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On August 17th, opening night of the 2011 Ringling Brothers Circus in San Jose, nearly a hundred activists gathered to protest and to inform circus-goers about the cruelty involved when wild animals are forced to live in small cages and perform for audiences across the country. Ringling Brothers has a history of maltreating the animals under its care, from physically abusing them as part of their training to failing to adequately meet basic medical needs. Animal activists encourage others to help keep the heat on Ringling to drop the use of animals in their live shows. Demonstrations are planned for Ringling Brothers appearances in San Francisco and Oakland from September 1st through 11th.
The Silicon Valley Independent Living Center (SLIC) drew people from up and down the West Coast to its second annual Disability Parade and Festival in San José on July 23rd. Several hundred parade participants walked and rolled down N. First St. on Saturday morning, many with signs decrying proposed government budget cuts to social services. In the afternoon bellydancers, breakdancers, and inspirational speakers enchanted the audience. Festival attendees wore purple t-shirts with the slogan "Disabled and Proud".
Three San José Council Members and Mayor Chuck Reed are pushing for a bill that would strip city workers of benefits and take away their collective bargaining rights. Activists say the proposed bill is similar to the attacks on workers' rights that were recently rammed through Wisconsin’s legislature by an anti-labor governor. On June 23rd, they called for an end to the city's union-busting tactics in a loud rally in front of City Hall.
Around the world, workers united on May 1st for International Workers' Day — with marches and rallies. Across Northern California — from Berkeley to San Francisco, from Fresno to Sacramento — thousands of workers and supporters stood up for immigrant and labor rights on May Day 2011. Code Pink and others began an eight-day march from San Francisco to Sacramento to demand a just budget in California.
Stop Smart Meters! and allies held a protest in Mountain View on April 14th as Julius Genachowski, Chair of the Federal Communications Commission, spoke about the need to increase wireless capacity, ignoring those who suffer ill health from "electrosmog" throughout the U.S. Several passers-by stopped and joined the demonstration. Activists smuggled a Stop Smart Meters! banner inside the talk and just when they thought everyone in the audience was about to go to sleep, they stirred things up with a classic banner drop disruption.
Elizabeth Gonzalez is the subject of the tenth profile in this series by Indybay contributor Peter M. Gonzalez is a veteran of the innovative magazine and community service organization called Silicon Valley Debug. She now works with New America Media as a marketer to Spanish-speaking communities, promoting health and social welfare. She talks about changes she has been through over the years.
On Monday, April 4th, the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, local coalitions participated in nationwide actions to support Wisconsin workers, public services and the middle class. Organizers of the rally at the Santa Cruz County Government Center stated, "Dr. King was killed in Memphis, TN, where he had stood with sanitation workers who were struggling for the right to bargain collectively. The actions by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to eliminate collective bargaining – and the gradual eroding of the American middle class - only undermine that struggle."

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