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Berkeley’s police are collaborating with some very unsavory federal police agencies. In the process, our civil rights and civil liberties have been put in jeopardy. Which side is Berkeley on? Do we really want to be part of a national police network headed by “America’s top cop,” the arch-racist attorney general, Jeff Sessions? The City Council needs to decisively sever Berkeley from a militarized surveillance state that is spreading its tentacles everywhere.
Some 400 people packed a special city council meeting here on June 20 to demand that the city end its “shameful collaboration” with federal police and spy agencies. But the council, while widely hailed as “progressive,” ignored the near-unanimous popular opinion and voted to renew three controversial police programs: participation in a Regional Intelligence Fusion Center, participation in the Urban Areas Security Initiative and acquisition of a bulletproof armored personnel carrier.
Five hundred people packed an Oakland church to welcome Dr. Maryse Narcisse, presidential candidate of Fanmi Lavalas, the party of Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The event kicked off a week-long speaking tour of California that took her to Scripps College in Los Angeles County, the UCLA School of Public Health and the National Lawyers Guild annual dinner in San Francisco.
A confident, unified workers’ movement – that’s who was marching here on the April 4 anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Spearheading the march were militants of United Service Workers West (USWW-SEIU) – the janitors, airport employees and other mainly low-wage workers playing a leading role in building for May Day general strike actions in California.
Five years ago the Post Office began a series of moves aimed at the step-by-step privatization of the U.S. Postal Service, the country’s largest unionized employer. One such move was a 2013 program to farm out postal window services to so-called “postal counters” at 500-plus Staples office supply stores. The American Postal Workers Union confidently swung into action, with an ambitious campaign to beat back the Staples challenge.
It was the first time I’d ever attended a Police Review Commission meeting in Berkeley. Together with nine other community members, we went to express our opposition to three terrible policies of the city government and its police department: 1. Repeated police raids on homeless encampments, 2. City participation in the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center and its domestic spying operation, and 3. City participation in the Urban Areas Security Initiative.
Standing Rock has caught the imagination of the world: A resurgent Indigenous movement, which has been leading many battles in the U.S. and Canada; a fighting veterans’ movement, re-emerging as a powerful force; a large contingent of young people of many colors from all over, selflessly devoting themselves to the struggle; networks being activated around the country and the world – all coming together in a coalition that, in the context of the global economic and financial crisis, just might be able to take on a powerful oil company that is threatening to poison the water and defeat it.
In the wake of the failure and collapse of the U.S. imposed dictatorship of Michel Martelly in Haiti, and as conservatives from the U.S. to the U.K. are being investigated for fraudulent electoral practices, the grassroots people of Haiti continue to escalate their fight for liberation, solidarity and dignity. Rocking the streets with “Nou pap obeyi!” (“We will not obey!”) illegitimate officials imposed by foreign colonizers, Haitians have fought on all levels to return governance of Haiti to its people.
May 19 was less than a month since the “Frisco 5” began their hunger strike with a single demand: that Police Chief Greg Suhr resign or be fired … this chief, who for five years has been crying crocodile tears while justifying every police killing of a Black or Latino person … this chief, who for five years has been vigilantly protected by the mayor, the media and the city’s Democratic political establishment. On May 19, the mayor forced him to resign.
Inspired by the stamina of the “Frisco 5” hunger strikers, hundreds of chanting supporters occupied the rotunda and grand staircase inside City Hall for seven hours on May 6. Their demand: “We won’t leave City Hall until the mayor fires Greg Suhr,” the top cop complicit in a string of police murders of Black and Brown people in the city. The movement to fire Chief Suhr, stubbornly resisted by the city’s political establishment, is nevertheless gaining momentum.
Five hunger strikers dubbed the Frisco 5 – angered by new police murders of Black and Brown people – have been occupying half the sidewalk in front of Mission Police Station since April 21. It’s Day 13 of their liquid-only fast and they’re losing weight, but they vow to keep it up until SF Police Chief Greg Suhr resigns or is fired. The Frisco 5 hunger strikers are Maria Cristina Gutierrez, 66, Ilyich “Equipto” Sato, 42, Selassie Blackwell, 39, Ike Pinkston, 42, and Edwin Lindo, 29.
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.
Black Lives Matter – from Haiti to the Bay: Join the Haiti Action Committee pre-MLK March protest in solidarity with the fighting people of Haiti on Monday, Jan. 18, 10 a.m., at the Oakland Federal Building, 1301 Clay St. (12th Street BART), featuring drummers and a report from Haiti by Pierre Labossiere; then join the Martin Luther King March at 11 a.m. in Oscar Grant Plaza.
On Black Friday 2014, 14 Black activists chained themselves together on a BART transit platform “to prevent trains from moving at the West Oakland station, in response to the seemingly unending war against Black communities.” The 14, a majority of them women, faced criminal charges. Now, after a year-long campaign by the Black Friday14 and a broad coalition of allies, District Attorney Nancy O’Malley has dropped all the charges.
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.
Hooded gangs attacked a large demonstration against election fraud today in the Haitian capital. Haitians, determined to thwart what they see as an ongoing “electoral coup d’état,” have been in the streets almost daily in their tens of thousands since the Oct. 25 first round presidential elections. There were huge demonstrations, punctuated by police firing into the crowd, wounding several, on Nov. 18. On Nov. 1, a big election protest in the Bel Air popular district, led by a Rara band, was attacked and two marchers shot dead; later that day a third protester was ambushed and killed on the way home.
Following Haiti’s controversial presidential and legislative elections held on Sunday, Oct. 25, alarm is growing about irregularities in the counting of the votes at voting centers and in the transportation of votes to the tabulation center. There is widespread mistrust of the process. Most international observers of the election and subsequent press reports have focused on the day of the election but not on the counting and tabulation of the votes.
U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe spoke at a National Postal Forum in San Francisco on March 18, prompting picketing by rank and file postal employees and their supporters. Protestors opposed Donahoe’s support for post office closures and layoffs of USPS (U.S. Postal Service) workers. The demonstration was part of a week of actions called for by Communities and Postal Workers United .
A half dozen postal hunger strikers completed a six-day fast for six-day delivery and declared a “people’s victory” in late December. The strikers established an “emergency” tent encampment in the shadow of the Capitol, demanding that Congress and the president halt closures and cuts to the U.S. Postal Service.
It is time for all the staff and listeners to embrace the democratic victory that was won for us in legal and street battles of 1999-2001 and by the people who formed the original “Save KPFA” in the mid-1990s. KPFA was not sold from under us, and thanks to their efforts, it never will be. It is time to bring peace to KPFA and Pacifica and help strengthen this priceless resource.
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