“Nobody should be put out alone into this cold night,” said Benita Turner, mother of Jessica St Louis, who died after being released from Santa Rita County Jail at 1:30 a.m. on July 28. “We want to make sure that we are gathered here to remember that a woman lost her life because this institution thought it was OK to release a young woman at 1:30 in the morning,” said community organizer Sister Krea Cristina Gomez to the large crowd that gathered for the vigil.
There we were – the unhoused, the evicted, the displaced, the disabled, Black, Brown, Indigenous, poor white, youth and elders on one accord, all colors, all nations, all cultures, all ages, all abilities. The 2018 Poor Peoples March on Washington was originally launched by impacted poor, houseless and formerly unhoused people from the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign 15 years ago. Poor folks walked in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor Peoples March on Washington in 1968.
“Prison abolition is different from penal abolition. We don’t just want to get rid of the structures; we want to get rid of the whole system that functions to destroy people,” said Ashanti Alston, Black Panther and penal abolitionist. POOR Magazine had the blessing of listening to Ashanti and many more freedom fighters at the 17th International Conference on Penal Abolition held in New Bedford, Mass.
“Hello, we are representing Black, Brown, First Nations and homeless peoples on a Stolen Land Hoarded Resources Tour to share the medicine of redistribution and community reparations.” Aunti Frances Moore, Black Panther, founder of the Self-help Hunger Program of North Oakland and houseless poverty scholar with POOR Magazine and Homefulness, spoke into the security intercom on 745 Park Ave., the first tour stop of the first tour in Lenape Lands of Eastern Turtle Island aka Manhattan.
“Even an animal doesn’t deserve to die the way they killed my husband,” said Dona Fedelia del Carmen, widow of Luis Demetrio Gongora Pat, a Mayan indigenous man killed by San Francisco police April 7, 2016, for doing nothing. For doing nothing, except being Brown and unhoused in a city plagued by the disease of capitalism and its sister illness, gentrification. “I am demanding justice and honor for my husband,” she concluded. The family asks everyone to join the march on Friday, April 7.
The snow shined against the afternoon sun. The multicolored flags bearing the images of our ancestors rippled and flapped in the afternoon breeze as the “Po’ Folx Delegation” from POOR Magazine and Decolonize Academy rode in on a rented four-wheel drive car. After a long, harrowing journey from Huchuin, Ohlone (Oakland, California), in two planes and a rental car we finally arrived to find an avenue of flags from hundreds of nations across Mama Earth, including our favorite, where we piled out of the car to take our first picture, the RBG flag of Black liberation.
“Get on the ground! Get on the ground!” Moving in slowly like they were on a hunt, high-powered weapons pointed down, the descendants of slave-catchers aka police stalk an indigenous man crouching on Shotwell Street holding a soccer ball. They shout disgustedly and dismissively in English from the video screen; my heart stops. I try to keep watching, reminding myself I need to wear my reporter hat instead of my trauma-filled police-terror-from-my-life-of-houselessness blanket. We are watching the extrajudicial murder of Luis Demetrio Góngora Pat by San Francisco police. Why did they kill him? “He was a homeless man.”