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Sat Jun 27 2020 (Updated 06/29/20)
Juneteenth Becomes Nationwide Event
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day when the Union army pronounced in Texas that all enslaved peoples in the United States were finally free. Among the many Bay Area protests this year was a thousand-strong march in San Francisco. In Oakland, the ILWU shut down the port before thousands marched through downtown. Santa Cruz marched in large numbers as well. In Palo Alto and Fresno, protesters painted "BLM" and "Black Lives Matter" in huge letters in the street.
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.
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. Protests in every corner of the Bay Area have been met with police force. Demonstrators say they won’t be stopping despite the risks posed by police attacks and the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out the full feature with coverage from across Northern California.
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.
Thu May 14 2020 (Updated 05/16/20)
San Quentin Gets Car Caravan Protest
After assembling in the Larkspur Landing Ferry parking lot, a caravan of activist drove to nearby San Quentin prison to protest what they viewed as "Execution by Covid-19." The prison, with its concentration of people, represents to those incarcerated during the current pandemic nothing less than a potential death sentence. Protesters also demanded the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal. While some cars circled the prison, others held a rally, observing social distancing, at the Prison's West gate.
On May Day, at a housing protest and again at City Hall, San Francisco police wore face masks depicting the "thin blue line" flag. The flag became a popular symbol for racists who oppose the Black Lives Matter movement that emerged in 2014 in response to police shootings. After a flood of complaints about the masks, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said he is seeking “neutral” face coverings for the city’s rank and file police.
Taking inspiration from Oakland's Moms4Housing, ReclaimSF organized to directly meet the real needs of unhoused neighbors and to demand bolder initiatives from elected officials. On May Day 2020, two homeless women occupied a vacant building in San Francisco's Castro District. A few hours later, about twenty-five SFPD officers wearing "Blue Lives Matter" face masks forcibly evicted the building occupiers.
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 16, the city of San Francisco barricaded the 16th Street/Mission and 24th Street/Mission BART plazas except for walkways into the stations. The walkway at the 24th Street plaza is exactly six feet wide, making it physically impossible for people passing each other to maintain proper physical distance. Neighborhood media reports that the Mission Station Police Captain demanded the closures, leading to a greater police presence and increased harassment of people in the areas adjacent to the shuttered plazas.
WeCopwatch writes: Our lives changed on July 17, 2014 as images were broadcast across the globe of Staten Island plain clothes officers choking Eric Garner to death. For Ramsey Orta, the young man who filmed the killing, it would start a cycle of state sponsored repression that continues to this very day. The barbaric measures against Orta have gone on for years, but now with the onset of Covid-19 at his facility, the targeted abuse has intensified.
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.
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."
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