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Black activists with deep Oakland organizing roots reflect on a week of protest

 

Carroll Fife, TurHa Ak, John Jones III and Refa One on how this moment compares to movements of the past, and what comes next.

Berkelyside - For seven straight days, Oaklanders have taken to the streets to demonstrate against police brutality toward Black Americans. In some ways, these events feel wholly unprecedented. In other ways, this moment is reminiscent of previous chapters in the Bay Area’s deep history of political protest and social-justice movement building.

Oaklandside contributors Jeannine Etter and Sarah Belle Lin interviewed four seasoned Black activists with deep organizing experience in Oakland. They reflected on the past week’s demonstrations, and offered advice to younger activists and anyone interested in better understanding this moment.

The Black New Deal

The Oakland Post - Across the entire county, Black Americans have been crying out for specific data on the impacts of the coronavirus on their communities due to high rates of contraction and mortality.

In Oakland, coalition of Black-led organizations was convened to address the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 and its evisceration of the Black community.

The resulting effort is The Black New Deal, a platform of short, mid and long-range goals crafted to address the immediate needs of Oakland’s Black residents.

Vocal alliance lobbies San Diego to focus budget more on low-income residents

22 local organizations want rent relief, free broadband, money for undocumented residents, small business help

San Diego Union-Tribune - A coalition of nonprofit groups and labor unions is lobbying San Diego to make major revisions to the city’s proposed budget that would help renters, low-income workers, undocumented residents and small businesses.

The Community Budget Alliance, a partnership that includes 22 local organizations, wants the city to give rent relief to people struggling during the pandemic and provide free high-speed internet to low-income households.

The alliance also wants more money devoted to enforcing worker rights and wage rules, boosting small businesses in low-income areas and translating city communications into the many languages spoken across San Diego.

'One paycheck away' from homelessness: housing inequality fuels U.S. protests

Reuters - WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Activist Winsome Pendergrass has an explanation for why the coronavirus is disproportionately affecting African Americans and fuelling the anger that has exploded onto U.S. streets - housing.

“The ones who feel it most are the black and brown people. That’s why COVID runs so prevalent in our area - you have eight people in a one-bedroom apartment,” said Pendergrass, a leader with the activist group New York Communities for Change.

“COVID has blown the lid off to show that we’re all living one paycheck away from the side of the street,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

Pendergrass is among a number of activists and residents warning that the protests over race and policing that have roiled the United States for more than a week are driven in part by housing inequalities exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

There are cracks in the foundation of our housing system

 

Marketplace - Vanessa Bulnes and her husband Richard were homeowners in Oakland for nearly 20 years until they lost their home to foreclosure after the Great Recession and were forced to move into a rental. Now they put about 70% of their take-home pay toward rent each month — money that’s no longer building equity in a home. 

When COVID-19 hit, putting millions of Americans out of work, the rent was no longer affordable for Bulnes and many like her — even on unemployment benefits. So she went on a rent strike.

“If nothing is done that’s a permanent solution, like rent forgiveness or cancelation, I can’t even describe what the world is going to look like,” Bulnes said. “It’s a scary thought.”

Organizers of 2020’s May Day Actions Are Planning a People’s Strike for June 1

 

Truthout - Permutations of disaster are bearing down with such velocity on working-class people in the United States, it’s not easy to keep abreast — of the harms, but also of the welcome initiatives.

Jump-started by Cooperation Jackson co-founder and co-director Kali Akuno, a People’s Strike was announced on April 1 to inspire working-class people to think deeply about their futures and come to a shared commitment that concessions from power must be demanded, are worth struggling for and that steps must be taken to prepare materially for that struggle.

From now until further notice, on the first day of every month, the People’s Strike will birth a program of coordinated actions from coast to coast.

Davis extending eviction moratorium, Steinberg supports idea for Sacramento

FOX 40 - When the pandemic began, millions across the state were suddenly unsure of how they would pay their rents and mortgages.

“Right now, we’re having folks having to choose between paying for food and paying for rent,” said César Aguirre with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Sacramento.

That’s why community groups like ACCE fought for moratoriums on evictions in cities across the state.

Protest outside Sheriff Gore’s San Diego home urges no evictions

 

San Diego Union-Tribune - About 30 anti-eviction protesters gathered Tuesday evening in San Diego’s Mission Hills neighborhood, near where San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore lives, and traced outlines of dead bodies with blue, pink, yellow and white chalk.

“Evictions equal death,” they wrote in chalk and on hand-painted signs.

On May 7, the Sheriff’s Department announced plans to resume roughly 160 evictions that were ordered before the coronavirus pandemic. Later that day, sheriff’s officials reversed the decision, saying they would hold off on the evictions even though they were “perfectly legal.”

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