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Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, marked the death of the 1,044th person that we know of killed by Tasers in North America, the most recent in Oakland after a man, Marcellus Toney, tried to flee a multi-vehicle accident. This unnecessary death reveals the primary reason why San Franciscans have consistently rejected Tasers for the SFPD. Yet on Nov. 3, the San Francisco Police Commission voted and approved a renewed proposal to arm the SFPD with these weapons. This begs the question: Who are the proponents of Tasers?
It’s 2016, 40 years since Muhammad al-Kareem founded the New Bayview, now renamed the San Francisco Bay View, in 1976. Inspired by Malcolm X, he wanted to bring a newspaper like Muhammad Speaks to Bayview Hunters Point. He’ll tell the story of those early years, and I’ll pick it up now at the point when my wife Mary and I took over in 1992. Watching our first paper roll through the huge two-story tall lumbering old press at Tom Berkley’s Post Newspaper Building on Feb. 3, 1992, was a feel-like-flying thrill we’ll never forget.
I went to San Francisco’s 2017 Dr. King Day celebration riding the same wave that hounded every other participant. As I suspected, a tragic election caused crowd levels to swell significantly compared to a year ago. I’d say at least three times the number of 2016 attendees walked in this year’s march. One ugly cloud loomed: the transfer of federal powers – which finally did arrive four days later – had crept oh so dreadfully near.
While two heavily armed police officers stood directly across the street watching us, a group of the most impacted, unhoused, criminalized, injured, disabled, Black, Brown, Trans and Indigenous peoples gathered to demand a 90-day moratorium on the killing of our Black, Brown, disabled and unhoused residents of this city and all cities struggling with the ongoing murder of our children, youth, elders and families.
San Francisco is touted by conservative detractors and liberal boosters alike as the nation’s most progressive city. This is still true in many ways, even amidst towering symbols of gentrification. But, in particular, when it comes to holding police accountable for use of excessive force against communities of color, the City by the Bay is no different from the New Yorks, Chicagos, Baltimores or Fergusons of this country, where cops literally get away with murder. Think this is an exaggeration? Read on.
We want to invite every friend of the SF Bay View newspaper to our 40th anniversary party. It’s a free event this Sunday, Feb. 21, 1-5 p.m., at the Main Library, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco. Come one, come all and let’s celebrate 40 years of the most radical Black newspaper in the country. Enjoy a panel of Bay View writers, a fashion show and performances by the legendary Avotcja, Stoney Creation and Sista Iminah reminding us of the beauty and talent in our community.
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.
“Black Kripple Delivers Poetry & Lyrics” is straight up an activist and love book of original poems and song lyrics that have been written and collected for almost two decades. Many poems in this book were first published in 1999 in my chapbook by Poor Magazine’s Poor Press. This book contains poetry and lyrics of songs. Most of the poems and lyrics touch on issues that Black disabled people deal with but only get a little media attention.
In one month’s time, the eyes of the Pacific will turn to Melanesia as our leaders gather in Honiara (national capital of the Solomon Islands, located on the island of Guadalcanal) to decide on West Papua’s membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group. For more than 50 years, my people have suffered a creeping genocide under a repressive Indonesian military occupation that is estimated to have claimed 500,000 West Papuan lives. Next month’s meeting is a critical opportunity to give my people a voice and to allow us to take our rightful place in the Melanesian family.
Activists locked down entrances to the Emeryville Home Depot to demand answers about the murder of Yuvette Henderson, a 38-year-old Black mother of two children who was shot and killed by the Emeryville Police Department on Feb. 3, 2015, allegedly accused by the store of shoplifting. Activists chained themselves to multiple store doors as supporters rallied outside. Protesters shut down the store for five hours, the amount of time Yuvette Henderson lay in the street after being shot by police.
The standing-room-only town hall was yelling above the police as they spoke about the murder on March 21 of young Raza organizer, City College of San Francisco student and beloved son de la mision (of the Mission), Alejandro Nieto, 28, by police in Bernal Heights Park. Join the march on Saturday, March 29, for Alex Nieto at 2 p.m. from Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission St., to Bernal Heights Park, San Francisco.
“Emmitt Till” does more than call attention to how Till’s death ignited the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in the ‘50s and ‘60s. It points to the quiet heroism of Mamie Till Mobley in the face of unspeakable horror and unrelieved terrorism. Come see this dynamic and inspirational play by Tavia Percia and the Tavia Percia Theatre Company: Saturday, Feb. 1, 7 and 9 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 2, 3 and 5 p.m., at the Eastside Arts Alliance, 2277 International Blvd, Oakland.
There was an ocean of signs in a sea of banners of struggle and liberation in front of Anaheim’s City Hall and the adjacent park on July 21, 2013. The signs held faces of those cut down in the prime of their lives in loving memory and detail. There were informational signs and signs with slogans of liberation, with demands, statements of fact and advice – such as “Fuck the system” and “FTP” (“Fuck the police”).
A Dec. 4, 2012, ACLU letter to SF Mayor Ed Lee urged rejecting any SFPD proposal “to deploy tasers or other conductive energy devices”. The letter emphasizes that costly tasers would generate heavy legal fees from officer overuse and abuse, posing serious injury and death risks, especially to SFPD’s targeted populations: people in public mental health crisis and people of color.
From the Mission District in San Francisco, to West, North and now East Oakland, several neighborhoods in LA, young Black and Brown men, convening, talking, laughing, being young, are viewed as “dangerous,” “suspect” or criminal. Laws like the gang injunction are instituted and applied, and eventually we are completely wiped away like we were never there.
Police Chief Greg Suhr scheduled six community forums in September and October to discuss tasers replacing guns in mental health crisis situations. When a citizen group kept showing up at hearings asking questions about hundreds of taser deaths and maimings and supporting SFPD Crisis Intervention Team training in verbal de-escalation, Chief Suhr cancelled the community forums.
People in crisis appear to have become the rationale for equipping police officers with so-called “non-lethal” tasers in addition to lethal weapons – guns. Concerned citizens acknowledging taser lethality seek to re-direct the SFPD from weaponry to a focus on verbal de-escalation techniques, especially appropriate in talking down people in mental health crisis.
The police line was hard, boot to boot, helmet to helmet, unmoving, bringing the threat of death with each gaze. The opposing line was a circle and it was moving, with resistance. And strength and people power. We were mamaz, uncles, daddys, sisters and brothers in solidarity, and we won’t stop fighting, we won’t stop walking, we won’t stop speaking until this ongoing police murder of our babies is over. “Our children are being stalked and murdered in cold blood, and it cannot continue,” said Oscar Grant's Uncle Bobby.
The latest target of a San Francisco police wave of terror is Kilo G. Perry, videographer, freedom fighter, peacemaker and educator and the disabled single father of a 3-year-old boy. Ever since the July 16 killing of Kenneth Wade Harding Jr., 19, at Third and Oakdale by the SFPD thugs in blue, our Bayview Hunters Point community has been threatened, harassed and terrorized by the police more than in recent memory – some say more than in 45 years since the September 1966 rebellion.
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