Wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and a baseball cap that says Oakland California, Chris Pastena’s appearance looks like he could be part of any protest like the one that passed the restaurant he operates. When he tried to stop a white woman from taking a bat to the restaurant’s door during a protest on Saturday night, a crowd of people attacked him. Another group of protesters stopped the attack. They had not realized he was a co-owner of the restaurant, Tribune Tavern, or that he owned it with his wife, who is Black.
“Who brings a bat to a protest?” said Pastena.
In a Facebook post about the incident, Pastena wrote, “Dear white woman with a bat, you do not know the harm you do. You march in a righteous protest for BLM yet you choose to attack a business that is owned by a Black woman and employees almost all POC. You are in Oakland in a diverse community, any destruction that you do hurts POC. Do you care? Or is it your privilege not to care?”
Pastena said the post was meant to start a difficult conversation about protests and the tactics used in recent protests, not only to destroy large corporate businesses and institutional buildings like Alameda County Superior Courthouse but have also taken a toll on small businesses as well.
Pastena’s concern is not just for the community at large but for his employees who are mostly POC and depend on his restaurant to financially survive. The business has already taken a hit due to COVID-19, and he does not want to have to shut down and let go of any of the staff members he and his wife employ.
“I don’t want to make it about me, or the Tavern or the building…It’s not about me. It’s about people who are doing things that take away from the issues at hand,” Pastena said. “It’s my job to provide a safe environment for my employees.”
The nighttime protest on July 25 was organized in response to Portland, OR ongoing BLM protests which have faced unidentifiable federal police agents arresting people and throwing them into unmarked vehicles. In response, groups like Wall of Moms and Dad’s with Blowers popped up to help the protesters.
Wall of Moms Bay Area organized the Oakland response protest on Facebook with Refuse Fascism Bay Area and Vigil for Democracy in order to march against federal agents coming to Oakland. President Donald Trump said on July 20 he would send Federal agents to Oakland. While the protest drew in a large crowd, no federal agents appeared.
Pastena said most of the protesters were peaceful on Saturday night and stayed on message. It was not until the tail-end of the protest that he noticed a change in chants and direction.
This was not the first time he had a violent during a protest. A man kicked his foot throw a window that was already broken on May 29. Pastena said when he asked the man to stop the man swung and hit him on the chin and yelled, “We’re here to burn this mother-fucker down!”
Pastena said that has nothing to do with George Floyd or the message of Black Lives Matter. Pastena said for several nights after the late May protest, young white kids would walk up to him and ask him where they were. He said it showed him that many of the people showing up downtown at night were not from Oakland. He said one of them came up to him and asked him, “Where are the riots tonight?”
Pastena said he cares about the current movement and does not wish for protests to stop. After the May 29 protest that left much of downtown with broken windows and destroyed property, he and his friends came together and cleaned up the streets. He helped people set up areas to leave paint so art can be put on boarded windows.
He and his wife own several restaurants in Oakland, and they believe deeply in taking care of the community around them. They are working with World Central Kitchen to feed thousands of homeless people. Pastena said he even drained his bank account during the pandemic to cut checks for people he works with who could not get unemployment. “That’s all we care about, my wife and myself, she’s my partner in this, she’s my partner in life and partner in businesses. Without her, none of this happens.”
When it came to last Saturday’s protest he said, “There was this really nice protest happening. It felt like there was a lot of energy. As they walked around 13th, it seemed very positive…that’s what this is all about, positive change.”
There were about a thousand people who passed by in the protest he said, but as the crowd passed the energy changed. A smaller group at the end of the crowd wearing all black with white faces started throwing trash cans. That’s when he noticed a woman swinging a bat at the Tavern door. He yelled, “stop this is a small business,” she continued to swing the bat. He approached her to try and stop her again, unsure if she was trying to swing again at him or the door. He was in between her and the door mid-swing and pushed her. That’s when a crowd started to attack him.
“At that moment…all I was thinking about is, if I can’t open tomorrow, if I can’t provide a place for work tomorrow what happens to my staff? They need jobs right now. They need income. Their kids need to eat,” said Pastena.
D.C. Statehood is a Voting Rights Issue… and Racial Justice Issue
The disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of D.C. residents is fundamentally un-American and there is no good reason to allow it to continue.
Washington, D.C. has a higher percentage of Black residents than any state in the country, and they have no voting representation in Congress. This is systemic racism in action. It is long past time to give Washington’s 712,000 residents the representation they deserve by making D.C. our 51st state.It is shameful that people who live in the nation’s capital have no say in Congress. And it is unacceptable that local laws and budgets passed by D.C. elected officials can be overturned by members of Congress who decide to meddle in local decision-making. That explains why Washington, D.C.’s license plates include the slogan, “End taxation without representation,” a rallying cry by American colonists against the tyranny of British rule.The disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of D.C. residents is fundamentally un-American and there is no good reason to allow it to continue. There are bogus reasons to oppose statehood, and some Republicans in Congress have been trotting them out now that legislation to admit Washington, D.C. as a statehood bill is moving forward in Congress.Some claim that Washington, D.C. is too small to be a state. But D.C. has more residents than either Vermont or Wyoming. There are currently six states whose population is less than a million. D.C. pays more federal taxes than 21 states—and more federal taxes per person than any state.Some make the false claim that it would require a constitutional amendment to make Washington, D.C. a state. Not true. The Constitution clearly gives Congress the authority to admit new states.That’s how every one of the 37 states that were not initially part of the U.S. have joined the country. The original District of Columbia was created out of land from Maryland and Virginia. In 1846, a good chunk of D.C. was returned to Virginia. No constitutional amendment was required then, and none is required now to admit Washington, D.C. as a new state. Some objections are so idiotic, frankly, that they must be a cover for pure partisanship or worse.In March, a Heritage Foundation legal fellow testifying before Congress said that D.C. residents shouldn’t get representation in Congress because they can already influence congressional debates by placing yard signs where members of Congress might see them on their way to work. One Republican congressman said (wrongly) that D.C. would be the only state without a car dealership. Another said that D.C. doesn’t have enough mining, agriculture, or manufacturing. Mitch McConnell said the plan to make D.C. a state was evidence of “full bore socialism on the march.”At least some Republicans are honest about their real reason for opposing statehood: they just don’t want to let D.C. voters elect Democratic officials who will support progressive policies supported by the majority of the American people.But that is not a principled position. None of the objections to D.C. statehood hold water, especially when weighed against the basic injustice of disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of people.Washingtonians have fought in every U.S. war. About 30,000 D.C. residents are veterans. But D.C.’s mayor does not even have the ability that governors have to mobilize its own National Guard—a fact that proved to be deadly during the Jan. 6 Capitol Insurrection.The bottom line in this: how can we hold ourselves out as a model of democracy when we are the only democratic country in the world that denies representation and self-governance to the people who live in its capital? We can’t.As the Biden administration recognized in announcing its support for D.C. statehood, it is long past time to correct this injustice. The House of Representatives voted on April 22, to admit Washington, D.C. as a state. Senate leaders must not allow filibuster rules or Republican resistance to prevent Congress from righting this wrong.
MAYOR LONDON BREED NOMINATES CITY ATTORNEY DENNIS HERRERA TO LEAD THE SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION
As the new General Manager of the SFPUC, Herrera would bring decades of experience serving San Francisco residents and advancing the fight for significant environmental policies.
Leading Black Health Group that Sued FDA Responds to Agency Decision to Ban Menthol Cigarettes
For decades, the industry marketed menthols to our kids and communities with exploitative and discriminatory tactics.
The African American Tobacco Leadership Council (AATCLC) released the following statement in response to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes, which follows the organization’s lawsuit filed against the agency last year:
“[Thursday’s] decision by the FDA to ban menthol cigarettes is a long-overdue step toward ending years of racialized predation upon African Americans by the tobacco industry.
This decision follows the lawsuit we filed against the agency last year and it signals the beginning of the end. We are encouraged but there is still much work ahead.
For decades, the industry marketed menthols to our kids and communities with exploitative and discriminatory tactics. As we work to confront racism and injustice in all forms, banning menthol cigarettes is one part of the push toward racial justice, health equity, and protecting Black lives.
While a ban on menthol cigarettes is progress, there is more work to be done to end tobacco use and protect the health of African Americans. The AATCLC will continue to fight for justice and health equity in our community. We will continue to work to educate the public about the harmful effects of tobacco on Black Americans and African immigrant communities to ensure we enjoy longer and healthier lives.”
This statement was provided by Keisha N. Brown, president of Lagrant Communications.
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