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On Oct. 27, 2018, a group of homeless people moved to a vacant city-owned lot in East Oakland. They named this encampment “Housing and Dignity Village”; it was a drug-free site for sober, unsheltered women and their families. But on Nov. 7, 2018, the city posted a 72-hour notice for them to leave. On Nov. 9, 2018, Housing and Dignity Village sued the city asking that they not be evicted from the site. Their case was called Miralle v. City of Oakland.
Jan. 1, 2019, marks 10 years since the murder of Oscar Grant by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle. In the lead up to this grim anniversary, a number of articles, multimedia pieces, radio programs and television news segments have been produced to commemorate the occasion. Especially moving are those that give voice to Oscar’s family and friends. But it’s rare to see significant tribute paid to the fact that were it not for the vigor and relentlessness of protesters and activists, Oscar Grant would have received little to no justice.
Caltrans is perhaps the largest and most high profile evictor of homeless encampments in California. According to “The Mile Marker: A Caltrans Performance Report” – the organization’s quarterly progress report – Caltrans estimated that it spent $10.04 million cleaning up homeless encampments in fiscal year ending 2017. Obviously, Caltrans should be impacted by Martin v. Boise, because it restricts the conditions under which evictions can be made.
On Sept. 4, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that cities may not punish homeless people for sleeping outside in public spaces if they do not have access to shelter elsewhere. The case – Martin v. City of Boise – started way back in 2009, when six current and formerly homeless residents of Boise, Idaho, sued the city for giving citations to people who were sleeping outside. The lawsuit rested on the notion that these citations violated the Eighth Amendment rights of Boise’s homeless residents, amounting to cruel and unusual punishment.
Elbert “Big Man” Howard died in Santa Rosa at the age of 80 on July 23. The memorial service was held on Aug. 25. Howard was one of six founding members of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. He was well known as one of the most instrumental members in many facets of organizing during his time with the party. The memorial was packed with original Panthers who shared candid stories of their time with Howard.
On Feb. 14, 2017, I was shot with a rifle by a sniper named Jesse Enjaian, a white guy. I was a homeless man sleeping in my car. I had parked for the night on the street in front of his house on the 9500 block of Las Vegas Avenue near Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland. He shot out all four of my tires, all my windows, my dashboard got a bullet hole in it and my head was grazed by a bullet. I woke up to bullets flying, hit my horn, jumped out of my car and hollered for help.
He was our local Frederick Douglass. Even looked a bit like him: dashingly handsome, tall, strong, fierce, dedicated, educated, elegant and eloquent. And deeply rooted in the community. The former civil rights activist, mayor of Oakland and congressman, who put programs for the people ahead of war and weapons of mass destruction, the honorable and distinguished elder Ron Dellums joined the ancestors July 30, after making his presence felt on this planet for 82 years.
Businesses asked the city to “do something” about the encampments. Perhaps it’s up to the businesses to work out something with the homeless. The solution to the conflict between the business and the homeless is not simply to evict the people. They will not find a solution to the conflict without talking directly to the homeless people. At these discussions, the homeless must be respected and treated equally. They must be treated like citizens with their own needs, not as problems. Businesses could benefit from such discussions.
On March 27, the San Francisco Bay Area’s Stop Urban Shield Coalition claimed victory in its four-year battle to stop Urban Shield, a war games and weapons convention for cops held in Alameda County every year since 2007. I spoke to Tracy Rosenberg, executive director of Media Alliance and co-facilitator of Oakland Privacy, a citizen’s coalition that works regionally to defend the right to privacy and enhance public transparency and oversight regarding the use of surveillance techniques and equipment. She has worked with the Stop Urban Shield Coalition since 2014.
Community members and family of Sahleem Tindle, a 28-year-old father of two, killed by a BART Police officer in January, packed a BART meeting March 12 to demand that justice be served. Tindle’s family passionately protested the lack of action by BART following Tindle’s death on Jan. 3 outside the West Oakland BART Station. Tindle’s family and legal team are calling for the city of Oakland to arrest and charge the involved BART officer, Joseph Mateu, with murder.
I don’t know how Avotcja does it all: host two radio shows, perform with her band Modupue and curate such a phenomenal series of poetry and storytelling events. Yet she does and has for more years than we have fingers and toes. This is why, though I appreciated and loved “Beloved Oakland,” I think two culture workers were left out: Avotcja and Paradise. I would not have excluded any of the awardees; however, to omit Avotcja is like forgetting to bow to the Queen (as in Califa, not Victoria).
Oakland’s gentrification was supposed to benefit all Oakland residents; instead, gentrification displaced many of Oakland’s most vulnerable citizens. Oakland’s gentrification may be failing because no one made plans for the displacement of the displaced people. So they live in homeless encampments visible throughout the city. Seeing these encampments, alongside the gentrifiers’ displays of privilege, highlights the inequality of Oakland’s gentrification.
Land and housing is a humane right for All; not a privilege and a way to reap more profits for the monied interests! As WE see it, these latest efforts to “re-develop” and “gentrify” our cities – from San Francisco to Oakland, Harlem to Chicago and beyond – are a continuation of the centuries-long horrific wars of mass genocide perpetrated by European capitalism, European (white) nationalism and the false doctrines of European (white) “superiority” and racist terrorism.
The Bay View is the people’s microphone. It’s one of the few voices we have. It may not be a big microphone, like CNN or the New York Times. But we need as many small and medium sized mikes as we can get. The San Francisco Bay View should not be a dwindling institution. It should be an expanding one. An ever thriving one. The light and voice of the people should not be a flickering candlelight, but a raging fire. If this community watchdog loses its bark or is put to sleep, it will truly be open season on us and our communities.
We youth scholars from Deecolonize Academy and POOR Magazine submitted 14 Freedom of Information Act requests to 14 departments in the City of Oakland, only to receive a series of messages from two of the departments saying, “We have no documents,” and no word from the others. On Jan. 16, we will be making a demand to the City of Oakland and AC Transit that, with the money they received for BRT, they support Oakland residents to be able to stay here as reparations for the millions of dollars they are receiving to displace us out of here.
Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels, traditionally available to those on fixed or very low incomes, are being marketed to new arrivals and tech industry workers, exacerbating the housing crisis and exploding the homeless population in Oakland. Hundreds of rooms have been lost in the last year at the Sutter, Travelers and other SRO hotels. The extractive model of financial speculation has reached into every form of housing in the SF Bay Area, and homelessness has risen exponentially.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf faced heated questions and comments from attendees at a community forum on homelessness held at Allen Temple Baptist Church on Sept. 22. The discussion went from cordial to contentious when the subject of homeless encampment removal was raised. Many residents of the Deep East Oakland neighborhood were angered by perceived inertia on the part of city and county officials regarding the creation of adequate shelter.
As of 2016, “Love Life” became the City of Oakland’s motto. In early June, Health Through Art, a program of the Health Human Resource Education Center, announced the campaign release of Eric Norberg’s winning artwork piece, “Love Life.” The art will appear on 25 billboards throughout the city of Oakland displaying the slogan “Love Life, Don’t Take Life”. The first billboard, at 24th and Adeline, was dedicated and celebrated on the morning of Monday, June 12.
Kyle Wiggins started Wiggins Consulting to help businesses grow and refine their products and services. Desiring to be more strategic and supportive in a targeted fashion, he created TownBiz, a platform for expression where both budding and established businesses could showcase their goods while networking with like-minded entrepreneurs. TownBiz is a free trade market, serving as a launching pad for vendors.
Dimensions Dance Theatre presents its annual youth showcase, “The Village Matters,” on Sunday, May 7. Participants include Rites of Passage, Dimensions Extensions, LIKHA School of Philippine Dance, On Demand, BAY-Peace, Oakland Technical High School, Oakland High School, Bret Harte Middle School and Kipp Bridge Academy. The program also features guest artists Destiny Muhammad, “Harpist from the Hood,” and Batalá San Francisco.