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Environmental Advocate Margaret Gordon Turns Against Oakland A’s Development 

“We, as a community, should hold everybody to task around the issue of equity,” West Oakland community leader and environmental advocate Margaret Gordon said. “The A’s started off talking about equity and ended up putting [all the costs] back on the city. That’s not equity. Unmitigated environmental issues — that’s not equity. I don’t believe they are going to [build affordable] housing — that’s not equity.”

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West Oakland community leader and environmental advocate Margaret Gordon, co-founder of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), has served on the Port Commission and has struggled for decades to reduce the impact of industrial pollutants that cause respiratory illnesses and improve the overall air quality in her community.
West Oakland community leader and environmental advocate Margaret Gordon, co-founder of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), has served on the Port Commission and has struggled for decades to reduce the impact of industrial pollutants that cause respiratory illnesses and improve the overall air quality in her community.

The former Port Commissioner says, ‘The A’s should adopt fair and equitable benefits to Oakland or stop lying and saying (they’re) doing community benefits.’

By Ken Epstein

Until recently, West Oakland community leader and environmental advocate Margaret Gordon had been on board with billionaire John Fisher’s massive real estate and stadium development project at Howard Terminal, which is public land at the Port of Oakland.

She has now withdrawn her support and is actively opposed to the development. In an interview with the Oakland Post this week, she said she was involved since the beginning several years ago, working with others to produce a community benefits agreement with the A’s, which the A’s were expected to pay for.

But the A’s have gone back on their promises, she said.

“We, as a community, should hold everybody to task around the issue of equity,” Gordon said. “The A’s started off talking about equity and ended up putting [all the costs] back on the city. That’s not equity. Unmitigated environmental issues — that’s not equity. I don’t believe they are going to [build affordable] housing — that’s not equity.”

Gordon, co-founder of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), has served on the Port Commission and has struggled for decades to reduce the impact of industrial pollutants that cause respiratory illnesses and improve the overall air quality in her community.

She said her goal in working with the A’s development was to design social justice and environmental justice projects to support West Oakland, Chinatown, Jack London Square area and Old Oakland, four areas that would be most impacted by the massive project.

“We agreed with the City to sit down and do a community benefits agreement, which included education, environmental improvements, housing, jobs, business development,” she said. “We met for almost two years trying to develop our own agreement with the City and the A’s. We finalized our draft, telling them that this is what we want.”

But then the A’s shifted their position. “All of sudden, the A’s stopped the process. We wanted more conversations as part of negotiations. But there never were negotiations to finalize the community benefits agreement,” she said.

“There were no sit-downs with the A’s or city staff. Never.”

Gordon said she was not encouraged by the role of the mayor and city staff in the process. “I don’t see who is going to hold the A’s feet to the fire to enforce community benefits,” not the mayor, the city administrator nor city staff, she said.

She said city leaders are “so hungry for money and development, as long as it’s not in [their] neighborhood, [they] don’t care,” she said, adding that the A’s and the City should adopt benefits to Oakland that are “fair and equitable, or stop lying and saying you’re doing community benefits.”

She said poor people, African Americans, Latinos and others are not going to benefit from this project. “I don’t see them building affordable housing next to the million-dollar townhouses. I just don’t see it.”

People took tours of the Howard Terminal area in December, and it dawned on them that the plans were to create a “whole new city within Oakland,” an exclusive gated new city for rich people

“They decided to release the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) during the holidays, minimizing public input,” she said. “The staff, the City of Oakland, they obviously don’t care [about community benefits], otherwise they wouldn’t have written the EIR the way they did,” said Gordon.

“They keep talking about equity, but they’re not practicing equity. This [Environmental Impact Report] is evidence of that. This is all problematic.”

Many of the needed mitigations have not been addressed, Gordon continued. The stadium would be built where thousands of huge semi-trucks are parked now at Howard Terminal, but the City and the A’s still haven’t said where said where the truck parking will be moved, meaning they may be going back onto city streets, polluting residential neighborhoods.

Nor have the officials offered solutions to the large traffic jams that will be produced by the development.

Not only will Oakland residents not get community benefits, they will also end up footing the bill for a lot of the project, Gordon continued.

“We the public are going to end up paying for the infrastructure,” she said. “This is going to use public money.” Over $800 million in public funds will be used on the project.

“The A’s should be paying for this. The rich people who are going to be moving over there should be paying for this,” said Gordon.

“I am not surprised to hear that the A’s have reneged on promises made to the community,“ said Paul Cobb, publisher of the Oakland Post. “The A’s want hundreds of millions of taxpayer money, but they don’t want to pay for community benefits like every other developer does.

“They renege on affordable housing and then turn around and bully our elected leaders by saying if they don’t get what they want, they will leave. Our elected leaders should end this drama now. They need to focus on jobs, homelessness, public safety and real issues affecting Oakland residents, not the ongoing give-and-take sham game played by the A’s.”

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Activism

Collaboration Key to Anti-Trafficking Efforts

According to District Attorney Lori Frugoli, community education is paramount in the work of the coalition. Student, parent, and teacher education is also something that MCCEHT strongly supports through the PROTECT program, coordinated with the Marin County Office of Education (MCOE). MCCEHT member Marlene Capra has worked with MCOE and the 3 Strands Global Foundation to keep efforts to stop human trafficking in the spotlight and teach residents and school educators about the realities of human trafficking.

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Many human trafficking victims are reluctant to report the crime as they are genuinely in fear for their life or that of their family.
Many human trafficking victims are reluctant to report the crime as they are genuinely in fear for their life or that of their family.

Local work t stop human exploitation coordinated through DA’s Office

Courtesy of Marin County

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the North Bay region and San Francisco are among the top sex trafficking areas in the United States. As the co-chair organization of the Marin County Coalition to End Human Trafficking (MCCEHT), the Marin County District Attorney’s Office is addressing the problem and working with partnering nonprofits and agencies to increase public awareness, prosecute those who commit the crimes, and put a halt to all types of slavery.

On Jan. 11, the Marin County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to proclaim the month of January as National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Jan. 11 happened to be Human Trafficking Awareness Day as well. Video of the presentation is on the County website (skip ahead to agenda item #4, Consent Calendar A).

The DA’s staff has worked closely with key stakeholders to make sure the red-flag warnings of human trafficking are widely known, even using advertisements at bus stops to urge people to speak up and report potential exploitation.

According to District Attorney Lori Frugoli, community education is paramount in the work of the coalition. Student, parent, and teacher education is also something that MCCEHT strongly supports through the PROTECT program, coordinated with the Marin County Office of Education (MCOE). MCCEHT member Marlene Capra has worked with MCOE and the 3 Strands Global Foundation to keep efforts to stop human trafficking in the spotlight and teach residents and school educators about the realities of human trafficking.

A new nonprofit created by Capra arose from her community work. SpeakSAFE, with SAFE meaning Save Adolescents from Exploitation, assists with local fundraising for educational efforts and has provided online learning opportunities during the pandemic.

“With our coalition, the DA’s Office [has] been extremely supportive and helpful in partnering on our work and connecting us with law enforcement, service providers and community members,” Capra said. “It really is all hands on deck, and their involvement has been pivotal. Our work has always been a priority with them in supporting our youth.”

Frugoli said human trafficking is difficult to detect and rarely reported. Many victims are moved from county to county or state to state, making the trafficker harder to follow and the victim feel isolated and unfamiliar with surroundings.

“Many victims are reluctant to report the crime as they are genuinely in fear for their life or that of their family,” Frugoli said. “Our coalition’s mission is to develop our regional collaborative approach to end all forms of human trafficking. We’ve focused our efforts on education and outreach advocacy. We have turned several cases over to state and federal authorities because the conduct occurred over multiple jurisdictions.”

Cecilia Zamora, Executive Director of the Latino Council and Co-Chair of MCCEHT, emphasized the need to have the coalition’s work be grounded in multicultural best practices, ensuring that the messaging and resources are shared with our thriving Latino communities across the county.

“We do this,” she said, “by successfully utilizing our nonprofit members as partners in the education and outreach to their own constituents.”

The Human Trafficking Prevention Education and Training Act (AB 1227) became California law in 2017 and provides a basis for localized anti-trafficking work. The MCCEHT Steering Committee meets monthly. MCCEHT’s quarterly online meeting on Jan. 19 will feature guest speaker Antonia Lavine of the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking and County Supervisor Judy Arnold. The videoconference begins at 11 a.m., Spanish translation will be provided. Participation details are on the MCCEHT website.

Learn more about local anti-trafficking efforts via the PROTECT website or call the DA’s Office at (415) 473-6450.

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Activism

How the Black Press Told the World About Emmet Till

Reporter Simeon Booker and photographer David Jackson covered the story for Jet. Other Black news outlets, including the Defender, also later published the photos, though not a single mainstream white outlet did, according to the New York Times. The photos turned Till’s story into “the first great [national] media event of the civil rights movement,” according to historian David Halberstam, who chronicles the murder in his book “The Fifties.”

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Mamie Till speaks to the press after her son was lynched in Mississippi in 1955. Wikipedia.org photo.
Mamie Till speaks to the press after her son was lynched in Mississippi in 1955. Wikipedia.org photo.

By Brandon Patterson

The story of Emmet Till has made its way back into the news in recent weeks on the heels of a new TV miniseries and new developments at the federal level.

Earlier this month, the historical docuseries “Mothers of the Movement” premiered on ABC. And last week, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill to posthumously award Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, the Congressional Gold Medal.

Emmett Till’s story remains with us to this day, but lesser known is the role of the Black press in bringing his story to light — and in so doing, helping to catalyze the modern Civil Rights Movement.

One of the earliest news outlets to cover the Till story was the Chicago Defender, at the time one of the most influential Black weekly newspapers in the country, with two-thirds of its readership located outside the city, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The account of reporter Mattie Smith Colin, who covered the arrival of Till’s body at a local train station, captured the anguish of his mother as she received her son. Then, Jet Magazine became the first news outlet to publish the gruesome photos of Till’s body at his funeral, which his mother insisted be open casket.

Reporter Simeon Booker and photographer David Jackson covered the story for Jet. Other Black news outlets, including the Defender, also later published the photos, though not a single mainstream white outlet did, according to the New York Times. The photos turned Till’s story into “the first great [national] media event of the civil rights movement,” according to historian David Halberstam, who chronicles the murder in his book “The Fifties.”

Later, Booker’s coverage of the Till murder trial for Jet helped bring the trial to a Black and national audience. Other significant Black newspapers that covered the Till story included the Amsterdam News in New York City, which, by the 1960s, was the largest weekly community newspaper in the nation, the Pittsburgh Courier, and the Atlanta Constitution.

Coverage of Till’s story was notably different in Black news outlets compared to mainstream white papers. In the South, coverage was often sympathetic to Till’s murderers, notes researcher Michael Oby in a 2007 paper on the Till case.

Black papers, however, framed the story as an obvious and horrid injustice. At the same time, they began encouraging their Black readers to get involved in civil rights organizing, and to donate to the NAACP, which was central to the Till case.

Booker, who worked for Jet for nearly five decades, went on to receive an award from the National Press Club for his lifelong coverage of civil rights in America in the 1980s. At the award ceremony, according to the Chicago Tribune, he said of his work: “I wanted to fight segregation on the front lines. I wanted to dedicate my writing skills to the cause. Segregation was beating down my people. I volunteered for every assignment and suggested more. I stayed on the road, covering civil rights day and night. The names, the places and the events became history.”

Because of his work and other Black journalists and news outlets, we know the story of Emmet Till, and so many other critical stories.

This story was written using reporting from the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, and academic research by Michael Oby at Georgia State University.

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Activism

Foster Care and Sex Trafficking

On the program, experts will share their knowledge about coming into foster care, training for foster parents, and the struggles, successes and triumphs of the children who have experience with the foster care system. For information, contact Laurel Botsford, of Wisdom International: Help2Others at:laurel@wisdominternational.org

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The program is supported by the District Attorney of Marin County and the FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association.
The program is supported by the District Attorney of Marin County and the FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association.

“The Nexus Between Foster Care and Sex Trafficking” a Zoom program, will be presented on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. by the Rotary Club of Terra Linda and Wisdom International: Help2Others.

On the program, experts will share their knowledge about coming into foster care, training for foster parents, and the struggles, successes and triumphs of the children who have experience with the foster care system.

Lori Frugoli, Marin County district attorney, will give the opening remarks.

The featured speakers are Cari Herthel, a tribal leader and survivor; Doris Gentry, a foster mother; Carly Devlin of the Huckleberry Youth HART Program; John Long of the United States Institute Against Human Trafficking; Carletta Jackson-Lane, JD, executive director of the Sojourner Truth Foster Family Service Agency. A representative of the FBI will also be there.

This event is free. Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-nexus-between-foster-care-and-sex-trafficking-tickets-248412557647Please join at 2:50 p.m. for a prompt start at 3 p.m.

For information, contact Laurel Botsford, of Wisdom International: Help2Others at:laurel@wisdominternational.org

The program is supported by the District Attorney of Marin County and the FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association.

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