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On Jan. 10, I did a reading of my novel, “White Knight,” at the Hunters View housing complex in Hunters Point. One of the characters in my novel was based on Tessie Ester (Cali Robinson in the book), a woman I met back in the ‘70s when she enrolled her two boys, Henry and Terrell, in Geneva Towers Children’s Center, where I was a teacher. The novel is about how she and I organized the Towers to keep the center open when the school district tried to close it after Prop. 13 – among other things.
As I watched your inauguration, saw you take the oath to serve once more, spoke from the heart to all of your people, and heard the declaration that you will continue to advocate for the poor, the forgotten, the homeless and the immigrants who can still find sanctuary in this City, I was filled with pride. Our local economy will thrive in your hands because of fair play for big and small business alike that allows San Francisco to be an example to the rest of the nation. Because of you, we are reminded that “Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights.” It’s been a long time coming, my dear. The crowd roared as you spoke from the heart. We felt your love.
Thanking God for reparations, we heartily congratulate San Francisco Mayor London Breed, offering her our support and our love. Rejoice, Black San Francisco, in this historic victory! Let us work hard with London to rebuild the Black community and make it thrive again. Like it or not, we live in a chaotic world, but out of chaos come opportunities. Black talent, energy and ingenuity can make San Francisco the most exciting city in the world and restore its soul.
Congratulations, San Francisco! We did it. We began with our Black History Month Kickoff Reception, which was held at our local CBS-KPIX Main Studios on Jan. 31, where celebrities enjoyed mixing it up with our community. City Hall followed by launching their own impressive venue to celebrate Black History on Feb. 2. It was a huge success because of speakers like London Breed and Malia Cohen. We also rocked the house at our own Southeast Community Center with the celebration of Dr. Espanola Jackson Day.
One of the seven deadly social sins, recited first by Anglican priest Frederick Lewis Donaldson in 1925 and later by Mahatma Gandhi, is “politics without principle.” That may be the nicest way to describe the injustice that led to London Breed’s ousting as San Francisco’s first Black woman mayor. Breed is a champion of homeless rights, affordable housing and advocacy for dreamers, the candidate with the courage to do the right thing, who is not intimidated by any forces, no matter how powerful.
Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, the City by the Bay, San Francisco, California, dedicated and celebrated Black History Month. Each year, City officials take a moment to reflect on the contributions made by warriors and trailblazers – African-Americans who made significant contributions not only to the City and County of San Francisco, but to the world. This event, which was sponsored by the San Francisco African-American Historical Society and the Golden Gate Warriors, was well attended by community members, dignitaries and elders present.
On Oct. 26, the nonprofit Innovate Public Schools released a new report that reveals a deep conflict between San Francisco’s image as a bastion of progressivism and the reality playing out in its public schools. Concerned parents and community leaders gathered on the steps of City Hall for a press conference on the findings of “A Dream Deferred: How San Francisco schools leave behind the most vulnerable students.”
More than 100 people turned out for a community meeting on Tasers Tuesday night, first breaking into small groups of roughly 25 each and then convening in a fiery public comment session that at one point erupted into activists chanting, “No Tasers!” and drowning out Police Commissioner Sonia E. Melara’s calls for order. The Police Commission has voted against the use of Tasers three times in recent years – in 2004 and twice in 2010.
After days of costly preparation and heated contention, followed by sudden venue and schedule changes, the much-anticipated Patriot Prayer rally never happened in San Francisco Saturday. What actually did occur in that vacuum was a historical show of resistance across the city in several counterprotest gatherings that drew combined crowds rivaling the numbers of people that turned out to protest the presidential inauguration in November. Joey Gibson of the alt-right Patriot Prayer group was nowhere to be found at Alamo Square Saturday, but counter demonstrators and hundreds of SF police officers showed up in full force.
Mayor Jesse Arreguin and the Berkeley City Council are shitting bricks. Charlottesville and the right-left rumbles that Berkeley’s already seen this year have the mayor and the councilors terrified – understandably – that people will get killed or injured at the next one and that everyone will point the blame at them. The immediate cause for concern is a No Marxism in America Rally and counter protests coming up on Sunday afternoon, April 27. The council not only passed new crowd control measures, but also used its website to plead with its citizens to eschew Downtown Berkeley, stay home and tweet.
It’s Friday afternoon at the drop-in center known as Mother Brown’s on the corner of Jennings Street and Van Dyke Avenue. Despite the iron-gated door fronting the entrance, people drop in freely to check their mail, take a shower, do laundry or chill out in the reception area. For a nominal fee, Mother Brown’s rents out lockers. Gwendolyn Westbrook, the director of the United Council of Human Services – the official name of Mother Brown’s – as well as staff, describe the place as a community center. Client Johnny Scott likens Mother Brown’s to a family. “This here is a place where people get along,” he says.
Dr. Valerie Yerger, ND, of UCSF and Carol McGruder, co-chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), stood with Supervisor Malia Cohen, Mayor Ed Lee, Oakland Vice Mayor Annie Campbell Washington, researchers and community leaders as Cohen announced historic legislation restricting the sale city-wide of menthol and other flavored tobacco products in San Francisco.
The redevelopment of the Hunters Point Shipyard was derailed last year by whistleblower reports that Navy contractor Tetra Tech had faked more data than previously believed about the cleanup of the toxic and radioactive Superfund site. With land transfers on hold and city powers reeling, the Navy hired global engineering company CH2M Hill to review Tetra Tech’s data and do community outreach. One problem: CH2M Hill also faked environmental data on the very same project.
When SF’s top officials gathered for the annual State of the City address on the morning of Jan. 17, 2014, instead of the elegant environs of City Hall, they descended on a construction site at the Hunters Point Shipyard. Despite the rosy picture painted by the mayor, some of the people working at the Shipyard were on their way to losing everything. The program meant to help small local construction companies benefit from the development was instead driving some against the wall. A survey of the Shipyard’s local contractors and a review of public documents reveal systemic issues with the local builders program.
Iris Canada, a New Afrikan Queen and one of San Francisco’s few centenarians, has just been evicted from her home of over 60 years on the southern edge of the historic Fillmore district, now “Hayes Valley,” by Sheriff Vicki Hennessy. In a move that can only be construed as Machiavellian, the sheriffs arrived and changed the lock while Mrs. Canada was at her senior program! As of the date of writing it is unclear whether Mrs. Canada is even aware that said eviction occurred.
To honor the call for 120 hours of direct actions to uphold the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., local community organizers have been camping out in front of San Francisco’s City Hall until Jan. 20, 2017. Camp 120 is occupying space in front of City Hall to highlight the ineffectiveness and inaction of DA Gascón and Mayor Ed Lee regarding the heightened policing of Black and Brown residents by the San Francisco Police Department.
Poor, unhoused, barely housed, indigenous, Black, Brown and Red people don’t have presidents. We have prison wardens, police, sheriffs, anti-social workers, landlords, judges, bailiffs, poverty pimps, case manglers, ICE agents, CPS workers and debt collectors. Under Clinton, we lost welfare and the criminalization and incarceration of young people was institutionalized. Poor people don’t have presidents or governors or mayors. We have ourselves.
The “Merit Center” at the San Francisco Juvenile Justice Center is a new room at the detention facility designed to reward kids for good behavior. According to staff, it was “100 percent complete” eight months ago. According to Juvenile Justice Center Chief of Probation Allen Nance, it is “95 percent complete” as of Oct. 6, 2016, and will be ready in “a few weeks.” No kid will be able to enjoy or play one game in this new room, until Allen Nance is finished playing the bizarre “Dog and Pony” game.
The news was expected to be bad. San Franciscans for Police Accountability (SFPA), a civilian watch group, held a public forum in the Koret Auditorium of San Francisco’s Public Library. It was Saturday, Sept. 24, and featured D.A. George Gascón’s specially appointed Blue Ribbon Panel – the forum appropriately titled, “Making SFPD Accountable: A Community Conversation.” And what a conversation this was – one I could not miss!
The Navy is withholding from San Francisco taxpayers that, to jump-start billions for FivePoint Holdings, a branch of the Lennar corporation, it is fast-tracking Treasure Island redevelopment. San Franciscans remain uninformed that because the Navy is conducting 20 simultaneous building demolitions and site excavations, 39 chemical digs, and 820 radiation, arsenic and petroleum removal actions, islanders are currently hard-hit by wind-borne toxins.