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Center Column Archives
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.
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.
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.
On March 24, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 before an overflowing room to ban the cultivation of cannabis in all unincorporated territories of the county, with limited exceptions. Personal grows of 10×10 square feet are still permitted, with restrictions. Outdoor cultivation is entirely banned in the 2nd District, represented by Zach Friend, and includes the communities of Aptos, Corralitos, Freedom, and portions of Watsonville.
Before dawn on March 21, a fire erupted in a warehouse on 24th Street in Oakland. Two resident artists died. The fire quickly spread to the adjoining warehouse on 23rd Street commonly known as the AK Press warehouse. On the AK side, three residential units sustained severe damage, at least one being totally destroyed, with a beloved cat succumbing to the smoke and heat. Other units have borne varying degrees of damage. Businesses on the first floor are struggling with major water damage. Even worse, with both warehouses now red-tagged by the city, residents and businesses are not allowed inside either building, leaving dozens homeless. A new relief fund has been created that will be evenly split three ways between AK Press, 1984 Printing, and affected neighbors.
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.