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Lateefah is running “for the 400,000 people who use this system, just like I do.”

Win transit justice: Lateefah for BART!

Over 200 community members, activists, union members, transportation experts, family and friends flocked to Oakland’s New Parish for non-profit leader Lateefah Simon’s kick-off fundraiser for her 2016 campaign to join the BART Board of Directors. Despite running as a first-time candidate, Simon has already built a broad coalition that includes some of the Bay Area’s top elected officials and civic leaders. True to her reputation as a tireless community advocate, Simon spoke passionately about her personal connection to BART and her commitment to transit justice for working people.

Behind Enemy Lines

CHOOSE1 files new initiative to reform California’s Three Strikes law

Dec 1, 2015
'California 3Strike Law 25 to Live' graphic

A petition for an initiative proposing major changes in California’s Three Strikes law has been filed. The proposed initiative was received on Sept. 16 by the state Attorney General’s Office from a nonprofit, grassroots organization called CHOOSE1.
It is entitled: “The Three Strikes Rehabilitation and Reform Act of 2016.” Supporters would need to collect 500,000 valid voter signatures for the initiative to be placed on the November 2016 ballot.

From solitary confinement at Pelican Bay, Jesse Perez sues his guards for retaliation, wins $25,000

Nov 30, 2015
Jesse Perez’s legal team – Randall Lee, lead attorney, Jesse Perez, Katie Moran and Matthew Benedetto – enjoys the victory in federal court in San Francisco Nov. 24, 2015. – Photo: Katie Moran

A federal jury in San Francisco awarded $25,000 in damages to Jesse Perez, who sued guards for trashing his cell in retaliation for his lawsuit against the prison and for his stand against solitary confinement. Jesse Perez, 35, imprisoned since age 15, was sent to the SHU at Pelican Bay in December 2003 and was held there for 10 years. He took part in all three hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013, protesting prolonged isolation and demanding human rights for prisoners.

‘May your spirit be with us’: Prisoners recall Comrade Hugo ‘Yogi’ Pinell

Nov 29, 2015

This photo of Hugo “Yogi” Pinell was taken in the New Folsom visiting room in early 2014, when he was first released from the Pelican Bay SHU. Derek Anderson says of this man who was a hero and role model to fellow prisoners, “He made it possible for us to walk with our heads held high in this wilderness.”

I had to write on brown paper bags when these rogues came and confiscated everybody’s writing paper

Nov 28, 2015
This is the story that Missouri prisoner Shyheim Deen El-Mu’min wrote on paper bags when guards confiscated the writing paper from him and all the prisoners in his solitary confinement unit. – Photo: Jamie Weinstein, who also transcribed the story

This is the story that Missouri prisoner Shyheim Deen El-Mu’min wrote on paper bags when guards confiscated the writing paper from him and all the prisoners in his solitary confinement unit. The entire story is one of the longest we’ve ever received, over 10,000 words that filled 14 single-spaced pages when transcribed, so we’ll be presenting it in parts. This is the introduction, addressed to Bay View publisher Dr. Willie Ratcliff.

Georgia DOC’s Tier II Program, extreme solitary confinement, is dehumanizing torture

Nov 27, 2015
Georgia’s extremely cruel Tier II program seems to have been instigated by the historic but short-lived Georgia prison work strike of Dec. 9, 2010, put down with unparalleled brutality: Guards threw one prisoner off a tier and beat two others with hammers. That strike and the successful hunger strike at Lucasville in Ohio the next month inspired the California hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013. So as Georgia intensified the cruelty of Pelican Bay with Tier II to protect its slave labor regime (Georgia prisoners are paid nothing for work in our outside the prison), the Pelican Bay hunger strike heroes are gradually returning to “normal” prison life. The rally pictured here, on Jan. 6, 2011, called for a federal investigation, which culminated this year in the conviction of several of the guards who put down the Georgia work strike. – Photo: Kristi Swartz, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

I’m writing to you on behalf of myself and ALL of the other brothers who are sharing my same struggle as a captive of the Georgia Department of Oppression. Georgia is a “hate state,” so we have no “progressive” media outlets here in the state and we need to bring attention to our plight with hopes that the publicity will garner us some help in one fashion or another.

Inside prison or out, be a hero today, save a life that might be lost to suicide
Imprisoned people facing medical neglect and violence: Family members and organizers speak out
Prisoners, where is thy victory?
Do Black lives matter behind prison walls?
The Ricky Davis affair: A Hurricane Katrina story
Ohio death row political prisoner Bomani Shakur (Keith LaMar) speaks
Rev. Pinkney: I believe Berrien County officials have put a hit on me, inside the prison system
Keith LaMar (Bomani Shakur) and other Lucasville prisoners on hunger strike since Nov. 9
Prison guards face jury in retaliatory abuse of solitary confinement case – pack the courtroom through Friday, Nov. 20!
Political prisoners for 45 years – yet Mondo and Ed live lives that matter
Comrades hail hero and martyr Hugo Pinell
FCC cuts predatory phone rates to reconnect prisoners’ families
Tactical targeting of iconic activist Hugo Pinell
Attica book ban
Georgia, land of peanuts, pecans and prisons, has always been a penal colony

News & Views

The time is now to stop the SF Jail

Dec 1, 2015

December is a big month for the jail fight. We have got to make our voices heard loud and clear: This jail is bad for our community and ill-informed policy. The mayor and his conservative allies on the Board of Supervisors are under pressure to push the jail plan through as soon as possible. They know we have been gaining strength, and that once January comes, with changes in the board composition, we will have the numbers to defeat this project. Let’s defeat it soundly.

Shirley Chisholm awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Nov 30, 2015
Congresswomen Shirley Chisholm and Barbara Lee at an event they attended together in Berkeley in about 1995.

Throughout her life, Congresswoman Chisholm broke many barriers while tirelessly advocating for the most vulnerable in our nation and our world. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is a fitting tribute to her lifetime of work and advocacy. In 1969, Congresswoman Chisholm became the first African American woman to serve in Congress. She was the first major-party African American candidate and first Democratic woman candidate for the U.S. presidency. Shirley Chisholm had guts.

The ENOUGH Project calls for a conflict-free Black Friday

Nov 29, 2015

Earlier this week, the ENOUGH Project to, quote, “end genocide and crimes against humanity,” posted an appeal to consumers titled, “What if Black Friday were conflict-free?” ENOUGH is an NGO operating under the umbrella of the Center for American Progress, a neoliberal Washington D.C.-based Democratic Party think tank. They did not include an appeal to the nation’s weapons manufacturers who require minerals on the U.S. Strategic Minerals list.

The man beaten and choked at a Donald Trump rally tells his story

Nov 28, 2015

When activist Mercutio Southall Jr. was curled up on the ground getting kicked, punched and choked by Donald Trump supporters at a campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama, he thought: “I can’t die today. I’ve got shit to do. I have little kids. Fuck these people.” Southall told ThinkProgress that he decided to go to Trump’s event with two friends in order to speak out against the frontrunner candidate’s “racist” rhetoric.

Rwanda conscripts Burundian refugees into new ‘rebel force’: an interview with Jeff Drumtra

Nov 27, 2015
Burundian refugees at Nyanza reception center prepare to depart for Rwanda’s Mahama refugee camp. – Photo: J. Novela, UNHCR

Western press and officials now warn that the Rwandan massacres of 1994 are close to a replay in Rwanda’s neighbor Burundi, which shares its Hutu-Tutsi-Twa demographic. In “Burundi’s dangerous neighbor,” a letter to the Washington Post, former U.N. official Jeff Drumtra argues that the Rwandan government’s conscription of Burundian refugees to fight in a new, so-called “rebel force” is a grave danger that the international community should recognize before it’s too late.

Black Lives Matter Solidarity Statement from First Nation Peoples on National Day of Mourning for Indigenous People
#LaquanMcDonald: As video released, cop charged with murder 1, activists demand Police Supt. McCarthy, State’s Attorney Alvarez resign
Morongo Band of Mission Indians gives over 900 Thanksgiving turkeys to needy in San Francisco – 14,000 statewide
Sister shares story about police profiling and beating her autistic brother
Burundi: Insurgents claim attack on presidential palace
Defiant Haiti: ‘We won’t let you steal these elections!’
From 5M to The End (of SoMa): How does a corporation wipe out an entire community?
The successful Black Urban Growers conference
US State Department warns Rwandan dissident to evade assassins
Alicia Garza honored at Harvard: One equal temper of heroic hearts
Rwanda: Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to rule in Munyakazi case
SF Supervisors split over controversial jail plan, communities demand alternatives to imprisonment
Get your Prop 47 convictions reclassified, even if you are not in California
‘To Protect and Serve Who?’ Mumia’s new pamphlet on organizing to abolish police violence
Increased African-American enrollment is key goal in Year 3 of Affordable Care Act

Culture Currents

Upcoming Events

 » Full event list and descriptions [google-calendar-events id="1" type="list"]

Wanda’s Picks for December 2015

Dec 1, 2015
On Black Friday last year, Nov. 28, 2014, Alicia Garza, right, and other Black Lives Matter activists shut down BART trains carrying shoppers to and from San Francisco for three hours by chaining themselves simultaneously to eastbound and westbound trains stopping at the West Oakland BART Station. The Black Friday 14, as the arrested protesters are called, still face criminal charges and a $75,000 fine. Their next court date is Dec. 10. – Photo: Julia Carrie Wong, Special to SF Examiner

It is amazing how time flies whether one is moving or standing still. One looks up and sees, suddenly it seems, friends celebrating 70 and 75 or 80 or even 90-plus milestones. Wow! What a blessing that is. And while we also see the fullness of time’s passage in the lives of those who have decided to move on, too often we are caught by surprise, our mouths hung open, the words we could have said … deeds left undone.

Celebrating the life of legendary community organizer Regina Douglas

Nov 30, 2015
Regina Douglas

Regina Douglas was an active participant in her community, and served as a fierce advocate for social change and justice. She passionately championed causes for the elderly as well as for the youth of the Bayview Hunters Point community through a number of organizations. St. James Baptist Church was filled with Regina’s family, friends and fellow activists for her homegoing celebration on Nov. 6.

‘To My Unborn Sons and Daughters, I’ll Make You Proud’ author Yakub Bey talks about writing and life

Nov 29, 2015
‘To My Unborn Sons and Daughters, I’ll Make You Proud’ by Yakub Bey cover

Yakub Bey is a very intelligent young writer from Oakland California. He has already authored one book called “To My Unborn Sons and Daughters, I’ll Make You Proud,” and he has a number of book and movie ideas as well as ways to dispel some of the international stereotypes plaguing the true perception of a lot of young Black people in this country. Check out our brotha in his own words.

‘Big Ole Pretty Girls’ founder Yolanda Y’Netta speaks

Nov 26, 2015
Yolanda Y’Netta, cropped

Yolanda Y’Netta has been thick all of her life and, in 2012, she took her destiny into her own hands by starting to make clothes she liked that fit her. Women around her were interested in the clothing designs and she later expanded to creating a T-shirt line with positive empowering messages for full figured women. I sat down with Yolanda Y’Netta of “I Love BOPG” to see what makes this entrepreneur tick. Check her out in her own words and check out her line of clothing and T-shirts.

The 1st annual Tahuti’s Ball!

Nov 25, 2015
Paradise the Poet, young Tahuti, organizer of the first annual Tahuti’s Ball, is everywhere, just as Baba Tahuti was! – Photo: Malaika H Kambon

Punctuated by shouts of “Whose ball is it?” “Tahuti’s Ball!” “Whose ball is it?” “Tahuti’s Ball!” in Afrikan call and response tradition, a spiritual, educational, uplifting and formidable global Afrikan community gave thanks, praises and an outpouring of love in tribute to one of its foremost Afrikan suns, the vibrant and illustrious Baba (Elder) Tahuti. Baba Tahuti made his transition on June 18, 2015.

‘There’s no life without dance’: Mbongui Square Festival brings African dancers to San Francisco Dec. 12-13
The 6th annual successful Silicon Valley African Film Fest does it again
Stone Ramsey invades the street lit genre
3 lessons from University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe’s resignation
Maafa 2015: We remember the ancestors
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