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AME Church Struggles to Fight a Crisis Within a Pandemic

A homeless encampment with approximately 25 families is located just behind Parks Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 476 34th St., in West Oakland. Since the arrival of the encampment there have been fires, with smoke entering the church and setting off fire alarms, dogs chasing elderly parishioners, stolen mail and tithes, and a murder.

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Rev. Dr. Rosalynn Brookins, Parks Chapel AME Church Oakland, wipes away tears as Council Member Carroll Fife, 3rd District, promises to help the church and the community combat the issues arising from the increase in homelessness in the Bay Area, at a press conference addressing the presence of a homeless encampment located behind Parks Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Oakland on May 19, 2021. Photo by Christy Price.

Oakland’s homeless population is on the rise and the faith community is struggling with how to balance empathy with safety. A homeless encampment with approximately 25 families is located just behind Parks Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 476 34th St., in West Oakland. 

Since the arrival of the encampment there have been fires, with smoke entering the church and setting off fire alarms, dogs chasing elderly parishioners, stolen mail and tithes, and a murder. Encampment residents have tapped into the church’s electrical box and stolen electricity from the church, raising the church’s power bill. 

On May 19, Rev. Dr. Rosalynn Brookins, pastor of Parks Chapel AME Church, addressed a crowd of parishioners and news crews, about the issues that the local community is facing with the increasing homelessness, crime and dangerous conditions surrounding the church property. Through tears, she pleaded for help from the City of Oakland, who has fallen short on promises to address the issues that come with the rise of homelessness.

Carroll Fife, councilwoman for the 3rd District, promised to make this issue a priority. She said she would be the voice of the AME community when it came to pushing other Oakland politicians to do what is needed to tackle this problem. Fife has plans to build more housing for the homeless and is currently working on getting approval to build on land owned by CalTrans. 

Also participating in the press conference were pastors from other churches in Oakland:

 

Rev. Dr. Rodney Smith, First African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Oakland, gave the Invocation.

Rev. Dr. Rodney Smith, FAME Oakland Church/ Photo by Christy Price.

Rev. Dr. Ronné Wingate Sims, Imani Community Church Oakland, read from Leviticus 19:15.

Rev. Dr. Ronné Wingate Sims, Imani Community Church Oakland/ Photo by Christy Price.

Rev. Dr. Jo David Sales, St. Paul AME Church Berkeley, gave the closing prayer.

Rev. Dr. Jo David Sales, St. Paul AME Church Berkeley/ Photo by Christy Price.

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Juneteenth Jubilee

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Bay Area

Juneteenth Freedom Celebration, Hayward

Saturday, June 19, 2021 10 A.M. – 2 P.M. at Hayward City Hall Plaza, 777 B Street, Hayward, Calif.

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Barbara Lee

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Endorses Mia Bonta

The special primary election is June 29 by mail-in ballot only with the general election set for August 31.

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Mia Bonta -- via Twitter

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, endorsed Mia Bonta for East Bay Assembly District 18, which includes the cities of Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro.

The special election is being held because seat was vacated by her husband, Rob Bonta, who was appointed California Attorney General by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The remainder of Rob Bonta’s assembly term is through 2022.

Lee tweeted “[l]et’s do this @MiaBonta! The Bay Area is lucky to have such a fierce progressive advocate.”

Bonta thanked Lee via Twitter for her support.

Lee also said of Bonta that she “ . . . will bring a progressive, social, economic and racial justice lens to our state legislature.”

“She will stand up for communities that have been marginalized and underrepresented for too long.  Mia is committed to addressing our community’s most pressing issues, such as homelessness, environmental justice, criminal justice reform, helping families and businesses recover from the pandemic, and reopening schools safely.  Mia has a strong record of serving East Bay children and families,” Lee said.

Mia Bonta is currently board president of the Alameda Unified School District.  She is also endorsed by U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Oakland City Council members Sheng Thao, Loren Taylor and Treva Reid of districts 4, 6 and 7 respectively; California State Board of Equalization member Malia Cohen, Nate Miley and Keith Carson of Alameda County Board of Supervisors, District 7 BART Director Lateefah Simon; Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker, Black Women for Political Action (BWOPA) and Equality California among others.

Bonta is running in a field with Mali Vella (who also received Schaaf’s endorsement), Janani Ramachandran, James Aguilar, Eugene Canson, Stephen Slauson, Joel Britton, and Victor Aguilar.

The special primary election is June 29 by mail-in ballot only with the general election set for August 31.

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