April 7, 2018
On March 27, the San Francisco Bay Area’s Stop Urban Shield Coalition claimed victory in its four-year battle to stop Urban Shield, a war games and weapons convention for cops held in Alameda County every year since 2007. I spoke to Tracy Rosenberg, executive director of Media Alliance and co-facilitator of Oakland Privacy, a citizen’s coalition that works regionally to defend the right to privacy and enhance public transparency and oversight regarding the use of surveillance techniques and equipment. She has worked with the Stop Urban Shield Coalition since 2014.
February 3, 2018
In a major class action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court here, conditions at the Alameda County Jail at Santa Rita sound more like they come out of a Charles Dickens novel than a modern day correctional facility. At a press conference Wednesday, Jan. 31, lawyers for pregnant prisoners at Santa Rita claim their clients are being inhumanely mistreated by jail personnel, urged to have abortions and routinely denied medical attention, warm clothing, nutritious food, blankets and even fresh air.
November 3, 2017
We pour libations for Fats Domino, New Orleans musical legend, who died Oct. 24. He was 89. The Architect of Rock n’ Roll was the child of Haitian Kreyòl plantation workers and the grandson of an enslaved African. And we also pour libations for Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM), who made his transition Oct. 30. He was 80. Congratulations to Drs. Vera and Wade Nobles on their 50th wedding anniversary this month.
June 24, 2017
We find ourselves in a moment with a great deal at stake. Our communities are fighting to define and create sanctuary spaces, while enduring a dangerous presidential administration that has emboldened white supremacist and xenophobic action. The Trump agenda has caused increased harassment, fear and even death. In the movement for abolition of policing, imprisonment, surveillance and the entire prison industrial complex, now is our time to be bold.
April 29, 2017
To educate our entire Oakland community, I’m writing to explain why Oakland needs a smoke-free multi-unit housing policy. This is a social justice issue. Smoking and tobacco products kill more African-Americans than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drug use, homicide, suicide and other non-tobacco related cancers. We must educate our youth and communities regarding the dangers of smoking because it is an unhealthy life choice for them.
January 26, 2017
In a small victory for the Stop Urban Shield Coalition earlier today, the Budget and Finance Committee postponed voting on an item to allow San Francisco to apply for federal funding that ultimately goes toward the militarized SWAT training program and weapons expo known as Urban Shield. The program is funded by the Department of Homeland Security through the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) grant.
October 20, 2016
On Oct. 11, the Justice Reinvestment Coalition of Alameda County held a march and rally calling on Alameda County to fulfill its promise to provide jobs for formerly incarcerated people. In June 2016, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors had voted unanimously (5-0) in favor of a new Re-Entry Hiring Program that aims to provide 1,400 county jobs for people impacted by the criminal justice system and youth in the school-to-prison pipeline in Alameda County.
August 28, 2016
A proposal by HUD and the Obama administration that is allegedly meant to combat segregation and break up concentrations of poverty actually threatens Section 8 renters (Housing Choice Voucher holders) – the elderly, poor and disabled – with higher rents and eviction. It has many Section 8 tenants worried about their future in the Bay Area, New York and elsewhere.
December 27, 2015
All of the ills which have aggravated possibilities for economic growth and development in urban centers throughout the nation are present in Oakland, the focus of our study. As in other core American cities, important demographic changes have ushered in significant alterations in Oakland’s stance concerning housing, employment, health, welfare and business environments of its inhabitants and the dependent populations in the Bay Area.
December 25, 2015
On Tuesday evening, Dec. 17, 2015, the Berkeley City Council voted to keep sending officers to the annual Urban Shield war games and weapons expo, even after one vocal citizen held up the expo’s best selling T-shirts and read their inscriptions: “Black Rifles Matter,” “This (barrel of a gun) is my peace symbol” and “Destruction cometh. And they shall seek peace. And there shall be none” (Ezekiel 7:25-27, King James Bible).
November 20, 2015
Urgency to end mass incarceration and the criminalization of poor people and people of color is growing. The general public’s awareness that it simply does not make sense to lock up people with substance abuse or mental health issues is setting the stage for important reforms to our justice system. With this understanding, California voters passed Proposition 47 “The Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act.”
October 27, 2015
In contrast to the hoopla and razzle dazzle of Mayor Ed Lee and company to hoodwink the public into believing that privatizing public housing is a good thing, an Oct. 7 letter from Congresswoman Maxine Waters to Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) calls for more protections for public housing and public housing tenants being threatened by the RAD privatization program.
November 27, 2013
For Adama Mosley, a resident of the West Oakland neighborhood known as Ghost Town, having solar panels installed on her home was “a dream come true.” Energy advocates say significant challenges lie ahead if affordable renewable energy and widespread adoption of energy efficiency are to become a reality in low-income communities of color.
October 31, 2013
Gina M. Paige explained that the organization, African Ancestry, started with Dr. Rick Kittles, genetic researcher at Howard University who was interested in isolating the gene that caused prostate cancer, one of the leading causes of death in our community. He found this research methodology applicable in other genetic detective research and so in 2003 African Ancestry was founded with Ms. Paige.
June 28, 2013
The Constitution guarantees every American the right to a fair trial and to face his or her accusers. This right has been denied to African Americans, who make up a larger and larger part of the prison population under America’s “New Jim Crow.” In the case of Kerry Baxter Sr., the California Superior Court system here in Alameda County blatantly ignored his rights.
June 1, 2013
“The implementation of the Local Hiring Policy for Construction has provided economic and employment opportunities for San Francisco residents,” said Supervisor Avalos. “I look forward to continuing and expanding our partnerships to advance the program to provide good paying jobs to San Franciscans and maximize opportunities for local residents.”
January 26, 2013
Massive spending cuts to the nation’s federal housing programs are scheduled to go into effect on March 1, 2013, threatening thousands of low-income families in Oakland and other Bay Area cities with higher rent than they can pay. Additionally, several hundred thousand or more low-income families all across the nation could lose their vouchers.
December 3, 2011
Sobonfu Somé, West African healer, says that when people die and become ancestors, they get smarter and often try to repair any damage they may have made while in this physical form. Ancestors want to be busy making our lives better. She said we can call on them to intercede on our behalf when we are troubled.
March 25, 2011
AT&T Park shook so hard I thought I was on a pogo stick the night Barry Bonds crushed a 3-2 Mike Bacsik pitch into right center to go past the great Hank Aaron and crown himself Major League Baseball’s all-time home-run king. He circled those bases to a deafening hometown roar.
March 6, 2011
On Jan. 22, 20-year-old Raheim Brown was shot and killed by the Oakland Unified School District’s police force outside Skyline High School. Calling the killing an “assassination,” Raheim’s mother, Lori Davis, was horrified by the excessive use of force.