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The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer announced just two months ago that glyphosate, a key ingredient in Monsanto's pesticide RoundUp, is probably carcinogenic to humans. The time was ripe to demand a ban on the herbicide with protests internationally on May 23. In San Francisco, many demonstrators dressed as bees and butterflies, while others portrayed mutated evil Monsanto managers.
Community members in East Salinas held a vigil on May 9 to mark the day 26-year-old Osmar Hernandez was killed by Salinas Police in 2014. Osmar's family members were in attendance; Maria Guardado-Hernandez spoke, and Asuncion Guardado stood by solemnly while holding a lit votive candle. Also in attendance were the family members of two other men killed by Salinas Police in 2014, Frank Alvarado and Angel Ruiz.
On May 8, approximately 300 people took over San Francisco City Hall to deliver their messages about the untenable evictions that are now occurring in the City. There has been a 54.7% increase in evictions this year, with over 2,000 units evicted thus far in 2015. The protest included an ethnic ritual, chants, testimonials by victims of the evictions, and a walk around San Francisco City Hall’s political chambers to deliver their messages personally to the Supervisors and Mayor.
On May 5, Black.Seed, Asians4BlackLives, and allies shut down the Oakland City Council and held a People's City Council against a proposed development on East 12th Street. The development, up for a vote at that evening's city council meeting, includes no affordable housing and links to the larger wave of displacement being felt throughout Oakland and the Bay Area. The activists stood in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, linking gentrification to increased policing, and criminalization of Black and Brown people.
On May 2, Native American community members and Interfaith supporters, including clergy leaders, demonstrated outside of Mission Dolores in San Francisco to oppose the impending canonization of Junipero Serra by the Catholic church. Pope Francis has reaffirmed his decision to name Junipero Serra a saint, despite strong opposition from Native Americans who say the man is responsible for the killing of hundreds of thousands of Indigenous people when he helped to establish and then presided over the California mission system in the 1700s.
Students at UC Santa Cruz occupied the Stevenson Coffee House for a short period of time on April 27 to expose a person they say is a known rapist who is presently employed at the business. The small cafe, which is privately owned and operated under a lease with the university, is located within Stevenson College on the east side of the UCSC campus.
All around the world May Day has been a day for labor solidarity, immigrant rights, direct action, reclaiming the streets, and speaking out against injustice. May Day 2015 in the Northern California was a busy day for actions from San Francisco and Oakland to San Jose and Mountain View to Santa Cruz and Fresno. Call-outs went out for rallies, marches, flying pickets, the shutdown of the Port of Oakland, a tech commute blockade, and an anti-capitalist/Baltimore solidarity march.
On April 12, the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP), in conjunction with Yuvette Henderson’s family, held a vigil and caravan in the name of Yuvette, killed with an AR-15 by Emeryville police. Numerous other demonstrations have been held to demand justice for Yuvette as well. On April 21st, the Oakland police department conceded to community pressure and allowed the brother and sister of Yuvette to view the videos leading up to her murder, which is rare after a police killing, but her family was told that the two most critical events of the day were not available for review.
A group of about 100 homeless people and their supporters attended the Tulare City Council meeting on April 21 calling for specific changes in public policy. The group, which delivered a petition signed by over 1,000 residents, called for improvements in the way homeless people are treated by the police, a safe place to sleep and equal rights. The Union of Hope in Tulare filled the City Council chambers with an overflow crowd.
A coalition of environmentalists on April 20 blasted Beverly Hills billionaire Stewart Resnick, owner of Paramount Farms in Kern County, and other corporate agribusiness interests for continuing to plant thousands of acres of new almond trees during the drought while Governor Jerry Brown is mandating that urban families slash water usage by 25 percent. At this year’s annual pistachio conference hosted by Paramount Farms, Resnick revealed his current efforts to expand pistachio, almond, and walnut acreage during a record drought.
Suppliers of Driscoll’s, which may be the U.S.’s most recognizable brand name on strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and blackberry cartons, are coming under fire for allegedly abusing workers, in the U.S. and Mexico. One Driscoll’s grower has spent weeks embroiled in a major farmworker protest, while a nearly two-year boycott against another grower recently intensified. Workers in both disputes have called for a boycott against the company.
The National Park Service has acknowledged that that more than 250 tule elk died inside the fenced Pierce Point Elk Preserve at California’s Point Reyes National Seashore from 2012 to 2014, likely due to lack of access to year-round water. While nearly half the elk inside the fenced area died, free-roaming Point Reyes elk herds with access to water increased by nearly a third during the same period.
Activists in Oakland came out in the hundreds to rally and march for a $15 minimum wage on April 15, tax day. They started their protests by shutting down all thirteen McDonald's restaurants in Oakland with chanting, flash mobs and and banners. Later in the day, over one thousand participants from Fight for $15 actions all over the San Francisco Bay area converged at Sproul Plaza in UC Berkeley. Protesters then marched through Berkeley main streets, snarling traffic, and stopping at the downtown McDonald's.
On April 15, urban farmers from the UC Gill Tract Community Farm, Occupy the Farm, other food and climate justice communities, and fast food workers joined together at an Oakland McDonalds for Fight for Fifteen protest. By noon, fast food workers and Gill Tract farmers joined for a Boycott Sprouts action at the grand opening of a Sprouts “Farmers Market” in San Rafael to protest the supermarket’s plans to pave the historic Gill Tract Farm in Albany. The action at the San Rafael Sprouts is the third in the last month.
Sheriff Jim Hart is making an emergency requisition to install and iron fence in order to close off the area of the Santa Cruz County Main Jail's parking lot that is most commonly used by community members for public assembly and political demonstrations. Hart has specifically stated that recent political demonstrations held at the jail are the reason for building the new fence. In response, activists are calling for the community to pack the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, April 21
when the proposal will be voted on.
On April 14, a call to end business as usual to stop police killings brought demonstrations and protests from coast to coast. In San Francisco protesters took to the streets in La Mission and on the steps of City Hall. At least two hundred protesters went to City Hall and disrupted the Board of Supervisors meeting, chanting "no justice, no peace, no racist police." Simultaneous actions took place in Oakland and Stockton, too.
On April 14, the Salinas City Council voted to approve the purchase of enough body cameras to outfit every officer in the Salinas Police Department. On April 9, the Capitola City Council unanimously voted to approve a request from their police department to use $100,501.31 in Supplemental Law Enforcement State Funds (SLESF) to purchase a dual video system for police vehicles and body cameras. The National Lawyers Guild and other groups caution that there are many unresolved legal and civil rights issues regarding the police use of Personal Digital Recording Devices (PDRDs).
On April 13, a group gathered at the Santa Cruz County Courthouse in support of Alix Tichelman, the woman charged with killing a Google executive named Forrest Hayes in 2013. Dozens of pamphlets were handed out in front of the courthouse detailing the case against Alix. Her parents personally thanked the group for their presence. Free Alix! writes:
She is being unfairly railroaded into jail for an accident that was not her fault.
According to the environmental group EcoRights, polluted industrial drainage water is entering into Elkhorn Slough from the Pick-n-Pull auto-wrecking yard in Moss Landing. In response, the group has initiated a petition calling on the County of Monterey to require a Environmental Impacts analysis, and to require the business to relocate if it cannot operate without polluting the Slough and harming resident species.
The annual Walk to Stop the Silence was launched nine years ago in order to break through the silence surrounding the issue of sexual abuse and provide a healing space for survivors. The event is always well-attended, but this year, on April 11, the crowd was noticeably packed with families and young people whose energy led the walk with chants such as, "Walk to Stop the Silence!" and "Sí se puede!"
In response to a 2012 petition by the Center for Biological Diversity and several renowned scientists and herpetologists, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on April 9 that Endangered Species Act protection may be warranted for the western pond turtle. The agency will now conduct a one-year status review on the turtle, which faces declines of up to 99 percent in some areas. “Threats like habitat destruction from urbanization and agriculture are driving western pond turtles toward extinction,” said Collette Adkins, a Center biologist and lawyer.
As soon as April 16, the East Bay Zoological Society can begin sectioning off the combined seventy-seven acre “California Trail” and mitigation sites from public access behind an 8-foot chain-link barbed wire fence. On March 27, fifty people assembled to inaugurate a direct action campaign against the “California Trail” project that would expand the Oakland Zoo into the undeveloped 400-acre region known as Huchiun to Ohlone people, commonly referred to as Knowland Park.
On March 9, U.S. Marshals chased the wrong man, leading to Jabari Shaw, a friend, and his daughter getting into a car crash in East Oakland. All three were hospitalized. Initial media reports labeled the “suspect” as a “violent fugitive.” Activists quickly mobilized to counter that story when the man turned out to be Jabari Shaw, a college student, father, and well known anti-police brutality activist. With hospital bills mounting, friends and supporters held a fundraiser at East Side Cultural Center on March 29.
The six UCSC students arrested in association with the March 3 blockade of Highway 1 where it meets Highway 17 in Santa Cruz returned to court on April 8. A prosecutor indicated the District Attorney's office will not offer them a plea deal to reduce misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and creating a public nuisance. The Santa Cruz DA also desires a restitution amount of $19,000 be paid. Additionally, UCSC has suspended the students until the Spring of 2016.
A new report released by Californians for Pesticide Reform asserts that fumigant pesticides are an outdated, toxic technology that undermines soil health, and safe replacements are needed to grow food on the Central Coast of California. The report examines data that revealed cancer-causing chloropicrin is in the air where Monterey County children live and play, and shares monitoring results that confirm chloropicrin in the city of Watsonville’s air poses an increased cancer risk, despite state required “safer tarps” and "buffer zones".
Afrika Town is a community garden in what was long a vacant lot in Oakland next to the Qilombo social center. On March 26, the landowner came with a bulldozer to raze the garden, backed up by Oakland police officers. Activists quickly gathered and were able to convince the landowner to return a week later. On April 3, dozens of community members turned out to defend the garden. The owner backed down, giving Afrika Town the opportunity to buy the land. Afrika Town is now in dire need of funds to survive.
On March 30, Mumia Abu-Jamal collapsed in the prison infirmary at SCI Mahanoy from diabetic shock before being hospitalized in the ICU at Schuylkill Medical Center. Despite his serious condition, he was transferred back to the prison just two days later. The National Lawyers Guild is calling for immediate and independent medical attention for him, and on Friday, April 10
, community members in Oakland will participate in a National Day to "Stand Up for Mumia" at the Federal Building.
The only oil company to sue San Benito County over a local ban on fracking and other high-intensity petroleum operations announced on April 6 it has dropped its lawsuit, leaving the voter-approved ordinance in place. Citadel Exploration’s decision to dismiss its own case means that local fracking bans in California face no remaining active legal challenges, despite threats from the oil industry.
Community members opposing the City of Monterey's new sit-lie ban held their third sit-in on Alvarado Street on April 3. Individuals with Direct Action Monterey Network (DAMN) and other supporters returned to the same location of the previous two demonstrations and faced increased pressure from business owners, who expressed more aggressively their desire for the group to either move the location of their gathering, or leave the downtown area altogether and stop protesting.
05/27/15 Pipeline Owner in Santa Barbara Oil Spill Has Had 175 Spill Incidents Since 2006 environment | california
05/26/15 First Successful Santa Cruz County Referendum in 13 Years Challenges BOS Vote drugwar | santacruz
05/25/15 Protesters in Bee Costumes Fill Fisherman's Wharf at March on Monsanto environment
05/15/15 Series of Vigils in Salinas Honors Victims of Police Violence in 2014 police | santacruz
05/09/15 Community Organizes to Take Anti-Eviction Message Directly to SF Supervisors and Mayor poverty
05/09/15 People’s City Council Supplants Oakland City Council To Stop Vote on E12th St Development poverty
05/08/15 Community Members Tell Pope Francis 'No Sainthood for Genocide' race | california
05/08/15 UCSC Under Investigation for Mishandling Rape and Other Sexual Violence Cases education | santacruz
05/01/15 May Day Includes Labor, Immigrant Rights, Anti-Police-Terror, Anti-Gentrification Actions labor
04/30/15 Police Allow Yuvette Henderson's Family to View Video, But Critical Moments Not Available police | race | womyn
04/23/15 After Three Deaths, Assaults and Thefts, New Group Presses Tulare Council to Take Action police | poverty | centralvalley | government