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“Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are dying who could be saved, that generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love of Revolution. Pass on the torch. Join us, give your life for the people.” – George Jackson
“The End of Policing,” a new book by Alex Vitale, examines the histories and failures of policing policies and provides examples of alternatives that successfully divest from dependence on police while strengthening the community. Vitale’s chapters on criminalizing homelessness and gang suppression in particular can be a useful tool in revealing ineffective policies in effect today in San Francisco. Join the San Francisco No Injunctions Coalition on July 12, City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s last planned court hearing to remove names from the city’s gang injunctions.
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.
Cherie Williams, a 35-year-old African-American woman in the Bronx, just wanted to protect herself from her abusive boyfriend. So she called the cops. But although New York requires police to make an arrest when responding to domestic violence calls, the officers did not leave their car. When Williams demanded their badge numbers, the police handcuffed her, drove her to a deserted parking lot and beat her, breaking her nose and jaw and rupturing her spleen. They then left her on the ground.
Good morning and welcome to Wanda’s Picks, a Black arts and culture program with the African Sister’s Media Network. We are joined in the studio by Robert King, Albert Woodfox and Malik Rahim. Welcome to the show. Today we are going to be talking about the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March on Washington. We can talk about solitary confinement, political prisoners, the 13th Amendment. We can talk about what the need is for having such an event.
We find ourselves in a moment with a great deal at stake. Our communities are fighting to define and create sanctuary spaces, while enduring a dangerous presidential administration that has emboldened white supremacist and xenophobic action. The Trump agenda has caused increased harassment, fear and even death. In the movement for abolition of policing, imprisonment, surveillance and the entire prison industrial complex, now is our time to be bold.
On Friday, Sept. 9, activists chained themselves to the entrances to the Alameda County Fairgrounds to protest Urban Shield, the highly controversial SWAT training and weapons expo hosted annually by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department. Twenty-three activists were arrested, cited and released. Over 500 community members from many cities across California, joined the Stop Urban Shield Coalition in a massive mobilization, march and rally.
The No New SF Jail Coalition has been selected to receive the prestigious Hero Award by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and its Equity Advisory Committee. The coalition celebrated a monumental victory last December, when, after years of community organizing and advocacy, they persuaded the Board of Supervisors to reject plans for a new jail in San Francisco.
In the national debate ensuing from Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” some have not given credit to Angela Davis forging national interest in prison abolition with her organizing Critical Resistance campaigns across the country. With the nominal success of the Pelican Bay prisoners’ hunger strike in California, we recognize that when we organize a national determination, we can collectively force institutional change.
As momentum continues to grow against the colossal U.S. imprisonment system, the need for strategic targets is crucial, yet we are seeing an overbearing focus on private prisons. We are in a moment when reforms that appear to be “progressive” can actually entrench the violence of policing, imprisonment and surveillance even further.
Sheriff Vicki Hennessy wrote to the Board of State and Community Corrections to rescind San Francisco’s application for jail funding under SB 863, writing: “The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has tasked the Sheriff’s Department, the Department of Public Health, and community mental health and criminal justice stakeholders to convene an effort to explore alternatives that currently preclude building a new detention facility.”
Our attention has been turned this week to Holman Prison in Alabama where rolling uprisings inside have led to prisoners taking control of certain areas of the prison. Prisoners have since released a set of demands including increased educational programs for prisoners, monetary damages for physical and mental abuse, and revoking the State’s 446 laws that – similar to Three Strikes laws – harden sentences for subsequent convictions.
Against all odds, a grassroots coalition defeated a plan to build a new, 384-bed downtown jail at a cost of $240 million – up to $465 million including 30 years of debt financing. In what the No New Jail Coalition called “an historic moment in our long and difficult fight against jail expansion,” the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted Dec. 15 to reject the new jail plan.
The No New SF Jail Coalition’s position has been clear since day one – what San Francisco needs to keep its residents safe is housing, healthcare, mental health support, harm reductive substance use support, education, meaningful employment, community organizations, re-entry support and pre-trial diversion. NOT jails. We need you to call the Board of Supervisors, tell your friends and come out strong on Dec. 15. UPDATE: The vote to reject the new jail was UNANIMOUS! There will be NO NEW SF JAIL.
One of the most interesting musical formations of an African aesthetic that I have come across has to be the Black Spirituals. Influenced by Punk, Free Jazz, Reggae and other genres, this improvisation-based group is receiving top billin’ at the upcoming Matatu Festival of Stories this week. On Wednesday, Sept. 23, they’ll perform at the Starline Social Club in the historic spot at 645 Grand Ave., Oakland.
Four years ago prisoners in California – led by those in the control units of Pelican Bay – organized a hunger strike to demand an end to the torturous conditions of solitary confinement. Two more strikes would follow, with over 30,000 prisoners taking united action in the summer of 2013 – both in isolation and in general population in nearly every California prison. Current prison organizing continues a historic legacy of struggle.
My name is Dorsey Nunn. I’m with All of Us or None and executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. I’m sitting back there waiting for (agenda) Item No. 3 (a new jail for San Francisco), and while I’m waiting for it I’m listening to the testimony for Item No. 1 (hiring more police officers). And I can’t help but ask the question: “How much racism needs to be practiced for us to determine that we don’t need this jail?” Hours of powerful testimony on June 18 before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee were capped off by Dorsey Nunn – and the crowd erupted in cheers.
Californians United for a Responsible Budget filed an appeal challenging the environmental report put out by the SF Planning Department regarding the proposed construction of a jail at 855 Bryant St. as insufficient. A central concern for opponents of the jail is that the planners of the project did not seriously assess the high likelihood of displacing people in 14 Single Resident Occupancy (SRO) units living at 480-484 Sixth St.
Pelican Bay prisoners named as plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against the use of solitary confinement in California gained an important victory yesterday. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled in favor of a motion allowing prisoners who have been in solitary confinement for more than 10 years, but have been transferred out of Pelican Bay State Prison since the lawsuit was first filed, to remain eligible as class members in the case.
Dr. King devoted his life to struggle. The end of his career was characterized by a devout rejection of militarism, economic inequality, racism and imperialism. Yet state sponsored commemorations on MLK Day have consistently left out this narrative. In our first post-Ferguson MLK weekend, people around the country mobilized to honor Dr. King’s legacy the way he would have wanted it – through massive demonstrations, direct actions and shutdowns.