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The California Strawberry Festival in Oxnard is one of the largest outdoor annual events in California that celebrates the success of the multi-billion dollar global agricultural industry. However, this success has come at the great economic, social and overall health expense to those who pick the berries. On May 22, a protest outside the Strawberry Festival challenged the industry and governmental efforts to overlook the social and environmental costs of strawberry production, and questioned the logic of charity festivals.
On two consecutive Saturdays, May 7 and May 14, farmworkers called for an international day of action to bring attention to the ongoing struggles in the berry fields in Washington State and San Quintin, Mexico. May 7 was initiated by Familias Unidas por la Justicia in Washington state, while Sindicato Independiente Nacional Democratico De Jornaleros Agricolas (SINDJA) farmworkers in San Quintin, Mexico called for a global day of action on May 14. Demonstrations took place in many locations, including Mexico City; Burlington, WA; Portland and Eugene, Oregon; and Eureka, Rohnert Park, Fairfield, San Leandro, Santa Cruz, Watsonville, and San Diego, California.
New reports spotlight pesticides used in the food system and the harmful effects they are having on the nation’s children. In particular, the reports find that Latino children living or attending school near California agricultural fields face some of the greatest risks of exposure from pesticides linked to cancers and the developing brain. One report discloses for the first time internal Environmental Protection Agency documents that reveal the EPA’s persistent unwillingness to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
At 5am on April 12, US Postal Police and Inspectors, with support from the Berkeley Police Dept., arrived at the Main Berkeley Post Office and literally dragged protesters out of their tents, seized all their belongings, and tore down the information tent, the shelter for a 17-month occupation. Two groups of activists – First They Came for the Homeless and Berkeley Post Office Defenders – had occupied the grounds of the Main Berkeley Post Office continuously since late November, 2014.
On Sunday, May 1, Joff Jones and Alex Skelton were arrested for defiantly displaying art "outside of a blue box" on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz. This is their third arrest for displaying art in a public space but outside of small boxes since August of 2015. Jones and Skelton created a video with footage showing numerous Santa Cruz Police officers ticketing and arresting them for simply being "outside of a blue box" while displaying their art.
Thu May 5 2016 (Updated 05/06/16)
May Day in Northern California, 2016
International Workers' Day was first declared in the late 1800's to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago and as a celebration of laborers and the working classes. Around the world on May 1, workers continue to unite to press demands in the streets through marches, rallies, and direct actions. In the United States, May Day is also a day to push for immigrant rights, especially since the massive "Gran Paro Americano" general strike and marches of 2006.
On April 26 the Santa Cruz City Council gave their six-month report on the progress of the City’s efforts to acquire the property containing the Beach Flats Community Garden. At the meeting, the City Council agreed to a three year lease for the garden. However Josh Brahinsky of the Beach Flats Garden Coalition points out, "The lease only covers 60% of the previous garden, and has a 60 day escape clause for Seaside Company, and thus does not provide long-term security for the garden."