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The rubber sides of the boat were like arms – thick, round, hard. “These are the boats refugees have to travel in. Men sit on the side, the women, children and elders in the middle, sometimes getting splashed and sick with the leaking gasoline from the engine because they are covering miles of ocean to go from one country to another.” The tour guide from Médecins Sans Frontières, known in English as Doctors Without Borders, was narrating the “Forced From Home” traveling exhibit of removal, imperialist wars and NGO and government abuse of indigenous bodies across the Global South.
“I was born in 1916,” Iris whispered into the camera in her last hours of life. “Peter, I can’t believe you did me like this.” Her eyes were pools of sacred time. Sacred, like a prayer. Sacred like things you hold lightly to protect and dream about and kneel to. Not evict and harass and drag to court and intrude and disrespect and eventually kill. Iris Canada joined the ancestors on Monday, March 27, one month after being evicted. Iris was murdered by the people and the systems that rule this stolen land. Iris was killed by landlord Peter Owens, the sheriff, the DA, the mayor, the judge and everyone who protects them.
Building after building, block after block from the Bayview to Baltimore and from Sunnydale to East Oakland, the last vestige of so-called public – that is, government owned – housing in the richest country in the world lie dormant. Boarded up, locked, gated and shut – each apartment equipped with two, three and four bedrooms, one or two bathrooms and full kitchens.
Constant boos, shouts to fire Chief Suhr and Ed Lee and get justice for Mario Woods, Alex Nieto and so many more came from both second floor sides of the rotunda filled with angry community folks, drowning out the ceremony. Finally the tragic inauguration comedy was over, but not before at least 15 people were dragged out, several arrested and hundreds more unsuccessfully intimidated for the sole act of not being OK with this theft of a public office, a city and thousands of our lives.