably a (former) rising star in the progressive wing of the party, brought to mind another progressive political leader, one much more flawed than Franken.

What if Ted Kennedy had never lived or been removed early in his career due to his serious transgressions? Would the Affordable Care Act have become law, would the WIC https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/women-infants-and-children-wic program have gotten passed? Would SCHIP  https://www.gohealthinsurance.com/health-insurance-information/what-is-schip.html have given poor kids medical coverage, coverage now revoked by this sickening adminstration? And going all the way back to the beginning of Kennedy’s career, would the 1964 Civil Rights Act ever have gotten through a recalcitrant senate?

I thought about this recently when an acquaintance tweeted that Kennedy had been (partly) responsible for his opportunity to become an American after leaving Vietnam on a leaky boat. He had cosponsored The Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act in 1975 and according to Wikipedia [please donate] “Senator Edward Kennedy and Representative Liz Holtzman were the leaders of the refugee advocacy community, and the first supporters of the 1975 Act. They were backed by labor groups like the AFL-CIO and religious services, including the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and Church World Service. Their goals to redefine the legal notions of “refugee status” and attain a more comprehensive amnesty policy were not realized until the Refugee Act of 1980.[8

Would we be enjoying the benefits these Southeast Asian families have brought to our shores and would they have survived at all? It’s not an academic exercise and it’s not pretty having to dissect how things work in the real world but I think we need to do it.

Senator Kennedy left us 8 years ago, but  we should remind ourselves that Mary Jo Kopechne lost her life at 29-years-of-age, 38 years ago when she drowned or suffocated in the waters off Chappaquiddick. The young senator had driven off a bridge, had left her in the sunken car and simply forgot to report this “incident.” Was Edward M Kennedy, Liberal Lion of the Senate, the guy who endorsed President Obama early on and made healthcare-for-all his lifetime goal, also a monster who drank to excess and treated women like toys? I think he was both and I don’t know what to do about that.

And let’s not forget that Ted’s older brother, the legendary Jack Kennedy of Camelot fame, cavorted with gangsters-who may have won him the presidency-and used women like tissues so let’s be real about our heroes. I’m not interested in a discussion over whether the history books should be rewritten but whether we have thought out how we move forward– and what the consequences are in this time and place of our actions or inactions. Have we had that conversation? Can we have it, do we even know how?

It’s still a boys’s club and the boys who are in charge now are quite willing to watch as we demand more from each other while they get away with murder or at least child molestation: 

Robert Reich put it succinctly, “I’m glad Democrats are taking principled stands against sexual harassment but sickened by Trump’s and Republicans unwillingness to do the same. Tyranny beckons when the principled fall on their swords while the unprincipled keep theirs.

The decision to push Franken out has been portrayed as a purely moral one but its underside is that there is also a political calculus that somehow expelling Al would also remove some road blocks to throwing out Trump or future Senator Moore. I dunno, can you see that working?

It seems to me that we are in a war, maybe not a shooting one but that’s only because actual bullets are not needed for Republicans to get their way. Without a shot being fired, they have impoverished millions by eliminating the medical care offered by the ACA and soon Medicare, plan on reducing or even ending Social Security, are removing environmental protections, including cutting parks and monuments, have already passed laws promoting gun slinging, reduced the courts to a mediocre weapon of their far right ideology and more…. every day. They are courting nuclear war and terrorism while torpedoing hope during the worst refugee crisis in the history of the world. They are on a path not to take us back to the 1950’s but to something like the Age of Inquisition. kn120817dAPR20171206094507 (1)

It’s possible that the GOP or the Bannonites constructed most,  though probably not all, of the allegations against Franken who they saw as a rising general on our side of this war. He had the wit and intelligence to fight for us without starting an actual civil war as he knew something else too, how to reach across the aisle without conceding a bit of his progressive goals. Since he resigned on Thursday, I have read social media responses from many, many women who were opposed to Franken’s resignation [not a formal survey.] And we know that most women have experienced some form of harassment at work and of course, in the street so their responses don’t seem based on a lack of experience.

So here are some examples of the divide, without identities or any accounting of age or ethnicity:

From twitter: “I understand the politics behind this, but it makes me uneasy. The allegations against Franken are comparatively benign and largely unvetted.#GOP will not follow suit and the precedent this sets could easily be weaponized. https://t.co/FxKS4bJfax

Responses to this tweet- “At this point, I am very, very angry at the Democrats for turning on Al Franken this way, when the evidence against him is so weak, what he is alleged to have done is so minimal (compared to men who actively pursue women who have already said “no” and who have economic or other power over those women) and the Republicans have every reason to want him gone. I am almost never a believer in conspiracies, but the allegations against Franken just don’t pass the smell test.”

I am so, so happy to read what you all have to say. I thought I might be the only activist woman feeling uneasy about this. Seems like he should get “due process” at least.”

Reacting to a tweet from Senator Gillibrand, one among many:

“Women allowing themselves to be used by an opposing & anti-women political party to oust a man, who is on the right side of women’s issues, based on claims that were largely unsubstantiated while not calling for ouster of a white supremacist ADMITTED SEXUAL PREDATOR in WH

 

“I disagree about Franken for a couple reasons. First his case provides an opportunity for us to have some discourse regarding cultural norms that the majority on some level participated in. Particularly in the name of ‘comedy’. 1/. His case can also help us nationally discuss what constitutes ‘credible’ accounts. Through this we can dispel ‘witch hunt’ labels. We need men to participate in this evolution. I believe we can only get there through VERY PUBLIC discourse. 2/”

“As popular as SNL was,/is I’m guess that a number of the Dems clutching their pearls now over Franken laughed like crazy at SNL in years past. Total double standard and no nuance to the thinking. And the whole scenario of losing Franken, who is so articulate and fearless, undoubtedly has Rs licking their chops and looking for the next victim (you can be sure it won’t be one of theirs).”

“I wish Franklin hadn’t resigned and let the process play out through the ethics committee while Demo-women in congress called for Trump’s resignation A.S.A.P.”

      “If someone I didn’t like tried to kiss me I’d remove myself or push him away. Since when is a kiss or a pat on the rear as reprehensible as assaulting a child? Yes I am glad that sexual harassment has come to forefront but what is being done to Franken is above and beyond and he doesn’t deserve this.”
And responses supporting the resignation of Franken:
     “We may not know what it’s like to work with Franken and this is about his colleagues and their ability to do work. Women have to go around continually allowing different layers of male toxicity, or attitudes to prevail. Maybe the super smart Senators, who I respect deeply had some information, or put their minds together and saw it was important, so I back them!”
     “I will hope that sacrifice will lead to an honorable change in the future. I could be wrong and darkness will prevail, but in these times of darkness, I want more valor. Idealistic I suppose, but I can’t be cynical or I will wither.”
     “Those 21 Democratic women Senators who called for his resignation aren’t stupid, they’re strategic. There is a Dem governor in Minnesota who will appoint an interim. And we have a deep bench in MN, e.g. Keith Ellison and several excellent women. I understand they are trying to brand us as The Party of Zero Tolerance–from racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-immigration. We need to stand for something. We have to differentiate ourselves from the other guys. We have to clean our house and be different. Imitating them has never, ever been good for us.”
Who Will the Governor Appoint and why didn’t we ask this first?
But now from this article I learned that the governor of Minnesota may not be looking for a Franken replacement but just a place holder which may open the seat to the GOP, “Now Gov. Mark Dayton is throwing a wrench in the works by evidently appointing a caretaker on the condition she not seek to keep the seat, which opens the seat up to the real possibility of Republican capture in 2018 (maybe by Norm Coleman, the Republican Franken defeated in 2008).”

So this blog is getting a bit long, yet I just have to ask you to think about the concept of zero tolerance. Isn’t just the phrase a tip-off to our inability to look at complex issues and respond according to each situation?  Zero tolerance for weapons at schools got little boys and some girls arrested for having toy guns in their  backpacks. [perphttps://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/School-Defends-Actions-Over-10-Year-Old-With-Toy-Gun-197748851.htmletrators] .

Zero tolerance has criminalized young men who had consensual relationships with girls in their age peer group but just under the age of consent. Funny thing, these often turn out to be Black youth and the book is thrown at them. Shouldn’t punishment fit the “crime?”

Back at the OK Corral, i.e. Washington DC, the folks who are restructuring our economy for the 1% of the 1%, eliminating our remaining rights and gifting our country to oligarchs continue on. Many of us may not survive their onslaught. But, you know, we took the high road…maybe, just maybe, it will slow our descent into hell.

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The Upside Down, Welcome to Oakland

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If you haven’t heard of the series, Stranger Things, you’re missing out but you can attend Oakland City Council meetings, no subscription required, and find yourself in another dimension – The Upside Down- in which one thing may mean its opposite but not always…..there often is no logical explanation for how our city plays fast and loose with their stated goals and even their lawful resolutions. But don’t worry, unlike the evil critters in Stranger Things, they don’t mean anything by it.

Item 7.13 Oak Knoll final Vote

On the agenda tonight are some interesting discussions/votes. The City Council will finally dispense with the Oak Knoll property, a large parcel of formerly publicly owned land that the city managed to lose long ago. They had one final chance to make it work for more than the 2% of Oaklanders (that’s a generous estimate) who got their way. But no, with a vote of 5 to 3-Kalb, Guillen, and Gallo voting no- they are sending it to the cheerful world of wealthy Nimbiism. Never forget-not one unit of affordable housing will be built in this project.

Item 17–Stop ICE Complicity

Please sign up to speak or just listen to the mind boggling excuses our Chief of Police, Anne Kirkpatrick, has given that allowed OPD to assist ICE and Homeland Security Investigations while they arrested a Guatemalan refugee last August. He awaits deportation hearings now as a result of this activity.

Here’s an op-ed Seven Days” Robert Gammon in the East Bay Express:

https://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/why-oakland-should-cut-off-ice/Content?oid=11028169

In the agenda packet for tonight, you can view this report from the city administrator which contains a copy of one of the council’s resolutions against assisting ICE in civil investigations or apprehensions. Civil in this case means, immigration laws rather than criminal, which means the person or persons may be engaged in criminal activities that have nothing to do with immigration violations-got it?

“Further Resolved: That, in accordance with state and federal laws, City employees
including members of the Oakland Police Department shall not enforce federal civil
immigration laws and shall not use city monies, resources, or personnel to investigate, question, detect or apprehend persons whose only violation is or may be a civil violation of immigration law; and be it
Further Resolved: That, in accordance with state and federal laws, the Oakland Police
Department will continue to cooperate with federal immigration agencies in matters involving criminal activity and the protection of public safety:”   

Also from the city administrator’s report:
OPD has fully complied with all City of Oakland resolutions concerning the status of Oakland as a sanctuary city in immigration actions. Two of the three relevant resolutions prohibit city departments and employees from assisting or cooperating with ICE (formerly INS, Immigration and Naturalization Service) in relation to civil provisions of immigration law. The two more recent relevant resolutions both specifically state that OPD “will continue to cooperate with federal immigration agencies in matters involving criminal activity and the protection of public safety.”

Since the city can aid in the investigation of criminal activity, did ICE and/or HSI lie to the police chief  and if so, why would she not admit she had made a mistake in believing them or had not read the charge or did she go ahead anyway because…well.. the language of sanctuary is riddled with loopholes and she used one. However, the majority of Oaklanders have been pretty clear that they don’t want to be complicit in criminalizing refugees or terrorizing our hard working immigrant communities.

This is What OPD is offering as a Fix:

In order to provide greater transparency in operations with ICE, OPD will modify its
immigration policy to include the following language:
As a follow up to all cooperation OPD provides to ICE in criminal investigations,
the Department will publish an after-action report on its website within 15 days of
the operation. The public report will include:
• The date, time, and unit-block location of the operation
• The number and cost of OPD personnel involved”

It’s pretty easy to pass ordinances that say we won’t hire firms who help build the border wall but, it turns out to be much harder to really provide sanctuary to our otherwise law-abiding immigrant community. That doesn’t mean that socially conscious Oaklanders won’t continue to push the envelope and demand accountability on this and other forms of tangible resistance to our rogue government in Washingtion DC.

Come out tonight and again on December 5th to the Public Safety Committee Meeting if you want to continue closing those loopholes or, as they say in Stranger Things, closing the gate to the Upside Downimages (9)

Oakland Goes Through the Looking Glass Again-the Oak Knoll Decision

“’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves   Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,  And the mome raths outgrabe.”

Vintage Alice In Wonderland Clip Art 29

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party reconvened at the Oakland City Council last Tuesday, the 7th, where the non binary Queen of Hearts magically made a huge swath of our city [187 acres] disappear, the Oak Knoll project, an exclusive community near Toler Heights in the East Oakland hills. [“the Oakland City Council on Tuesday evening ended the long wait over the site’s fate by voting to approve the construction of 918 townhomes and houses at the former military hospital above Interstate 580. The project will represent one of the largest developments in the city recent years, in terms of acreage.” http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/11/08/after-long-wait-massive-oak-knoll-housing-project-approved/ ]

Oak Knoll which started out as the “original community benefits” project as designated by the federal government-a mix of housing, expanded retail, and open space available to all-has been redesigned into Neverland, a dystopian version of Glocca Morra—from the musical Finian’s Rainbow, a place where time stands still and folks do things the old fashioned way and where, of course, there are no tent cities, troubled youth or parks in which  families of many colors picnic together. [“You’ll never grow old and you’ll never grow poor if you look to the rainbow beyond the next moor.”]

The project was signed, sealed and delivered to Suncal, a giant developer who had already left a bad taste in another local community’s mouth but has a clear view of the pot of gold in the Oakland hills.

Back in 1992 when I was a staffer to an Oakland Council Member and Larry Reid was chief of staff to Elihu Harris, the Navy which owned the land and used it for a military hospital and officers’ club, decided to unload it. The city of Oakland got first dibs but almost blew it, in fact did just that for a number of years, because the federal government had stipulated conditions for its conveyance to local jurisdictions that included a variety of community uses that would benefit not just those who lived in the surrounding area but some less fortunate neighbors in other parts of our city.

But the folks who live in those lovely, isolated hills were not about to let the hoi polloi, the more proletarian segments of our community, know what a good thing they had. And so began the fight to prevent every possible usage that would benefit anyone beyond their imaginary gates.

They fought against allowing any level of subsidized housing including at the top level of affordability so that a family with an income of $120k will not be qualified for one of the 918 homes being built there. They killed a day center serving traumatized foster kids and expanded retail and a park that bordered 580. However, the new homeowners can count on holding their meetings in part of the old officers’ club, we’re happy to note.

And they won-through lawsuits, a cowardly city council [“Why, they’re only a pack of cards, after all. I needn’t be afraid of them!”, said Alice] the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the resurgence of predatory capital. They persisted in pursuit of the narrowest definition of community.

On Tuesday night amid a packed agenda, city council chambers, and competitive signs– different segments of the labor movement were successfully pitted against one another–while the Mad Hatter bounced from council seat to council seat, they won. There will be no labor agreement for the building trades, prompting one East Oakland resident to note that this will be an exclusive project built for the wealthy by workers making $16 an hour.

The Chesire Cat from District 3 smiled and explained away everyone’s pain while voting  to turn over the keys of the kingdom to the white knights of Glocca Mora. CMs Guillen and Gallo tried to postpone the giving of the gifts til a later tea party, but the Queen, once again portrayed ably by Larry Reid, shouted “Off with their heads” at less senior colleagues Guillen and Gallo. Dan Kalb declared the whole project “not ready for prime time,” a phrase that leaves anyone under 50 scratching their heads and nearly drove the Queen to apoplexy as he tried to come up with ever more ridiculous insults.

Finally the Queen, I mean the Council President, realized he had won by garnering the alice_tenn_croquetqueen_100votes of the two most progressive CMs, leaving the rest of us scratching our heads….who declared the scheme agreeable to all after promising to disappear along with all the gifts stacked around the council’s table. Most of the partiers made sure to pay homage to the Council Queen and his years long struggle to protect the denizens of the original Glocca Morra from….the rest of us.

There were some heroes who organized and fought the good fight and may find relief elsewhere should anyone decide to take it to the courts. Just a few of them, with my apologies to the scores of able speakers, Karolyn Wong of the East Oakland Collective, Angie Tam of the Congress of Neighborhoods, members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers http://www.ibew595.org/  and other reps of the Building Trades Council, and of course, James Vann, the conscience of our community.

I’ll leave you with some choice tweets and a few old newspaper column inches (remember them?) on the sordid history of this huge parcel of once public land. Don’t blink or you’ll miss the chance to find this special place but I’ve been assured that the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the Knaves, and of course, the Queen of Hearts will perform in this space again soon. [With many thanks to Lewis Carroll and Broadway, ever relevant.]

Keep your eyes open for this project, no promises made though-

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http://www.oakknollcommunity.com/news/oak-knoll-to-include-low-income-homes/

http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2005/07/11/military-sets-ex-base-land-up-for-sale/

http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2008/02/08/seneca-center-can-stay-at-present-site/

http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/05/20/developer-ready-to-move-oak-knoll-clubhouse/

Notice: New Information–Join our Complaint–No Complicity with ICE in this Sanctuary City

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Breaking: Although the complaint has been removed from next Tuesday’s agenda  by Council Members Annie Campbell Washington and Abel Guillen with no new date, we plan on packing the chambers and speaking during Open Forum. Be sure to sign up for Open Forum and/or item 2, Determination of Scheduling Outstanding items, on the link in the article.

From the Supplemental Meeting Agenda: “The Item Regarding “HSI/ICE Raid In West Oakland On August 16, 2017” Was Moved To The Pending List No Date Specific By The November 9, 2017 Rules And Legislation
Committee.

The situation is untenable for paperless immigrants who live in fear of being ripped from their lives and creates more distrust among Oaklanders when the department issues conflicting or false reports. This cannot and should not have to wait for a lengthy investigation, and until the Police Commission is seated this December, the department will continue to investigate itself.

Let us know if you still wish to join the complaint–the more the merrier politically speaking. You can email pamelaadrake@gmail.com. See you on Tuesday.

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On an August morning I awoke to find that Oakland twitter was freaking out over what many supposed was an ICE raid in West Oakland. It turns out they were right. The DHS, Department of Homeland Security and ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was in the process of hauling several members of a Guatemalan family out of their homes with the assistance of the Oakland Police Department. One was detained and another was returned to the home, purportedly a male teenager who was in no danger of being trafficked by anyone in that home.

I am a member of a group called the California Sanctuary Campaign. We’ve pushed the city to enact ordinances to prevent the local administration including our police department from becoming complicit in the harassment and removal of  hardworking but paperless residents from the city they call home. The Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission led by attorney Brian Hofer has taken the lead in proposing legislation to protect residents from the predatory folks in DC.

But this particular morning OPD soon sent out a press advisory that they were assisting ICE in detaining suspects in a sex trafficking operation involving youth. So I suspended judgement because I never want to find myself on the wrong side of protecting children, mostly young women, from the horrors of that trade. I trusted the OPD’s Media Relations folks not to lie on something this important, even given that they have done this many times before. See the Celeste Guap case, etc. http://reason.com/blog/2017/07/13/oakland-police-corruption-comes-out

Here is what has been documented so far on  the issue of youth sex trafficking — “But there is no evidence that the raid was conducted pursuant to any sex trafficking allegations. OPD later deleted the notification and issued a different one stating it was a “human trafficking” investigation instead.

However, there is no evidence of human trafficking in the case. At last week’s hearing, Hofer said, “The chief repeatedly supplied false information.”  Here’s more about the hearing the Privacy Advisory Commission held into the case and their findings so far– https://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2017/10/12/oakland-city-council-to-hold-hearing-on-controversial-ice-raid-and-oakland-police-misinformation

The one person who was arrested by HSI or ICE is now awaiting deportation proceedings. So here we have a situation in which the people of Oakland’s reps voted to withdraw our city from assisting ICE in enforcing civil immigration laws but they continue to do so. Did ICE lie to OPD to get their assistance when it was not a criminal pursuit? That’s entirely possible but we don’t know as Chief Kirkpatrick insists that OPD had to assist, using whatever reasoning is available, depending on the day the department is asked.

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Photo by Darwin BondGraham

To make matters worse, the City Council passed two ordinances that deal with how we react when the Feds say jump–one that eliminates MOUs in which OPD can join federal task forces and operate within them with impunity-and another that requires public hearings when new agreements are even being considered. OPD’s actions seem to have violated both these progressive policies.

I know that when Chief Kirkpatrick came to town, most folks were open to giving her a chance to pull together our demoralized and disgraced police force. We wanted and needed that to happen. I was a member of at least two groups that met with and are still meeting with her but I think I’ve seen and heard enough.

As Privacy Chair Brian Hofer said, “The Oakland Police Department will never change if those at the top are not held accountable for their actions. When she was hired, Chief Kirkpatrick raised the issue of accountability, yet since her hiring she has promoted officers suspected of covering up the Jasmin [Celeste Guap] scandal https://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/oakland-police-chief-doubles-down-on-promoting-the-cops-who-covered-up-the-celeste-guap-case/Content?oid=7922863, issued a ‘fake discipline’ report about the cover up, and attempted to derail two federal task force proposals earlier this summer.

Hofer continues, “It’s this last issue that is motivating me to hold her accountable – by attempting to maintain the ICE MOU, and attempting to derail a federal task-force transparency ordinance, the Chief has twice chosen the feds over the people of Oakland. We do not share the same values, and in the era of Trump and Sessions, this is dangerous for the people of Oakland.”

As a result of these actions, Chair Hofer has filed a complaint against OPD that is now being investigated by Internal Affairs, not the new police commission since it has not been seated yet, that accuses the chief of making numerous false statements to the public about the need to assist ICE in a civil detainment plus of asserting that the new city policy had not gone into effect at that time. I have joined that complaint along with Pastor J Alfred Smith Jr, Margaret Cunningham, Judith Stacey, Sharon Rose and Linda Olvera, all of the California Sanctuary Campaign and Tracy Rosenberg of Media Alliance.

We would be happy to have you or your organization join us in signing the complaint. John Jones III of CURYJ has already joined us and we are expecting others, many others. Notify me by responding to this blog and then please attend the Oakland City Council Public Safety Committee Meeting, November 14th, 6 pm, agenda Item no. 4 fill out a speaker card online.

If we want sanctuary to mean something, if we want an accountable police department–and humane policies for all our residents–we have to back up our stated goals with actions. Join us. 

 

James Vann on the Oakland A’s Proposal

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Guest blogger James Vann submitted this post to the East Bay Times but they rejected it saying that it was too “broad [a] critique” of the A’s plan to obtain a parcel on the Laney College campus. And this morning a puff piece appeared on the front page of the Chronicle touting  A’s president Dave Kaval as an all around great guy – including a timeline for building  the stadium- leaving community members to wonder what kind of “public process” will be actually pursued. 

Are the A’s Out to Harm Oakland?

by James Vann

The Oakland community strongly supports the Oakland A’s and urges the team to remain in the City. Unfortunately, the team’s seeming response is “to heck with what is good for Oakland.”  The secretive decision recently revealed by the A’s threatens the existence of much of Chinatown and the low-income Eastlake residential neighborhoods; will pressure and cause abandonment of highly popular Laney Community College and its working-class body of students; will overtax the only two local streets that serve the area; will destroy the wildlife and ecology of Lake Merritt and the Channel to the Bay, and will turn the communities surrounding Peralta and Laney over to speculators, land-grabbers, and gentrifying boutique and luxury developments.
At an A’s-hosted  “listening tour” on August 30 at La Estrellita Restaurant in the Eastlake district, A’s President Dave Kaval stated that the A’s were still in the information-gathering stage and a decision on location was months away.  To the contrary, just the day before onAugust 29, Kaval delivered a 4-page letter to Peralta trustees and Chancellor Jowel Laguerre announcing that the A’s had selected the Peralta site and requested the opening of negotiations.  The misrepresentation was followed on Sept 12 with release of Kaval’s public announcement and promotional  video.
The off-repeated “month’s-away-to-decision” declarations were belied by the splashy A’s video and premature announcement. The video features developers; out-of-area business owners; commercial associations foreseeing new stores and restaurants (as though no displacement is necessary to make room for the envisioned new establishments); construction unions forecasting “jobs, jobs, jobs” (forgetting that the number of jobs is the same irrespective of location); and certain city policymakers (who immediately backed off  their prior-recorded compliments).  The video features no area residents.
Selection by the A’s of the Peralta site lacks logical justification.  Superimposing the A’s own “bare-bones” stadium option on the site reveals that the parcel can barely contain a 35,000 seat stadium and bleachers, with little to no remaining area for offices, accessory buildings, service vehicles and storage, off-street parking, or gathering space.  A more desired A’s rendering depicting a circular stadium surrounded by bleachers has no chance of fitting on the small parcel.  It is unbelievable that the A’s would not be aware of the expansion limitations of the Peralta site.
In addition to the Peralta site being too small, it is inconceivable that the ecological and environmental impacts highlighted by The Audubon Society and The Measure DD Community Coalition on birds, fish, wildlife, and humans can ever be mitigated.   Also unstoppable once approvals for the stadium are obtained will be real estate vultures swooping into Chinatown and the Eastlake buying up low-rise buildings, single-family homes, and ethnic businesses to be replaced by high-rise luxury hotels and condominiums.  Displacement of the areas’ thousands of present residents will be total.  In Oakland’s current out-of-control housing market, once an existing resident is displaced from their housing, only 2 choices are available:  Out-of-Oakland, or, join the growing thousands of homeless who populate the streets and sidewalks of neighborhoods throughout the city.
It is difficult to blithely ignore the ‘natural fit’ and ‘rightness’ of the Coliseum area for the A’s new mega-stadium.  Even if the A’s want no part of the present joint-use Coliseum, practically unlimited and unencumbered land exists there to choose from.  BART already serves the area with a generous station, pedestrian overpass, and bus-transit transfer center; convenient and accessible rail connector to Oakland Airport; generous unoccupied city land is present to accommodate any desired parking configurations; all needed utilities exist in the vicinity; no housing or commercial establishments exist to be impacted; no residents to be displaced; little if any environmental challenges to mitigate; and land galore throughout the area that literally “begs” for compatible housing, commercial, technological, industrial, and office developments for various futures and visions.
The vast Coliseum area is ripe for immediate development.  Thoughtful planning could assure an equitable “win”-“win” solution for the Oakland A’s team and organization as well as for the greater East Oakland community and for the whole of the City of Oakland.
StAy the Right Way !

 

 

 

 

Wellstone Democratic Club on the Laney Proposal for the A’s Stadium

This letter from the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club was sent to the Peralta Trustees and the Oakland City Council and Mayor with serious concerns on the A’s choice of a parcel at the Laney College site for a new stadium.

October 6, 2017

To Peralta College Trustees and City Officials:

The Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club has been active in Oakland and Berkeley for many years, including endorsing many of the current Peralta trustees and members of the Oakland City Council. We are writing to express our concerns about the Oakland A’s proposal to build a stadium on a thirteen acre chunk of public land already well used by Laney College students and teachers.

Our first question is why alternative sites are not being considered. The Coliseum location has much of the necessary infrastructure in place including- a BART station, Cal train, numerous buses and freeway access. Additionally, the Coliseum site has parcels that can be assembled immediately for further projects such as entertainment and office venues. This can be done with very little impact on the surrounding community.

Next the Howard Terminal site has proximity to Jack London Square and public support. The Laney College site is the only one which has the potential to completely change the character and cultural fabric of the surrounding neighborhoods. We want a full study of all of these alternatives before any decisions are made.

The study on the Laney site should include impacts on: the student body for whom this campus is convenient and accessible, the small business community serving low income and recent immigrant Oaklanders, neighborhood housing stock, its price and availability and wildlife, particularly bird habitat which has been supported by the oldest wildlife preserve in the nation at nearby Lake Merritt.

Oakland tax payers through Measure DD have made investments in the Lake area that have resulted in nearby publicly owned parcels becoming much more attractive for development, but we believe that any transfer of this land to private ownership should be considered over a long deliberative community engagement process. Any changes in ownership or longterm usage would reverse the direction that taxpayers took when they funded these improvements.

The Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club calls for a deep study that starts and ends with extensive public comment, and includes a detailed examination of the possibilities of locating a stadium at other locations.

Sincerely,

Pamela A Drake, Wellstone Club Local Politics Chair

 

 

“The Force” & the Oakland Police Accountability Coalition: A Story Untold

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Many members of the Oakland Police Accountability Coalition, some of whom have worked on police reform for decades, have struggled to reconcile the portrayal of the Oakland community, its police department and the fight for police reform which ultimately led to the passage of Measure LL–an independent police commission-with the power to impose discipline and passed by 83% of the voters last fall with the film, the Force. The final product was more significant for what it left out than what it described.

First off, the filmmakers were embedded with the department and that shows in its point-of-view. And even within that access the emphasis was very narrow, following one officer whose community engagement was shallow, to say the least. The film itself came off like an episode of Cops when it came to its portrayal of the Black community, showing only the most dysfunctional interactions with individuals who were experiencing life threatening stress.

The thesis as told by The Force is an old cliche, a cop’s life is tough-he has to deal with difficult even dangerous people. That may be a part of the story but it’s not the whole story, certainly not the one that has yet to be told.

For instance the film took pains to explain away a rash of police killings, showing video from police cameras that purported to hold them blameless. But there was no mention of the shooting death of an unconscious man on the Lakeshore Avenue off ramp that same summer at the hands of a rookie officer. A huge peaceful vigil was held near where he died yet somehow a year later the DA found the killing “justifiable.” The police had video which former Chief Sean Whent IMG_20150612_212616promised to share with the community but never did.  Thirteen months later the city paid out a $1.2 million wrongful death suit on behalf of the dead man’s family. Once again, there was  no mention of this incident or its aftermath in the film which perhaps did not fit the already established narrative.

Peter Nicks and his crew probably thought their film was almost in the can when the news on OPD and its trajectory toward reform blew up. At that point the filmmakers had an opportunity to fully explore what had gone so wrong that a department under a Negotiated Settlement Agreement, that is court oversight of its reform measures for over a decade, could have jumped the tracks once again and found itself in the middle of a national scandal; but it was an opportunity lost. It appeared that Nicks and his crew had run out of steam and then decided to run out the clock just as wave after wave of ugly revelation hit Oakland and the Bay Area police community.

Since then many officers who were involved in the cover-up of this OPD-underage pimping/youth-sex-trafficking scandal have been promoted to OPD command and at the same time the initial charge that led to the NSA so many years ago, that of racial profiling continues to require the court’s oversight.

While all this was going on, the Oakland community, never willing to accept the dangerous status quo, continued to organize against police aggression. There is a story to be told here that would rival any drama now in theaters but alas it remains almost completely untold. The absence of even a mention of People United for a Better Oakland, PUEBLO, the organization that doggedly worked on police accountability for decades  is  particularly galling.

There are some illuminating scenes of powerful Black Lives Matter demonstrations and discussions of tactics and goals at Anti Police Terror Project meetings, one of the groups working toward ending police brutality, but there is not one scene of any of the 30 community organizations which wrote and passed the Police Commission initiative, Measure LL. One member of APTP is seen suggesting a police commission as a path to change but ultimately, that group decided against supporting the measure as “reformist.”

18839239_307755119662088_2859169411652791691_nFor all that, many members of the Anti Police Terror Project continue to apply pressure in the streets and at city council meetings for reduced police budgets and the abolition of policing as we know it. There is no doubt that their efforts have made a difference and some of us continue to show up for those calls. We see no contradiction in taking to the streets while lobbying at the ballot box, because we believe that the broadest strategy continues to be necessary in this struggle.

But to have altogether left out the band of dedicated community representatives who pulled off a huge electoral victory with almost no cash and no paid consultants in favor of hours of rookie cops riding around in police cars, is to downplay, at best, the story of the creativity, tenacity and community dedication that are at the heart of transforming police community relations. We continue to wait for that history to be told but please don’t expect to find it in Peter Nicks the Force.  14523289_1794031850880854_5149506198094883856_n

Further references: https://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/the-force-is-a-methodological-failure/Content?oid=9073235

https://hyphenatedrepublic.wordpress.com/2017/09/16/policing-history-peter-nicks-ahistorical-the-force-erases-context-and-facts-about-opd/

https://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/oakland-police-chief-doubles-down-on-promoting-the-cops-who-covered-up-the-celeste-guap-case/Content?oid=7922863

A Sunday Afternoon in Berkeley

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Photo by Sheraz Sadiq, KQED

Yesterday we held a No Hate Rally in Berkeley and the haters didn’t come–or did they? I went and I’ll admit that I have hate in my heart toward the whole Trump Clan, the hideous Trump cabinet and the Republican leadership.

So what was the story yesterday in Berkeley? Was it a violent riot as most media portrayed it, a beautiful peaceful gathering for the whole family, a staunch defense of the city or… a mixture of all of that? So far I’ve read about a dozen versions and each is colored with its own bias, of course. I’ll share some of them leaving out the names of those who described their personal experiences unless they have been published them.

One friend who has mobilized as security for demonstrations over the years and engaged in self defense at times said, “I saw a large group of Black Bloc young people congregating on the corner.  There were 30 – 50 of them there…. As I walked down Allston toward McKinley, this group of Black Bloc people started to chase down one person who was running from them toward McKinley.  I have no idea who this person was.  The Black Bloc people caught him, threw him to the ground, and started to beat him with a stick, kick him and beat him with fists.”

This stands in contrast to another report, “others rallied and then started marching toward MLK park. After a few blocks we were joined by about 100 antifa activists dressed in black to create an inspiring demonstration of unity and determination to make Berkeley and the entire East Bay a fascist-free zone.

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Photo by Sheraz Sadiq/KQED

Once at MLK park people prepared to defend themselves against the kind of attack that left at least seven people suffering from knife wounds in Sacramento last June. Instead, the handful of fascists stayed behind the police barriers, some literally kneeling at the cops’ feet as they hurled racist jibes and gave the finger to the anti-fascist protestors. People became predictably angry…..Remarkably, and contrary to some of the media narratives, the fascists escaped with their lives and without serious injury.”

This is a little of what I saw and posted on facebook, since corroborated by some reporters who were there, “Ok there is one guy here that the crowd was chasing as he left the park. Apparently he had his hat and glasses knocked off and then was surrounded while he was still arguing that Trump had created jobs. A couple of BPD had to come and rescue him, sending him on his way.
I expected to go to Civic Center Park to be angry at these guys but then I started to feel afraid for him. I still don’t like mobs nor the idea of picking on the weak, which he was at the time.” He was eventually led away by a Berkeley cop.

Other friends testified to peaceful crowds and heartening speeches even at Civic Center. There were certainly many folks, thousands at the alternate rally, lots of good signs and happy faces with the Berkeley/Oakland Stands United Against Hate posters that were produced by the hundreds.

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Photo by Dan Brekke/KQED

Further facebook topics for discussion:

One lively discussion as to whether Antifa  and especially the masked black clad crowd (Black Bloc) were useful/positive/ protective demonstrators and necessary or a truly violent faction of the Left. After the events in Charolottesville and the role that Antifa is said to have played in protecting peaceful church going folk, mostly Black, by the way, some of us, me included, have felt the need to-if not embrace them-then not reject them for their “bravery” or others for their dedication if not their tactics.

The other isue that has been raging is whether the media or was it the “fake news” -please note I mean this ironically-over played the violence of the day in Berkeley given all the folks carrying signs with young and old family members, large groups in Groucho masks, they were the “Marxists,” and speeches about love and inclusivity.  Still I can’t blame reporters who saw some attacks and at least one beating and were themselves threatened. One reporter even jumped between the black clad counter protestors and the right winger they were beating.  https://www.revealnews.org/blog/reveal-host-al-letson-shields-man-from-beating-at-anti-hate-rally/

Our own Darwin BondGraham of the East Bay Express filed this report, tweeting it in real time, https://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2017/08/27/liveblog-east-bay-demonstrators-protest-against-hate . “Update at 2:10 p.m.: Antifa members badly beat up an alt-right demonstrator on a downtown street.”

Here’s another account that seems a little bipolar but it was that kinda day, “Anyone who was on the ground in Berkeley yesterday will tell you how beautiful a demonstration it was: thousands of people, old and young and in between, socialists, anarchists, liberals, unionists, brass bands, religious groups, students, you name it. There was tactical cooperation between very different groups. A large Antifa contingent played a vital role in defending the community from the 30 or so white supremacists who showed up armed and looking to fight. There were a handful of scuffles, and a few Nazi’s got mildly beat up and removed from the park by Antifa folks. But the day was overwhelmingly celebratory and peaceful.”

And yes, I also saw a report from a “No Hate Rally” organizer who was at least momentarily glad that some Antifa were there when faced with the White Supremacists at the park.

But here’s a divergent point of view from someone I respect as a very thoughtful human being though I know her only a little, “#1: If you live in Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, Albany, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, El Cerrito or Richmond, in other words, the inner East Bay, you knew this would happen. You knew 200 or so self-righteous, BAMN/BlackBloc/Antifa, or whatever the hell our masked avengers call themselves this week, would show up with aggression and hostility in their hearts and make sure they push a small number of extremists around, punch them, and dominate the news cycle. You knew this would happen no matter how many thousands of peaceful people showed up. We need to stand up to these people. They are harming our community. They distract the media from what we are fighting. What we are fighting here is white supremacy. Comment #2: I’m not all that excited that 4,000 mostly white people showed up in Berkeley to protest what in our community amounts to an extremely small fringe group who have zero impact on how we live day to day, and congratulated themselves about how they’re fighting Nazis and KKK types. Look at our community and you will see that how we live day to day supports institutionalized white supremacy. Start with R-1 zoning which protects white privilege in housing, move on to the underfunded AC Transit system which many people of color depend on because car ownership is too expensive, look at all the laws and regulations, starting with the U.S Constitution and moving on down to our regional transit and air pollution agencies that prioritize property and profit over people’s health and well being. I love living in Berkeley. Relative to the rest of the nation, we are a deeply progressive community. However, relative to reality, we have a very long way to go to address privilege and build our commons.”

20170828_182727And lastly, my friend who witnessed the beating suggested, ” My view, deeply held, is that massive unity and nonviolence (with appropriate defensive security) is the way toward social progress.  The difference between our side and theirs is that they rely on violence; we need to rely on politics and unity.  If we become the mirror image of them, we lose.”

We can blame the media, we can certainly blame the fascists, the president and his followers who knowingly opened a Pandora’s box of evil and keep it open–but then–we’ll have to decide. We may have a romantic notion that if the communists, free thinkers, and artists who thrived in Germany in the 1920’s had only had more sticks, more street fights or even arms, the Nazis would’ve been beaten back, but I doubt that. I think we’ll find that the fight was already lost by the time those streets fights had begun to take over the life of that country.

I’ll admit I have lots of hate in my little formerly-Quaker heart. I really want to hurt some of those folks that I can never even reach and I think they deserve it. I would attack someone who attacked my own but I just can’t be a bully for other side. Punching down will always be something I feel in my gut is wrong.

I don’t think we are on the verge of  a Brown shirt nation either. So many folks have come out all over the country to stand against hate and white supremacy, In fact I didn’t even think I’d live to see the day that that term is acknowledged as an American problem. 34,000 people signed up to be a on a coalition call that I was on recently to fight white supremacy. Thousands rallied to the airports with almost no warning. We are not that country even though a hateful percentage has been unleashed-our young folks have lived differently than the Trump generation, my generation, they will not accept it and neither will we.

So maybe we need to go home and call our neighbors to do some radical activities like my friend above suggested-fight for local transit and push back when NIMBYS refuse to let low income housing into our neighborhoods, put our kids in public schools and demand they be funded-there’s so much else, much less heroic.  Don’t get me wrong (though I know many will), we should confront this evil and I’m always ready to take to the streets, it’s in my DNA. But I need to know I’m fighting evil not becoming one with it.

                                                                     Addendum

My simple rules for tumultuous times or how not to become a reactionary:

*don’t react with violence towards people with little to no power.
*don’t react with generalizations against the media when they report things you didn’t want them to see.
*don’t react with new (or existing) laws that criminalize people based on association.
*don’t be ready to restrict others speech just because it’s hateful unless they attach actions or the imminent threat of actions to speech.

Or to paraphrase Miranda Rights and any NCIS show you’ve ever seen-no matter who you are, all of the above can and will be used against you.

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