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OP-ED: An Oakland National Night Out That Celebrated Alternatives to “Policing and Prisons”

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By Troy Williams

 

According to its website, “National Night Out is a cohesive effort to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.”

 

Now, I’m sure everyone will agree that we all want to live in a safe community. When I heard about the National Night Out event, I got on the bus with my camera and headed to Lake Merritt in Oakland.

 

Upon arriving the first thing I noticed was how diverse the attendance was. People of every race, color, creed, and sexual orientation were involved, engaged each other in conversation and listened to music from Bay Area artist Naima Shalhoub, and conscious rap from Khafre Jay from the Hip Hop for Change.

 

Speakers expressed their desire to end the fear, trauma, and violence that continue to affect communities in Oakland and all over America. Noticeably missing were the police.

 

The event was organized by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland and hosted by John Jones.

 

Jones expressed gratitude to Darris Young, a local organizer for the Ella Baker Center, who encouraged him not to return to a life of crime when things got rough. According to Jones, Young had told him, “Instead of us returning to the same trap that got us incarcerated, we can become instruments of liberation for ourselves and for others who find themselves in similar circumstances.”

 

Those words resonated with me. So I asked Young what had prompted him to help organize this event. I learned that he was also formerly incarcerated.

troy

Troy Williams

 

In 1998, Young was sentenced to 36 years to life for robbery. He explained how the judge at his sentencing took into account that he had a lot of bad breaks in life, but the judge still told him, “You could have been anything you wanted to be, but nothing stopped you but you.”

 

Young said he took the judges words with him to prison. One hundred and twenty days later, that same judge reversed his life term. He was paroled in 2012.

 

Having turned his life around, he wanted to make it clear to readers. “We are not anti police,” Young said. “We understand liberation to mean that we must make a connection with our neighbors. Violence has to stop on all sides. But sometimes National Night Out can appear to be about expanding policing through neighbors rather than expanding relationships.”

 

Echoing Young’s words, Cat Brooks, founder of the Anti Police Terror Project in Oakland, added, “There are alternatives to increasing the safety of our communities outside of policing and prisons.”

 

I believe this to be true. Policing is only one aspect of protection. Police usually arrive after the fact of a crime, after someone has been hurt. Ideally, community should arrive so far in advance that hurting someone in the community you love is not an option.

 

When I was leaving the event, I noticed several police cars stopped at a traffic signal. I walked across the intersection and asked a sergeant in one vehicle, “Hey, where were you guys?”

 

“We weren’t invited,” he responded.

 

Obviously, there is a major divide between the police and community in Oakland and I’m not sure how we can truly effect change without all the stakeholders sitting at the table.

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Community

Continuing the Healing Journey: 30th Anniversary Celebration for Charlotte Maxwell Clinic

Charlotte Maxwell Clinic Marks 30th Anniversary
In Virtual Event, Thursday, October 28th, 5:30 – 7:00 pm

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Barbara Lee

Barbara Lee Celebrates Local Entrepreneurs, Vows to Continue Fighting for Recovery during National Small Business Week

In addition, Congresswoman Lee is a co-sponsor of H.R. 3807, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act, which will provide an additional $60 billion to support restaurants and other food and beverage businesses.

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small business open sign photo courtesy of Tim Mossholder via Unsplash

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) released the following statement on September 23 celebrating East Bay entrepreneurs during National Small Business Week, and vowing to continue fighting for resources to help local businesses to recover from the COVID-19 economic crisis.

“During this year’s Small Business Week, we celebrate the local business owners, entrepreneurs, and workers who drive our economy and give the East Bay so much of its diverse, resilient, and unique character,” Lee said. “Our small businesses have struggled to survive during the pandemic, and many have closed their doors permanently. Our work to get help for small businesses through the American Rescue Plan and other measures resulted in major investment in this community and allowed many businesses to weather the storm. But the pandemic is not over yet, and we still have more work to do in this recovery.”

East Bay small businesses have received significant help from funds authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), the $1.7 trillion recovery bill passed by Congressional Democrats and signed by President Biden in March. The bill included a Restaurant Revitalization Fund and Shuttered Venue Operating Grants administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

A total of 668 East Bay restaurants, other food and beverage businesses, and venues received close to $300 million through these two programs. A city-by-city breakdown showing the number of businesses helped and the amounts of money awarded is below. More information about the individual businesses that received assistance can be found here.

Lee and House Democrats are now working to pass President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act, which includes a “generational” investment in American small businesses. The bill will help small businesses get through the ongoing pandemic and thrive by increasing access to capital, funding entrepreneurial development programs, supporting underserved businesses, and driving innovation.

In addition, Congresswoman Lee is a co-sponsor of H.R. 3807, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act, which will provide an additional $60 billion to support restaurants and other food and beverage businesses.

For more information about help available to small businesses, please see this comprehensive guide to SBA resources.

Recovery Funds Awarded to Small Businesses in California’s 13th Congressional District

Restaurant Revitalization Fund

Total Awardees: 590

Total Amount: $212,676,228.49

By City:

  • Oakland

Total awardees: 297

Total amount: $99,965,410.64

  • San Leandro

Total awardees: 44

Total amount: $12,909,939.13

  • Berkeley

Total awardees: 146

Total amount: $63,817,616.60

  • Alameda

Total awardees: 61

Total amount: $20,031,428.71

  • Albany

Total awardees: 12

Total amount: $2,686,934.95

  • Emeryville

Total awardees: 29

Total amount: $13,163,744.46

  • Piedmont

Total awardees: 1

Total amount: $101,154

Shuttered Venues Operating Grants (As of September 13, 2021)

Total Awardees: 78

Total Amount: $87,142,607

By City:

  • Oakland

Total awardees: 36

Total amount: $19,917,509

  • San Leandro

Total awardees: 3

Total amount: $234,970

  • Berkeley

Total awardees: 29

Total amount: $59,197,077

  • Alameda

Total awardees: 7

Total amount: $5,098,536

  • Albany

Total awardees: 1

Total amount: $311,674

  • Emeryville

Total awardees: 2

Total amount: $2,382,841

  • Piedmont: None

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Barbara Lee

Congresswoman Lee Applauds Rep. Cori Bush’s Bold Action to Halt Evictions

“This is only a temporary solution while Congress works to pass Congresswoman Maxine Waters bill, but in the meantime, states and local governments must distribute the relief funds allocated to them through the COVID relief packages passed in Congress.

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Congressmember Cori Bush, once unhoused herself, camped out on the steps of the Capitol in protest.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) issued a statement this week cheering the actions by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to extend a federal eviction moratorium.

“With the COVID-19 delta variant on the rise across the country, this decision by the CDC will help protect the millions of renters at risk of being evicted from their homes and protect our communities from this pandemic,” said Lee.

“This is only a temporary solution while Congress works to pass Congresswoman Maxine Waters bill, but in the meantime, states and local governments must distribute the relief funds allocated to them through the COVID relief packages passed in Congress.

Congresswoman Lee praised the bold leadership of Rep. Cori Bush to fight for an eviction moratorium.

“This victory, of course, would not have been possible without the fearless advocacy of Congresswoman Cori Bush, who shared her own experience of being unhoused and turned passion into action to get this done.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and members of “The Squad” celebrated this week after the CDC announced the 60-day extension of the eviction moratorium that had expired over the weekend, crediting Bush’s protests for winning the extension.

Bush (D-Mo.) had been camping on the Capitol steps  for several days to protest the expiration of the ban and  pressed the Biden administration to extend it.

“On Friday night (July 30), I came to the Capitol with my chair. I refused to accept that Congress could leave for vacation while 11 million people faced eviction. For five days, we’ve been out here, demanding that our government acts to save lives,” Bush wrote on Twitter on August 3.

“The House is at recess. People are on vacation. How are we on vacation when we have millions of people who could start to be evicted tonight?” Bush said on July 31.

“There are people already receiving and have received ‘pay or vacate’ notices that will have them out on tomorrow. People are already in a position where they need help, our most vulnerable, our most marginalized, those who are in need.”

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