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.
As union members gathered in the nation’s capital over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, some of the country’s top labor leaders faced tough questions about how the movement can reconcile its support for racial justice with its embrace of police unions. Over the last year, the AFL-CIO, America’s largest federation of unions, has faced calls from some in its membership to end its affiliation with the International Union of Police Associations.
The battle over the future of Tamms became the most visible and contentious example of a phenomenon seen around the country: Otherwise progressive unions are taking reactionary positions when it comes to prisons, supporting addiction to mass incarceration. And when it comes to issues of prisoners’ rights in general, and solitary confinement in particular, they are seen as a major obstacle to reform.
Leo Robinson was a Black leader of the longshore union in San Francisco. He died in mid-January. For many of us, he was a lifelong companion, an example of what being an internationalist and a working class activist was all about. When Leo Robinson spoke, he had the full attention of every union member in Local 10’s cavernous waterfront union hall.
Congress’ right wing is on a rampage, and the U.S. Postal Service – beginning with post offices in poor neighborhoods and rural towns – are on the chopping block. One of them, the humble Bayview Post Office on Lane Street in Bayview Hunters Point, has become the poster child for what’s shaping up to be an epic battle against privatization of fundamental public services.
African American contractors are more likely to hire workers of color, so a barrier to the contractor has a broad impact. Now a new initiative in Oregon is working to stop the lockout of Blacks from construction.
“People forget that Dr. King was every bit as committed to economic justice as he was to ending racial segregation,” author Michael K. Honey said. “As we struggle with massive unemployment, a staggering racial wealth gap and near collapse of our financial system, King’s prophetic writings and speeches underscore his relevance for today.”
Today’s economic crisis is much worse than the media lets on … a political and economic system that provides trillions of dollars in bailouts for Wall Street and trillions of dollars for war but nothing for large numbers of workers and the poor, who face growing joblessness, foreclosures, evictions, layoffs, low wages, hunger and homelessness.