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Oakland’s New Police Chief Floyd Mitchell Gets to Work

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Chief Floyd Mitchell
Chief Floyd Mitchell

After spending days attending line-ups to meet Oakland Police Department officers, Oakland’s new police chief made a soft start to his new job at last Saturday’s graduation of a set of recruits. On Monday, his official first day, Chief Floyd Mitchell spoke to the next set of recruits entering the academy at police headquarters and made a statement to visiting members of the media. File photo.

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Alameda County

Called a ‘Miracle’ School, Oakland’s Emiliano Zapata Street Academy Celebrates 50 Years

In 1970, high school graduation rates for Black students in the U.S. were half those of whites. Civil rights protests turned this reality into a big issue and these protests made possible the birth of a truly unique school like the Oakland Emiliano Zapata Street Academy. Over the years, it has been featured in several local news stories, one network touted it as ‘the miracle school located at 417 29th St. And perhaps miraculously, the school will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a community party on Saturday April 27 at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.

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Students at Emiliano Zapata Street Academy hold a community circle for International Women’s Day. Photo by Nick Young.
Students at Emiliano Zapata Street Academy hold a community circle for International Women’s Day. Photo by Nick Young.

By Post Staff

In 1970, high school graduation rates for Black students in the U.S. were half those of whites.   Civil rights protests turned this reality into a big issue and these protests made possible the birth of a truly unique school like the Oakland Emiliano Zapata Street Academy.

Over the years, it has been featured in several local news stories, one network touted it as ‘the miracle school located at 417 29th St. And perhaps miraculously, the school will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a community party on Saturday April 27 at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.

While the system called kids drop-outs, the organizers of the Street Academy said they were actually being pushed out by an impersonal and bureaucratic system.  Whereas regular high school students had six or seven classes a day with no adult that really got to know them, the Street Academy created a “consulting teacher” model with one adult for every 20 students.

The consulting teacher would get to know them and their families well and stay with them throughout their years in high school.  While other schools had history classes focused through the lens of European accomplishments, Street Academy was the first high school to require that every student take an ethnic studies class

And Street Academy had staff with activist mindsets.  Bernard Stringer, the history teacher, for example, had been on strike as a student at San Francisco State. Betsy Schulz had been part of VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) a sort of stateside Peace Corps. Roger Chavarin had been an activist in the Latino community.

As a result, many of the students have shown a desire to help the community and Street Academy graduates have had an impact within and beyond the school.  Ze Segundo and Corrina Gould worked for the American Friends Service Committee. Gould later became a leader of the Ohlone people and has led in the repatriation of Ohlone land through her organization, the Segorea Te Land Trust

Ana Guadalupe Aviles graduated in 1990 and became a bilingual mental health therapist and a member of the Street Academy board.  Bukola (Lara) Lawal and Jaron Epstein graduated from Street Academy, went to college, and returned to the school as educators.

The staff has influenced other schools as well. Gina Hill and Monica Vaughan worked at the Street Academy for many years and carried its practices into their new leadership responsibilities at Alameda County and the Oakland Unified School District level.

Street Academy also has a unique travel club: Students have visited Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti and France. This year, some students are going to Italy.

The school has had many “angels” over the years, people who went out of their way to make sure the school survived.  Former school board members, Sylvester Hodges and Peggy Stinnett, now deceased, were pivotal, as were the owners and publishers of this newspaper, Gay and Paul Cobb.

Several television networks have aired shows about the Street Academy. One of them referred to it as the “Miracle School.”  The ‘Miracle School’ celebrates its 50th birthday this year

The 50th anniversary celebration will be at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, 521 29th St., in Oakland from 1-5 p.m. Web site – https://www.streetacademy.online/

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Alameda County

Alameda District Attorney Pamela Price Is Considering Legal Action If Recall Makes It to Ballot

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters announced Monday that they had certified the required number of signatures to trigger a recall election against Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price. Recall supporters submitted 123,374 signatures before the March 5 deadline, although only needing 73,195 valid signatures to trigger a special election. After the Registrar of Voters (ROV) was unable to verify the needed amount through a random sampling, they proceeded to manually count the signatures, which resulted in 74,757 signatures verified.

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Save Alameda For Everyone (SAFE), one of the two primary recall groups, celebrated their success in a press release Monday afternoon, stating they were “thrilled” for reaching this milestone towards ensuring “accountability and transparency in the District Attorney’s office.”
Save Alameda For Everyone (SAFE), one of the two primary recall groups, celebrated their success in a press release Monday afternoon, stating they were “thrilled” for reaching this milestone towards ensuring “accountability and transparency in the District Attorney’s office.”

By Magaly Muñoz

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters announced Monday that they had certified the required number of signatures to trigger a recall election against Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price.

Recall supporters submitted 123,374 signatures before the March 5 deadline, although only needing 73,195 valid signatures to trigger a special election. After the Registrar of Voters (ROV) was unable to verify the needed amount through a random sampling, they proceeded to manually count the signatures, which resulted in 74,757 signatures verified.

Save Alameda For Everyone (SAFE), one of the two primary recall groups, celebrated their success in a press release Monday afternoon, stating they were “thrilled” for reaching this milestone towards ensuring “accountability and transparency in the District Attorney’s office.”

“We are confident that this grassroots movement will pave the way for positive change and a brighter future for all residents and businesses in Alameda County,” Carl Chan, SAFE’s Principal Officer, said in the statement.

Brenda Grisham, the other primary officer of SAFE, told the Post that they’re excited that the efforts of the volunteers and all involved with the campaign are paying off

“Our effort is just about public safety. Our main focus is keeping the citizens of Alameda County safe,” Grisham said.

SAFE initiated its efforts only seven months into Price’s administration, a point that Grisham made when discussing how long Price had to prove herself in the District Attorney role.

She claimed that Price had six months to meet with families of victims and prosecute perpetrators of those crimes to the fullest extent of the law, but instead chose to do the opposite and not protect the people in the community as crime and concerns for public safety continue to rise.

SAFE is calling on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to schedule a special election no later than 125 days after their meeting later this month.

But despite the celebration from the recall proponents, Price’s legal team says that the DA is “not happy” with the Registrar of Voters.

Jim Sutton, legal counsel for Price, told the Post that they deem the recall process to be illegal by not following the clear guidance of the county charter to recall local officials.

The county charter states that the ROV has 10 days to verify signatures, which ultimately took nearly six weeks after the random sampling method failed. Additionally, the Board of Supervisors has to appropriate money to the ROV to hire staff in order to make the 10-day deadline, which Sutton claims they did not.

ROV officials did not respond for comment, as staff were instructed to tell the media to refer to the latest update until new information was released.

Sutton talked to the Alameda County Counsel office about the deadline, but claims they gave a “very convoluted” explanation for why they don’t have to comply with the 10 days.

Sutton added that many of the circulators of the recall petition were from outside of the county, incentivized by the high payout per signature. He says that this action also violates county charter as circulators need to be residents of Alameda County.

The county charter requires a “qualified elector” to circulate the petition, but also states that the United States Supreme Court has previously ruled that this requirement is an “unconstitutional limitation on protected expressive activity.” The charter says because of this ruling, it will follow the state requirements, which only stipulates that a person must be 18 years or older to circulate a petition.

According to Sutton, Price will be asking the Board of Supervisors to not put the election on the ballot based on these alleged illegalities.

When asked if her team will be pursuing legal action should the Board approve the special election, Sutton said, “if the board does schedule the election, [Price] will consider all of her legal options.”

Members on the Board of Supervisors did not respond for comment at the time of publication.

The Board of Supervisors will meet on April 30 to consider the approval of the certificate of sufficiency for the signatures and the date of the special election.

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Activism

In Crowded Race, Jovanka Beckles Wins Spot in November Runoff for State Senate

AC Transit Board Director Jovanka Beckles came in second place in the six-way primary race for state Senate District 7 seat to represent Oakland and Berkeley, placing her in the runoff race in November against Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín to replace Sen. Nancy Skinner, who termed out. Beckles, writing on social media, emphasized that she had won with community support though the leading candidate was way ahead in campaign spending.

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Jovanka Beckles will face Jesse Arreguín in November in State Senate District 7 runoff election. File photo of Arreguin, Beckles photo by Ken Epstein.
Jovanka Beckles will face Jesse Arreguín in November in State Senate District 7 runoff election. File photo of Arreguin, Beckles photo by Ken Epstein.

By Ken Epstein

AC Transit Board Director Jovanka Beckles came in second place in the six-way primary race for state Senate District 7 seat to represent Oakland and Berkeley, placing her in the runoff race in November against Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín to replace Sen. Nancy Skinner, who termed out.

Beckles, writing on social media, emphasized that she had won with community support though the leading candidate was way ahead in campaign spending.

“Despite being vastly under-fundraised, we have emerged victorious in the State Senate primary! This victory is not just about me. It’s a victory for our working class, our poor, our disenfranchised Black and Brown communities, our Palestinian siblings fighting for liberation.”

In the March 5 primary, Arreguín came in first with 32.81% of the vote, while Beckles received 17.48%. Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb was third with 14.89%, while Kathryn Lybarger followed with14.46%. Sandré Swanson received13.36%, and Jeanne Solnordal captured 7%.

Born in Panama, Beckles immigrated to the U.S. with her family when she was 9. She attended Florida A&M University on a full-ride basketball scholarship, majoring in psychology as an undergraduate and later earned an MBA.

She worked for decades in public health as a mental health clinician, serving impoverished and marginalized children and families in Contra Costa County.

In a speech at a recent victory celebration, she emphasized her progressive record of working for her East Bay constituents.

“I’m here today because of you, your belief in me, a Black, Latinx, immigrant, gay woman,” she said. “We did something historic. Grassroots candidates don’t (often) beat millions of dollars.”

“When I get to Sacramento, I will continue delivering results for you,” she said, pledging to continue working on tenant protections such as supporting the ballot measure to remove a ban on rent control in California.

Beckles plans to propose expanded legal protections for seniors and disabled tenants; create educational opportunities to make public school and university education fair and available for all students; provide transfers for AC Transit and make public transportation affordable for seniors and people with disabilities; and enhance environmental protections.

She also supports a Gaza cease-fire.

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