Tags Kheven LaGrone
Tag: Kheven LaGrone
Tara Belchar opens a personal view of an increasingly familiar picture of the inhumanity of homelessness as brutal, most often imposed and more often ignored and dismissed as someone else’s problem. We created homelessness – the collateral damage of classist, racist capitalism. Our humanity is being tested by the challenge of taking responsibility for our creations.
Racial violence against Black America is a regular part of America’s history; hiding and denying this racial violence is also a part of America’s history. For decades, African Americans have complained about police brutality. White America dismissed them or paid little attention and this denial allowed White America to feel innocent.
Homeless rights activist Nino Brown lives in a homeless encampment at Lake Merritt. He worries about a new wave of the coronavirus pandemic brewing in Oakland. Most scientists would agree that Brown describes a perfect condition for incubating a pandemic.
Earlier this year, The New York Times published an Oakland article titled “As Homelessness Surges in California, So Does a Backlash.”
In December 2019 and January 2020, the Solano County Board of Supervisors met to discuss buying a former group home to use as a homeless shelter in Vacaville, a city in Solano County. Angry neighbors took over the meeting.
Removing long term and native Oakland African Americans had always been part of the gentrification plan. However, the leaders didn’t make plans for where to send them.
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.
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.
In his essay titled, “San Francisco, You’ll Miss Your Tech Bros If They Flee,” Bloomberg opinion columnist Noah Smith warns that the tech bubble is a victim of outsiders’ antipathy towards techies. The essay suggests that it is more important that San Francisco retain its tech bubble than its long time and native residents. Smith argues that San Francisco will miss the tech bros if they flee. But San Francisco is already missing its long time and native residents. Many native and long-time residents miss San Francisco as well.
California Penal Code 422.55 defines “hate crime” as a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of the victim’s disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. There are multiple state hate crime laws that provide enhanced penalties for violating the rights of people in one of those protected groups. Recently, acts of violence against the homeless have been caught on tape and circulated on the media. They show that cities like San Francisco and Oakland should enact their own local laws adding their homeless citizens to that list of protected groups.
On Oct. 13, 2017, San Francisco Bay View posted my essay “Hipsters de-Blacken Oakland, cause the encampments they abhor.” In the essay, I argued that Oakland leaders helped displace mainly native African American Oaklanders in order to make room for the hipsters and gentrifiers. Thus, the hipsters and gentrifiers have a duty to help solve the homeless crisis. However, several commenters to my essay showed ignorance or denial in defending their “innocence.”
Gentrifiers, the City and developers all share responsibility for gentrification – the process and system that created the encampments. For years, Oakland leaders wanted to make Oakland a hipster playground. They invested in making Oakland attractive to outsiders – gentrifiers. City planners courted the businesses and high-end condos that catered to them. Making Oakland into a hipster playground meant whitening, or at least “de-blackening,” Oakland. The fact that the “hip” people are mainly white and the people in the encampments mainly Black reminds us that not everyone benefits equally from the “new” Oakland.
Saturday, June 10, The Father’s Day Celebration, a free event for Black fathers and Black male father figures and their families, will give space for a joyous Father’s Day event for the whole community. The Father’s Day Celebration will begin with family portraits, activities for the kids (Barbers, Books and Bridges), a live DJ spinning tunes perfect for the occasion and a keynote speaker, Adimu Madyun. Dining will be available.
Most of the citizens living in Oakland's homeless encampments are African Americans born and raised in Oakland. Gentrification displaced them from housing in their own hometown. On Dec. 2, 2016, 36 members and friends of Oakland’s warehouse community died while partying in the Ghost Ship warehouse. In contrast with the people in the encampments, most were not African American or born nor raised in Oakland. According to the Oakland Council, those people who died partying in the warehouse, not the people in the encampment, have become “a symbol of Oakland’s affordability crisis.”
Oakland needs the motto “Love Life” as a way of spreading brotherly-sisterly love to everyone. To put it differently, “love thy neighbor,” even if you live in a luxury apartment and your neighbor lives in an encampment. Oakland had a visible homeless community even before people started calling it the “new” Oakland. Treating people like trash and clearing homeless encampments are acts of violence because they violate someone’s humanity – no matter what excuse is used to justify it.
City leaders announced the “New Oakland” as if to say it was no longer a “Black city.” As Oakland became more attractive to outsiders, housing costs rose and more African Americans were displaced. Oakland was voted one of the country’s “coolest cities,” but today, Oakland’s homeless people have been displaced into visible encampments located throughout the gentrified areas. They are mainly African Americans displaced by the city’s gentrification.
You are invited to the opening reception on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2-4 p.m., in the African American Center of the San Francisco Main Library of “I Am San Francisco,” a major exhibit that tells the personal stories of Black San Franciscans at a time when the Black population has been almost entirely forced out and includes a display of historic copies of the San Francisco Bay View, back to 1994, with the headline “We Shall Not Be Moved.”
It is amazing how time flies whether one is moving or standing still. One looks up and sees, suddenly it seems, friends celebrating 70 and 75 or 80 or even 90-plus milestones. Wow! What a blessing that is. And while we also see the fullness of time’s passage in the lives of those who have decided to move on, too often we are caught by surprise, our mouths hung open, the words we could have said … deeds left undone.
“Twenty Years of Speaking Truth to Power” is the theme for CCWP’s 20th anniversary gala, on Saturday, Nov. 7, 7 p.m., at the Women’s Building 3543 18th St., San Francisco. For information, call 415-255-7036, ext. 4, and if you’d like to volunteer at the event, visit womenprisoners.org. Featured guests include Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter; Jayda Rasberry, organizer with Dignity and Power Now; Thao Nguyen, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down; and the Heiwa Taiko Drummers.
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