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Black Women Wailing.  Black Women Healing.  Black Women Respond to the Violence in our City

On Sunday, Jan. 17, 2020, as part of Anti Police-Terror Project’s Reclaiming King’s Radical Weekend, Black women will engage in an online healing ceremony for Oakland.

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On Sunday, Jan. 17, 2020, as part of Anti Police-Terror Project’s Reclaiming King’s Radical Weekend, Black women will engage in an online healing ceremony for Oakland.

We are Oakland’s mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties, grandmothers, spouses, partners and elders whose hearts are shattering. We are artists, advocates and organizers. We are Black women.

Every bullet that steals one of our own also steals a piece of our soul. For months, we have waited for a response from city leaders that has not come. Our collective grief has turned to collective rage and a collective determination to insist the violence stops today.

We grieve these tragedies and long for freedom from institutions and systems that perpetuate violence.  Despite attempts to divide our movements, we remain firm that all violence is state violence.

Whether it be police or one of our own who steals a life; it is the state that creates the conditions that facilitate blood running through our streets. It is the state who benefits from our communities existing in perpetual chaos.  It is the state that withholds the resources, supports and services from our communities that could stop the violence, heal the trauma and forge a pathway toward safe communities.

We are tired of waiting for the state.

We are a collective of women who lead, live and love within the Black community of Oakland, CA. This King weekend, we join the collective dreaming of Oaklanders for a city where humanity is held sacred, communities are free from violence and Black people can breathe.

Why We Wail

Oakland lost more than 100 people to gun violence in 2020. At the time we are writing this letter, two people have already been shot and killed.  Our city’s response?  A press release from the Oakland Police Dept. criminalizing our young people and a call for more money for a failed police agency that is failing us at every turn.

 

The 2018 Oakland Equity Indicators  Report shows that Black youth ages 16-24 are out of work or out of school. The report demonstrates that African Americans in Oakland have the lowest median household income compared to other groups, at $37,500. They state, “African Americans were most likely to be living at or below the federal poverty level (26.1%), compared to 21.9% of Latinos, 15.0% of Asians, and 8.4% of whites.”

When you starve a community of the resources it needs to thrive; efforts to survive perpetuate violence.

While the City annually allocates almost 50% of our budget to the Oakland Police Dept., Black bodies and communities pay the price. Our budget model perpetuates violence on Black Oaklanders by failing to legislate for equitable access to housing, healthcare, education, public safety, economic sustainability; everything we need to create safe and healthy communities.

The carceral system then punishes individuals and families who fall through the cracks of broken systems, leading to a wide array of generational traumas.

All violence is state violence.

There can be no peace without access to healthy food.  There can be no safety without housing.  There can be no healing without trauma support.  There can be no joy without whole family units.  There can be no success without educational and economic opportunities.

We reject the notion and the practice of mass criminalization to safety.  We refuse the idea that the city does not have the resources to REfund our communities with supports and services that have been stolen.  We reject your morally bankrupt priorities.

We call into existence a healing balm for Oakland.  We demand support services for families and communities traumatized by violence.  We offer ourselves up as healers, counselors, spiritual advisors, sisters, friends and community members.  We extend love, support and compassion to our young people. We see your humanity.  We extend prayers and resources to the mothers who have lost children.

What We Demand: A Black New Deal

The new Oakland City Council must correct the social inequity that is the root of all state violence.

Whereas, the Oakland City Council has the power and responsibility to address the social inequities and consequences that stem from state violence through reinvestment in schools, housing, and mental health services,

Whereas, the people of Oakland require strong leadership from all city departments to configure a budget that reflects the value of human lives over profit by reinvesting funds from over policing to mental health and trauma support services,

Whereas, housing is a human right for all people regardless of their ability to obtain wealth,

Whereas, the City of Oakland must support all workers and residents during this pandemic with additional protections for employees, including paid sick days and other support for working families,

Whereas, Oaklanders demand access to clean environments that support sound physical and mental health including but not limited to: clean water, hygiene stations, free public transportation, rezoning of areas to protect family neighborhoods,

Whereas, COVID-19 has impacted all corners of our city, we demand our officials embody a public health perspective when addressing the short and long term consequences of this crisis,

Therefore be it resolved that this City Council commits itself to a Black New Deal that includes a complete transformation of how we do “public safety” in Oakland; fully funding good jobs, quality education, mental health supports, housing for all, quality education, healthy environments and equitable opportunities to thrive with a particular emphasis on repairing the damage done to Black Oaklanders through decades of neglect and racist policies and practices.

Closing

Our tears and grief wash clean the ill response of this city.  Our love for our children ushers in a new day of peace. Black women have always, and will always, provide the healing balm to our communities. We cannot wait for the state to bring peace to our streets; not so long as it continues to benefit from our destruction.

Sunday’s event will livestream from the Anti Police-Terror Project Facebook Page from 1:00-3:00 p.m.

With deep love for our city and our people,

Pastor Cherri Murphy, Dr. Crystallee Crain, Cat Brooks, Ashara Ekundayo, Amara T. Smith, Tonya Marie Amos, Dr. Ayodele Nzinga, Mizan Alkebulan-Abakah, Clarissa Douthard, Carolyn Johnson, Chaney Turner, Falilah Bilal, Margo Hall, Nehanda Imara, Regina Evans, Tasion Kwamilele, Tonya Love, Jadyn Polk, Venus Morris

 

 

 

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Bay Area

De La Fuente Runs for Mayor

De La Fuente said he “will not tolerate homeless encampments where violence and drug abuse are rampant.” These encroachers are disrespecting our neighborhoods, our schools, our businesses, our residents, taking over our parks and defacing our city. He said the residents and businesses in our low-income flatland neighborhoods have been disproportionately affected by these encampments, and they deserve better. In collaboration with the county, we will serve our homeless residents who need it most, but not at the expense of other residents and businesses in our city.”

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Photo Caption: Ignacio De La Fuente

By Paul Cobb and news services

Ignacio De La Fuente, the former President of the Oakland City Council for 11 years, says he will run for mayor to rescue the city from its deep troubles.

He said he is returning to political leadership after a 10-year absence. Claiming that he is “sick and tired of what’s happening to our city,” and he can’t just stand by and witness “the city that I love become a place where people are afraid to walk the streets, to take their children to parks, to go out to dinner with their families or to park their cars on the street. I cannot let our city continue [to] be a place where seniors are assaulted and robbed in broad daylight, a place where illegal side-shows are constant throughout the city and a place where children are being shot and killed! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Oakland is not a dumping ground, and it is time to take action!”

He, along with the support of his former council colleague Nate Miley, who is now serving as an Alameda County Supervisor, and who is sponsoring a fundraiser for De La Fuente, has boldly declared that he will “do whatever it takes to increase the number of police officers, but I will give them the resources that they need to help them do their job, but above all, I will provide them the back up and political support that they need and deserve to perform their job for our residents and for our businesses.”

He said he “will not tolerate homeless encampments where violence and drug abuse are rampant.” These encroachers are disrespecting our neighborhoods, our schools, our businesses, our residents, taking over our parks and defacing our city. De La Fuente said the residents and businesses in our low-income flatland neighborhoods have been disproportionately affected by these encampments, and they deserve better. In collaboration with the county, we will serve our homeless residents who need it most, but not at the expense of other residents and businesses in our city.”

He wants to change the focus and emphasis of how the city spends its infrastructure money on what is truly needed by “repairing potholes, taking back and beautifying our parks, fixing our sewers and providing robust programming for our recreation centers and libraries to enrich the lives of our kids and seniors.”

In a characteristic fearless, colorful style that he achieved a no-nonsense reputation De La Fuente announced “The job of mayor is not for the faint of heart! Oakland is a great city that needs a mayor with the political backbone and experience to make the tough decisions to get this city back on track!

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Activism

Sheriff’s Deputies Skate with Marin City Youth

Sgt. Scotto and Deputy Gasparini, two officers from the Marin County Probation Department, came to interact with the youths and help them learn to skate and play basketball. Sharika Gregory, who hosted the event, really appreciates how Scotto and Gasparini interacted with the kids and said that it made a great difference.

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Top: Scotto lifting Aria, 7, so she can make her basketball shot. Middle: Sgt. Scotto and Dep. Gasparini of the Marin County Probation Department. Bottom: Scotto playing limbo. (Photos by Godfrey Lee)
Top: Scotto lifting Aria, 7, so she can make her basketball shot. Middle: Sgt. Scotto and Dep. Gasparini of the Marin County Probation Department. Bottom: Scotto playing limbo. (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

By Godfrey Lee

The Father’s Day Skating event on Sunday, June 12, at the Golden Gate Village’s Basketball Court in Marin City was a successful event that contributed positively to the relationship between the Marin County Sheriff’s Department and the Marin City community and helped some of the children get to know the officers.

Sgt. Scotto and Deputy Gasparini, two officers from the Marin County Probation Department, came to interact with the youths and help them learn to skate and play basketball. Sharika Gregory, who hosted the event, really appreciates how Scotto and Gasparini interacted with the kids and said that it made a great difference.

During the event, Scotto helped lift Aria, a 7-year-old girl, so she could make a basketball shot into the basket. Later Scotto played limbo with the children and tried his best to go under the rope.

The community generously contributed to the skating event. The Corte Madera Safeway and Costco donated the food. The Costco in Novato gave the skates. The Target in Marin City and the Marin County Probation Department also gave skates and gift cards.

Rev. Stephanie Ryder and the Redwood Presbyterian Church in Larkspur, also donated money to help to buy more skates for the events.

Gregory said that this was a very wholesome event for the community and will continue to host similar events in the future.

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Activism

Advocates Pressure Gov. Newsom to Fund Health Equity, Racial Justice in Final Budget

“Our state boasts a staggering $97 billion budget surplus,” said Ron Coleman, managing director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. “If not now, when? Given the devastating impact of racism on the health and well-being of Californians of color it’s a travesty of the highest order that racial justice isn’t even mentioned in the Governor’s budget proposal,”

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Attendees were encouraged to contact the governor’s office and the Legislature to keep the pressure on them to include the fund.
Attendees were encouraged to contact the governor’s office and the Legislature to keep the pressure on them to include the fund.

By Edward Henderson, California Black Media

On June 8, community leaders, public health advocates and racial justice groups convened for a virtual press event to urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to support the Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund (HERJ Fund).

The initiative supports community-based organizations addressing the underlying social, environmental and economic factors that limit people’s opportunities to be healthy — such as poverty, violence and trauma, environmental hazards, and access to affordable housing and healthy food. Health advocates would also address longstanding California problems related to health equity and racial justice problems.

The fund cleared a significant hurdle last week when the state Legislature included $75 million in their joint budget proposal. This means both the Assembly and Senate support the HERJ Fund and they will go into negotiations with the governor to seek his support to approve it.

“Our state boasts a staggering $97 billion budget surplus,” said Ron Coleman, managing director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. “If not now, when? Given the devastating impact of racism on the health and well-being of Californians of color it’s a travesty of the highest order that racial justice isn’t even mentioned in the Governor’s budget proposal,”

Last Wednesday’s virtual community meeting and press event capped off a series of rallies held by supporters in cities across the state calling on Newsom to make room in his budget for the HERJ Fund.

Coleman facilitated the online event featuring representatives from service organizations speaking about their support for the fund and presenting plans for how the money would be used to support their shared mission of providing services to minority and underserved communities in California.

Jenedra Sykes, a partner at Arboreta Group, spoke about inequalities that exist in funding for smaller grassroots nonprofits and how traditionally larger, white-led nonprofits use state funds to subcontract with grassroots nonprofits to provide services to communities of color at lower costs.

“The faith-based non-profits on the ground have the relationships, the access to those who are most vulnerable and marginalized among us who disproportionately have poorer health outcomes,” said Sykes. “This bill also evens the playing field a bit. Instead of going through the middleman of the established larger non-profits, funding will go directly to the people who are doing the work. The passion, the heart, the skills, the talents are there. It’s about the resources to fund these talents”

Coleman gave attendees an update on the status of the HERJ Fund’s path to inclusion in the state budget.

Now that the state Legislature has included the fund in their spending proposal for Fiscal Year 2022-23 (it was not included in Newsom’s “May Revise”), it must survive negotiations with the governor’s office before the June 15 deadline to finalize the budget.

A final budget needs to be in place by June 30, the last day for the governor to approve.

HERJ Fund supporters remain hopeful that funding for their program will be included in the final budget.

Updated mechanisms about the budget were added to the HERJ Fund’s proposal to alleviate those concerns and supporters of the fund believe that Newsom is out of excuses.

“Our best shot at getting the HERJ Fund in the budget is now. We are hoping that all of you will keep the pressure on the governor to ensure that this becomes a reality,” Coleman said. “If he does care about the intersections of health equity and racial justice then we will see funding.”

Attendees were encouraged to contact the governor’s office and the Legislature to keep the pressure on them to include the fund. You can visit herjfund.org to learn more about the proposal and the effort to include it in the state budget.

Nadia Kean-Ayub, executive director of Rainbow Spaces, shared details about the valuable events and services community-based non-profits provide. She said there is no shortage of families in need who want to participate in their organizations’ programs but, due to limited funding for transportation, many people never access services meant to help them.

“This tells me that when things are created in our communities, they are not making the impact we need in our Black, Brown and API communities,” Kean-Ayub said. “I will continue to fight. To really make this grow, we need the state to understand that the true impact comes from the community and the people who are living these issues and who know how to help them.”

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