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Demonstrations continue around the Bay Area in the name of George Floyd, who was murdered by Minneapolis police on May 25, with tens of thousands taking to the streets. At protests in the East and South Bay, they have been met almost immediately by police force. Demonstrators say they won’t be stopping despite the risks posed by police attacks and the COVID-19 pandemic because racist police violence, which has long posed a dire health threat, must be countered.
Demonstrations continue around the Bay Area in the name of George Floyd, with tens of thousands taking to the streets. At protests in the East and South Bay, they have been met almost immediately by police force. Demonstrators say they won’t be stopping despite the risks posed by police attacks and the COVID-19 pandemic because racism, which has long posed a dire health threat, must be countered.
California has neglected its catastrophic housing affordability and homelessness crisis for years. Meanwhile, civic leaders prioritize large scale hotel developments, offering billions in incentives to developers. With the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus, hundreds of thousands of hotel rooms sit empty while the government continues to deny thousands of unhoused Californians the right to shelter in place. In Los Angeles, there are now almost 100,000 vacant hotel rooms. In Oakland, at least 1,500 hotel rooms are sitting empty.
Wed Apr 22 2020 (Updated 04/23/20)
Justice for Steven Taylor, Killed By Police
Anti Police-Terror Project reports: The global pandemic is ravaging the mental health of Black communities as they experience sickness and death at an alarming rate. This situation is the dystopian backdrop to the killing of 33-year-old beloved community member Steven Taylor by police in a San Leandro Walmart on April 18. This officer who killed Mr. Taylor, the only person close to him at the time, had a number of choices in the moments leading to Taylor’s death.
On April 11, Oakland Black Housing Union mobilized a caravan of 100 cars for a mobile march demanding housing for unsheltered individuals during the COVID-19 emergency, protesting the lack of urgency from local governments to protect those who cannot shelter indoors. The action also highlighted the disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases in Black communities. Moms4Housing and ACCE joined to lead the car rally.
On April 9, McDonald’s employees demonstrated by driving their cars in a manner to disrupt the fast food company’s business at three San Francisco Bay Area locations. They are demanding that the fast food chain give workers masks, gloves and a $3 an hour pay increase. Employees say that while the company is calling their jobs essential during the pandemic, it does not recognize that their lives are also essential.
Sun Mar 29 2020 (Updated 04/04/20)
Bay Area Rent Strike
Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, Tenant and Neighborhood Councils, and other Bay Area folks are producing and sharing information on how to organize a rent strike. They write: We can work together to prevent eviction and foreclosure. We can keep each other housed and fed. We must demand an immediate suspension of rent and mortgage payments for everyone. And if this demand is not met, we must refuse to pay our rents and our mortgages, together.
anonymous writes: As coronavirus spreads and the death toll begins to climb, our most immediate concern is (and should remain) staying healthy and supporting our communities through the immediate crisis. As radicals, however, we must also begin to strategize how we will respond to the economic collapse that will continue to affect our lives long after a vaccine or herd immunity render the virus itself a past issue. Looking back to our local history, we can learn a great deal from Great Depression era worker self-organizing and mutual aid.
While California Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered residents to shelter in place because of the COVID-19 virus, local Bay Area law enforcement agencies are continuing to expand their powers and resources. On March 24, the Vallejo City Council voted unanimously to purchase a cell site simulator for the Vallejo Police Department. On Tuesday, March 31, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors are scheduled to vote on a surprise $85 million additional budget allocation for Sheriff Department staff at Santa Rita Jail.
Sat Mar 21 2020 (Updated 03/26/20)
California on Coronavirus Lockdown
California residents have been ordered to "stay at home" to suppress the spread of COVID-19. Stringent mitigation measures mean millions are without an income. Students face the possibility of going hungry. Curbside communities and incarcerated persons are especially at risk for contracting the virus. The stress and isolation of the pandemic take a toll on mental health. Not waiting for government action, people are stepping up with mutual aid efforts to assist those most in need.
On March 20, Santa Cruz Police Chief Andy Mills and a dozen or more cops and park rangers evicted an encampment of unhoused people along Water Street near the post office. Mills gave people the choice of moving into fenced areas in the city or facing arrest and property confiscation. Robert Norse states, "This 'out of sight / out of town' policy, while claiming a public health rationale, rings false given the lack of protected indoor shelter being offered."
Thu Mar 12 2020 (Updated 03/22/20)
COVID-19 Pandemic Threatens Most Vulnerable Populations
The World Health Organization officially named COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11. As of that date, over 128,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide and 4,717 people have died (updated statistics). Among the most vulnerable are the elderly, the immunocompromised, the prison population, people who are experiencing homelessness, and hospital workers who have a high likelihood of exposure to the contagious virus as they care for the public health.
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