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Asa Sullivan – Art: Nomy Lamm

The people’s investigation into the San Francisco police killing of Asa B. Sullivan

March 29, 2015

A collective of community folks organized with the family of Asa Benjamin Sullivan recently launched a people’s investigation into the killing of Asa by San Francisco police in 2006. Asa Sullivan was killed when SFPD responded to a “well-being check” at his residence then tracked him into an attic and shot him 17 times.* Police cannot be allowed to kill people and then claim that person was responsible for his own death and call it “suicide by cop.”

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Oakland’s action was in Oscar Grant Plaza, 14th and Broadway, the scene of many, many struggles for justice in recent years. Readers are urged to come out in droves on April 23 and the 23rd of every month. We may not be able to rid the world of all evils, but we CAN end solitary confinement!

The first monthly Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement held March 23

March 28, 2015

Statewide Coordinated Actions to End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) began March 23, 2015. Actions were held in California from San Diego to Arcata (Arcata-Eureka, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, Santa Cruz) and Philadelphia, Penn. Activists in more locations will be joining in on April 23 and the 23rd of each month. Below is a report from just one locality, Santa Cruz, which took a creative approach.

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At his March 26 press conference, Public Defender Jeff Adachi plays the recording of his interview with Ricardo Palikiko Garcia, a 150-pound Hawaiian and Filipino man, the smallest and only Asian in his pod at San Francisco County Jail, who was forced into gladiator fights with Stanly Harris, a 350-pound African-American man, the largest man in the pod, though neither wanted to fight. Garcia believes the deputies’ intent in forcing the fights was not only to entertain themselves as they gambled but to stir up racial animosity among prisoners. – Photo: Santiago Mejia, SF Chronicle

SF County Jail prisoners forced into interracial gladiator-style fights

March 27, 2015

A San Francisco sheriff’s deputy has been accused of forcing inmates to fight in gladiator-style matches while he and his colleagues bet on the outcomes, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced Thursday. One of the men forced to fight told Adachi, “I feel like they’re trying to stir (up) something racial … because I’m the only one of Asian descent” in an otherwise all-Black pod. Staged fights between prisoners of different races to aggravate interracial antagonism is reminiscent of the gladiator fights scandal in the California state prison system that made international headlines in the 1990s.

This man decided to make installing solar panels on his roof a do-it-yourself project.

Making money with solar

March 26, 2015

What is the fastest way to shift our economy from oil to solar? If a city passes a local law that requires each house sold to be required to install 10 or more solar panels after the sale, this will shift 1 million homes to solar in 2015. Think about that. The Solar Justice affinity group meets every Sunday, 3 p.m., at 2940 16th St. at Mission, San Francisco. Join us.

Common sense says support SB 224, the Elder Parole Program, to reduce the prison population and corrections spending and get people back to their families and communities. – Photo courtesy of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children

A durable and sustainable plan: Reducing corrections spending in California

March 26, 2015

The month of March marked the beginning of state budget hearings that will set next year’s fiscal priorities for the welfare of Californians. The first version of the state budget shows no clear plan to provide adequate relief for people living in poverty, fails to make restorative investments to the social safety net, and continues to increase corrections spending.

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In the 60 Minutes story “The Ebola Hot Zone,” broadcast Nov. 9, 2014, Lara Logan watches as American virologist Joseph Fair instructs Liberian gravediggers at a graveyard adjacent to an Ebola treatment unit. No African voice is heard in the 15-minute segment except that of the African American doctor who heads the clinic and speaks a few words. – Photo: 60 Minutes screenshot

How does Africa get reported? A letter of concern to 60 Minutes

March 25, 2015

The following open letter was sent by email to CBS 60 Minutes Executive Producer Jeff Fager: We, the undersigned, are writing to express our grave concern about the frequent and recurring misrepresentation of the African continent by 60 Minutes. In a series of recent segments from the continent, 60 Minutes has managed, quite extraordinarily, to render people of Black African ancestry voiceless and all but invisible.

Thousands march up San Francisco’s Market Street in the youth-organized “Millions March” against police brutality in cities around the country on Dec. 13, 2014. Since then, SFPD has taken four more lives. – Photo: Jeremy Raff, KQED

Jim Crow San Francisco

March 24, 2015

Every morning, young and old African Americans are paraded through courtrooms in San Francisco, dressed in orange jumpsuits not unlike Guantanamo inmates and often shackled in handcuffs or chains. The vast majority of judges and prosecutors are resigned to that daily reality. The City’s jail in 1994 had 4.4 times the proportion of Black inmates as in San Francisco as a whole. By 2012, the jail population was 9.5 times more Black than The City. It is time to address the apartheid-like conditions in the metropolis and stop giving passes to the “liberal” coastal cities like San Francisco.

As Black-Brown solidarity grows in the Bay Area, the focus March 22-23 was on the first anniversary of the San Francisco police murder of Alex Nieto, marked with a cultural commemoration Sunday, followed by an early Monday morning shutdown of the street outside the Mission Police Station for a people’s trial of the four officers who killed Alex. – Photo: Freddie, Twitter

Community shuts down Mission Station, puts police on trial on anniversary of Alex Nieto’s SFPD murder

March 23, 2015

Over 200 people gathered in the early morning hours today and shut down Valencia Street in front of the San Francisco Police Department’s Mission District station. Sixteen activists locked themselves down for four hours and 15 minutes, blocking the gate to the parking lot and chaining themselves to large-scale art work in front of the station.

Chevron oil refinery in Richmond at night – Photo: Doug Duran, Bay Area News Group

Bay Area air quality regulator to refineries: Refine more crude

March 22, 2015

What will Bay Area oil refineries have to do to comply with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s new emissions limits, as drafted? Refine more crude.

Assata Shakur celebrates May Day 2010 in Cuba. – Photo: Kenny Snodgrass

UC Berkeley Black Student Union wants Barrows Hall renamed for Assata Shakur as one of 10 demands

March 22, 2015

The UC Berkeley Black Student Union has demanded institutional changes to address the conditions of Black students. “Black people have been oppressed at this university since its creation,” declared BSU member Alana Banks. “The fact that we have to come up with demands for support … is a testament to our condition. Regardless, I believe that we will win; and they believe that we will win too.”

University of Virginia honor student Martese Johnson was viciously beaten by white police March 18. At the highly ranked school, average SAT scores regularly exceed 1300, and there are typically fewer than 1,500 African American students among the 21,000-member student body. Black students report feeling ostracized.

Viciously beaten University of Virginia honor student Martese Johnson did not have a fake ID, attorney says

March 19, 2015

The bloody arrest of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson started when a bouncer for a local bar approached him on a sidewalk, Johnson’s attorney, Daniel Watkins, said Thursday, March 19. Watkins said his client was never in possession of a fake ID and was simply standing on the sidewalk. The attack against Johnson, a third-year student and member of the UVA’s Honor Council, exposed long-standing racial tensions at one of the country’s most prestigious universities.

In San Francisco, these billboards are in the Castro but not in Bayview Hunters Point.

AIDS group’s Castro billboards with Dr. King’s image have whites-only feel

March 19, 2015

Report after report reminds and warns the Black community that AIDS is not yet under control for the Black population. However, when I saw several new 6-foot-by-4-foot billboard ads in the Castro district of San Francisco this past week with the image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. under the heading, “AIDS is a civil rights issue,” I first thought, “Well, that’s a stretch.”

Protestors gather at the memorial for Michael Brown where he was murdered in the street outside the Canfield Apartments in Ferguson, Missouri, on March 13. – Photo: ©Michael B. Thomas, AFP

Tensions remain high in Ferguson

March 18, 2015

After two officers were shot, police conducted an unjustified dawn raid on a house in Ferguson. A woman and her 6-year-old son had the red laser sights of police rifles trained on their chests as they emerged into their garden under orders from the officers, who arrived in military-style vehicles.

Rene Mugenzi

UK Foreign Office calls on Rwanda to restore BBC Gahuza

March 17, 2015

The U.K. Foreign Office called on the Rwandan government to lift the ban on its BBC broadcast in Rwandans’ native language. The government banned the native language broadcast after the BBC broadcast “Rwanda’s Untold Story,” a documentary which upends conventional belief about the Rwandan massacres of 1994.

The train that derailed March 8 near Gogama, Ontario, the third CN derailment in a month, spilled crude into a river and the fire spewed toxins that caused widespread breathing problems. Chief Walter Naveau of the Mattagami First Nation says his community does not feel safe despite CN’s assurances that the disaster posed no threat to people or the environment, saying, “Why should I trust them?” He fears poisoning of his people and the fish spawning grounds they depend on. – Photo: Glenn Thibeault, Canadian Press

Bay Area residents hold Air District accountable for protecting health and climate from refinery pollution

March 17, 2015

Communities across the region’s oil belt stood up to industry pressure to demand that air officials clean up refinery pollution instead of letting it worsen. “Communities and workers are fighting to protect our health, safety and climate from dirtier oil projects that our Air District should be stopping instead of proposing to allow,” said Andrés Soto.

At a press conference Monday about the police texts, Public Defender Jeff Adachi listens as former San Francisco Youth Commissioner De’Anthony Jones describes an incident in which he ended a police encounter by offering to shake the officer’s hand, but the officer refused. – Photo: Larry Roberts

Public defender releases racial justice recommendations, finds up to 1,000 cases may be tainted by bigoted officers

March 17, 2015

An estimated 1,000 criminal cases will be reviewed following revelations that San Francisco police officers regularly shared racist and homophobic views in text messages, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today. Adachi also released a 10-point plan to increase police transparency and safeguard citizens against racial bias.

A young Canadian protests the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2015 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on March 14, 2015.

A terrorist under every bed in Canada

March 16, 2015

Canadians gathered in 50 cities across Canada today to protest pending legislation known as C-51, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2015. The bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons in late February, and the government of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is now rushing to pass it with minimal debate. Retired Professor Michael Keefer was among the bill’s critics.

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Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro holds a copy of the Venezuelan Constitution as he speaks to his people. – Photo: Reuters

Venezuela a threat to US national security?

March 14, 2015

On March 9, 2015, U.S. President Obama issued an executive order declaring a “national emergency” affirming that “the situation in Venezuela” poses an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” This is the latest measure of U.S. imperialist meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation like the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and as such is strongly condemned by the Hands off Venezuela campaign.

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The Navy was still segregated in 1944, when this photo of a crew of Black sailors was taken shortly before the July 17 explosion. Blacks were given the hardest, most dangerous work with little if any safety training and were constantly pushed to work faster. – Photo: Percy Robinson

Port Chicago: Who were those men?

March 12, 2015

Who were those men who served this country with great pride and dignity? They were Black men who served their enlistment term at Port Chicago Naval Base, in Contra Costa County. These men were enlisted in the service from 1943 to 1946. These men are just now being properly recognized for the historical part they played in making America what it is today.

The Obamas lead a march in Selma on Saturday, March 7, marking the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the president holding the hands of two veterans of the struggle for voting rights, Congressman John Lewis and Amelia Boynton Robinson, 103. Both were severely beaten by state troopers on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965. The other wheelchair user is educator Adelaide Sanford, a founder of Elder’s House, a history repository and learning center in Selma. – Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, AP

Mumia Abu Jamal: Unsaid at Selma

March 11, 2015

Who can question whether President Barack Obama is a master when it comes to speeches? Such a quality literally put him on the map when he mesmerized a crowd at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He did it again in the Selma, Alabama’s 50th anniversary at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. His central message: No one can doubt things are better since Selma. No one. His speech, delivered with quiet passion, was a master work. And yet … and yet.

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