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On June 10, activists rallied in front of Martin Luther King Jr. Library in San José to protest the unjust prosecution of 66-year-old Palestinian-American activist Rasmea Odeh. Last October, Homeland Security agents arrested Odeh after the Department of Justice charged her with “unlawful procurement of naturalization.” The Obama administration’s filing of these charges could result in her being stripped of her U.S. citizenship and deported.
The DOJ alleges that she improperly omitted mention in the application of having been in prison in Israel, but supporters claim the facts tell a different story. Odeh was arrested by Israeli soldiers as a 21-year-old university student in her home in Ramallah, but she was tortured, along with her father, for 45 days, and sentenced to prison for a crime she did not commit.
Odeh is well known in Chicago, where she has worked as associate director of the Arab American Action Network to defend civil liberties and promote immigrant rights. Last year, the Chicago Cultural Alliance bestowed on her its Outstanding Community Leader Award in recognition of her devoting “over 40 year of her life to the empowerment of Arab women.”
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio visited Mountain View, CA on May 6 to speak to an ultra-conservative group. At one point Arpaio approached protesters, some of whom said to him, "we don't want your hate here."
The event was advertised as a chance to hear Arpaio's "successful strategies" for immigration control. However, a federal judge ruled in 2013 that Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies had violated the constitutional rights of Latinos by targeting them during raids and traffic stops throughout Maricopa County, Arizona, and the U.S. District court recently found that Arpaio's department was guilty of racially profiling Latinos in his department's controversial immigration patrols.
Raging Grannies and friends impersonated the sheriff, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents, and immigrants, portraying Arpaio's abusive tactics. María Marroquín, Executive Director of the Mountain View Day Workers who is also a Raging Granny, said that Arpaio denied that he uses racial profiling when speaking with demonstrators, despite the federal rulings.
On May Day 2014, actions across the Bay Area were as diverse as the people who live here. Multiple events were held leading up to the holiday as part of the Earth Day to May Day Days of Direct Action. Across the board, rallies supported undocumented workers and residents. UC Santa Cruz students continued to protest the appointment of Janet Napolitano. Additionally, many of the marches were joined by contingents supporting justice for people affected by police violence, including Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa and Antonio Lopez in San José.
Laurie Valdez writes:
My name is Laurie Valdez. On February 21, 2014, my partner Antonio Guzman Lopez was murdered at the hands of San Jose State University Police Department Sgt. Mike Santos, who claims he did it in defense of fellow UPD officer Frits Van der Hoek. The incident happened right by a childcare center and in front of a sorority house. Clearly Santos had no concern for the safety of others or the fellow officer who, according to Santos, was standing right in front of Antonio, thus placing him in the line of fire.
On March 4, one hundred and forty-nine public speaker's cards were turned in prior to the Oakland City Council meeting. Public comment was unanimous against a city-wide Domain Awareness Center. Nevertheless, council members passed a resolution at about 1am on March 5 to proceed with a scaled-down Port-only version of the DAC. From the public galleries in council chambers, calls of "shame, shame, shame" rang out after the vote to continue development of the DAC.
On February 26 in East Palo Alto, about 250 people marched through the intersection in front of IKEA. Seven activists risked arrest, locking arms and standing (sometimes sitting) in the middle of a major intersection. Union and immigrant rights activists called out Juvenal Chavez, owner of nearby Mi Pueblo, for betraying his own undocumented immigrant roots by participating in the Department of Homeland Security program E-Verify that screens the immigration status of new hires.
Latinos Unidos Por Una Nueva America (Latinos United for a New America) joined other immigrant rights groups and unions including SEIU and UFCW to bring about the action. Labor organizers have been trying to unionize Latino and Asian ethnic markets across the state and the Mi Pueblo grocery chain has been at the center of their attention due to particularly poor working conditions.
At the UC Regents meeting on July 18 at the UCSF Mission Bay Campus, students and workers protested the appointment of U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napaolitano as the president of the UC education system because of her role in targeting immigrant youth and immigrant workers.
Protesters demanded that the UC Board of Regents reject their appointment of Napalitano to be the chancellor of UC because of her record as secretary of the Homeland Security Department in terrorizing and arresting over 1 million immigrant workers including UC students. Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom who was at the meeting, defended the appointment.
In a separate press release, the UC Student-Workers Union, UAW 2865, stated, "Although Napolitano has political and managerial experience, she does not have the academic qualifications, scholarly expertise, or other experience in education that would be appropriate for heading an institution of higher learning. Napolitano’s experience at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) qualifies her to manage a security, law enforcement, or disaster management agency, but not the world’s premier public university system."
Read More with Photos | On the Recent Nomination of Janet Napolitano for UC President | Napolitano to Head University of California
On May Day 2013, the fight for a $15 "Livable Wage" came to Oakland. New York City led the way with two walkouts by low-wage workers in the fast-food industry, the first in November 2012, and the second on April 4, 2013. In November, about 200 New York fast-food workers at 30 stores went on strike for a $15 hourly wage. Then nearly 400 workers walked out. Next up was Chicago on April 24, 2013. Hundreds of fast food and retail employees in Chicago began a mass walkout, calling for the city’s minimum wage to be raised to $15 an hour. Then it was Oakland's turn. Organized by the Livable Wage Assembly, an outgrowth of Occupy Oakland's Labor Solidarity Committee (the group which organized the December 12, 2011 shutdown of the Port of Oakland), their first action was a rally at Oscar Grant Plaza and noise demonstration through the streets of Oakland on May 1 to raise awareness of the campaign. Organizers sought to enable the struggle of low-wage workers to challenge their bosses for a livable wage. The City of Oakland's minimum wage is just $8.00/hr, the same as California's, making life difficult for many as housing costs continue to rise. The noise demo focused on companies like McDonalds, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Taco Bell and a host of other chains in the downtown area. The noise march in Oakland followed a Sin Fronteras march from Fruitvale BART station earlier in the day.
Immigrant rights and labor actions took place in many Bay Area and Northern California cities on May Day including San Francisco, San Jose, Salinas, Watsonville, and Santa Cruz. On May 3, protests continued at the La Playa hotel in Carmel.
Marchers Speak Out For Justice
Anti-Capitalist March and Occupations
, 12pm |
LaborFest Screening of "Dreamwork China" At ILWU Local 34
A Perfect Day for a March. A Perfect Beginning For The Fight For $15
May Day march for immigrant rights
Oakland Sin Fronteras Fruitvale march and rally
, 3pm |
Autonomous/Anarchist People of Color Contingent
, 3pm |
May Day: Fight for $15!
March for Immigrant Rights
May Day March - International Workers' Day
May Day march for Immigrant Rights
May Day Rally for Immigration Reform
May Day Rally for Immigration Reform
Rallying for Immigration Reform on May Day in Santa Cruz
May Day Rally for Immigration Reform
May Day: The Fight for $15 Comes to Oakland |
Call to improve wages and working conditions for restaurant workers! |
May Day (May 3rd) Rally at La Playa Carmel |
Previous Related Indybay Features:
Nationwide May Day General Strike Looms Large Locally with Diverse Actions Across Bay Area
May Day in Santa Cruz: Creating an Ongoing Network of Solidarity
UPDATE 8/7: Ankah was bonded out of jail just before 6pm. Her friends report that she will still need continued support.
Anna Karewicz, who is known to her friends as Ankah, is a puppeteer, artist, and avid community gardener who lives in Oakland. On Thursday, August 2nd, the group with which she was bicycle touring in Northern California mistakenly rode on the wrong side of the street on a city block in Arcata. The group was stopped by police. The other riders received traffic infraction citations and were allowed to go on their way. Ankah, however, was subjected to questioning as if the officer was an agent of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), as the only identification that she presented was a student id card. The officer asked questions such as, "When did your visa expire? Are you illegal? When did you become illegal? When did your student visa expire?" Ankah was taken into custody with an ICE hold, and she could be deported at any time.
Ankah's friends are calling for her release, as they believe that the local police were out of their jurisdiction in asking questions about her immigration status. They are requesting that people sign an online petition
requesting her release, and contact the Humboldt County Sheriff's department and other officials to demand that Anna Karewicz be set free. Additionally, donations are needed to cover Ankah's legal expenses.
The third annual Festival del Nopal took place in downtown Santa Cruz on Sunday July 22. The festival featured many local food vendors using nopal, or prickly pear cactus, in a variety of cuisine such as pupusas, huraches, salad, tlayudas, baked potatoes, fries, and tacos. The event, founded and coordinated by City Councilmember Tony Madrigal, celebrates the significance of the nopal in Mexican cuisine and showcases the plant's versatility and healing properties.
On Saturday, June 23rd, the Springfield Grange in Pájaro hosted the Festival of Tamales, a benefit for the Grange and Center for Farmworker Families. The menu featured delicious sweet and savory tamales, made with GMO-free masa from El Aguila Foods, including turkey and chile verde, sweet corn, and ollalieberry pecan praline. The tamales were made by local community members using recipes from El Salvador, Mexico, Texas, and the Monterey Bay Area.
Occupy Wall Street in New York called for a nationwide May Day General Strike. Cities and towns across the United States are heeding the call. Workers will be striking, students will be leaving classes, and banks and other large corporations will be forced to close for the day across the nation. May 1st
, 2012, promises to be the largest American May Day since the Immigrant Rights May Day in 2006 and probably the most widespread and furthest reaching in decades.
On May 10th, the Santa Cruz City Council defeated a resolution supporting AB 1081, The Trust Act. The resolution would have supported opting out of the "Secure Communities" (S-Comm) program in Santa Cruz County. S-Comm is a federal program that requires local law enforcement agencies to share the fingerprints of all people arrested to immigration enforcement and target those suspected of immigration violations for detention and deportation. This mandated sharing occurs regardless of the type of crime and even if the charges are dropped.
This federal program, forced on local jurisdictions, has been responsible for the mass deportation of innocent people from Santa Cruz County while destroying families and violating their basic human rights.
On May 25th, over 50 activists entered Coonerty's lecture class at UC Santa Cruz to make his support of "Secure Communities" more publicly known, and point out the contradictions in his "progressive" ideals.
Read more with video and photos | Santa Cruz City Council Votes for ICE and "Secure Communities" (S-Comm) | previous coverage: While Mayor Coonerty Hammers Away at Civil Liberties, the ACLU Awards Him