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Led by those inside California prisons, who often put their lives on the line, a settlement was reached on September 1 in the federal class action Ashker v. Governor of California
that will mostly end indeterminate, long-term solitary confinement in all California state prisons. Subject to court approval, the agreement will result in a dramatic reduction in the number of people in solitary across the state and a new program that could be a model for other states going forward. Over a thousand people are set to make it out of Security Housing Units (SHU).
On November 2, red paint was splashed across the front door of Mission Santa Cruz. Following the Catholic church's canonization of Junipero Serra, a series of acts of vandalism has occurred on the Central Coast, including the beheading of a Serra statue in Monterey in October, and the splashing of paint on Mission Carmel and the toppling of a statue of Serra in September.
Students touring the historical mission in Santa Cruz discovered the latest vandalism, according to media reports. Mission Santa Cruz wasn’t founded by Junipero Serra but by his successor, Father Fermín Francisco de Lasuén. It is one of 21 Spanish Franciscan missions stretching from Sonoma to San Diego that were part of the hegemony, apartheid, and colonialism that European invaders forced upon Native people.
Samuel Vargo writes:
"Pope Francis can't say I didn't try to warn him about his harebrained decision to canonize Junipero Serra a Roman Catholic saint [...] every tribe and band of American Indians in the mission area of California, and for that matter, the rest of the state, sent letters to Rome asking the Pope not to canonize this vampire. And other Indian nations, tribes and bands throughout the country also sent correspondences."
Previous Coverage: Mission Carmel Vandalized Days After Pope Francis Canonizes Junipero Serra
In a show of solidarity, labor unions and Black Lives Matter activists staged a protest on November 10 which targeted Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley. Some two hundred protesters gathered outside D.A. O'Malley's offices at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse, demanding that she “Drop the charges against the Black Friday 14!” They declared that the struggles for economic justice and racial justice were two sides of the same struggle. Meanwhile, inside the courthouse, a delegation of labor leaders occupied O'Malley's office to further press the demand to drop the charges. Despite disrupting the D.A.'s office for an hour, no arrests were made.
The "Black Friday 14” refers to activists who engaged in a civil disobedience action on November 28, 2014. The activists locked themselves together and shut down the West Oakland Bart Station. Their protest was part a wave of Black Lives Matter protests which swept the nation.
The coordinated action was a prelude to a larger rally that evening to raise Oakland's Minimum Wage to $15 dollars an hour. Well over a thousand workers, including fast food workers who had walked off the job, assembled at Oscar Grant Plaza for a rally that started at 4:30pm.
Previous Related Indybay Feature:
Bay Area Shuts It Down for Mike Brown After No Indictment for Darren Wilson
On October 27 the Santa Cruz City Council voted unanimously to support the creation of a permanent garden owned by the City, on the site of the current Beach Flats Community Garden. Community members have applauded this as a great start, but the Seaside Company, owner of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, has plans to take part of the garden for other uses unless the City intervenes by November 13.
To mark the National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, community members in Salinas rallied in front of city hall on October 22, where the family members of Jose Velasco, Frank Alvarado, and Angel Ruiz all spoke. Ruiz and Alvarado were among five unarmed Latino men killed in separate incidents in 2014 during encounters with the Salinas Police Department. Velasco was severley beaten by a group of Salinas police officers in 2015.
On Oct 21, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided family homes in Monterey County by pretending to be local police, including wearing jackets that said "POLICE" on them, knocking on people's doors pretending that they just wanted to ask some questions, and then arresting them without any warrants. The two men are fathers of U.S. citizens. One is a grandfather. They have lived in the United States since 1989 and 2005.
On September 17, the first move-in day for Fall quarter at UC Santa Cruz, students and community members at the main entrance of campus displayed signs opposing Senate Concurrent Resolution 35 (SCR 35), which was introduced this year in the California Senate. On its surface SCR 35 is legislation that addresses anti-Semitism on the University of California campuses, but critics caution the measure has the potential to limit the free speech activities of those seeking justice for Palestine.
The demonstrators say academic freedom is under attack, as well as student activism on campus, as is the ability for those at the university to discuss issues related to their own economic freedom, and to participate in the BDS campaign. BDS stands for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel in response to its occupation of Palestinian land, and human rights violations and war crimes against the Palestinian people.
SCR 35 urges each of the UC campuses to adopt a resolution condemning all forms of anti-Semitism and racism, but critics oppose various segments of the measure that link hate speech to political debate, and the discussion of events in the Middle East. Critics say the introduction of the measure has been part of a pro-Israel orchestrated political campaign to restrict free speech in the University of California system.
Read More with Photos | See Also: UC Intolerance Principles A Step in the Right Direction
Over 2000 protesters from many different Indian American communities joined together outside the SAP Center in San Jose on September 27 to counter Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of "Digital India" and Hindutva. They raised many issues with Modi's leadership, ranging from forced conversions to Hinduism, Internet surveillance, arrest of political bloggers, harassment of human rights activists, blind eye to rapes, dispossession of small farmers, rewriting of Indian history, and the 2002 Gujarat massacre.
August 27 marked the sixth officer-involved shooting by Oakland police in 2015, and the fourth resulting in death. This does not count Richard Linyard, who police claim suffocated to death after he squeezed himself between two buildings during a police chase. All of OPD's victims this year have been of African descent. The victim was 30-year-old Yonas Alehegne and it's been reported that he was homeless and an immigrant, possibly from West Africa.
Police were called after Yonas was found sleeping in or around the parking garage of a Lake Merritt-area apartment building near the intersection of MacArthur & Van Buren, next to I-580 and just above Grand Avenue. OPD responded by racing up to the man and shooting him down in the street after he reportedly swung a chain at Jennifer Farrell, an 18-year veteran of the department.
Witnesses report that police let the man bleed out without rendering medical aid, while a police officer with non-life-threatening injuries was rushed to the hospital. That evening, protesters gathered at the scene, speaking out against the continuing slaughter of Black men and women by police and cops' refusal to utilize proven de-escalation techniques rather than hurtling headlong toward the use of deadly force. Protesters marched through the streets as night fell.
Previous Related Indybay Feature:
Nate Wilks Shot and Killed by Oakland Police for Running While Black
In 2015, Oakland Police have already been involved in three fatal shootings, as well as a mysterious death where a man died while trapped between two houses following a chase. On the afternoon of August 12, Nathaniel Wilks, 27, born August 26 in New York City and father to a tiny baby girl named Kai’lei, was fatally shot as he slowed down after a car and foot chase by police, saying, “Ok, Ok, Ok,” shortly before he was shot. His girlfriend’s family and community resides in the Hunters Point district of San Francisco.
On the evening of the shooting, around 100 people gathered in the intersection of MLK and 27th Street before marching downtown to police headquarters on 7th Street. Once back at the scene of the shooting, protesters blocked I-980 and its 27th Street off-ramp for nearly a half hour. Two evenings later, on August 14, a vigil was held for Nate Wilks at the location where he was killed. Nate's family is currently raising funds
in order to conduct an independent autopsy.
Nate Wilks, 27, murdered by Oakland PD for running while Black |
Oakland Police Kill Again |
Cat Brooks on OPD Shooting |
Anti Police-Terror Project statement on August 12th murder by Oakland police |
Nathaniel Wilks' family fundraising campaign for independent autopsy, legal costs, funeral arrangements |
Fundraiser for Independent Autopsy for Nate Wilks
Previous Related Indybay Features:
Demouria Hogg Shot and Killed by OPD for Sleeping in His Car
OPD Bows to Pressure, Releasing Video Related to Killing of Yuvette Henderson
Emeryville Home Depot Shut Down for Yuvette Henderson
Yuvette Henderson Gunned Down by Emeryville Police in Oakland
Salinas police shot and killed Frank Alvarado one year ago. On July 10 at a memorial held outdoors near the location where he was shot, Frank's family members vowed to continue their fight for justice. Signs held at the memorial communicated supporters' lack of trust in the Salinas police, and some contained direct allegations of widespread departmental corruption.
On June 27, friends, family, and supporters of Richard "Pedie" Perez, killed by Richmond police, took the streets downtown. The diverse group chanted, held signs, and distributed flyers. The march, which followed a rally outside of the Richmond BART station, came after a recent decision by the District Attorney which ruled the police killing of Perez was justifiable. Rich Perez, Pedie's father, stated in the local media: “All of our witnesses dispute the claim that our son was reaching for (the officer’s) weapon. It’s like a cover up or just being blind to the fact that cops can do wrong.”
Richard “Pedie” Perez was shot and killed by officer Wallace Jensen outside of a liquor store on Cutting and Carlson Avenues in Richmond on September 14, 2014. Like almost all killings of civilians by law enforcement, the media first presented the police side of the story, alleging that Pedie was violent and attempted to grab Jensen’s firearm. However, through the work of the Oscar Grant Committee (OGC) and community members, the Perez family was able to talk to witnesses and workers at the liquor store where Pedie was shot, presenting a much different story.
The Winnemem Wintu Tribe and other tribal representatives and their allies rallied, chanted, sang and waved signs on the sidewalk in front of Westin Hotel on June 29 and 30 outside the Second California Water Summit in Sacramento. They were there to protest Governor Jerry Brown’s efforts to exclude California Tribes, environmentalists, fishermen and other key stakeholders in the public meeting about massive state water infrastructure projects proposed under Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond.