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Center Column Archives
On March 23, coordinated actions were held statewide in California to oppose the use of solitary confinement in prisons and jails. Protests were planned for Eureka, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. In Santa Cruz, community members gathered on West Cliff Drive for a rally and candlelight vigil. Organizers say future actions will continue to be held statewide on the 23rd of each month to symbolize the 23 hours per day prisoners in solitary are held in the "complete isolation" of their cells.
On March 12, the Pit River Tribe and their Native American and environmental allies optimistically left the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco following oral arguments in their long legal battle to protect the Medicine Lake Highlands from geothermal destruction and desecration. The Pit River people, the lead defendants in the case, are fighting in court to defend the Highlands, known to them as “Saht Tit Lah," an area that has been used for healing, religious ceremonies and tribal gatherings for thousands of years.
Students at UC Santa Cruz concluded four days of protests against tuition and fee increases with a campus-wide strike and shut down on March 5. Dubbed "96 Hours of Action," demonstrations were held March 2 to 5 at schools across California to highlight the relationship of racist mass incarceration to the privatization of education. Thousands of people in Santa Cruz were affected on March 3 when six students locked themselves together to block highway traffic.
Amilcar Perez-Lopez was a 21-year-old man from Guatemala, living and working in the Mission District. Amilcar and his household were facing eviction at the end of March. On February 26, plain clothes SFPD officers Craig Tiffe and Eric Reboli shot and killed Amilcar. Police have stated he was in the process of stealing a bicycle, but that claim is called into question by a number of witnesses, some who say the cyclist had stolen Amilcar's phone. Witnesses have reported being intimidated and bullied by SFPD since Amilcar's murder.
A group of sixty graduate students led a teach-in and mediation at UC Berkeley’s School of Welfare on February 24 in response to racist comments made by tenured professor Steven Segal. The action was organized in support of twenty-five graduate students enrolled in Segal’s Mental Health Policy course. During class on February 10, Segal shared statistics citing Black-on-Black crime as the real cause of harm to the Black community. He then encouraged the class to join him in a rap, with lyrics that stated the movement “needed to stop scapegoating the cops.”
On February 7 an Oakland Police Department officer shot at — but missed — a man who was reportedly having a mental health crisis. Later that day, Oakland city officials bragged in a press release that OPD had not shot anybody for twenty months. However, in the last thirteen months five people have been shot and killed by law enforcement in Oakland, it just happens that they were not killed by members of the Oakland Police Department. Jacorey Calhoun was shot and killed by an Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy in August of last year.
In September of 2014, the City of Oakland began to make attempts to displace and remove people in public plazas in the wake of the WOSP (West Oakland Specific Plan) being passed. Then, in December, as the Ferguson inspired Bay Area uprising was raging, people armed with bolt-cutters took down the fences encircling the park to the cheers of those on the streets. Wanting to know more about the anti-gentrification struggle and how it connects to the battle against police and white supremacy, we caught up with long-time Oakland organizer and militant, Linda Grant.