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BART lynches Blacks with the gun and the law

December 21, 2009

by Joseph Debro, Bay Area Black Builders

“No bus crash, no train collision, nor any transit shutdown that any American public transportation provider ever suffered resulted in as much public scorn and embarrassment as the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District has received in the wake of the Oscar Grant shooting,” wrote a commentator on California Beat on Feb. 4, 2009. Nearly a year after the New Year’s execution of Oscar Grant by BART police, now that over half of young Black men are unemployed, BART’s lockout of Blacks from construction work – both jobs and contracts – is adding fuel to the fire of Black rage aimed at BART.
Since the inception of BART, this transportation system has excluded Black contractors, Black construction workers and Black riders. Charlie Walker drove a truck into a San Francisco BART excavation site before we could get contracts.

BART bought the vote of Black people by selling us on the idea that this system would get us to the suburbs where the jobs are. It then made the cost for urban riders the most expensive ride in the system. BART, whether by gun, legislation or regulation, has slowly destroyed the hope and economic aspirations of the Black community.

The killing of Oscar Grant was the last straw. We are not going to take it anymore. BART uses Oakland as its hub and its most important geography. What do we get out of this abusive relationship?

It is time that the City of Oakland stops being used. It is time to impose a use tax on the BART system. Or at the very least it is time to make this relationship give back some of what it has taken from the Black community.

The killing of Oscar Grant was the last straw. We are not going to take it anymore.

Almost 40 years ago, BART caused the formation of the National Association of Minority Contractors. We organized in order to get some contracts for minority contractors, some work for minority workers and some craft training for our young people.

Everybody in our association who was not Black got contracts. As we fight for economic parity in the minority community, Blacks are excluded.

When BART built its tunnel through the heart of San Francisco, Blacks were locked out of all that work. Seeking publicity that would shame BART into hiring Black contractors and workers, Charlie Walker drove his truck into a hole much like this one. This photo was taken in 1969 of construction at Fourth Street and Market.
The Bay Area Black Builders’ response to the public lynching of our community is that we make the following demands:

1. Wave all bid bond requirements. Allow the selected bidder 45 days to produce a bond. Bid bonds are not a statutory requirement.

2. Accept non-admitted sureties for all bonds. This is discretionary.

3. Pass legislation that would give preferences to those companies whose owners live within the BART district. The Oakland School Board has done it for their district.

4. Buy debentures from small companies within the BART district. Debentures are non-recourse loans.

5. Repeal or do not sign a project labor (union-only) agreement. Craft unions are not allowing our young people to work.

6. Provide training funds to the Bay Area Black Builders for on-the-job training. On-the-job training puts people to work.

7. Contract with Bay Area Black Builders for compliance work on all contracts. Our members bid.

8. Set aside a $10 million solar project to be performed by Black contractors. Such a set-aside requires neither bid nor bond.

9. Do not award any contracts until prime contractors are in compliance with laws mandating inclusion of underutilized disadvantaged contractors. Starting Dec. 25, 2009, Blacks must be included.

10. Give the Bay Area Black Builders the ability to check all good faith efforts and enforce lack of compliance. We can enforce good faith efforts.

If for any reason these demands are not met, the Bay Area Black Builders are prepared to take the next steps. These next steps are legal, political and direct action. We demand economic parity now.

Joseph Debro is president of Bay Area Black Builders. He is also president of the Visitacion Valley Community Development Corp., co-founder of the National Association of Minority Contractors, a general engineering contractor and a bio-chemical engineer. He can be reached at transbay@netzero.com.

Block Report Radio interview with Black contractor Nedir Bey

Broadcast Tuesday, Dec. 22, on KPFA’s popular drive time news magazine Flashpoints is this Block Report interview on the plight of Blacks in construction by Minister of Information JR with Nadir Bey, a Black contractor and an organizer of the new Bay Area Black Builders, headed by Joseph Debro. Nadir Bey can be reached at nadirbey@yahoo.com.

This sort of investigative journalism on politically hot topics is the reason Flashpoints is currently under attack by KPFA management. To learn more about that controversy, read Minister of Information JR’s recent interview with Flashpoints co-host Nora Barrows Friedman and tune in Flashpoints every weekday at 5 p.m. on KPFA 94.1FM. If you like what you hear, tell KPFA General Manager Lemlem Rijio. Email her at gm@kpfa.org, use the online message form at http://www.kpfa.org/contact or call (510) 848-6767, ext. 203.

Listening to the entire Flashpoints show is highly recommended. To go straight to the Block Report, push the slider to 32:54.

Flashpoints – December 22, 2009 at 5:00pm

Click to listen (or
 
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One thought on “BART lynches Blacks with the gun and the law

  1. Monica Davis

    Here we go again: we are good enough to spend money on majority culture businesses, good enough to pay taxes, but not good enough to do business with on a business-to-business level. Black folk, economically, are worth more than the annual GNP of Canada; we have the spending power–when will we leverage that spending power into political/economic power and respect.
    Remember the Montgomery bus boycotts 50 years ago? Black folk shut the system down by not using it.

    No Respect, No Business

    Reply

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