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East Bay | Racial Justice

Support Economic and Social Justice, Not Police Containment in Oakland
by Wendy Snyder
Sunday Apr 5th, 2009 7:49 AM
Learn about the African Village Survival Initiative and the campaigns and programs of the Uhuru Movement. Join the Uhuru Solidarity Movement and Uhuru Foods that raise funds and support for the Uhuru movement. Attend our study this Wednesday, April 8th from 7 to 9pm at the Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave, Oakland
Why and How We Must Participate in the Solutions to Oakland's Problems


Two weeks following the killings of four Oakland police officers and Lovelle Mixon, many in Oakland are still trying to make sense of what happened and put forward solutions to the underlying problems that we face in our city. As the economic crisis deepens throughout the country, we see the rapid escalation of violence - in nursing homes, family homes, immigration offices, and yesterday's killing of two police officers by a 22 year old white man in Pittsburgh, PA who had just recently lost his job and was concerned about losing his guns.

We can see that the economic crisis is at the root of many of these killings - people losing their jobs and with it their ability to feed themselves and their families. In these troubled times, many people are suffering. And yet, African communities across the U.S. have faced an economic crisis for a long time now. The unemployment rate in the black community has always been disproportionate to the rest of society. Joblessness, homelessness, poverty and oppression follow the historic legacy of a two tiered system and reality that maintains the wealth and privilege of white people in opposition to the impoverishment of African and Mexican communities. This oppression coincides with the lucrative prison economy of California, fueled by the lives of young black men like Lovelle Mixon who are caught up in the poverty and hopelessness and forced into a fierce struggle just to survive.


The Uhuru Movement has stated that the events in Oakland are the result of the failed policy of police containment, which offers no future for the African working class communities. The police are part of the state, an apparatus that encompasses the courts, the prisons, the navy and the army. They exist to maintain the divisions between the wealth and poverty, the employed and the unemployed, the imprisoned and the free.

While we can only surmise what was in the mind of Lovelle Mixon when he shot and killed the Oakland police officers (what happened in the house on 74th Avenue, we still do not know), there are some things we do know. The city of Oakland spends 40% of its billion dollar budget on its notoriously brutal police department, infamous for the "Oakland Riders," fabricated search warrants, consistent killings of young black and Mexican men and unsolved homicides in East and West Oakland. This portion of the budget going to a militarized police force does not include the amount in overtime monies paid to officers nor does it include the thousands of dollars paid by the city in police brutality settlements.
It is commonly understood that the same public policy functioned in the brutal public killing of Oscar Grant III on January 1st by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle. This police killing is in the consciousness of every young African person as they face the daily presence of the OPD in their neighborhoods and the constant reminder that they could be the next victims of deadly police violence.

We also know that the city government spends just one half of one percent of its budget on community economic development in a city one in five households in our city live on $5,000 or less. Oakland is a city of haves and have nots maintained through the violence of the state. This is a city of the hills, the cool hip, artsy neighborhoods versus the impoverished and desparate flatlands where black children live 15 years less than white children in the hills.

The Uhuru Movement has always provided a forum and a voice for the most oppressed sector of the African community. The Uhuru House community center in East Oakland provides this space through which the African community has stood up on numerous occasions for economic and social justice and struggled for community control of the police, housing and education.

The black community-led Uhuru Movement has recently initiated an international collective response to the deep economic crisis we are experiencing that is hitting the African community especially hard, called the African Village Survival Initiative.

For those of us who want to see social justice and peace in our city, the African Village Survival Initiative is a program and a vision for the future we can all support. This program is a prototype for creating green, sustainable energy, farming and economic self-reliance programs that can be reproduced anywhere in the U.S. & worldwide. This is a program that we can support that will be led by the African working class community themselves to grow their own food, build their own programs, meet their own needs and hasten the transformation of this terrible reality into something new and something good for everyone.

We can struggle for genuine economic development and an end to the failed policy of police containment that has created the volatile conditions in East and West Oakland. We can support programs like the African Village Survival Initiative in Oakland and beyond. The more of us who can participate in real community based solutions the sooner we can bring about the change our city and our world needs.


Learn about the African Village Survival Initiative and the campaigns and programs of the Uhuru Movement. Join the Uhuru Solidarity Movement and Uhuru Foods that raise funds and support for the Uhuru movement. Attend our study this Wednesday, April 8th from 7 to 9pm at the Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave, Oakland

Call (510) 625- 1006
oakland [at] uhurusolidarity.org

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Christopher Waters
Monday Apr 6th, 2009 11:42 AM
I am the owner of Nomad Cafe. This blog announcement was just brought to my attention today, Sunday, April 5, by a member of our community. This meeting was neither arranged with, nor authorized by, me or my staff. We recognize the legal right of the Uhuru organization to engage in their activities, and while, like many politically engaged citizens, we are deeply concerned about, and actively seeking solutions to, social justice and equity issues in Oakland and in the the U.S., we do not condone Uhuru's enlistment practices or agree with their politics. Neither do we appreciate their planning an event at our establishment without any advance request, notification or approval. We respectfully request that the Uhuru organization relocate their meeting to another location. My staff have been notified that we will not be accommodating this unauthorized event. - Christopher Waters, owner, Nomad Cafe
by a-feminist
Monday Apr 6th, 2009 5:43 PM
(I'm not affiliated or associated with Uhuru, just so that's clear.)

It's one thing to object to a particular group's approach and some of their political stances, quite another to object to outrage over police relations with the black community in Oakland, which is a deep concern for many communities (including the black community) not only in Oakland, but in the community that your business is a part of, on a municipal level -- in other words, it's not just about Oakland, it's about Berkeley as well, as in just around the corner from you all. It sounds like you share those concerns, at least to some degree - as such, I'd appreciate if you could elaborate on your concerns about the event in a bit more detail. Thanks.
Uhuru Solidarity Movement meeting will NOT take place at the Nomad Cafe, but at Jump 'N Java Cafe, 6606 Shattuck Ave in Oakland. Please email oakland [at] uhurusolidarity.org if you have any questions.
by Wendy Snyder
Monday Apr 6th, 2009 7:47 PM
USM's meeting on Wed, April 8th from 7 to 8:30pm at the Jump 'N Java Cafe at 6606 Shattuck Ave, Oaklnad
by Christopher Waters/Nomad Cafe
( info [at] nomadcafe.net ) Monday Apr 6th, 2009 7:56 PM
I own the Nomad Cafe and book all our events. If someone wants to have an event -- and publicize it over the internet with an open invitation to the public -- that event needs to be approved by me. If I decided to have a basket-weaving convention at the local public library -- without notifying the library -- and I publicized that event on various internet web forums with an open invitation to the public, the library would turn me and any of my attendees away at the door. Even an institution like the library, funded by public tax dollars, doesn't allow events not applied for and authorized in advance.

Uhuru's bypassing of common courtesy by scheduling a public event at a privately-owned business has nothing to do with my views on Uhuru's political positions. I certainly don't need a lesson from you on civic engagement or working on behalf of those in our community who are less enfranchised than others. I am deeply involved on a municipal level and in my community -- on both sides of the border. If you choose to conflate my disagreement with Uhuru's politics and practices as disregard for the black community, that's both unfortunate and untrue.
by a-feminist
Monday Apr 6th, 2009 9:41 PM
"If you choose to conflate my disagreement with Uhuru's politics and practices as disregard for the black community, that's both unfortunate and untrue."

Thanks for adding a bit here. I'm not sure that's what I was doing - I just like to know more when I hear someone is getting booted on something that is of import to the community. Seems like it all got resolved though, so no worries -- and as for Uhuru, believe me, I'm not all rah-rah for Uhuru, either. I've just seen radical groups (including ones that I don't have much in common with politically) get marginalized by liberal or progressive ones, sometimes with a stunning lack of respect, so I will admit I'm a bit wary - but I understand, it's your cafe, and fair is fair.
by ........
Tuesday Apr 7th, 2009 9:27 AM
it sounds more like people getting together to talk. frankly, the fact that its publicly announced should not be such a big deal. maybe i'm wrong, but my assumption is maybe 5 people will show up... people meet like this in cafes all the time, that's what cafes are for, and if every study group that meets at nomad cafe and put the info on a public discussion board had to seek approval from the owner, then the owner would not have time to run his business.
by Mike Dawoud/Jump'n Java
Tuesday Apr 7th, 2009 8:47 PM
My name is Mike Dawoud, the owner of Jump'n Java Coffeehouse, 6606 Shattuck Ave. Oakland; I have spoken with Wendy Snyder, and informed her that jump'n java will not be able to accommodate the meeting. I just thought to advice since I didn't see an update for the change.

Thank you