Where can we pee? Auntie Francis Love Mission and the criminalization of poor residents of North Oakland

by Ana, PNN-RYME Youth Skola

Where Can We Pee? protest at Oakland City Hall – Photo: Heidy, PNN-RYME Youth Skola
Where Can We Pee? protest at Oakland City Hall – Photo: Heidy, PNN-RYME Youth Skola

Auntie Francis is a woman who not only I but all of us at Deecolonize Academy’s Revolutionary Youth Media Education (RYME) Program hold close to our heart. She is a strong woman who has gone through some challenging obstacles herself. She was a part of the Black Panther Party and has experienced being houseless.

She started a program called Auntie Francis Love Mission Self-Help Hunger Program where she feeds her community every Tuesday at Driver Plaza in North Oakland. People really appreciate the love and the effort that she puts into making sure that they are taken care of and well fed.

Sometimes she questions whether she can pull through and continue to help her community, but her heart won’t let her and the fire inside of her just burns stronger.

She started a program called Auntie Francis Love Mission Self-Help Hunger Program where she feeds her community every Tuesday at Driver Plaza in North Oakland.

But not all of the community members agree with the mission of love that Auntie Francis tries so hard to create. From the beginning of her beautiful project, she received complaints from the newer, richer, whiter residents of North Oakland about the houseless people urinating on their lawns and the smell of urine.

To solve these complaints Auntie Francis decided to get a porta potty which she paid for out of pocket, but it still wasn’t enough. Auntie Francis met with the residents and listened to their concerns. Many of the residents began to support her, but the gentrifiers continued to complain, and eventually the City of Oakland came out and seized the porta potty.

But she holds fire inside of her that no one can ever put out and so the wonderful youth scholars from Deecolonize Academy decided to come together with POOR Magazine, Phat Beetz Produce and Auntie Francis Love Mission and hold a protest at Oakland City Hall called “Where Can We Pee” to fight for Auntie Francis’ porta potty to be returned. They even wrote letters to Mayor Jean Quan urging her to bring back the porta potty, but there has been no response so far.

The wonderful youth scholars from Deecolonize Academy decided to come together with POOR Magazine, Phat Beetz Produce and Auntie Francis Love Mission and hold a protest at Oakland City Hall called “Where Can We Pee” to fight for Auntie Francis’ porta potty to be returned.

Due to a weird “gas leak” that Tiny, one of the Decolonize teachers and reporters for PNN, thinks was an intervention from Ancestors, over 500 people had to leave City Hall and ended up a default audience for our “Where Can We Pee” protest.

“Call my assistant and we can work out an appointment,” said Jean Quan as she left City Hall escaping the gas leak to POOR-PNN reporters Tiny, Muteado, Queenandi and several of us youth skolaz as we followed her to get her comment on the criminalization of poor North Oakland residents.

As of press time, North Oakland City Councilman Dan Kalb and Mayor Quan have yet to meet with Auntie Francis. Please call their offices and demand that the porta potty be replaced at Driver Plaza.

Ana is PNN-RYME Youth Skola with Poor News Network. She can be reached via deeandtiny@poormagazine.org. Visit POOR at www.poormagazine.org.