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Wade Woods Runs to Represent San Francisco at State Democratic Convention

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Wade Woods running to represent Filmore and Hunters Point at State Democratic Convention Democrats are gathering this weekend to elect elect seven women and seven men to be Assembly District Delegates (ADDS) who will be responsible for representing their community at the California Democratic Convention.Wade Woods, who is African American, is running on the Reform Democratic Slate.

 

The slate is a diverse coalition of local community advocates who are banding together to fight Donald Trump and the corporate Democrats who allowed him to become president.

 

Woods ran in June for the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, losing by a few votes. According to the slate, “The Democratic Party will best defend its values of equal rights across lines of race, gender identity, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation when it represents the 99% not the 1%.

 

The election will be held Sunday, Jan. 8, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the Labors 261 International Union Hall at 3271 18th St. Any registered voter living in the 17th Assembly District will be eligible to vote.

Coronavirus

SEN. TIM SCOTT SOLVES ASIAN AMERICANS’ MODEL MINORITY PROBLEM

In the official GOP response to President Joe Biden’s Joint Speech to Congress last week, Scott offered up his childhood growing up with a single mother in a one-room apartment, and then looked America in the eye and said, unequivocally, “America is not a racist country.”

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Asian Americans have long been  hampered at times by the “Model Minority” stereotype. What’s that about? You know, how Asian Americans’ success has been used against them in that “look how good they are” way. It’s an excuse to ignore them.  Here’s the thinking: as model minorities, we can all  ignore them. They don’t need any government help, affirmative action, or any such handouts. They are model minorities, ergo, the subtext–Why can’t you all be like them! 

But not this year! 

Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) has made a gift to all Asian Americans.

We aren’t the model minority anymore.

He is.

In the official GOP response to President Joe Biden’s Joint Speech to Congress last week, Scott offered up his childhood growing up with a single mother in a one-room apartment, and then looked America in the eye and said, unequivocally, “America is not a racist country.”

He was taking away our crown of “model minority” and placing it on his own head. And tying it on with his own bootstraps. 

Got to hand it to Scott. He likes to brag: “I get called Uncle Tom and the N-word by progressives, liberals.” But honestly, to say America is not a racist country is possibly a bigger lie than “Trump won last November.”

A Biden margin of victory of nearly 7 million voters debunks that lie.

It would take just one chapter  of Asian American history—just the Filipino part– to refute Scott.

In an historical context, taking away Asian Americans’  “model minority” burden is quite significant. 

Dropping the stereotype is important as America, after the Atlanta mass murders , finally begins to understand that we Asian Americans are beyond stereotypes. All together, Asian Americans are  23 million strong and diverse, from more than 20 countries. And we’re growing, destined to overtake the Hispanic population as the No.1 ethnic minority by 2060, according to the Pew analysis of Census data.

It’s especially important as the government looks to engage with all of its people in a new inclusive way.

It is the New America many of us in the ethnic media have been talking about for the last 20 years.

And that’s what Scott and the GOP are trying to negate that positive uplifting message of President Biden’s national address to a new America. 

We’re getting a lot of history in the first hundred days of Joe Biden. In that speech, we got the precious first image of a U.S. president speaking to a joint session of Congress, flanked by a female speaker of the house, and a female vice president—a multi-racial woman of Black and Asian descent.

It’s the good history of an evolving democracy.

When Biden talked about “real opportunities in the lives of Americans,” he didn’t any of us leave us out.

“Black, white, Latino, Asian American, Native American,” Biden said, then he segued into a thank you. “Look, I also want to thank the United States Senate for voting 94-1 to pass the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act to protect Asian American Pacific Islanders.”

Seven seconds of applause. And then to top it off, he transitioned to a mention of the Equality Act to protect transgender youth.

These were the specific and necessary moments when many of us could see ourselves. They were signs that government hasn’t forgotten who it’s governing—all Americans, of all stripes, collars, and colors. Biden’s all-encompassing economic plan covering infrastructure and families would cost anywhere up to $4 trillion.

Worth it? It is if we still want to be an America that’s of the people, by the people and for the people.

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Activism

Sen. Steven Bradford Brings Strength and Reason to Police Reform Fight

SB 2 would strengthen the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act. Enacted in 1987, that legislation prevents law enforcement abuses and other civil rights violations.

California State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC), admits that he will meet challenges along the way as he fights for police reform in California. 

     Last week, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing he defended a bill he introduced in the Legislature that, if passed, would decertify cops for inappropriate behavior. During that appearance, Bradford made a persuasive case for police reform that was, at turns, forceful and thoughtful, bringing a cool head but passionate voice to a topic that has created a bitter divide in the California electorate, pitting advocates of police reform violently against people who support law enforcement. 

      “This is a tough issue but it’s a righteous issue,” Bradford told his colleagues. 

      “And we want to be intentional about what we are doing here in California when it comes to police reform,” he continued during his passionate closing argument for police reform on April 27. “That’s what this bill does. It’s intentional in what we are trying to achieve. This is a fair measure and far better than any that exist today.”

     Co-authored by Senate President Pro Tem Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), Senate Bill (SB) 2 passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a 7-2 vote that same day. Also known as the Kenneth Ross Jr. Police Decertification Act of 2021, the legislation aims to increase accountability for law enforcement officers that commit serious misconduct and illegally violate a person’s civil rights.

     SB 2 will create a statewide process to revoke the certification of a peace officer following the conviction of serious crimes or termination from employment due to misconduct.

      Bradford praised the judiciary committee’s majority vote, describing it as progress that would put California on the “right side of history.”

     Atkins agrees. 

     “The passage of SB 2 (April 27) is another step toward the goal of achieving much-needed accountability in policing, and I thank Senator Bradford for his steadfast commitment to achieving critical and necessary reforms,” said Atkins. “As with anything this big, there is a lot of work ahead, and I remain committed to working with my colleagues to get this bill in the position to cross the finish line.”

     The California Peace Officer Association (CPOA) believes that Bradford’s bill would turn the California Committee on Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) into an investigative agency. A sticking point for the group is that the people who would be given the authority to probe police misconduct would primarily be non-peace officers. 

     “We, of course, know that not all reform is a good reform, and CPOA among others is open to ‘reimagining public safety in California,” Shaun Rundle, CPOA’s deputy director said in a written statement about several police reform and public safety bills scheduled for hearings. “What we didn’t imagine, however, was the continued attacks against a noble profession who have proven to improve and drive down crime in this state year after year.”

     With the passage of SB 2 out of committee, the legislation will move on to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration. If it advances out of that committee, SB 2 could head to a Senate floor vote. 

    During the Judiciary Committee hearing, which lasted for nearly three hours, a few senators expressed their support but asked Bradford to modify language pertaining to the Bane Act. 

     SB 2 would strengthen the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act. Enacted in 1987, that legislation prevents law enforcement abuses and other civil rights violations. Authored by California State Assemblymember Tom Bane, the legislation was created to allow victims to seek compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and civil penalties.

    Supporters of police reform in California say the Bane Act has been undercut by bad court decisions over the years. They argue that it was once an effective law intended to protect the civil rights of people in the state but has since been weakened as an effective check against police excessive use of force. 

     The California State Sheriffs’ Association views SB 2 as problematic, in terms of hiring, recruiting, and maintaining employees. 

    “We are concerned that the language removing employee immunity from state civil liability will result in individual peace officers hesitating or failing to act out of fear that actions they believe to be lawful may result in litigation and damages. In so doing, SB 2 will very likely jeopardize public safety and diminish our ability to recruit, hire, and retain qualified individuals,” the California State Sheriffs’ Association said in a written statement.

 

    But Bradford says his bill essentially addresses rogue policing and hinders the ability of fired officers to find employment at other agencies even when they have a record of misconduct that got them terminated. 

    Among states that do not have a process to decertify cops for criminal behavior are Hawaii, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and California. 

    “We lead in technology, we lead in the environment, we lead in all those things that are important except for criminal justice reform,” Bradford said, referring to California’s reputation as a political trailblazer on several fronts. 

     People of color live in the communities where the majority of police misconduct incidents take place, Bradford said, adding that SB 2 will save Black and Brown lives. 

     “How many more people, regardless of color need to lose their lives because of the callous acts of law enforcement?” Bradford asked his colleagues. “There are two systems of justice in this country. But you’ll never know, and really understand. Its far different than anything any of you guys have encountered or will encounter.”

 

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Featured

Oaklanders Celebrate May Day with Caravan, Vacant Home Art Installation

Hundreds of workers and a coalition of over 25 Bay Area groups celebrated May Day in Oakland with a car / bike caravan, block party, and an art installation that explored ways of opening and occupying vacant housing units.

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Cherri Murphy (center), of Gig Workers International, speaks to a crowd of protestors on a flatbed truck at the Lake Merritt Bart station in Oakland. Photo by Zack Haber on May 1st.

Makayla Walker waves a Black Lives Matter flag during a caravan to celebrate May Day, also known as International Workers Day, in Downtown Oakland. Photo by Zack Haber on May 1st.

Hundreds of workers and a coalition of over 25 Bay Area groups celebrated May Day in Oakland with a car / bike caravan, block party, and an art installation that explored ways of opening and occupying vacant housing units.

The celebration started as about 80 vehicles and about 40 people on bicycles gathered at Lake Merritt’s Bart Station. Standing on a flatbed truck behind a red and white sign that read “MAY DAY WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE,” Minister Cherri Murphy, with Gig Workers Rising, was the first to address the crowd.
“Welcome to May Day 2021…as we unite low wage workers, fight against police violence and killings, and demand housing for all!” she said.
The flatbed truck then led the caravan on about a five and a half mile route through Chinatown, Downtown Oakland, then stopped outside Oakland’s Whole Foods Market, stopped again by Lake Merritt, then returned to downtown. Vehicles and bikes had signs attached to them in support of workers, Black life, housing for all, and against police violence.
Some bikers had signs which read “EVERY WORKER NEEDS A UNION.” An activist named Makayla Walker stood up putting her body outside of a car’s sunroof while waving a large flag that read BLACK LIVES MATTER. A UHAUL truck had a large orange sign attached to it which read “from OAKLAND to KABUL, DOWN WITH CAPITALISM.”
Drivers in the caravan honked their horns loudly. The honks were at their loudest when the caravan stopped outside of Whole Foods Market. As vehicles blocked a road to access the market, Nell Myhand, co-chair of the California chapter of The Poor People’s Campaign, stood in the flatbed truck and addressed the caravan and grocery shoppers.
“We’re here outside of Whole Foods…to say that we’re in solidarity with Amazon workers in Bessemer and Amazon workers around the globe because 15 dollars an hour and a union is a modest demand,” said Myhand. “What we really need is a living wage, which here in the Bay Area is 30 dollars.”
Organizers of the caravan chose the site because Jeff Bezos, currently the world’s richest person, founded and is the CEO of Amazon, which owns Whole Foods Market. Workers in an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama recently lost their vote to unionize, but those that led the unionization effort say Amazon illegally interfered with the process. In her speech, Myhand also said that all workers, including those who do unpaid care work, deserve a living wage, safe work environment, and dignity.
Hashid Kasama, a worker from Fresno and member of Rideshare Drivers United who makes ends meet by doing gig work delivering groceries for the app based Instacart company, spoke outside of Whole Foods in support of The Protect the Right to Organize Act. The proposed legislation, widely known as The PRO act, would expand the right to unionize to many app based gig workers. Such rights were limited in California after the state passed Proposition 22.
“I am boldly requesting all of you in the audience to please tell your co-workers, friends and family to support The PRO-Act by any means necessary,” Kasama said. “My son needs to eat and I, as his father, need flexibility. But that doesn’t mean I have to lose my rights as an employee.”
After speeches ended outside of Whole Foods Market, the caravan stopped on Lake Merritt Blvd just east of Oakland’s central branch library and next to a patch of grass that serves as a popular hang out location for the city’s residents. Rachel Jackson of The People’s Strike Bay Area spoke out against police killings there.
“In the devastation of COVID,” she said, “one thing that never stopped is murders by police concentrated in communities of color and the neighborhoods where so-called essential workers live.”
Jackson specifically mentioned Breonna Taylor, Dante Wright, Tyrell Wilson, Miles Hall, and Mario Gonzales, who all died during interactions with police.
After stopping by Lake Merritt, organizers encouraged caravan participants to independently move to a vacant home in the Lower Bottoms neighborhood of West Oakland as the last stop for the May Day celebration. At that location, participants ate food and listened to speeches and DJs in front of the vacant home. House the Bay, an organization that works to get people off the the streets and into empty housing, helped organize the event. A purple and white sign draped out of the home’s window read “LIBERATE HOUSING.” The front door was unlocked and people entered and exited.
The home is owned by Sullivan Management Company (SMC) East Bay, a company owned by Neill Sullivan, who organizers said they consciously targeted. The anti-eviction mapping project has shared data showing Sullivan purchased over 350 properties after the 2008 foreclosure crisis and served over 350 eviction notices in a six year period ending in 2016.
A small plaque outside the home explained that the project was an art installation called “what you’ll need to get in and stay” that aimed to “take a closer look at tools and symbols of vacancy and squatting to deconstruct our fears around attaining homefulness.” Literature was given out for free to share information about extralegal methods of entering, occupying and securing vacant homes.
Inside the house, activists had written messages on walls against profiting off of housing by keeping homes empty. One section of wall writing near the home’s entrance described the home’s history, claiming it was owned by a Black family from 1978-2011 until Sullivan purchased it for $100,000, then repeatedly took out reverse mortgages on the home and profited off of the interest while leaving it empty.
“Organizing around housing is very much part of what makes working class lives livable” said a person involved with opening the art exhibit in the vacant home. They asked not to be named out of fear of retaliation.
“This action was to demonstrate we could do it and to share skills with people,” they said. “The goal is to get to the point where it’s not outside activists but it’s everybody cracking houses on their blocks.”

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