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Erica Aitken of Reimagine Santa Cruz writes: The next City Council elections will decide the future of Santa Cruz. Do we open our doors to Silicon Valley with luxury rentals and our very own Santana Row? Or do we take control and build beautiful affordable housing for those who work and would like to live here? If we ask ourselves this question, it is because we have recently been the victims of a particularly galling breach of trust from our current City Councilmembers.
Thu Oct 1 2020 (Updated 10/02/20)
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Passes
At vigils recalling Ruth Bader Ginsburg's groundbreaking life, speakers said that many civil rights, particularly abortion rights, could be rolled back. Raising candles, many demonstrators observed silence in her honor, while others voiced serious concern about what her death would mean to the composition of the US Supreme Court and ultimately what it could mean for justice and equality for women and all historically oppressed people.
Citing a pattern of consistent stonewalling, investigative journalists have taken the Oakland Police Department to court to force it to comply with state public records laws. Two petitions brought in Alameda County Superior Court claim the department routinely ignores public records requests, professing a commitment to transparency even as thousands of open Public Records Act requests languish in their system. One petition claims the department offers only an automatic response to thousands of requests — if it replies at all.
As San Quentin faces California's deadliest coronavirus prison outbreak, protesters are marching to demand that Governor Newsom grant mass releases. COVID-19 infections spread quickly amongst the incarcerated because of inhumane prison infrastructure, say demonstrators who have shown up hundreds at a time outside the prison gates. By continuing to detain men at the Marin County facility, activists insist, the Governor is giving them death sentences.
Fri Jul 31 2020 (Updated 08/03/20)
Oakland Creates "Reimagining Public Safety Task Force"
APTP writes: The people of Oakland moved one step closer to realizing the goal of refunding resources to the community. After weeks of sustained protest and direct action, City Council unanimously approved a resolution to create an official task force to determine how to cut the Oakland Police Department’s budget by 50% next year. In recent weeks, thousands of Oakland residents have joined what has become an international call to invest in services that truly keep people safe by divesting from police.
A transparency collective known as Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoS) made a huge trove of law enforcement files publicly available on Juneteenth, in solidarity with the widespread George Floyd uprisings against racist police violence. The massive release spans nearly 24 years and includes data from over 200 police departments, fusion centers and other law enforcement training and support resources. The Northern California Regional Intelligence Center is one of the agencies with the most data in BlueLeaks.
Tue Jul 14 2020
Fuck the Fourth
July 4 is a U.S. holiday marking the country's independence from England, but anti-racism activists used the occasion to declare, "No one is free until we are all free.” Being that the holiday traditionally is a painful reminder of this country's history of colonization, genocide, and enslavement, alternate Independence Day events in Northern Californian cities from Oakland to San Francisco to Santa Cruz issued demands to end racism, war, and climate devastation.
Mon Jun 15 2020 (Updated 06/16/20)
Oakland Youths Protest to Rid Schools of Police
On June 10, a large contingent of Oakland's young people marched on Mayor Libby Schaaf's house to demand that police be removed from the city's schools. Shouting marchers, followed by a car caravan, worked their way up Fruitvale Avenue towards the home demonstration. Speakers at the vigil in front of the mayor's house denounced the millions of dollars spent on police, the school to prison pipeline, and demanded that the money go instead to real human needs.
Sat May 2 2020 (Updated 05/06/20)
Dueling May Day Protests at SF City Hall
A coalition of activists marked May Day with demands to cancel rent, mortgage and utility payments for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic with a car caravan at San Francisco city hall, and also counter-protested against a simultaneous Republican-sponsored demonstration to "open" up the economy. Republicans want to resume economic activity as soon as possible in an attempt to salvage the reelection of Trump, wrapping their intentions in American flags and slogans of "freedom" and "liberty."
On April 19, San Francisco's Refuse Fascism joined nationwide demonstrations that dumped body bags at Federal locations and Trump properties. People arrived in cars at the Federal building at one o'clock and then laid out "body bags" on the sidewalk. Activists read out their demands. "We recognize the Trump/Pence regime, with its opposition to science and its fascist program now poses an even greater danger to humanity due to the COVID-19 pandemic."
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 3, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and after a nine-month moratorium on new fracking operations, California's Department of Conservation approved 24 new fracking permits in Kern County, the center of the oil industry in California. Fracking opponents strongly condemned the approval of new fracking permits at a time that the state is virtually shut down, and people are dying everyday from the COVID-19 virus.
While the COVID-19 pandemic necessitates public health measures to reduce the impact of the virus on our communities and health care systems, the National Lawyers Guild urges vigilance and resistance to authoritarian and violent tendencies. Emergency powers often criminalize movement, freedom of expression, protest, and oppressed communities. Even though the state has severely restricted the right to assemble, people still find creative ways to protest.
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.
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