Pack the courtroom (850 Bryant, Dept. 27) to free Fly Benzo Tuesday, Feb. 7, 1:30 p.m., and in the days following; Fly faces four years in prison for copwatching and for fighting for justice for Kenneth Harding, murdered by SFPD last July!
by TaLea Monet and DeBray “Fly Benzo” Carpenter
California’s Health and Safety Code Section 33422.1 reads as follows: “To the greatest extent feasible, contracts for work to be performed in connection with any redevelopment project shall be awarded to business concerns which are located in, or owned in the substantial part by persons residing in the project area.”
Section 33422.3 reads: “To insure training and employment opportunities for lower-income project area residents, the agency may specify in the call for bids for any contract over one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) for work to be performed in connection with any redevelopment project that project area residents, if available, shall be employed for a specified percentage of each craft or type of workmen needed to execute the craft or work.”
The Unity Homes contract was instead awarded to a non-union out-of-town contractor – clearly in violation of California law. B&C has been in business in Hunters Point since 1984 and has played a key role in the development and maintenance of numerous residential and commercial complexes in the community, such as Northridge Cooperative Homes and Bayview Plaza.
On Friday, Jan. 13, DeBray “Fly Benzo” Carpenter, Kilo G and Claude Carpenter – along with the rest of the Black Star Coalition and unemployed Bayview residents – marched to the job site, bringing the contractor’s work to a screeching halt by standing unmoved in front of the heavy construction equipment. They demanded that they be given the same opportunity to work the site and would not budge to let the workers continue.
To show that they meant business, the group made yet another trip to the work site on Tuesday, Jan. 17. Apparently the first shutdown was effective, because this time around the contractors agreed to give Barbara Banks, lifetime resident of Bayview and owner of B&C, a piece of the contract in an attempt to stop the protesting and keep the peace.
The Black Star Coalition vows to remain firm when dealing with the malpractice involved in tax increment financing, a scheme used by redevelopment agencies, which, by the will of the voters, are shutting down as of Feb. 3, 2012. “We’re not going anywhere,” says DeBray. “We’re going to continue to stand rooted and exercise our First Amendment right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Next stop … West Point!
Bayview Hunters Point community advocate DeBray “Fly Benzo” Carpenter can be reached on Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org.