Hunger striker Hassani Bell speaks on the end of the Ethnic Studies hunger strike and what’s next

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by The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey

Block Report Radio interviews hunger striker Hassani Bell, one of four hunger strikers who were fighting to preserve and expand the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State. After 10 days, many of the demands were met by the SF State administration of President Wong, but not all of them. The strike is suspended as the fight continues.

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’“ and “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2“ and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe“ and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com.

SF State Third World Liberation Front 2016 (TWLF 2016) rally demands: Defend College of Ethnic Studies and stop gentrification

by Labor Video Project

At their huge May 9 rally, TWELF 2016 hunger striker Ahkeel Mestayer read their demands, concluding with the statement: “We are the Third World Liberation Front, the campaign to defend and advance ethnic studies and the historical organizations at San Francisco State University!” That’s Hassani Bell seated to the left of Ahkeel. – Photo: Steve Zeltzer, Labor Video Project
At their huge May 9 rally, TWELF 2016 hunger striker Ahkeel Mestayer read their demands, concluding with the statement: “We are the Third World Liberation Front, the campaign to defend and advance ethnic studies and the historical organizations at San Francisco State University!” That’s Hassani Bell seated to the left of Ahkeel. – Photo: Steve Zeltzer, Labor Video Project

Hundreds of San Francisco State students, faculty, staff and supporters of the College of Ethnic Studies and public education rallied at the center of the campus on May 9, 2016. Hunger strikers with the Third World Liberation Front 2016, taking their name from the historic rebellion in 1968, when Black students and their allies forced the creation of Black Studies (later Ethnic Studies) at SF State and across the country, read a statement of their demands, and SF State graduate and actor Danny Glover spoke in solidarity.

Speakers discussed the systemic racist attack on the Ethnic Studies College, a hostile work relationship and the effort to destroy the college by not replacing faculty who have retired or left. They also discussed the gentrification of the university and the increasing decline of African American students.

The university administration has been starving the College of Ethnic Studies and demanding that they fund themselves like the School of Business and other money making operations on the campus. The corporatization of the university is aimed at full privatization and the elimination of poor and working class students who can no longer attend the university or must go into massive debt to continue their public education.

Former SF State student Danny Glover, now an actor and activist, supported the students and called for them to go to their communities to get further support in their struggle against the attacks on the College of Ethnic Studies and gentrification of their school and neighborhoods. – Photo: Steve Zeltzer, Labor Video Project
Former SF State student Danny Glover, now an actor and activist, supported the students and called for them to go to their communities to get further support in their struggle against the attacks on the College of Ethnic Studies and gentrification of their school and neighborhoods. – Photo: Steve Zeltzer, Labor Video Project

There are also political attacks on the Palestinian students and other student activists by the administration, including criminalizing their political protests. Clarence Thomas of ILWU Local 10 and a former strike leader talked about the ILWU Local 10 shutting down the Israeli Zim ship in solidarity with Palestinian people.

The four TWELF 2016 hunger strikers and SF State University President Leslie Wong sign the agreement that, for now, ends the hunger strike to defend and advance ethnic studies at SFSU.
The four TWELF 2016 hunger strikers and SF State University President Leslie Wong sign the agreement that, for now, ends the hunger strike to defend and advance ethnic studies at SFSU.

Steve Zeltzer, a former striker and journalist at KPFA WorkWeek Radio, also called for a struggle for free education and open admissions, which were the demands of the strikers in 1968. He pointed out that there are over 30 billionaires in San Francisco and over 100 billionaires in California and yet the students and faculty are being told there is not enough money to keep the College of Ethnic Studies going.

The California Faculty Association also said they are filing a grievance for a hostile workplace environment and that the attacks on the faculty are affecting the education of all the students.

Steve Zeltzer and the Labor Video Project can be reached at lvpsf@igc.org. For more information, go to http://www.facebook.com/ethnicstudies4freedomandourfuture/.

At a solidarity rally held at SFSU on May 9, 2016, the Third World Liberation Front hunger strikers spoke about their demands on the university administration. The administration has been cutting back and destroying the Ethnic Studies College and refusing to replace faculty. Also the percentage of African American students has continued to decline as the gentrification of the university continues. – Video: Labor Video Project

A solidarity rally on May 9, 2016, was held for SFSU Ethnic Studies hunger strikers who are demanding full funding for the College of Ethnic Studies and an end to the attack on the programs and faculty. The hunger strike started on May 1. The hunger strikers are Hassani Bell, 18, Julia Retzlaff, 19, Sachiel Rose, 19, and Ahkeel Mestayer, 20, and their organization is called Third World Liberation Front 2016 in homage to the 1968 strike. – Video: Labor Video Project

Danny Glover, actor, activist and a member of the Black Student Union (BSU) during the 1968 strike at San Francisco State College, spoke on Monday, May 9, 2016, at a solidarity rally for the students of the Ethnic Studies College who are on a hunger strike protesting the cutbacks and attacks on the program. The students have been demanding full support for the school and faculty who have been attacked for years. Glover called on the students, faculty, staff and supporters of the Ethnic Studies College to prepare for a strike if their demands are not met. – Video: Labor Video Project

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