Alameda DA Show Trial Against Oakland Squatters (from Andy Gillis)

The Alameda DA’s show trial of four squatters continues and the stakes are high for them and for community activists across the country. Even though it’s not widely known, squatting is a time-honored method, legally enshrined in California law, for the disenfranchised to take over long abandoned properties, of which there are many in the Bay Area. Squatting actually is one creative way of addressing the local housing crisis and the group Land-Action (Land-Action.org) has been at the forefront of this movement where they have looked for properties long abandoned and whose owners cannot be located. They occupy the property, fix it up, and eventually, legally, take ownership.
However, the Alameda DA has taken a special interest in this recent case because it turns out a relative of the property owner works in the DA’s office. The owner had neglected the property for years to the point it was literally falling down and she hadn’t paid taxes in five years so it was about to go up for tax sale where speculators usually scoop them up’ flip them, and make them even less affordable for the average person. instead of the usual misdemeanor charges such a case has typically warranted, the DA has charged the Land-Action squatters with “Conspiracy to Trespass”, a felony, and a tactic used more and more by law enforcement to quash dissent and protests. There is speculation that the real estate industry is also behind the DA’s attack because they don’t want anyone getting in the way of their incredibly lucrative flipping of bargain basement, tax sale properties.
The Land Action 4, as they have been dubbed, face up to 8.5 years in prison and huge fines. They have a fine legal team which has stepped in to defend them including legendary Defense Attorney Tony Serra, but that is no guarantee of victory when the system has aligned itself against them. Please help pack the courthouse in Oakland on Friday, May 20 and make a donation if you can for their defense fees. There is also a press conference on Tuesday, May 17 with more details about the case and locations are in the press release I’ve tacked on to this e-mail below.
Please support these courageous activists any way you can, even if it’s just sending this e-mail along to your friends, putting it on facebook, etc. Let’s not allow the DA to get away with this blatant attempt to bend the legal system for her own political interests and those of corporate real estate!
Thanks!
Andy
General info about Land-Action and to donate:
Land-Action.org
If you can print out fliers and distribute them that would be great – here are several press releases and fliers:
Pre­ Trial Hearing for the Land Action 4: Motion to Dismiss

March 31, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Angeles Gottheil angeles.gottheil@land­action.org

(714) 469­1497

Patrick Xu xuplankton@gmail.com

(408) 440­6767
Oakland, CA­ After being rescheduled twice, the Land Action 4’s Motion to Dismiss will  finally be heard at 9 am, May 20th, 2016, in Dept. 10 of the René C. Davidson Courthouse.  This time, they have been promised a full half­day of the court’s time and a courtroom to themselves.
BACKGROUND ­ On Wednesday January 20, 2016 the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office (DA) issued arrest warrants for 4 organizers working with the non­profit Land Action. The organizers, now being called The Land Action 4, face 7 criminal charges­3 of which are felonies, up to 8.5 years imprisonment, and $89,000 in fines.
Among the allegations is that these organizers were involved in a “Conspiracy to Trespass,” a common charge used to target civil rights organizers.  The conspiracy charge is a felony, despite the fact that trespass itself is at most a misdemeanor.

The organizers are being charged for their involvement in the occupation of an abandoned property.  At the time, Land Action was trying to intercept tax­-abandoned properties before they were sold at tax auction, by occupying them and invoking

California’s Adverse Possession code.  The goal was to transfer these properties into a land trust so that they would be removed from the speculative market and preserved as low-­income housing in perpetuity.   The property at the center of the prosecution is a house in the Cleveland Heights neighborhood near Lake Merritt  It was well known among neighbors for being abandoned since at least 2010. According to the prosecution’s official complaint, the owner of record admitted to not having lived in the house since 2003. Over the years, a sagging foundation has caused exterior walls to shear, creating large cracks in the stucco that collect rain during storms. The property was also severely tax neglected, and would soon be eligible for tax foreclosure (as of this press release, $46K in back-
taxes remain unpaid).
Because the property met all the criteria for physical as well as tax­ abandonment, Land Action began the process of acquiring the property via Adverse Possession.  Two of the defendants, Patrick Xu and Aisha Alves­Hyde, were the on­site property managers on behalf of Land Action. The occupation began in mid­September of 2015, and for the next 3 months the property managers kept up a constant presence at the house, interacted with neighbors, and made improvements to the property.

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“Postal Service fences off post office property” by Pamela Larson (dailycal.org)

BerkeleyPO2

May 8, 2016

The United States Postal Service, or USPS, installed a 6-foot tall metal fence at the Downtown Berkeley Post Office during the week of April 25, partitioning public property and hanging signs that read “U.S. property. No trespassing.”

USPS installed the fence between April 25 and 27. The fence restricts access to the sidewalk area formerly used by the 17-month homeless encampment at the post office and extends around the corner on Milvia Street, closing in a garden bed that was planted by protesters during the occupation.

Mayor Tom Bates was not aware of the plan to erect the fence, although he supports its construction, according to Charles Burress, assistant to Bates.

“He’s in favor of having the fence there because it helps to eliminate problems that were associated with that encampment,” Burress said.

Several Berkeley residents have expressed viewpoints in opposition to Bates’, adding that this action is one more example of the city failing to serve the needs of the homeless population.

“That post office would have been sold if these people weren’t there,” said Marsha Feinland, a Berkeley resident and former Rent Stabilization Board commissioner. “The people who really defended it were the people who were there.”

Other USPS properties in Berkeley, such as the letter carrier facility on Eighth Street and the office located on San Pablo Avenue, have fences.

“It’s a security feature that we do employ,” said Jeff Fitch, spokesperson for the San Francisco division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Fitch added that the fence was constructed in response to the area that previously was occupied.

The fence replaces two federal postal police officials who had been patrolling the area 24 hours a day since the disbandment of the encampment April 12.

Thorild Urdal, a nurse at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, compared the fence to walls and fences erected in former Soviet countries in Eastern and Central Europe.

“This looks like a prison. It’s like, ‘Are we in some Eastern Bloc country?’” said Urdal. She added that planters could have been put in the space instead.

USPS did not disclose the cost to build the fence. Fitch said the fence is “probably permanent” because it is a metal fence, adding that individuals who are concerned can contact the postmaster with questions.

Pamela Larson covers city government. Contact her at plarson@dailycal.org and follow her on Twitter at@pamreporting.

Note from Mike Zint:

Public becomes private because we occupied. How dare we protest!

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Teary-Eyed Student Loan Officers Proudly Watch As $200,000 Asset Graduates From College (theonion.com)

ATLANTA—Unable to contain their emotion when they heard the account name called aloud by the college provost, a group of teary-eyed Sallie Mae student loan officers proudly looked on Monday as their $200,000 balance sheet asset graduated from Emory University, witnesses confirmed. “It’s been absolutely amazing to watch our revenue stream grow right before our eyes,” said smiling collections officer Robin Black, explaining that, looking at the impressive figure now, she could hardly believe their future series of principal and interest payments was only $50,000 just four years ago. “This is such a big milestone, but to be honest, it’s really just the beginning. We’re all looking forward to seeing how our beloved asset progresses now that it’s going out into the real world. Who knows where it will be 15 years from now?” The student loan officers went on to express their hope that they’d one day be able to see their source of profit go to law school.

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Save CCSF Solidarity Statement with the Frisco Five (saveccsf.org)

Our students deserve BOOKS NOT BULLETS!

End the gentrification of Our San Francisco and the destruction of Our City College!

The Save City College Coalition expresses its heartfelt solidarity with the Frisco Five and the struggle to end police terror in San Francisco, the Bay Area, and the US.  These dedicated community members had been on a disciplined hunger strike since April 21 at the Mission Police Station, and were then hospitalized– Cristina Gutierrez, Ilyich Sato, Ike Pinkston, Selassie Blackwell, and Edwin Lindo.    We support the demands of the hunger strike and the call to fire chief Greg Suhr.  To have Suhr continue after the wave of recent killings of Alex Nieto, Amilcar Perez-Lopez, Mario Woods and Luis Gongora would be nothing less than impunity for murder.

The City College community feels these killings very personally:

  • Alex Nieto and Amilcar Perez-Lopez were City College students when they were murdered by the SFPD. In fact, Alex Nieto went to childcare at a City College day care center, a center that was closed down in one of the first actions of the hostile state takeover of City College supported by Ed Lee.  City College Professor Ben Bac Sierra was a mentor and friend to Alex;
  • One of the hunger strikers, Equipto or Ilych Sato, was a City College student;
  • Mario Woods went to Balboa High School.

The young people being killed are from the same Black, Latin@ and marginalized communities being evicted from San Francisco by gentrification and police terror, and from City College through downsizing, student push-out policies, and the degradation of education and educators.

The Save City College Coalition of students, faculty, staff and community people is fighting hard against administration and state policies that seek:

  • The elimination of numerous Diversity Studies classes
  • The administration’s plan to cut 26% of classes from the schedule
  • Policies that push out students with academic challenges—the very students who need City College the most
  • Larger classes that undermine student equity efforts
  • Land grabs of public property such as the disruptive sudden closure of the Civic Center Tenderloin campus that used to serve new immigrants learning English
  • The increase in the proportion of “freeway flyer” part-time teachers without the time to work with students after class

We are fighting hard for a Free City College, so that people like Alex Nieto, Mario Woods, Amilcar Perez-Lopez and Luis Gongora can have BOOKS NOT BULLETS. We are fighting to reclaim both our collective Right to the City, and Education as a Human Right.

Support the Frisco Five Hunger Strike—tell Ed Lee to Fire Chief Suhr and make sweeping changes at the SFPD:    mayoredwinlee@sfgov.org, (415) 554-6141 

To receive notification of events by e-mail contact:  pat1936@gmail.com

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The Future of Democracy | Santiago Siri | TEDxStPeterPort

March 30, 2016

With the goal of improving the political system, a new kind of political party called The Net Party tried to hack it in Buenos Aires back in 2012. With the lessons of discovering how corrupt the system is, in 2015 a new strategy was designed with the support of Y Combinator. Democracy.Earth, a non-profit made to re-think democracy, was created to disrupt voting using the blockchain and other emergent new technologies.

Founder and president of Democracy Earth, a Y Combinator backed non-profit doing the largest global effort to deliver an open source solution to online voting. Founding peer of Partido de la Red (The Net Party), a political party that aims to improve representation with candidates committed to citizens requests online. An advocate for Bitcoin since 2011 helping startups, e-commerce sites and nonprofits to adopt it and a partner of Bitex.la, the largest Bitcoin exchange in Latin America. In 2007 founded Popego, a pioneering big data research lab acquired by Brazilian boo-box in 2011. Co-founded the Argentine Game Developers Association in 2001. Elected as Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum. Contributes in radio and television evangelizing about the virtues of technology. His first book ‘Hacktivismo’ was published in 2015 by Random House.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

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UPDATE – SF General Strike (from Adrienne Fong)

Update: According to Bob [of Occupy], at 8:00am this morning over 100 people started the picket line for the SF GENERAL STRIKE. The picket  has grown and are on the Polk St. and Van Ness sides – see Peter’s video from earlier today.

See you on the picket and at the Blue Ribbon Panel later!

Peter’s video from early this a.m.

https://www.facebook.com/peter.menchini/posts/1129554647108929?fref=nf

General Strike in Honor of FRISCO5

https://www.facebook.com/events/829260813873845/

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‘Frisco 5’ protesters call off hunger strike — by Examiner Staff (sfexaminer.com)

Five hunger strikers (front, from left) Ike Pinkston, Edwin Lindo, Maria Cristina Gutierrez, Ilyich Sato and Sellassie Blackwell speak to the media during a news conference at the Black and Brown Social Club in San Francisco, Calif. Thursday, May 5, 2016. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

May 7, 2016

The five activists who refused to eat until San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr resigns or is fired called off their hunger strike Saturday after 17 days of abstaining from solid foods, a spokesperson for the group confirmed.

The so-called “Frisco 5” — Rappers Ilych “Equipto” Sato and Sellassie Blackwell, supervisor candidate Edwin Lindo, and pre-school workers Maria Cristina Gutierrez and Ike Pinkston — began their hunger strike April 21 in response to the fatal police shootings of four black and Latino men by San Francisco police in recent years.

They were hospitalized Friday for medical personnel to monitor their deteriorating health. Also on Friday, protests erupted inside City Hall that later turned violent and led to the arrest of 33 activists on suspicion of misdemeanor trespassing and refusal to disperse. They have all reportedly since been released from custody.

The five hunger strikers called off their effort in response to pressure from community members who urged them to not further risk their health.

“This doesn’t mean that our fight is over,” said Yayne Abeba, a spokesperson for the hunger strikers. “It just means they will no longer be doing the hunger strike.”

Instead, the group is calling on the community to hold a citywide strike beginning at 8 a.m. Monday at City Hall. Abeba said the “general strike” includes not going to work, school or visiting businesses in an effort to essentially bring San Francisco to a halt.

Meanwhile, Friday’s protest left City Hall with smashed front windows and destroyed metal detectors at the side facing Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.

“Thousands of peaceful individuals have long expressed their views in protest on our front steps,” City Administrator Naomi Kelly said in a statement. “However, [Friday’s] actions crossed the line, causing thousands of dollars in property damage and impacting weddings and elections activities.”

Repairs are slated to begin Monday. The full costs of the damage won’t be known until after the repairs are completed, but will likely cost thousands of dollars in labor and material costs due to the landmark status of City Hall, according to the city administrator’s office.

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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Save CCSF: SUPPORT THE FRISCO 5 IN THEIR PROTEST AGAINST POLICE VIOLENCE!

SUPPORT THE FRISCO 5 IN THEIR PROTEST AGAINST POLICE VIOLENCE
Demonstration of Solidarity with Frisco Five
San Francisco City Hall
Monday, May 9th at 8:00  am

General Strike, San Francisco, Monday, May 9, 2016
Wear red and black in honor of our fallen brother Alex Nieto.
.
From CCSF Faculty Member Ben Bac Sierra:
With all your love, share far and wide:
We, the people, invite you to join us for an unprecedented historical moment: a general strike of San Francisco this Monday, May 9, 2016. In honor of the Frisco Five Hunger Strikers and against SFPD killings of our brothers, we urge you to strike from work and school and to boycott any corporate restaurant eating and purchasing.

The time is ripe, and your action is needed now. Because of the Mayor’s unwillingness to fire corrupt police chief Suhr, the Frisco Five have been forced to prolong their hunger strike and have now all been hospitalized. It is time for all of us to action with honor, courage, and sacrifice for those who no longer have a voice, like Alex Nieto, Amilcar Perez Lopez, Mario Woods, and Luis Gongora Pat, all unlawfully killed by SFPD.

Instead of going to work or school, join us to peacefully picket in front of San Francisco City Hall starting at 8:00 a.m. Striking for a righteous cause is nothing new. Gandhi led the Swadeshi movement for Indian self-sufficiency. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks helped lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott against segregation. For farmworkers’ rights, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and the United Farm Workers held strikes against grapes and Safeway stores. Striking is a successful strategy that all of us can contribute to for the sake of justice.

With all your love, share and share far and wide.
https://www.facebook.com/events/829260813873845/
For more background:
http://48hills.org/topics/hungerforjusticesf/

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Action Council — Info on Mon. GENERAL STRIKE; Related Events; Actions; Videos & Articles from Friday (from Adrienne Fong)

GENERAL STRIKE!

In Honor of the FRISCO FIVE

Monday, May 9, 2016  

8:00am – 5:00pm

San Francisco City Hall, 1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Place, SF

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/829260813873845/

We, the people, invite you to join us for an unprecedented historical moment: a general strike of San Francisco. In honor of the Frisco Five Hunger Strikers and against SFPD killings of our brothers and sisters, we urge you to strike from work and school and to boycott any corporate restaurant eating and purchasing. 

Your action is needed now. Because of the Mayor’s unwillingness to fire corrupt police chief Suhr, the Frisco Five have been forced to prolong their hunger strike and have now all been hospitalized. It is time for all of us to action with honor, courage, and sacrifice for those who no longer have a voice: Alex Nieto, Amilcar Perez Lopez, Mario Woods, Luis Gongora Pat. And All unlawfully killed by SFPD.

Pack a lunch and bring water We will constantly be peacefully picketing and advising people to boycott business at City Hall. Lastly bring the positive spirit of amor!

CALL / Email Mayor Ed Lee: Demand that he FIRE CHIEF SUHR

Mayor Ed Lee’s Office Phone Number: (415) 554-6141
Email: mayoredwinlee@sfgov.org

Related Events this Week

May 9, Tuesday, 5:30pm – 7:30pm, Final Hearing of the Blue Ribbon Panel

Buriel Clay Theater
African American Arts Complex
762 Fulton St.
SF

The Blue Ribbon Panel on Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Law Enforcement was established last year by the San Francisco District Attorney to investigate potential institutionalized bias within the San Francisco Police Department in the wake of reports that fourteen SFPD officers sent and received racist and homophobic text messages.

The panel’s working groups will present summarized preliminary findings and recommendations from their investigation, followed by public comment. 

Info / RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/178149812580620/

May 11, Wednesday, 5:30pm, SF Police Commission Meeting

SF City Hall, Room 400 (4th Flr.)
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Place
SF

Come and speak-out at the meeting!

On the agenda is: U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Memorandum and Suggestions on Use of Force draft policies (DISCUSSION)

Wednesday’s Agenda: http://sanfranciscopolice.org/meeting/police-commission-may-11-2016-agenda

CALL the SF POLICE COMMISSION, the oversight body of the SFPD that has authority to fire Chief Suhr, and tell them they need to fire Chief Suhr, and to put this on their next meeting agenda

 .  San Francisco Police Commission:  (415) 553-1667

See: http://charter.sanfranciscocode.org/IV/4.109/  § 4.109.

“…Notwithstanding any other provision of the Charter, the Chief of Police may be removed by the Commission or the Mayor, acting jointly or separately of each other. In addition to any other powers set forth in this Charter, the Police Commission is empowered to prescribe and enforce any reasonable rules and regulations that it deems necessary to provide for the efficiency of the Department… “

May 11, Wednesday, 6:00pm – 7:00pm, Vigil for Amilcar! The DA must charge the officers who killed him!

Mission Police Station
630 Valencia St.
SF

Fifth silent vigil as we wait and watch for the DA to file charges against the officers who killed Amilcar.

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1708153376126128/

May 11, Wednesday, 7:00pm – 8:00pm, Hungering for Justice: Prayer Vigil in Support of FRISCO5

SF City Hall
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Place (stairs of City Hall)
SF

NOTE: This is a rapidly evolving situation. Please check site for final details as Wednesday draws nearer.

The #Frisco5 are risking their health and even their lives to save others. They are fasting to bring accountabilty to the San Francisco Police Department, which is notorious for its racism and brutality against people of color and poor people in this rapidly gentrifying city. Under Police Chief Greg Suhr, four men of color have been killed in the past two years, and many have been brutalized. The hunger strikers are calling for a change of leadership to signal that the city values the lives of all its residents. Their demand is simple: Fire Chief Suhr.

Info / RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/216614405388857/

May 12, Thursday, 6:00pm – 9:00pm. Justice 4 Mario Woods Coalition Meeting

350 Rhode Island St. (entrance on Kansas St.)
SF

Info: https://www.facebook.com/justice4mariowoodscoalition/
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General strike Monday May 9 (from Patricia Gray)

Don’t go to work… Don’t go to school… Don’t go shopping….

GO TO SAN FRANCISCO CITY HALL
 
     all  day  starting at 8:00
 
     Wear  black and red to support the FRISCO 5
                                                      Hunger Strikers    
     and to honor our fallen  brothers
                Alex Niento, Amicar Perez, Mario Woods
                         and Luis Gongora Pat
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