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The new Freedom Ride: Black families, youth, elders and ancestors sing spirit into SF City Hall

March 11, 2014

Eviction of Sabrina Carter and her sons is scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday; call Mayor Ed Lee, 415-554-6141, and ask him to stop the eviction

by Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia

We stood strong – youth and elders together, walking, calling, singing, manifesting spirit, the spirit of our African ancestors, our indigenous ancestors, our Freedom Riders, our Freedom Walkers, into the hallowed, marble floors of City Hall to save another Black family from forced out-migration.

Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around

Turn me around, turn me around

Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around

I’m gonna keep on a-walkin’, keep on a-talkin’

Marchin’ up to freedom land.

Contrary to what you might think, this wasn’t 1967. This wasn’t Missisippi or Atlanta, South Africa or Argentina. This was San Francisco and this was the new Freedom Ride. We were trying to save another Black family from forced out-migration and eviction to make way for privatization. We were walking to save single mama Sabrina Carter and her three sons from an unjust, racist eviction from her housing to the streets tomorrow.

Ain’t gonna let no devil-opers turn me around

Turn me around, turn me around

Ain’t gonna let no devil-opers turn me around

I’m gonna keep on a-walkin’, keep on a-talkin’

Marchin’ up to freedom land.

“You can’t sing in here; you are constituting an unlawful assembly!” As we walked 30 deep – youth, adults, elders, singing the spirit of our African ancestors, our indigenous ancestors in resistance into City Hall – we were stopped by three sheriffs who said we were, in fact, an unlawful assembly because we were singing.

“I thought this was our constitutional right to free speech, to free song,” I said.

“No, you are protesting; therefore you are an unlawful assembly.”

Sabrina Carter and sons sing spirit at City Hall 031114 by PNN
Sabrina Carter (left) and her sons sing spirit outside City Hall before they and their supporters marched 30 deep inside to ask Mayor Lee to stop the Carter family’s unjust eviction. – Photo: Poor News Network
“We aren’t protesting; we are singing,” I continued to say.

Then more sheriffs came. They talked among themselves. They had guns and batons. We had our voices. We were walking spirit of our ancestor freedom fighters inside the politrickster-infested walls of soul-ed out peoples of color, trying to get mines, capitalist pawns and apologists of the ruling class.

“Where are you going?”

“To see the mayor.”

“Well, you can’t see the mayor if you are singing. You can’t protest in this building.” As the men with the badges and the guns spoke, the walls shook. The floors trembled. The statues of politricksters past shook slightly on their marble podiums. Mama Sabrina’s face shook with tears. Her strong young 10-year-old and 19-year-old sons looked down as they stood valiantly by her.

Ain’t gonna let no greedy landlords turn me around

Turn me around, turn me around

Ain’t gonna let no greedy landlords turn me around

I’m gonna keep on a-walkin’, keep on a-talkin’

Marchin’ up to freedom land.

“Well, we aren’t going to sing then. We are going to speak. We can speak, right? Sister Theodora Mayes took her fierce voice of spirit and resistance and began whispering the words into the walls, along with our spirits, our orixas, our Creator, our hope.

Ain’t gonna let privatizers turn me around

Turn me around, turn me around

Ain’t gonna let privatizers turn me around

I’m gonna keep on a-walkin’, keep on a-talkin’

Marchin’ up to freedom land.

We walked up the marble stairs. In unison. One step, one note, one less Black family forced out of this stolen Ohlone land because of the greed of devil-opers McCormack Baron, who “manage” the Plaza East Apartments in the increasingly white and rich Fillmore district of San Francisco.

And then we were at the top of the stairs and our whispers rose to the rafters and our voices rose into the heavens.

Ain’t gonna let privatizers turn me around

Turn me around, turn me around

“I gave you a direct order: You can’t sing in here. I will have to escort you out now.”

We began to speak. We spoke about eviction, about Negro removal, about redlining, about racial profiling and criminalization of our children, about the history of out-migration of Black families, about the greed and theft of stolen Ohlone land, about the redevil-opment of our people, about greed, about wealth hoarders and wealth hoarding enablers like Mayor Lee and Mayors Newsom and Brown before him, who invited one large corporation after another into this city, giving them tax breaks and corporate welfare benefits and other gifts to lure them here, ending up in the wholesale eviction of so many of our people.

The RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration) program, which is the selling of all public housing buildings in the country to private investors, is about the fact that we have nowhere to go. That we have nowhere to go, that Sabrina will be evicted tomorrow and she has nowhere to go.

“Do you have something for the mayor?” Suddenly in the middle of our deep truth-telling, another tall man from the mayor’s office asked us what we had for the mayor. We gave him our demand notice:

“DEMAND FOR THE CONSCIOUS MAYOR ED LEE: In the name of Uncle Al Robles, Uncle Bill Sorro and all of our ancestors who Ed Lee, the activist, fought alongside in the struggle for the International Hotel, call off the unjust eviction of Sabrina Carter’s family from the Plaza East Apartments.

“Sabrina Carter and seven other families were evicted from the Plaza East Apartments because of the criminalization of their children and to ready the buildings for RAD. You can intervene, Mayor Lee, and save one more African-American family from forced out-migration under your watch to ready these buildings for RAD funding.

“Landlord: McCormack Baron Salazar; lawyers: Bornstein & Bornstein.”

After a few more minutes, another man in a suit appeared.

“I am Karl. I am here to listen. I will report this back to the mayor.”

“We are here to call upon the conscious Mayor Lee, the mayor who stood with other elder Chinese and Filipino tenants to fight off the devil-opers of the ‘70s. Who cared about people. He can call this unjust eviction off. He can call one of the people he knows in the multinational corporation, McCormack Baron.

Karl listened. He thanked us for remembering Mayor Lee’s conscious days. He said he will get back to us about Sabrina Carter’s family. He said he didn’t know if Mayor Lee could stop the eviction, but they would see what they could do.

We walked down the stairs. We sang the spirit of our ancestors out of the building. We held our hearts, we walked our bodies, we raised our voices in resistance until this family received justice.

Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around

Turn me around, turn me around

Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around

I’m gonna keep on a-walkin’, keep on a-talkin’

Marchin’ up to freedom land.

We are asking the community to please call the mayor, 415-554-6141, and ask him to intervene and stop the eviction of the Sabrina Carter family. As well, POOR Magazine’s Revolutionary Legal Advocacy Project (jailhouse lawyers outside of jail without a degree) are trying to do a last minute emergency legal maneuver to save this family from the street.

Tiny – or Lisa Gray-Garcia – is co-founder with her Mama Dee and co-editor with Tony Robles of POOR Magazine and its many projects and author of “Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America,” published by City Lights. She can be reached at deeandtiny@poormagazine.org. Visit www.tinygraygarcia.com and www.racepovertymediajustice.org.

 

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