Requests from the encampment (from JP Massar)

October 30, 2016 (5:39 p.m.)

Adeline & Fairview in Berkeley.

1. Garbage pickup.  There are a number of bags of garbage by the food supplies that need disposal.
There are also a number of bags of garbage across Fairview up against a trash bin – I don’t know if
they belong to the camp or not but they will be attributed to it regardless.

2. Garbage bags.  “We can always use garbage bags.”

3. Eating utensils, preferably reusable but plastic okay.

I just stopped by. The camp is doing very well; lots of people out enjoying the respite from the rain.

TMI from the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Homelessness

The Berkeley Daily Planet

by Carol Denney

Saturday October 29, 2016 

“Every time they evict us we get bigger.” – Mike Lee, candidate for mayor.

It’s true. The police sweeps chasing homeless people from one location to another has brought about an intentional community of tents and shared resources on the Adeline corridor which was the subject of a meeting of around 35 city staff, homeless people, city council and mayoral candidates, Chief of Police Andrew Greenwood, Deputy City Manager Jovan Grogan, and interested members of the public at noon on Friday, October 28, 2016 in the old City Hall Cypress Room. Council and committee members Linda Maio, Darryl Moore, Jesse Arreguin, and Laurie Capitelli stated that the purpose of the meeting was to gather information from the community.

Councilmember Maio asked people to raise hands and take turns, and what followed was an hour and half of profoundly respectful informal dialogue without any particular agenda. Elliot Halperin of the ACLU asked initially where the committee was now, and Maio responded that they now had a comprehensive report of expenditures.[1]

Mike Lee, mayoral candidate and organizer with the tent village, stated that the top priority of First They Came for the Homeless is “the establishment of a legal encampment.” When Maio asked respectfully for detail, he thanked the assembled group for forming the committee and the opportunity for a forum, calling it a “bold step.” He went on to say the HUB, or new point of entry project for homeless services, “broken.”

Lee continued that nobody expected to sit forever on sidewalks in front of businesses, but rather expected a serious discussion of a legal campground with guidelines such as the tent village now has; no drugs or alcohol, a good neighbor policy, etc. “We have a proven track record,” he said, saying that a legally sanctioned campground permitted under the emergency declaration on homelessness was the top priority. “We’re tired of hearing about a ‘regional solution’,” he said, noting that every city touts a ‘regional solution’ as an excuse for not taking the lead.

Mike Zint, another organizer with First They Came for the Homeless, stated that “so far what we’ve developed is an evolving solution,” adding that to make progress they need a secure property. He described a tent village participant with gangrene who needs medical help immediately as one of many people on the street with a panoply of disabilities both mental and physical.

He described the core organizers as having evaluated some suggested sites, including an area near Aquatic Park where vehicle dwellers could also park to avoid city harassment. “The idea is we don’t need money from the city,” he stated quietly. “We take care of ourselves.” Help from the city could come in the form of port-a-johns and a water source, since Liberty City, the previous intentional tent city, survived on community support. “My biggest goal is to expand this model to other cities,” he said, which required only modest cooperation from the city, and could start small and grow “in a controlled way” relying on common sense and peaceful values.

Maio expressed a concern about the location being remote, which people agreed could be a concern in some circumstances. But many in the room noted that a quiet, natural location without the stress of being swept by police from one location to another was part of healing, and that many people on the street and in their core group have a “sixth sense” about people and great skill in de-escalation of conflicts. Zint noted that addicts would reject such a site, since they would want to be near their suppliers. Peer pressure within such a community, most agreed is very powerful inspiration.

“We listen to people,” added Zint. “Because we are a subculture we operate by different rules. We are very moral, very proper, we won’t tolerate bad behavior.”

Councilmember Jesse Arreguin asked, “You talked about self-governing. What kind of oversight would there be?” Zint replied that he would not mind the police stopping by occasionally, or even a security camera, or social or medical workers, since none of the core group had medical training and some on the street have medical needs. Mike Lee added, “these are resources that presently exist.” Mike Zint suggested that the group wanted to heal the relationship between the homeless community and the police.

Councilmember Maio asked what would happen if somebody problematic for the group camped just outside the main camp, and received thoughtful observations from many in the group about taking time to observe, to listen, and work with the city on difficulties as they arose. Maio then asked how big is too big, about additional locations, and Mike Zint, who had to leave the meeting at that point, encouraged Michael Diehl and council candidate Nancy Armstrong-Temple (council candidate Cheryl Davila was also in attendance) to help clarify any additional issues to the committee. Several community members spoke, citing the current state of homeless services as untenable.

Mike Wilson, a local community member assisting the tent village, made a powerful statement by saying, “Is it reasonable to drive people from a location without anywhere to go? Is it respectful to take action against homeless people based on unsubstantiated complaints?” Many in the assembly voiced agreement that there should be a moratorium on police sweeps immediately, since they are pointless, expensive, and cruel. Barbara Brust suggested that there be showers and washing machines nearby, noting that existing facilities are overcrowded and rarely available due to very limited hours. Brust challenged the assembly to come out to the tent village and meet people, saying, “you gotta be in their living room.”

Local community member J.P. Massar offered that he had detailed information on shower trucks, saying “I’m not asking you to solve homelessness. I’m asking you to start solving homelessness,” citing Berkeley’s soda tax as an example of setting a template for other cities. “Creating a sanctioned encampment is the most minimal thing you can do. But it’s something you can do now.”

Councilmember Maio stated “We have to work on several levels,” moving Mike Lee to emphasize “we need the police to stop chasing us. I can’t feed or heal people while wheeling people around the street. The only thing we need is a location. We have a process that works.” He repeated Mike Zint’s invitation for those in attendance to come to the tent village location to meet people and see for themselves.

“Anyone can come?” asked Councilmember Darryl Moore, and he was enthusiastically welcomed. Elliot Halperin of the ACLU noted that all studies indicate the inclusion of homeless voices in any plan is a good indicator of success, and was glad to see that step being taken. Michael Diehl, outreach worker, shared information about a needle exchange benefit at Gilman, and the conversation continued in an respectful, inclusive fashion. Councilmember Maio assured the group that the identification of a legal local campsite was understood to be their top priority along with a cessation of the sweeps.

Councilmember Arreguin expressed confusion as to whether the declaration of a homeless emergency allowed the city to stop using 647, the municipal code often used to ticket homeless people for “camping”, sending up no small amount of eyebrows in the educated crowd. Councilmember Moore asked if minor children were present, and Mike Lee patiently answered that that was a challenge the group had yet to meet.

Mike Wilson, as the productive meeting wrapped up, shared that the group would love the committee’s input and hoped that they would not be expected to have with all the answers, to which the council committee agreed, Councilmember Moore ruefully noting they, too, might be a few answers short.

# # #

OccupyForum trick-or-treating this Monday, October 31

trickortreat

We’ll be out trick-or-treating on Halloween – no OccupyForum meeting!
–Ruthie Sakheim

Upcoming OccupyForums:

Please send suggestions and OccupyForums you’d like to see or run:

October 31 Halloween (no OccupyForum)

Nov 7 Chuck’s film: Let the Fire Burn (1985 when a longtime feud between the city of Philadelphia and the controversial radical urban group MOVE came to a deadly climax.)

Nov 14  Deni Leonard on American Indian Genocide and Standing Rock

Nov 21 “13th”, Ava DuVernay’s documentary: Exposes Glaring Loophole in the Constitution (Ruthie)

Nov 28 Gerald/Mumia?

Dec 5, Gerald/Mumia?

Dec 12, Gerald/Mumia?

Dec 19, Gerald/Mumia?

Dec 26 Gerald/Mumia?

‘WE’RE HOMELESS AND WE VOTE!” by David Bacon

 MuZiK, a resident of the occupation, in her tent in the middle of Adeline Street.

October 27, 2016

Berkeley, California — By the time you read this, Berkeley’s intentional mobile homeless community will probably have been forced to migrate again, in yet one more forcible relocation.

A week ago, at five in morning, six city trucks and a U-Haul van pulled up at the tent encampment on a peaceful, leaf-covered median in the middle of south Berkeley’s Adeline Street. Each truck had two municipal workers on board. Half a dozen police patrol cars accompanied them, red and blue lights flashing in the dark.

Brad, one of the camp residents, sounded the warning. Sleepy tent dwellers quickly began to text supporters, warning that the city was threatening once again to throw tents and belongings into trucks and force people to leave.

James Cartmill, a veteran and resident of the occupation, in his tent on the grass median in the middle of Adeline Street.

“We went into delaying tactics while we got community support mobilized,” recalls Mike Zint, one of the leaders of this homeless community. “That doesn’t stop them, but every time this happens we get more support. So they sat there in their trucks for the next six hours — a dozen city workers and a code compliance officer, all on overtime. They took seven cops off patrol. And in the end, after all the arguments, we only moved about 200 feet, across the street. And how much did that cost?”

This homeless community is not just a group of people trying to find a place to live.  They call themselves an “intentional community” with a political purpose – forcing homelessness into public debate and defending the rights of homeless people.  Homeless activists are fighting for the same things in many cities.  Together, they are beginning to have an impact on local policies toward unhoused people [people who have no formal housing].  Political participation by homeless communities is giving them a voice in the national debate over homelessness as well.

The occupation on the grass median in the middle of Adeline Street.

Several weeks ago the group of people in this community “popped tents” as they say, in front of the Impact HUB, an office where the city has decided to centralize most services for homeless people. They protested an intake process they say screens out applicants for housing.  Writing in the local Street Spirit newspaper, Dan McMullan, who runs the Disabled People Outside Project, recalls, “I spent a week trying to get help for a disabled woman in a wheelchair and had to watch as she slept in front of the women’s shelter one night, and the Harrison House the next. But she could not get in. I couldn’t believe it.”  He goes on to say that a HUB employee said the woman didn’t fit the intake criteria, and that she was denied reconsideration of her case.

But the community’s objections go beyond the immediate denial of services. They condemn the way the city treats homeless people as victims — as passive recipients of services — rather than people capable of governing themselves.

For weeks their camp has moved from place to place, in a peregrination Zint calls the Poor Tour. “It’s a mobile occupation that can pop up anywhere,” he explains. “We’re exposing the fact that there is no solution — nothing but exposure for the homeless. And exposure [the physical cost of sleeping outside] is killing a lot of people.”

Ronald Vargas sticks his hands out of the tent in the morning, looking for his shoes.

A recent death was one of the reasons for launching the Poor Tour. On September 19, Roberto Benitas, a day laborer, died sleeping in a doorway. Benitas worked minimum wage jobs, standing in the bitter cold each morning in front of nearby lumberyards, trying to flag down contractors in their pickup trucks. Getting an occasional day’s work was never enough to pay Berkeley’s skyrocketing rents.

McMullan angrily charged, “Not a cent went into Social Security for the aging worker. When he died in a doorway of the defunct U-Haul rental shop at Allston Way and San Pablo Avenue, it took a day or so for anyone to even notice.” McMullen and a progressive city council candidate organized a memorial for Benitas, and the Poor Tour started days later.

Another reason for the tour is the November election, and an effort by this group of activists to use it to assert themselves politically. For over two years, homeless activists have been increasingly involved in Berkeley city politics.

Banners at the Adeline Street occupation, including the banner for First They Came for the Homeless.

The roots of this mobile occupation actually go back to Occupy San Francisco, and the decision by some of its residents to cross San Francisco Bay to Berkeley in the wake of Occupy’s dispersal. At first they lived for months in tents in front of a local Staples store. Then, two years ago, Zint and others set up an encampment in front of Berkeley’s main post office.

The Post Office occupation became a political weapon, the most visible part of a broader coalition that successfully fought the sale of the New Deal-era building to private developers. That coalition eventually included even the mayor and the city administration, which filed suit to block the sell-off.

The community of tents, tarps and literature tables on the steps lasted for over a year and a half, before the Post Office Police finally drove the tent dwellers away. Postal authorities then built an imposing fence of iron bars around the empty space where the tents had been, to keep anyone from ever setting foot again on that section of sidewalk.

The occupation on the grass median in the middle of Adeline Street.

That certainly felt like revenge to activists. While allied against the Post Office, the encampment’s residents had increasingly criticized the current city administration. They charge that Berkeley has given developers a green light to build a wave of market rate housing that is gentrifying the city, and at the same time creating more homelessness.

They pointed to a recent study by the San Francisco Planning Commission, which found that every set of 100 market-rate condominiums required the labor of about 43 working-class families to maintain them and support their residents. Not only don’t the condos create housing for poorer residents, but they increase housing demand at the bottom of the market, without coming up with any places for people to live. The net result is the increasing displacement of low-income people.

The post office coalition broke down entirely when conservative members of the city council, backed by the Downtown Business Association, pushed through an ordinance that restricts the space for the belongings of homeless people on public sidewalks. During the debate, the Post Office camp activists set up a new occupation in front of the old City Hall to make their opposition visible, called Liberty City.

Ronald Vargas begins to cry as he talks about the hard times in his life.

In an interview for Truthout, MuZiK, one of those displaced in the uprooting of the camp on Adeline Street, envisioned a growing use of occupations. MuZiK noted that, while it might make people uncomfortable, “if our protest is anything other than a short ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ sort of deal … we got a lot of time on our hands, so don’t hate it if we choose to spend it fighting for what’s right!”

In the wake of the sit-lie battle, another resident of the occupation, Mike Lee, declared himself a candidate for mayor. His campaign dramatizes the idea that homeless people should be given space to set up tents and create a self-governing community. At the Post Office and Liberty City, “what’s being created is an intentional community,” Lee explains, “where people come together and intentionally create an entity for mutual aid and voluntary cooperation, so that they can survive together and solve their own problems. Homeless people have always formed communities, whether we were considered ‘hobos’ or homeless people or just ‘bums.’ Homo sapiens are very social animals. We come together naturally.”

At the Post Office encampment, voter registration forms appeared on the tables in front of the tents. “We’re homeless and we vote!” Lee says. “There is a political purpose here, to change the way public policy is crafted and implemented. As homeless people we are the true experts. Organizing is the solution to homelessness, and the people responsible for solving homelessness are the homeless themselves.” Lee has put forward detailed plans and budgets, showing how the city could use a vacant community center to house working homeless people, and establish areas where others could set up tents or built “tiny houses.”

Ronald Vargas is the occupation’s artist and makes many of the protest banners. He calls himself Ronald Reagan as a sarcastic comment.

Meanwhile, city politics have become very sharply divided, which is reflected in the current mayoral election. The city’s progressive bloc, a minority on the city council, has two candidates for mayor. Council member Jesse Arreguin is more heavily favored and is the city’s first Latino elected official, endorsed by local unions and Bernie Sanders. Fellow councilmember Kriss Worthington earned the loyalty of progressives by showing up on picket lines and at demonstrations for years.

Leading the conservative opposition is Laurie Capitelli, a real estate agent whose campaign is well funded by property owners and developers. By mid-October the “independent” National Association of Realtors PAC, having found a way around the city’s $250 limit on direct campaign contributions, had channeled $60,382 into Capitelli campaign mailers.

Berkeley is one of many cities that have adopted ranked-choice voting in recent years. This helps the homeless political effort to reach out for allies. Arreguin and Worthington both ask supporters to vote for the other as their second choice in the ranked voting system. Now Lee has asked his constituency to vote for Arreguin as second choice, and Worthington as third choice. In this way, ranked choice voting allows people to support the political demands voiced by a candidate of homeless people, and then to support those progressive candidates who actually have the greatest chance of winning office.

After being forced by police to disband one camp on the grass median in the middle of Adeline Street, homeless community activists set up another across the street.

At the height of a recent rainstorm, Arreguin came out to check on the welfare of the people in the tents, which earned him Lee’s support. Worthington has come by the occupations several times in the past. Ultimately, Arreguin says, the city needs to hear from homeless people themselves and treat them as normal members of the body politic. “We do have a crisis, and all options should be on the table,” he said in an interview last year. “Berkeley should consider a temporary encampment until we have more permanent housing. People need a place to go.”

There is no question but that homelessness is an issue in Berkeley’s city election.  And while the presidential debates avoided it, homelessness has become a national issue as well. The explosion in the number of homeless people nationwide has led both to the passage of anti-homeless legislation in some cities and to the recognition of homeless encampments in others.  That explosion has not led yet to a broad movement for building public housing on a massive scale to eliminate homelessness.  But organized homeless people with a strong voice could help to create one.  Such a movement would depend as well on alliances with the broader communities in which homeless people live.

Mike Zint a leader of the homeless occupation, at an informal meeting outside his tent.

Media depictions often portray neighbors incensed over the presence of homeless people. The experience of the Poor Tour, however, is different. Residents of the mobile occupation have been careful to reach out to the neighborhoods that surround the camps. “We’re very fortunate that we have the support of the community — we wouldn’t be able to pull off this tour without them,” Zint says. “The city is so corrupt — sniffing around the developers’ money. It’s time that the community figures out what’s going on, stands up and fights back with us.”

To keep their support, the camp has set basic rules. “This is a community, not a drug camp,” Zint emphasizes. “We don’t have a porta potty, but we still manage to be sanitary. No drugs or alcohol. Treat each other with fairness and respect. Be mindful of the neighbors because they’re the ones we draw our support from.”

The activists and their umbrella organization, First They Came for the Homeless, have a website and a Facebook page. James Cartmill, who lives in the tents, and Sarah Menefee, a long-time homeless rights activist who is a near-constant presence at the camp, have taken and posted hundreds of photographs showing camp life from the inside, and the confrontations with the police and city.

A homeless man sleeps across the street from the Post Office, where the homeless camp used to be. It is now an empty space surrounded by iron bars – the people who used to live there sleep on the grass or elsewhere.

The occupations are decorated with posters and banners created by Nicaraguan refugee Ronald Vargas Gonzalez, whose sarcastic camp nickname is Ronald Reagan, who was responsible for the “contra war” against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. “I use what I have inside me,” he explains. “I analyze the society. I analyze being homeless. In each drawing I work to make society recognize that the homeless are human. Society says homeless means garbage, but homeless is human. Society has to give us respect.”

Vargas credits the community he’s found with fellow tent dwellers with keeping him alive. “The people here are like my roots, a connection to life. You can tell them everything – the good and the bad. What you’ve lost in this life, and what you’ve found.”

After being expelled from the Post Office camp and Liberty City, many homeless people began living in Provo Park, across the street from City Hall. The police later dispersed the people here also.

Mike Lee and Mike Zint (in the tent) in the camp outside the Berkeley Post Office, originally established to protest the sale of the Main Post Office building. The Post Office Police demolished the camp and evicted the residents a few weeks after the photo was taken.

(davidbaconrealitycheck.blogspot.com)

THE BELLAMY SALUTE

bellanysalute

The Bellamy salute is the salute described by Francis Bellamy(1855–1931), Christian socialist minister and author, to accompany the American Pledge of Allegiance, which he had authored in 1892. During the period when it was used with the Pledge of Allegiance, it was sometimes known as the “flag salute”. Later, during the 1920s and 1930s, Italian fascists and Nazis adopted a salute which had a similar form. This resulted in controversy over the use of the Bellamy salute in the United States. It was officially replaced by the hand-over-heart salute when Congress amended the Flag Code on December 22, 1942.

History

The inventor of the Bellamy salute was James B. Upham, junior partner and editor of The Youth’s Companion. Bellamy recalled Upham, upon reading the pledge, came into the posture of the salute, snapped his heels together, and said “Now up there is the flag; I come to salute; as I say ‘I pledge allegiance to my flag,’ I stretch out my right hand and keep it raised while I say the stirring words that follow.”

The Bellamy salute was first demonstrated on October 12, 1892 according to Bellamy’s published instructions for the “National School Celebration of Columbus Day“:

At a signal from the Principal the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the flag the military salute — right hand lifted, palm downward, to align with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” At the words, “to my Flag,” the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side.

— From The Youth’s Companion, 65 (1892): 446–447.

The initial civilian salute was replaced with a hand-on-heart gesture, followed by the extension of the arm as described by Bellamy. Though the instruction called for the palm to be up, many found this awkward, and performed it with the palm down (see pictures above).

By the 1920s, Italian fascists adopted what has been called theRoman salute to symbolize their claim to have revitalized Italy on the model of ancient Rome. A similar ritual was adopted by the German Nazis, creating the Nazi salute. The similarity to the Bellamy salute led to confusion, especially during World War II. From 1939 until the attack on Pearl Harbor, detractors of Americans who argued against intervention in World War II produced propaganda using the salute to lessen those Americans’ reputations. Among the anti-interventionist Americans was aviation pioneerCharles Lindbergh. Supporters of Lindbergh’s views would claim that Lindbergh did not support Adolf Hitler, and that pictures of him appearing to do the Nazi salute were actually pictures of him using the Bellamy salute. In his Pulitzer Prize winning biographyLindbergh (1998), author A. Scott Berg explains that interventionistpropagandists would photograph Lindbergh and other isolationistsusing this salute from an angle that left out theAmerican flag, so it would be indistinguishable from the Hitler salute to observers.

In order to prevent further confusion or controversy, the United States Congress instituted the hand-over-the-heart gesture as the salute to be rendered by civilians during the Pledge of Allegiance in the United States, instead of the Bellamy salute. This was done when Congress amended the Flag Code on December 22, 1942.

There was initially some resistance to dropping the Bellamy salute, for example from the Daughters of the American Revolution, but this opposition died down quickly following Nazi Germany’s declaration of war against the United States on December 11, 1941.

(Wikipedia.org)

Movies at the Roxie: “COMPANY TOWN” from October 28 to November 3

SHOWTIMES / BUY TICKETS

First show: October 28

Friday night Oct 28 is co-presented with San Francisco Vision.
IN PERSON: David Campos, filmmakers Alan Snitow, Deborah Kaufman, and housing rights advocate, Christina Olague, after the show.
Saturday night Oct 29:
IN PERSON: Lisa Geduldig, and filmmakers Alan Snitow, Deborah Kaufman, after the show.

companytown1The once free-spirited city of San Francisco is now a “Company Town,” a playground for tech moguls of the “sharing economy.” Airbnb is the biggest hotel. Uber privatizes transit. And now these companies want political power as well. Meanwhile, middle class and ethnic communities are driven out by skyrocketing rents and evictions–sparking a grassroots backlash that challenges the oligarchy of tech. Is this the future of cities around the world? The feature-length documentary, “Company Town,” is the story of an intense election campaign to determine the fate of the city at the epicenter of the digital revolution. Produced and directed by Deborah Kaufman and Alan Snitow. Edited by Manuel Tsingaris. With Aaron Peskin, Julie Christensen, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Ron Conway,Brian Chesky, Joe “Fitz” Rodriguez, Jeffrey Kwong, Sunny Angulo, Shaw San Liu, Gordon Chin, Lina Chen. David Campos, Patrick Hannon, Chris Lehane David Talbot & Willie Brown. USA. 2016. 77 mins.

‘Lions Hunting Zebras’: Ex-Wells Fargo Bankers Describe Abuses — by Stacy Cowley (nytimes.com)

Kevin Pham at a Wells Fargo branch in Daly City, Calif. Mr. Pham said he saw fellow Wells Fargo employees targeting customers for sham accounts at the San Jose, Calif., branch where he used to work. “They would look for the weakest, the ones that would put up the least resistance,” he said.CreditNoah Berger for The New York Times

October 20, 2016

Mexican immigrants who speak little English. Older adults with memory problems. College students opening their first bank accounts. Small-business owners with several lines of credit.

These were some of the customers whom bankers at Wells Fargo, trying to meet steep sales goals and avoid being fired, targeted for unauthorized or unnecessary accounts, according to legal filings and statements from former bank employees.

“The analogy I use was that it was like lions hunting zebras,” said Kevin Pham, a former Wells Fargo employee in San Jose, Calif., who saw it happening at the branch where he worked. “They would look for the weakest, the ones that would put up the least resistance.”

Wells Fargo would like to close the chapter on the sham account scandal, saying it has changed its policies, replaced its chief executiveand refunded $2.6 million to customers. But lawmakers and regulators say they will not let it go that quickly, and emerging evidence that some victims were among the bank’s most vulnerable customers has given them fresh ammunition.

This week, three members of the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco, Wells Fargo’s hometown, introduced a resolution calling on the city to cut all financial ties with the bank. They cited both the recent scandal and past cases — particularly the $175 million that Wells Fargo paid in 2012 to settle accusations that its mortgage brokers had discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers.

After the Senate Banking Committee held a blistering hearing last month with the bank’s chief executive, John G. Stumpf, who has since retired, it followed up with a letter containing 58 additional questions for the bank. Among them: What proportion of the harmed customers are old, members of ethnic minorities or military veterans?

The committee is still waiting for a response. The Justice Department and California’s attorney general are also investigating the bank.

In interviews and lawsuits, Wells Fargo employees have described in vivid detail some of the predatory practices they saw.

DOCUMENT

Wells Fargo Search Warrant and Affidavit

The California Department of Justice is investigating Wells Fargo, which has its headquarters in San Francisco, over the unauthorized accounts the bank opened in its customers’ names.

OPEN DOCUMENT

At a branch in Scottsdale, Ariz., members of a local Native American community would arrive like clockwork every three months with checks for their share of the community’s casino revenue. It was then, said Ricky M. Hansen Jr., a former branch manager there, that some bankers would try to dupe them into opening unnecessary accounts laden with fees.

In California, it was people with identification cards issued by Mexican consulates. The absence of a Social Security number made it simpler for Wells Fargo employees to open fraudulent accounts in those customers’ names. Wells Fargo is one of the few major banks to permit accounts to be opened without Social Security numbers.

And in Illinois, one former teller described watching in frustration as older customers fell prey.

“We had customers of all ages, but the elderly ones would at times be targeted, because they don’t ask many questions about fees and such,” Brandi Baker, who worked at a branch in Galesburg, Ill., said in an interview.

When Mr. Stumpf testified before members of Congress — once in the Senate and once in the House — he was pressed hard on whether any demographic group had been disproportionately affected. He said he was not sure.

Wells Fargo does not collect information on its customers’ ethnicity, Mr. Stumpf said. Of the two million potentially unauthorized accounts the bank uncovered in its internal review, the affected customers “skewed to younger people, not older people,” he told the House Financial Services Committee.

In the Los Angeles area, for instance, college campuses were considered prime spots for employees seeking to rack up new accounts because younger customers had a tendency to trust a banker’s advice.

Athena McDaniel-Watkins, a former teller who worked in and around Los Angeles, said a banker she worked with would take stacks of forms with him on campus visits and encourage busy students to sign the blank papers — he would fill them out later, he told the students.

“So the customer essentially handed the banker a blank check,” Ms. McDaniel-Watkins said. “The banker was then able to list as many accounts under that application as he wanted — or, in many cases, as many as he needed to hit sales goals for that day.”

Photo

Mr. Pham now runs a social media campaign urging customers to close their accounts at the bank.CreditNoah Berger for The New York Times

Steven Curtis, who also worked at several Wells Fargo branches in the Los Angeles area, said that when college students showed up asking for overdraft fees to be waived, bankers would sometimes tell them they could do so only by closing their account and opening a batch of new ones.

The practices in California were also described in a lawsuit the Los Angeles city attorney filed against Wells Fargo in 2015. Among the complaints was that employees specifically sought out Mexican citizens because their identity documents were easier to misuse.

If customers complained, Wells Fargo employees advised them “to ignore the unauthorized fees and letters from collection agencies because the lack of a Social Security number means the debt will not affect them,” the lawsuit said.

Since the scandal broke, Wells Fargo says it has eliminated the sales goals that pressured bankers to open sham accounts. It has also replaced Mr. Stumpf with Timothy J. Sloan, formerly the chief operating officer, and begun contacting all of its deposit customers to ask if they would like to review their accounts. The bank is still conducting an internal investigation into its sales practices.

“We are confident that these important steps put us on the right path to better helping our customers,” said Richele J. Messick, a Wells Fargo spokeswoman. “We will continue to work hard to restore our customers’ faith and regain the public’s trust.”

Current and former Wells Fargo employees say the problems continued well into this year.

Ashlie Storms, a former banker at a Wells Fargo branch in West Milford, N.J., said she quit her job in August, soon after learning that a banker at another branch had manipulated the accounts of one of Ms. Storms’s regular customers, an older woman with memory issues.

The woman had come to deposit a large check, only to have the banker use it to open new checking and savings accounts without her approval. The next day, the customer and her daughters arrived at Ms. Storms’s branch, confused about where her money had gone and why she could not gain access to it.

“What should have been a five-minute conversation turned into a three-hour complaint to corporate from the customer about the actions this banker decided to take without the customer’s consent,” Ms. Storms said. “The banker was a top producer for our region, always receiving recognition from management for her sales.”

ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL

For years, Wells Fargo employees secretly set up fake accounts without customers’ consent.

The dynamics varied from branch to branch, former employees said in interviews. There was no systematic corporate policy or ethos of targeting specific groups of customers.

“Bankers wanted the quickest, easiest sale — the low-hanging fruit,” said Mr. Pham, the former Wells Fargo banker in San Jose. “The extreme pressure forced people into it.”

In some places, demographic patterns created distinct openings.

In the Phoenix area, managers gleefully looked forward to the days when the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community made its quarterly per capita distribution payments, said Mr. Hansen, the former branch manager in Scottsdale.

Members of the Native American community would head straight to the bank with their checks, and employees would encourage them to use the money to open new accounts. Sometimes it was on the up and up: Mr. Hansen said that he looked forward to being able to open several dozen new accounts in one day but that he always tried to match customers with products that fit their needs.

Others did not. Mr. Hansen learned that one enterprising branch manager had invented “per capita day packages,” jammed with five or more bank accounts. Customers would be told that they needed separate accounts for such purposes as traveling, grocery shopping and saving for an emergency.

“They would deposit their money and get hit with fees like crazy, because they got confused about what account they were using,” Mr. Hansen said. “They would use the wrong debit card and overdraw their travel account, and then when they came back three months later, they would lose hundreds of dollars from their next check paying off those fees.”

While lawmakers and investigators continue digging, some Wells Fargo customers and former employees, including Mr. Pham, are meting out their own punishment. A group that coalesced on Facebook has declared Nov. 12 National Close Your Wells Fargo Account Day.

Some people are not waiting until then.

Michael Masterson, who lives in Concord, Calif., posted on the group’s Facebook page about refinancing his mortgage this week to move it away from Wells Fargo.

“This was an action I took as an individual looking to sever ties with what I regard as a dishonest financial institution,” he said by email.

Status of First They Came for the Homeless encampment in Berkeley (from JP Massar)

October 25, 2016

A number of people, myself, Mike Zint and Mike Lee included, went to City Hall to the meeting of the City Council ad hoc committee today at noon. that is supposed to report back to the City Council with a site recommendation for a sanctioned encampment in one week.

When we got there we were informed that it had been “postponed” – with about 45 minutes notice – because Council member Darryl Moore was unable to attend.  No date and time for the meeting was specified, although it might be tomorrow.

An official from the City Manager’s office was there and said that they had been getting calls about the encampment at Adeline & Fairview – both in support and with complaints.

Therefore it seems critically important to keep calling the City Manager in support of the encampment!

No time like right now to pick up the phone and do so!!!  Thanks!

1) URGENT!! PLEASE call Berkeley city mgr 510.981.7000, manager@cityofberkeley.info Also Mayor Bates 510 981-7100, mayor@cityofberkeley.info

2) Demand the city stop the raids & harassment of the First They Came For The Homeless #PoorTour (‘Snubbed by the HUB’)

3) And create a sanctioned tent village per Mike Zint’s design – NO Drugs or Alcohol and a process for living together developed by the “PoorTour”.

A couple days ago First They Came for the Homeless once again were threatened with eviction and arrest – this time at their latest location at Adeline & Fairview in Berkeley. Some days ago they were ousted from Adeline & Shattuck, threatened with arrest for “trespassing.” A day before that they were run off of their encampment at Adeline & Stuart after occupying the unused Adeline median for several days. This after being evicted from their protest outside of Berkeley’s Center for Homeless services, the HUB, on Fairview Ave some weeks ago. This after being denied their constitutional right to protest homeless criminalization laws outside of old City Hall last December, an action dubbed “Liberty City.”  And this after being evicted after 17 months from their outside Occupation of the downtown Berkeley Post Office.

4) Check out FTCftH Facebook https://www.facebook.com/firsttheycameforthehomeless/ & an essay on what Berkeley needs to do besides allow tents. http://www.berkeleyside.com/2016/10/20/op-ed-berkeley-must-change-the-way-it-provides-shelter-to-the-homeless/

5) Spread this request!

“We Have a Right to Exist!”
https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/10/24/18792626.php

In Memoriam: Tom Hayden (1939 – 2016)

tomhayden

Thomas Emmet “Tom” Hayden (December 11, 1939 – October 23, 2016) was an American social and political activist, author and politician, who was director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center in Los Angeles County, California. Known best for his major role as an anti-war, civil rights, and radical intellectual counterculture activist, Hayden was the former husband of actress Jane Fonda and the father of actor Troy Garity.

Early life

Thomas Emmet Hayden was born in Detroit, Michigan, to parents of Irish ancestry, Genevieve Isabelle (née Garity) and John Francis Hayden. He graduated from Dondero High School in Royal Oak, Michigan, class of 1956. He later attended the University of Michigan, where he was editor of the Michigan Daily and, disenchanted by the anti-radicalism of existing groups like the National Student Association, was one of the initiators of the influential leftist student activist group Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). In 1961, Hayden married Sandra “Casey” Cason, a Texas-born civil rights activist who worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Hayden became a “freedom rider” in the South and then served as president of SDS from 1962 to 1963.

Radical activism

Hayden drafted SDS’s manifesto, the Port Huron Statement. The objective of the Port Huron Statement was the creation of a “radically new democratic political movement” in the United States that rejected hierarchy and bureaucracy. The statement represented the emergence of a “New Left” in the US. often working, with, but no longer part of, the remains of the American Left after concerted government efforts to destroy it. At its annual convention, the old Student League for Industrial Democracy, the “young people’s division” of the “Old Left’s” League for Industrial Democracy; representatives followed Hayden adopted his manafesto, and changed its name and some of its major goals.

From 1964 to 1968, Hayden lived in Newark, New Jersey, where he worked with impoverished inner-city residents as part of the Newark Community Union Project. He was also witness to the city’s race riots of 1967, driven by far more than race alone, as Hayden would point out; and wrote the bookRebellion in Newark: Official Violence and Ghetto Response (1967).

In 1965, Hayden, along with Communist Party USA member Herbert Aptheker and Quaker peace activist Staughton Lynd undertook a controversial visit to North Vietnam and Hanoi. The three toured villages and factories and met with an American POW whose plane had been shot down. The result of this tour of North Vietnam, at a high point in the war, was a book titled The Other Side. Staughton Lynd later wrote that the New Left disavowed “the Anti-Communism of the previous generation” and that Lynd and Hayden had written, in Studies on the Left, “We refuse to be anti-Communist, We insist the term has lost all the specific content it once had.”

In 1968, Hayden played a major role in the protests outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois, broken up by what was later called by federal authorities “a police riot”. Six months after the convention he and seven other protesters including Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin were indicted on federal charges of conspiracy and incitement to riot as part of the “Chicago Eight” aka “The Chicago Seven” after Bobby Seale‘s case was separated from the others. Hayden and four others were convicted of crossing state lines to incite a riot, but the charges were later reversed on appeal.

Hayden made several subsequent well-publicized visits to North Vietnam as well as Cambodia during America’s involvement in the ‘Vietnam War‘ which had expanded under President Richard M. Nixon to include the adjoining nations of Laos and Cambodia, including an especially controversial one during 1972 to North Vietnam with his future wife, actress Jane Fonda. The next year he married Fonda and they had one child, Troy Garity, born on 7 July 1973. In 1974, while the Vietnam War was still ongoing, the documentary film Introduction to the Enemy was released, a collaboration by Fonda, Hayden, Haskell Wexler and others. It depicts their travels through North and South Vietnam in the spring of 1974.

Hayden also founded the Indochina Peace Campaign (IPC), which operated from 1972-75. The IPC, operating in Boston, New York, Detroit and Santa Clara, mobilized dissent against the Vietnam War, demanded unconditional amnesty for U.S. draft evaders, among other aims. Jane Fonda, a supporter of the IPC, later turned this moniker into a name for her film production firm, IPC Films, which produced in whole or in part, movies and documentaries such as F.T.A. (1972), Introduction to the Enemy (1974), The China Syndrome (1979), Nine to Five (1980) and On Golden Pond (1981).  Hayden and Fonda divorced in 1990.

Writing about Hayden’s role in the 1960s New Left, Nicholas Lemann, national correspondent for The Atlantic, said that “Tom Hayden changed America”, calling him “father to the largest mass protests in American history”, and Richard N. Goodwin, who was a speechwriter for presidentsLyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy, said that Hayden, “without even knowing it, inspired the Great Society. Staughton Lynd, though, was critical of the Port Huron and New Left concept of “participatory democracy” stating, “we must recognize that when an organization grows to a certain size, consensus decision-making is no longer possible and some form of representative government becomes necessary.”

In 2007, Hayden made news for his speech at the wedding of his son Troy, where, as Hilton Als wrote in The New Yorker, he “said that he was especially happy about his son’s union with actress Simone Bent, who is black, because, among other things, it was ‘another step in a long-term goal of mine: the peaceful, nonviolent disappearance of the white race.'”

Political career

During 1976, Hayden made a primary-election challenge to then serving California U.S. Senator John V. Tunney. “The radicalism of the 1960s is fast becoming the common sense of the 1970s,” the New York Times reported him saying at the time.  Starting far behind, Hayden mounted a spirited campaign and finished a surprisingly close second in the Democratic primary. He and Fonda later initiated the Campaign for Economic Democracy (CED), which formed a close alliance with then-Governor Jerry Brown and promoted solar energy, environmental protection and renters’ rights policies, as well as candidates for local office throughout California, some 100 of whom would go on to be elected.

Hayden later served in the California State Assembly (1982–1992) and the State Senate (1992–2000). During this time, he was frequently protested by conservative groups, including Vietnamese refugees, veterans of the U.S. military and Young Americans for Freedom. He mounted a bid in the Democratic primary for California Governor during 1994 on the theme of campaign finance reform, and ran for Mayor of Los Angeles during 1997, losing to incumbent Republican Richard Riordan.

As a member of the State Assembly, Hayden introduced the bill that became Chapter 1238 of the California Statutes of 1987. Chapter 1238 enacted Section 76060.5 of the California Education Code. Section 76060.5 allows the establishment of “student representation fees” at colleges in the California Community Colleges System. The fee has been established at several dozen colleges and it may be used “to provide support for governmental affairs representatives of local or statewide student body organizations who may be stating their positions and viewpoints before city, county, and district governments, and before offices and agencies of state government.”  Student representation fees are used to support the operation of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges.

During 1999, Hayden made a speech for the Seattle WTO protests. During 2001, he unsuccessfully sought election to the Los Angeles City Council. Hayden served as a member of the advisory board for the Progressive Democrats of America, an organization created to increase progressive political cooperation and influence within the Democratic Party. He served on the advisory board of the Levantine Cultural Center, a nonprofit organization founded in Los Angeles in 2001 that champions cultural literacy about the Middle East and North Africa. During January 2008, Hayden wrote an opinion essay for the website The Huffington Post endorsing Barack Obama‘s presidential bid in the Democratic primaries. In that same year, he helped initiate Progressives for Obama (now called Progressive America Rising), a group of political progressives that provided assistance for Obama in his initial presidential campaign.

Hayden was known widely in California as a staunch endorser of animal rights and was responsible for writing the bill popularly known as theHayden Act, which improved protection of pets and extended holding periods for pets confined as strays or surrendered to shelters.

In 2016, Hayden ran to be one of California’s representatives to the Democratic National Committee.

Academic career

Hayden taught numerous courses on social movements, two at Scripps College—one on the Long War and one on gangs in America—and a course called “From the ’60s to the Obama Generation” at Pitzer College. He also taught at Occidental College and at Harvard University‘s Institute of Politics. He taught a class at UCLA on protests from Port Huron to the present. He was the author or editor of 19 books, including The Long Sixties: From 1960 to Barack Obama, Writings for a Democratic Society: The Tom Hayden Reader, and his memoir, Reunion, and served on the editorial board of The Nation.

During 2007, Akashic Books released Hayden’s Ending the War in Iraq. In a discussion about the book with Theodore Hamm, published in theBrooklyn Rail, Hayden argues: “The apparatus of occupation is never going to turn into a peacekeeping economic development agency. We need to withdraw our stamp of approval and our tax dollars from supporting the occupation. That doesn’t mean that there can’t be some attempts at remedies but there should never be used as an excuse to stay.”

Personal life

Hayden lived in Los Angeles and was married to his third wife, actress Barbara Williams, at the time of his death. He and Williams adopted a son, Liam (born 2000). Hayden died in Santa Monica, California on October 23, 2016, aged 76, following a lengthy illness including a stroke.

(Wikipedia.org)

Next week’s calendar (from Patricia Gray)

In a democracy the government acts in the interests of the people–and when they don’t, we need to make a fuss so they have to pay attention.  Here are some times and locations where you can do just that……..

___________________________________________________________
Wednesday, Oct 26
10:00 am – 12:00 pm           S.F. City Hall  Board of Supervisors
                                         Finance Committee
                                         PASS SF’S KEEP IT IN THE GROUND 
                                                 ORDINANCE!
                                         Supervisor John Avalos introduced
                                         legislation that would prohibit the city from
                                         leasing any land for fossil fuel extraction
                                         beginning in 2020 when Chevrons 26 year
                                         lease with the city might be up for renewal.
                                         Passing this would be a clear statement
                                         on San Francisco’s transition to a clean
                                         energy future.
                                         sponsored by 350 Bay Area, the Center for
                                         biological Diversity and CAF.
4:00 pm       420 Montgomery St (near Sacramento) San Francisco
                   JAIL THE WELLS FARGO BANKERS!
                   They are not too big to nail!
                   The people of San Francisco deserve a public bank! The
                    City government and the pension system must take our
                    money OUT OF WELLS FARGO!
                    OCCUPY!  back to our beginnings —  target the bankers
                    for their fraud and abuse of the working people. Bring
                    signs and noise makers!
                    sponsor United Workers for Action
                    info  415-282-1908
__________________________________________________________
Thursday Oct. 27
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm      518 Valencia St. S.F.
                                 Eric Quezader Center
                                 NO MORE RACIST BUS ADS
                                 Join a community meeting.  We need to come
                                 together to figure out now to stop heightened
                                 anti Arab and Islamophobia.
                                 sponsor AROC (Arab Resource and Organizing
                                 Center)
7:00 – 9:00 pm      UU Center, 1187 Franklin St. (near Geary) S.F.
                           Fireside Room
                           THE AFTER BERN:  WHAT COMES NEXT AFTER
                           THE SANDERS CAMPAIGN?
                           Panel discussion of the five separate organizations
                           from that campaign:
                           – Bay Area for Bernie
                           – In Solidarity
                           – Our Revolution
                           – S.F. Berniecrats
                           – Brand New Congress
                           (not mentioned here in this Democratic event is
                            the huge growth Bernie people have given to the
                            Jill Stein Green campaign)
                            Come and join the discussion.
                            sponsor Progressive Democrats of America
                            info   415-640-3498
7: 30 – 9:30       Brava Theater     2781 24th St. at York
                       film
                       ON THE HILL
                       Original docudrama by Loco Bloco and neighborhood
                       youth on the life and death of Alex Nieto, and the
                       impact of police brutality and gentrification on the
                       neighborhood.
__________________________________________________________
Friday Oct. 28
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm       25 Van Ness Ave. room 610
                                 TELL THE CITY AGAIN!  NO NEW JAILS OR
                                 JAIL LIKE FACILITIES IN SAN FRANCISCO! 
                                 Come to the final meeting of the S.F. Jail
                                 Replacement Project Working Group.  We told
                                 the city once and we are doing it again!  Instead
                                 of more jails our community suggestions are for
                                 better housing, re entry services, services
                                 separate from law enforcement, and bail and
                                 bond reform.
                                 BUILD JUSTICE – NOT JAILS!
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM     Mission Police Station Community Room
                                 630 Valencia St. S.F.
                                 PRE APPLICATION MEETING FOR 2630-38 
                                 MISSION ST.
                                 This is a plan to build a 5 story above ground
                                 mixed use building with a basement on a now
                                 vacant lot. This “vacant lot” is where there was
                                 a suspicious fire that destroyed affordable
                                 housing.  This  is gentrification at its worst.
7:00 pm             S.F. Party for Socialism and Liberation
                         2969 Mission St.  S.F.
                         PALESTINE; A FORGOTTEN ISSUE IN THE 
                         2016 ELECTIONS
                         Both Democrats and Republicans vote to give billions
                         of dollars (our tax dollors) to the apartheid nation of
                         Israel.  We will view an episode of the Empire Files
                         by Abby Martin, who recently returned form the
                         West Bank.  A talk and discussion on  Palestine and
                         the 2016 election will follow.
                         $3.00 – $5.00 donation–no one turned away
                         refreshments served
                         more info  415-821-6171
___________________________________________________________
Saturday Oct 29
11:00 – 1:30     970 Grace Ave. Oakland
                      Street Party
                      HARVESTING THE FRUITS OF THE BLACK PANTHER
                      FREE BREAKFAST PROGRAM
                      Come and join the celebration and the 50th anniversary
                      of the Black Panther Party.  There will be story telling
                      and an interactive meal of food for justice and the legacy
                      of free breakfast program.  Black Panther members will
                      serve a “stone soup” meal.
1;00 – 3:00 pm    215 Bancroft Way Berkeley
                         Boalt Hall  room 105
                         Protest!
                         PROTEST WAR CRIMES AND U.C. COMPLICITY
                         “Torture Memos” John Yoo belongs in prison—not in
                          a class room teaching at U.C. Berkeley. John Yoo is
                          a war criminal!
                          sponsored by World Can’t Wait
                          info  www.firejohnyoo.net
5:30 – 9:30    Brava Theater   2781 24th St. S.F
                   PACHANGA POETRY AND LOWRIDER LOVE
                   Join us for a street event to usher in the performance of
                   the play ON THE HILL : I AM ALEX NIETO
                   TICKETS for the play are $13.00
                   also come to sign a petition for the Alex Nieto Memorial
                   on Bernal Heights, the place where Alex was killed by
                   59 police bullets.
_________________________________________________________
Sunday Oct. 30
2:00 – 5:00       Start at the Kehilla Synagogue 1300 Grand Lake Ave
                       March to the Lighthouse Mosque Jewish Voice for
                       Peace,
                       WALK AND CELEBRATE INTERFAITH UNITY IN
                       OUR COMMUNITY
                       March against Islamophobia – racism and all forms of
                       religious prejudice.  Support Standing Rock and the
                       faith of the Native People.  Oppose the militarization
                       of our streets and against mass incarceration.
                       info  facebook events/3140200589
_________________________________________________________
Monday October  31  Celebrate Halloween -give the kids some candy.             _________________________________________________________
Tuesday November 1
6:00 pm- 9:00 pm       9th St. Independent Film Center
                                 145 9th St. S.F.
                                 screening
                                 DEATH BY DESIGN
                                 After the film will be a discussion on the
                                 environmental impacts of our digital addiction.
                                 This revolution has a dark side.  Come and
                                 learn the dirty secrets of the digital devices.
                                 info  greenfilmfest.org