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Naismith Hall of Fame Basketball Legend Nancy Lieberman WNBA team for Oakland

The former player-coach and Gary Reeves, her development partner, have talked with Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan and members of the African American Sports Entertainment Group since March.

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Nancy Lieberman/ Wikimedia Commons

Nancy Lieberman, one of the most celebrated female basketball players over the last decades, is supporting the push to bring a WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) franchise to Oakland.

The former player-coach and Gary Reeves, her development partner, have talked with Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan and members of the African American Sports Entertainment Group since March.

Reeves said, “she (was) one of the most successful WNBA executives. In the early stages of the league’s development with the Detroit Monarchs …. she impressively operated the business side of the team into the ‘black’ and drove a fearless community outreach program. This resulted in the team having one of the largest fan bases in a large, urban-based WNBA city.”
Lieberman has spoken at length to Kaplan about possibly joining a female-led and Black-equity ownership group to bring a team to Oakland. Nancy Lieberman Charities is active today, supporting under-resourced communities across the country with PPE, food distribution, academic scholarships, job readiness programs and providing clothes to 100 new Nancy Lieberman Sport Courts for neighborhoods that don’t have up-to-date, safe playing surfaces.
Lieberman told Post Publisher Paul Cobb that she often credits the African American community for protecting her and supporting her as a child, especially when she played hoops at the legendary Rucker Park in New York City. 

Kaplan cited the June 2021 cover story of the Sports Illustrated magazine as evidence of the emergence and growth of the WNBA and its potential opportunities for diversity and equity and female and Black ownership potential.

Since Lieberman’s first interview and podcast with the Post, many Oakland-based groups have expressed interest in bringing a WNBA team to Oakland. 

Reeves said the initiatives taken by Lieberman and Kaplan should be supported and embraced by the Black community. 

Gay Plair Cobb, CEO Emerita of the PIC (Partners In Careers), said “It’s past time for Black women to also participate as co-owners with a diverse group of women investors in major sports franchises.”

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Activism

Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

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To enlarge your view of this issue, use the slider, magnifying glass icon or full page icon in the lower right corner of the browser window.

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Activism

ICAC Invites Community to Benefit from Safe Car Park Program

The Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC) will hold a meeting to announce a faith-based expansion of overnight safe car parking for unhoused families on Thursday, June 13, 2024, from 1-2 p.m. at Williams Chapel Baptist Church located at 1410 10th Avenue in Oakland. The ICAC President, Rev. Ken Chambers, announced that Williams Chapel, pastored by Rev. Kenneth Anderson, and members of ICAC, has also planned to open an overnight safe car parking program and day center to provide unhoused neighbors and families with wrap-around services.

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Chambers said, "ICAC's goal is to just serve Oakland by helping to make the community surrounding 10th Avenue and International Boulevard both welcoming and safe."
Chambers said, "ICAC's goal is to just serve Oakland by helping to make the community surrounding 10th Avenue and International Boulevard both welcoming and safe."

by Post Staff

The Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC) will hold a meeting to announce a faith-based expansion of overnight safe car parking for unhoused families on Thursday, June 13, 2024, from 1-2 p.m. at Williams Chapel Baptist Church located at 1410 10th Avenue in Oakland.

The ICAC President, Rev. Ken Chambers, announced that Williams Chapel, pastored by Rev. Kenneth Anderson, and members of ICAC, has also planned to open an overnight safe car parking program and day center to provide unhoused neighbors and families with wrap-around services.

Rev. Chambers said additional support for the program will also come from Bishop Bob Jackson, Pastor of Acts Full Gospel Church and Pastor Phyllis Scott, head of the Oakland Police Chaplaincy Program.

Chambers said, “ICAC’s goal is to just serve Oakland by helping to make the community surrounding 10th Avenue and International Boulevard both welcoming and safe.”

David Longhurst, a member of Oakland Temple LDS Church and an ICAC board member, said

“We can make the city of Oakland safer, one block at a time, by connecting our community and neighbors.”

Chambers said ICAC has a $450,000 grant commitment from the City of Oakland and a $2.5M grant request has been presented to Nate Miley, President of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors President Nate Miley to cover and expand ICAC’s Safe Car Park Program located at West Side Missionary Baptist Church to additional locations including Center Street Baptist Church, Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church, Corinthians Baptist Church, Allen Temple Baptist Church, Acts Full Gospel Church, and other congregations.

Dr. Ken Chambers said he and ICAC are assisting congregations on how to receive a one-time $5,000 grant. “ICAC has plans for several tiny homes with kitchens, living space and bathrooms that we hope will become available this fall in partnership with the State, County and City of Oakland.”

Chambers is appealing to the public to help with transitioning the unhoused populations into tiny homes or affordable housing. “If you or anyone you know is living out of a car and needs a safe place to park overnight, visit interfaithAC.org, call 510-239-6681, or stop by the ICAC hub at 732 Willow Street, Oakland, CA 94607 between the hours of 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.”

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Bay Area

Gus Newport: A Soldier for Justice

One year ago, on June 12, 2023, my husband of 35 years was picked up by a van at our house in Oakland. It was the last time I saw him alive. The van was owned by Owl Transport, a company used by the Department of Veterans Affairs. It was to take my husband to the San Francisco VA Medical Center to see about getting a new hearing aid. Within a half hour of leaving the house, a San Francisco Fire Department ambulance was called to 8th and Harrison streets because Gus was unconscious. When they arrived at San Francisco General Hospital, Gus’s cell phone, wheelchair and tote bag had all gone missing. An enterprising social worker Googled Gus and found a phone number for his daughter in Atlanta; she called her brother in Oakland, and he immediately called me.

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Kathryn Kasch and Gus Newport
Kathryn Kasch and Gus Newport

By Kathryn Kasch

One year ago, on June 12, 2023, my husband of 35 years was picked up by a van at our house in Oakland. It was the last time I saw him alive.

The van was owned by Owl Transport, a company used by the Department of Veterans Affairs. It was to take my husband to the San Francisco VA Medical Center to see about getting a new hearing aid.

Eugene “Gus” Newport was 88 years old and wheelchair-bound because he had lost a leg in 2021, but my husband remained as active as I had always known him, forever engaged in civil rights and community development work, just as he had been as mayor of Berkeley from 1979 to 1986.

Gus had a busy week ahead of him: on June 16 he was going to be interviewed for a film about his friendship with Malcolm X; on the following day he was scheduled to fly to Atlanta for a weekend board meeting.

Within a half hour of leaving the house, a San Francisco Fire Department ambulance was called to 8th and Harrison streets because Gus was unconscious. When they arrived at San Francisco General Hospital, Gus’s cell phone, wheelchair and tote bag had all gone missing. An enterprising social worker Googled Gus and found a phone number for his daughter in Atlanta; she called her brother in Oakland, and he immediately called me.

The next morning, I called Owl; they said they were investigating and had notified the VA, but the VA never called the family. I was able to reach Gus’s VA doctor, who works primarily at UCSF, and she told me to call the Patient Advocate number, but they never called me back.

The doctors at the hospital determined that Gus had suffered a severe neck and spinal injury and that if he ever regained consciousness, he would be a permanent quadriplegic.  On June 17, we decided to let him go. The VA doctor helped me convince the San Francisco Medical Examiner to carry out an autopsy, which was finally done on June 30, and it confirmed that Gus’s injuries were the result of somehow falling backward in the van.

Three weeks after the accident, someone finally called me from the Veterans Transportation Service office in San Francisco — but he would not tell me anything about what they thought happened in the van, though he said they were working to make sure this never happens again.  They had never looked for a second phone number to reach the family and continued to call Gus’s missing cell phone after he died.

In July 2023 the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Owl in San Francisco Superior Court, and we are waiting for a trial date to be set. In December 2023, the Chronicle ran an investigative article about the poor billing system for the SFFD ambulances, and sure enough, when I asked our lawyers if they had seen a bill, they showed me an invoice “addressed” to “Eugene Doe, Homeless, San Francisco, CA 94107” — adding insult to injury, even though the driver had Gus’s name and address on his log sheet since he had just picked him up.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee made some inquiries to the VA on our behalf, and in February, eight months after the accident, an undersecretary of the VA called me — but only to offer me his condolences. He still said nothing about what their investigation had revealed. After I asked him some questions, he said they are still using Owl because they have not been able to find another company to serve the Oakland area — more discouraging news.

And in September 2023 our attorney filed a claim for wrongful death with the VA, but when he called the Office of the General Counsel in February, he learned that the claim had been received but had never been downloaded into their system, let alone assigned to a claim agent!

Gus was drafted into the Army in 1956 and was sent from his hometown of Rochester, N.Y., to Fort Knox, KY, giving him his first exposure to racist Jim Crow rules in Indiana and Kentucky. From there he was stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, where he worked in intelligence and logistics and played football for the base team, injuring his right knee — “playing football for my country,” he said. He also uncovered corruption among American officers who were skimming money from payments to German civilian workers. He threatened to go to the Stars and Stripes newspaper and was abruptly discharged and put on a plane back to the U.S.

Gus was a civil rights and peace activist all his life, starting with protesting police violence against Blacks in Rochester in the 1960s. He came to Berkeley in the 1970s and in the spring of 1979 was drafted by Berkeley Citizens Action to run for mayor. He won that election and was re-elected in 1982 by the biggest plurality in Berkeley history. He challenged unnecessary wars and budget priorities that consistently fund excessive Pentagon spending instead of our domestic needs and security. He supported sanctuary for refugees from Central America, divested from apartheid South Africa, and pioneered in providing domestic benefits for unwed partners.

Countless times in his life, Gus stepped up when his voice was needed. On April 5, 1977, his birthday, a group of protestors in San Francisco began the longest occupation of a federal building in U.S. history, and Gus showed up to support the dozens of disabled activists who were demanding their civil rights. Specifically, they called for implementation of Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, which was designed to help returning Vietnam veterans and included language stipulating that no person should be discriminated against on the basis of disability in any program receiving federal assistance — from schools to transportation and public buildings. After 25 days the “504 occupation” succeeded.

When Gus was elected mayor, his administration created the Mayor’s Task Force on Persons with Disabilities, passed ordinances to ensure access to all public meetings and non-discrimination in City hiring and provided funding for programs serving people with disabilities.

Now we are still faced with the task of uncovering the truth of what happened to Gus in the Owl van and seeking justice for our loss. Unfortunately, except for the one doctor, the Veterans Administration has done nothing to answer our questions or help with our plight.

Years ago, I remember Gus’s granddaughter had just learned the Pledge of Allegiance in kindergarten. She was declaiming some of it in the back seat of our car — “with liberty and justice for all” — and she paused. She asked us, “What’s justice?”

Kathryn Kasch is a retired housing planner who was born and raised in Oakland.  For more information, go to gusnewport.com.

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