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Mayor Breed Declares State of Emergency in Tenderloin as Part of Crackdown Efforts

“The emergency declaration is really about removing obstacles so that we can go in and conduct the work we need to do [to] help the residents of the Tenderloin. Our goal is to get those services coordinated as quickly as we can in order to alleviate the overall suffering that people are experiencing in the neighborhood,” said Department of Emergency Management Executive Director Mary Ellen Carroll.

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San Francisco Mayor London Breed
San Francisco Mayor London Breed

San Francisco (BCN)

San Francisco Mayor London Breed doubled down on efforts to crack down on public drug use and other disturbances in the city’s Tenderloin, announcing an official State of Emergency in the neighborhood Friday.

According to Breed’s office, the emergency declaration would work similarly to the city’s COVID-19 Declaration of Emergency and allow the city to respond to health and safety concerns on the streets quickly and without bureaucratic barriers.

Specifically, the declaration allows the city to waive rules around contract procurement and zoning codes in order to quickly open a “linkage site” to voluntarily connect people who are living on the streets and struggling with substance use and mental health issues to services.

The declaration comes just two days after Breed, along with emergency and law enforcement officials, announced several new initiatives to address the neighborhood’s health and safety concerns, including public drug use and illegal street vendors selling stolen items.

“When we look at the conditions on our streets it is really unfortunate; it is sad; it’s heartbreaking,” Breed said during a briefing Friday at City Hall. “We have to move quickly. Too many people are dying in this city. Too many people are sprawled out all over our streets. And now we have a plan to address it.”

According to Breed, an emergency response is needed in the area, as the opioid drug crisis has worsened in recent years, with the highly addictive synthetic opioid fentanyl contributing to a sharp rise in overdose deaths.

“This is necessary in order to see a difference, in order to reverse some of the deaths from overdoses, and the assaults and attacks happening in this community,” she said. “When people walk down the streets of San Francisco, they should feel safe. They shouldn’t have to look over their shoulders; they shouldn’t have to be punched in the face randomly; they shouldn’t have to see someone sticking a needle in various parts of their body; they shouldn’t have to see someone laying out in the street…”

The Board of Supervisors must approve the emergency declaration within the next week, and if approved, the declaration would last for 90 days, according to Breed’s office.

Supervisor Matt Haney, whose district includes the Tenderloin, is in support of the declaration.

“The overdose epidemic is taking the lives of nearly two people a day in our city. Most of those people are in the Tenderloin and South of Market and mostly from fentanyl,” he said. “As the supervisor of the Tenderloin, but also as a resident of the Tenderloin, we need an emergency crisis-level response to confront this deadly epidemic at the scale of the problem that we’re facing.”

Department of Emergency Management Executive Director Mary Ellen Carroll said the linkage site will not only help people coordinate health services from community organizations and the San Francisco Department of Public Health, but the site will also help people get food, hygiene products, and connect them with housing programs.

“The emergency declaration is really about removing obstacles so that we can go in and conduct the work we need to do [to] help the residents of the Tenderloin. Our goal is to get those services coordinated as quickly as we can in order to alleviate the overall suffering that people are experiencing in the neighborhood,” she said.

On Wednesday, Breed announced the Tenderloin Emergency Intervention plan, which involves several approaches to address the crime and public drug use and improve the neighborhood. Part of that is increasing the police presence in the area.

In addition, Breed on Wednesday proposed amending the city’s Surveillance Technology Ordinance — passed in by supervisors in 2019 — to allow police to access more surveillance cameras throughout the city. She also proposed increased funding for law enforcement training, hiring, and increased overtime.

“At the end of the day, the people in this community are not safe and it’s not right. Part of the response to this is definitely police officers,” Breed said Friday.

“We have to arrest drug dealers. We have to arrest people who are assaulting people,” Police Chief William Scott said. “Our officers have said time and time again, ‘Let’s have a system where we can get the social workers involved,’ and that’s exactly what this does at the front end so that we can go and do all the things that the public wants us to do: arrest people who are hurting people; stop the open-air drug use; and stop some of the craziness that’s going on in our streets.”

On Friday, the group Defund SFPD Now criticized Breed’s newly announced initiatives.

“The mayor’s plan includes moves to appropriate additional money to the San Francisco Police Department, expand coordinated sweeps of unhoused people, expand surveillance, and target unlicensed street vendors. While we believe in doing whatever we can to secure basic resources and dignity, Mayor Breed’s latest proposal deflects from the failures of the city’s neoliberal policies by imprisoning vulnerable people in the Tenderloin,” Defund SFPD Now said in a statement.

“We are disappointed that Mayor Breed would use the declaration of a state of emergency to increase the reach of criminalization rather than using it to meet people’s needs with respect and compassion,” the group said.

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Activism

Friendship Christian Center Provides Tests, Vaccines to Thousands

FCCC has served thousands with lines forming an hour-and-a-half before opening to get tested and vaccinated with one of the three vaccines, boosters, and vaccines for children. Agee said it has been going at this pace for over a month, with the new Omicron variant surging.

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A lone forms outside the Friendship Christian Center on a recent, rainy cold day in Oakland. Photo courtesy of FCCC.
A lone forms outside the Friendship Christian Center on a recent, rainy cold day in Oakland. Photo courtesy of FCCC.

Friendship Christian Center Church (FCCC), pastored by Dr. Gerald Agee, is located at 1904 Adeline St. and is one of the dozens of Black churches across the state of California, who, in conjunction with the California Health Agencies and California Black Media, has stood on the front line, with the Black Press for over a year providing COVID-19 testing and vaccinations to minority communities.

FCCC has served thousands with lines forming an hour-and-a-half before opening to get tested and vaccinated with one of the three vaccines, boosters, and vaccines for children. Agee said it has been going at this pace for over a month, with the new Omicron variant surging.

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Activism

COMMENTARY: After Jan. 6, An MLK Day Deadline for Voting Rights and Democracy

This is a dangerous thing that goes beyond mere policy matters. First the Cruzes fall in line. Then the people. Republicans are not shy about what’s next. They want to own our democracy. And they’re willing to get it by going state by state to limit our voting rights and take away our votes.

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Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com

By Emil Guillermo

We all know the images of Jan. 6, 2021. Lawless rioters ransacking the Capitol. Police being tortured and beaten. Members of Congress hiding in fear in the House gallery. The gallows and a noose meant for former Vice President Mike Pence.

We all saw the video images one year after and astonishingly they did nothing to pull our nation together.

Nothing.

They simply confirmed the only thing everyone can agree on.

Our democracy’s in trouble. Real trouble.

We already sensed that after the Civil Rights battles of the 1960s such things as race, policing, and income inequality are still major issues in 2022.

But we’ve got trouble in a different key.

C Major. No sharps or flats. This trouble goes right to the core of our democracy. They’re coming after your vote.

That is, after all, what the Jan. 6 rioters were attempting when they tried to stop the certification of the election.

But now the GOP politicians who may have been behind the Jan. 6 rioters all along, are going legit.

The majority of Republicans, notably California’s Kevin McCarthy, continue to sing the fictional tune “The 2016 Election Was Stolen.”

As if in a song battle, the Democrats counter with the loud truth, “The Election Was Fair. Trump Lost.”

But enough people keep singing the lie as if it’s their battle hymn.

And now they are looking for the ultimate control of any election. Legally. In plain view.

Republicans are taking over or running for top election official posts in key states. State legislatures are proposing laws to limit absentee ballots, mail-in voting and other conveniences. They are putting up obstacles to make voting harder with the hopes of suppressing your vote.

This is why Biden spoke in Georgia this week, saying “I will not yield, I will not flinch in protecting voting rights.”

Let’s hope he’s serious, starting with new voting rights legislation to make election days federal holidays and require federal approval of any state and local election changes.

It may take changing the filibuster law to make sure Republicans can’t block any Democratic reforms, but it must be done. And done now.

That’s why even the family of Martin Luther King Jr. is calling for “no celebration” of MLK Day without the passage of voting rights legislation.

This is how Democrats are talking to Biden.

The Republicans’ post-Jan.6 strategy is simply Orwellian. Where truth and lies are indistinguishable. And Republicans loyal to Trump are dead set on forcing their lies on everyone.

Witness Sen. Ted Cruz last week caught in a moment of truth calling the Jan. 6 rioters “domestic terrorists.” But how quickly he recanted when called on the carpet by Fox’s Tucker Carlson, the Trump Confessor, for all the Republican congregants to see.

Like a loyal Trumper, Cruz knelt, confessed, and did his penance.

It used to be called hypocrisy. Now it’s just called Modern Day Republicanism.

This is a dangerous thing that goes beyond mere policy matters. First the Cruzes fall in line. Then the people. Republicans are not shy about what’s next. They want to own our democracy. And they’re willing to get it by going state by state to limit our voting rights and take away our votes.

That’s even worse than the Jan. 6 rioters’ wildest dreams.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com

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El Cerrito Hosts 33rd Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade and Rally

The celebration is sponsored by its founders, St. Peter CME Church and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, as well as the Human Relations Commission, and the West Contra Costa County Unified School District.

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“Keeping the Dream Alive - Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.
“Keeping the Dream Alive - Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.

By Clifford L. Williams

The City of El Cerrito invites all of its residents and surrounding cities in the Bay Area to join in its 33rd Annual Community Celebration honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022.

“Keeping the Dream Alive – Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.

The celebration is sponsored by its founders, St. Peter CME Church and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, as well as the Human Relations Commission, and the West Contra Costa County Unified School District.

Event chairperson, Patricia Durham said “this peaceful protest began in 1989 on the back streets of El Cerrito because of the City’s refusal to acknowledge King’s birthday as a federal holiday.

“Members of St. Peter Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME), the City’s only African-American church, and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, in true Dr. King style, took to the streets. The City eventually came around and acknowledged the peaceful and powerful works of Dr. King.”

Durham added, “El Cerrito’s birthday celebration of MLK is one of the longest-standing parades and rallies in the Bay Area.”

Because of the global pandemic, this is the second year the city will have a car parade because of COVID-19 protocols. Participants will meet at 9 a.m. at the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station (in the parking lot of Key Boulevard & Knott Avenue). At 10 a.m., the parade will caravan down San Pablo Avenue to the El Cerrito Plaza BART station and at 11 a.m., the rally will begin. To ensure everyone enjoys the parade safely, all CDC guidelines will be enforced. Masks and social distancing are required.

“Keeping the dream alive even during a pandemic is a necessity,” said Durham. “We are fighting for our democracy and if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s taught us that we need each other to embrace our new normals of survival.”

“The City is expecting more than 100 cars, so we encourage everyone to decorate your vehicles so that yours stands out the best,” noted Durham. “Entertainment will be provided by the Japanese American Citizen League, The Black Cowboy Association, Ujima Lodge #35, the Mardi Gras Gumbo Band, Mighty High Drill Team, Smooth Illusions Band, and El Cerrito’s Poet Laureate, Ms. Eevelyn Janean Mitchell, among other talents.”

The MC of this illustrious event will be Jeffery Wright, president of the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce. The event’s keynote speaker is Diana Becton, the first female African American to be elected District Attorney in the history of Contra Costa County.

For more information, contact Patricia Durham at (510) 234-2518.

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