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The 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party Conference, Oct. 20-23, held at the Oakland Museum of California and in Bobby Hutton Grove at deFremery Park, was a huge success. To see the Vanguards of the Revolution saluted in such elegant surroundings at the banquet Saturday evening was certainly a fitting tribute to the legacy their lives concretely represent. Hats off to the committee that organized the conference.
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!
San Francisco’s Black and Latino/a communities came together March 18 on the steps of City Hall to launch a united campaign to end police impunity in the officer-involved murders of Mario Woods, Alex Nieto and Amilcar Pérez López. The new Black and Brown United Coalition coalesced after the shocking March 10 exoneration of police in a federal civil trial in the killing of Alex Nieto, 28, by a jury on which no Blacks or Latinas or Latinos had been selected to serve.
On Friday night, Jan. 15, many young people gathered outside of the Saint John Coltrane African Orthodox Church for the start of the “Reclaim MLK” weekend, a 96-hour action dedicated to non-violent protest against police terrorism and gentrification. During rush hour, “Reclaim MLK” protesters shut down the major intersection of Geary at Webster in the Fillmore, once San Francisco’s Black heartland.
Among the crowd of 150 activists were four young people holding a sign that simply read, “Last 3 Percent.” The words refer not directly to police violence but to the broader problem of the mass exodus of African Americans from San Francisco. Thousands have left their city of birth not because of any personal preference but because of political decisions and economic policies, many set into motion several decades ago.
The Coltrane Church, a pillar of the community known worldwide, is concerned it may be pushed out of its home in the West Bay Center and is asking readers to call West Bay and Center Director Floyd Trammell. The Coltrane Church is the last cultural, spiritual and historical institution in the Jazz Preservation District. The church has been serving the city of San Francisco and the Fillmore for more than 47 years.
HOW SWEET IT WAS! DR. WILLIE RATCLIFF, our beloved Publisher, a VIRGO MAN, celebrated his 82nd birthday surrounded by his lovely wife MARY RATCLIFF, charming in a blue dress, staff and friends at a reception held in the lobby of the African American Art and Cultural Complex, prior to the BLACK MEDIA APPRECIATION NIGHT affair, sponsored by SF BAY VIEW, to HONOR UNSUNG HEROES who do not get their PROPER due for their outstanding work.
For true self-determination, we must each play our part. If you are not a member of the NAACP, consider becoming one. If you are already a member, resolve to serve as a volunteer, if not an officer or committee member. Attend a meeting and bring a friend or family member. Not a joiner? Donate to fund initiatives. Do your part to support an organization that has sustained us and defended us for so long.
Marcus Book Store, at 1712 Fillmore St., San Francisco, is packed with knowledge it has purveyed since 1960, for 53 years. Now the oldest Black book store in the country has been ordered out. But the community is REFUSING to let Marcus Books close. The Sweises, who bought the property, want the judge to evict Marcus Books. Everyone is urged to BOYCOTT their businesses, Big Dog City Cab and Royal Cab companies. On Tuesday, July 2, 3 p.m., the community will caravan to the Sweis home in South City for a PROTEST RALLY at 4 p.m.
The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) is at the forefront of the resistance to the foreclosures and illegal taking of homes by the banks. ACCE, the Center for Popular Democracy and the Home Defenders League released a report March 12 entitled “California in Crisis: How Wells Fargo’s Foreclosure Pipeline is Damaging Local Communities.”
The Bayview, which was once 70 percent Black, has been increasingly fighting a high rate of foreclosures that is resulting in yet another form of gentrification. Wells Fargo Bank has been responsible for many of the foreclosures in the community. Help your neighbors by joining the Stop the Wells Fargo 27 Holiday Foreclosure and Evictions campaign.
The day is Buy Black Wednesday. I am setting foot in the Pan Afrikan Market Place called Little Nubia, modeled after Harlem in its “hey day,” old Timbuktu and Black Wall Street. So there are over 600 Black businesses in a 10-square-block area. Red, black and green is everywhere. Flags from every Afrikan nation flutter in the summer breeze.
Thanks to all who called Wells Fargo or went to City Hall on behalf of Archbishop and Marina King. Wells Fargo removed the home from the auction list on the morning of June 21, several hours before the public auction. Wells Fargo is currently reviewing the Kings' case for modification a second time. Until a real agreement can be reached, the Kings and their supporters are planning to block the auction July 20 at City Hall. Call Grace Martinez at ACCE for more information at (415) 377-6872.
On June 12, family members held a memorial for Derrick Gaines, a 15-year-old who was shot and killed by an officer with the South San Francisco Police Department on the evening of June 5. Police claim that Gaines, who was walking with a friend near an Arco gas station, was engaging in “suspicious behavior.”
At his ground-breaking Feb. 15, 2012, press conference, San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting announced “the first audit of foreclosure records in the state of California.” This nationally publicized report revealed that laws were not followed and that the neighborhood hit the hardest was “the Southeast part of town, which is very diverse, probably the lowest income area of San Francisco.”
On Thursday, Sept. 3, at their weekly town hall meeting, the leaders of SLAM (Stop Lennar Action Movement) reminded the audience of the kind of power they have in the battle to save Bayview Hunters Point. Minister Christopher Muhammad, Archbishop Franzo King and Francisco Da Costa shared the latest news of SLAM’s progress and urged the audience to understand that by staying focused and vigilant and not letting anything turn them around, they will win the war.