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Stop the Destruction: Park Merced

By the Park Merced Action Coalition

On Monday, July 11, at 11am, San Francisco residents, San Francisco Tomorrow, Parkmerced Action Coalition, their attorney Stuart Flashman and members of the Board of Supervisors rallied on the steps of City Hall to call attention to the Board of Supervisors’ approval of a plan to demolish their rent-controlled community. They released the following statement:

STOP THE DESTRUCTION!
Learning from history, social fabric and neighborhoods can evolve organically for the betterment of San Francisco rather than calling for wholesale demolition with short-sighted economic benefits—particularly when true infill development alternatives would be both feasible and profitable.

In order to stop the destruction of one of San Francisco’s few multi-ethnic, multi-generational, and family neighborhoods, San Francisco Tomorrow (SFT) and the Park Merced Action Coalition (PMAC) have filed a lawsuit against the City for its June 9th approval of the Parkmerced Development Project.

The Final Environment Impact Report (FEIR) for the Parkmerced Project is inaccurate and inadequate.  If allowed to continue as approved, the project will destroy 1,538 units of affordable, rent-controlled housing, adversely affect the environment and well being of those living, working, and playing in the region.  In addition, the suit points to the project’s inconsistency with priority policies enacted by San Francisco voters in Proposition M as well as other inconsistencies with the City’s general plan and violation of the City’s Sunshine Ordinance.

The lawsuit calls for the court to set aside the project approvals until the Park Merced Project complies with the California Environmental Quality Act and the City’s general plan policies.

VIOLATIONS INCLUDE:

· Demolition of 1,538 seismically sound rent-controlled townhouses and their surrounding gardens.

· Not addressing livability issues associated with the 20- 30 year demolition and construction project, including: noise, air quality, and loss of open space.  The Project’s findings DO NOT MEET legal air quality standards.

· Failing to assess the seismic impact of the existing towers, nor providing for their retrofits and upgrades.  Additionally, no provisions exist for loss of open space and other unavoidable adverse impacts for tower residents.

· Slaughter of migrating birds by the Project’s shoreline windmills, and a general refusal to look at alternatives that could avoid the Project’s many impacts.

· The faulty reference to development as a “transit village”, since no third party assurances or funding sources are identified for transit and related work.  The addition of 6,342 parking places also contradicts the concept of a transit village.

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Action: July 4 Homes Not Jails house occupation

Following the SF “Meme” Troupe’s 2pm performance (theme of the meme: Integrity!)

Make this July 4th a day to be remembered… Join the rally in Dolores Park by 4pm so you won’t miss the lively and lyrical march to the Open Housing Occupation site.

Festivities both inside and outside the occupation site will include: performance art, live music, FREE dinner (lovingly prepared by SF Food Not Bombs), poetry, and direct action.

Housing must not sit vacant while people are forced to live on the streets. 2010 Census figures over 32,000 vacant housing units in The City while approximately 10,000 individuals remain homeless. People must not be evicted for profit. Human rights should come before property rights. Come out and make your voice heard! We realize the need to respect the individual while we embrace the need for collective empowerment, equitable communities, and mutual aid.

In 2005, there were an estimated 1 billion (yes, BILLION) people worldwide living in squatted homes and squatter shantytowns. By 2030 the projected number will jump to 2 billion or ONE in FOUR people on the planet.. We will unite, we will fight, and…WE WILL WIN!

Actions are taking place in countries worldwide this July 4th, providing a great opportunity to celebrate our autonomy and integrity. We are seizing this moment by creating a liberated space and by gathering squatters and homesteaders from throughout the Bay Area to begin organizing a vital regional squatters’ syndicate based on autonomy, integrity, shared resources, and mutual aid.

We welcome any additional overnight occupiers, musicians, performers, cooks, medics, liasons, and direct action heros to join us, so don’t be shy. For more information about Homes Not Jails, surf to HomesNotJailsSF.org.


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Causa Justa Call to Action: Protests for Prison-Industry Divestment

Causa Justa::Just Cause
Solidarity Statement and call to action!
May 12, 2011: Protests Launch National Prison Industry Divestment Campaign

Today we stand in solidarity with community and labor groups that are taking to the streets to protest the private prison industry’s business model of pushing for harsher immigrant incarceration policies. Such policies drive up prison populations and put added strains on state and federal budgets.

On May 3rd, CJJC along with ACCE, SEIU, PICO and many more ally organizations took to the streets for the big Wells Fargo Shareholder meeting protest. We had a delegation of people inside and hundreds outside demanding that Wells Fargo puts a moratorium on foreclosures, divests from the prison industry and stops the criminal lending practices targeting communities of color as well as pay its fair share of local, state and federal taxes.

Today in LA groups are demanding that Wells Fargo divest its holdings in the GEO Group, a private prison company that runs immigrant detention centers and the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp for the U.S. government.

Detentions of immigrants are set to cost taxpayers over $10 billion a year while profiting Manhattan-based hedge fund managers and other finance industry magnates like Wells Fargo who have significant investments in the private prison industry. Wells Fargo’s prison stock is valued at $88 million.

The private prison industry, in league with major investors, is working to increase the criminalization of our communities to further overpopulate our prisons. This industry has a long and shameful record of targeting and incarcerating African American communities, and is now seeking further profit through lobbying efforts to accelerate the detention of immigrants through laws such as SB 1070 in Arizona and its copycat bill in Georgia.

“Now they’re conspiring to get states to put more people in jail for longer periods of time, costing tax-payers millions for no justifiable reason which undermines the credibility of our justice system. We can’t let this happen,” said Peter Cervantes-Gautschi of Enlace, an alliance of low-wage labor groups in the U.S. and Mexico.
This group, in partnership with community groups and unions across the US, is calling on all public and private institutions to divest their holdings in Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, America’s largest private prison corporations who profited a combined $3 billion.

The major investors in the private prison industry include Pershing Square Capital Management, Wellington Management Company, Wells Fargo Bank, General Electric and others. The protests coincide with the annual shareholders meeting of CCA in Nashville, TN where one of the protests will be taking place that day.

This is the first action and the beginning of the National Prison Industry Divestment Campaign. We are calling on all people of conscience to divest from Wells Fargo and demand that they stop profiteering off the suffering of our communities. Join us today and in all future actions that will be occurring all over the country.

Look for information for another action coming up on July 3rd.


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40 Years of Drug War Failure

Groups March and Rally Across the State to End Mass Incarceration and 40-Year “War On Drugs”

Contact: Emily Harris
Statewide Coordinator, Californians United for a Responsible Budget
Cell: 510-435-1176

Beginning on Friday June 17th, the 40th anniversary of the “war on drugs,” hundreds will come together to hold “Communities Rising” actions and rallies in communities across California. Over 40 organizations working with the Californians United for a Responsible Budget, or “CURB,” alliance will send a strong message from different parts of the state to Governor Brown and the state legislature, calling for the State to take active steps to end its participation in the 40-year-old “war on drugs”, and to prioritize vital social services over prison spending.

“Spending on prisons has grown from five percent to ten percent of our General Fund spending, doubling in the past decade,” said Lisa Marie Alatorre of Critical Resistance, a CURB member organization. “Locking up too many people for too long does not contribute to public safety and is draining essential resources from education and health care – programs that make a real difference to Californians.”  California remains billions of dollars in debt.

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a lower court rulings in Brown v. Plata, California has been ordered to reduce its lethally crowded prison system in the next two years. The Governor’s plan is to shift tens of thousands of prisoners to county jails, building tens of thousands more jail cells and thousands more high-security prison cells.  “It looks like Governor Brown wants to do nothing but repeat the mistakes of the last 30 years,” said Debbie Reyes of California Prison Moratorium Project, another CURB member organization. “We built 23 massive prisons and that didn’t solve overcrowding. Now he wants to extend that failed effort by expanding county jail systems. Like the Supreme Court said, you can’t build your way out of this problem.”

Organizations and residents across the state are frustrated by the impacts of the State’s economic and social priorities.  “For years we’ve been cutting back on state programs that save lives and build decent futures for the next generation,” said Amanda Vela of Madera Citizens for Better Community and Schools, “Now Gov. Brown is asking voters to raise state revenues to pay for more jail cells? We have to stop the cuts and re-channel funds away from prisons and jails and back into programs that make a difference for us and our kids.”

The various rallies, marches, speak-outs, and other actions across the state fall on the forty year anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s declaration of a “war on drugs”, a policy that many experts have shown to wreak havoc in low income communities and communities of color. “The Plata decision is a real opportunity for our state to reverse decades of racist ‘tough-on-crime’ policies,” says Rodrigo “Froggy” Vasquez of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. “We are tired of being politically ignored. We need leadership in Sacramento with the guts to get smart, end the war on drugs, and decriminalize drug possession.”

Texas, New York, and Michigan, among other states have successfully reduced their prison budgets and populations while increasing public safety. CURB argues that California could do the same by implementing parole and sentencing reforms such as amending or repealing three strikes laws.

Communities Rising Actions are planned for June 17th and 18th in cities across California, including Los Angeles, Fresno, Bakersfield, Madera, and Visalia. San Francisco’s action will kick off with a press conference on June 17th at noon on the steps of City Hall, followed by a march led by the Brass Liberation Orchestra. Activities will include puppets and other art, as well as a community speak out and a free delicious lunch served by Food Not Bombs.

Sponsoring organizations across the State include: A New Path – LA, A New Way of Life, All of Us or None, American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, American Friends Service Committee, Berkeley Needle Exchange Emergency Distribution, Blacksmith Records Inc., California Coalition for Women Prisoners, California Partnership, California Prison Moratorium Project, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, Center for Non-Violence, Community Justice Network for Youth, Cop Watch – LA, Critical Resistance, Dolores Huerta Foundation, Drug Policy Alliance, Enlace, Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes, Fresno Brown Berets, Harm Reduction Coalition, Hip Hop Not Bombs, Homies Unidos, Justice by Uniting Creative Energy, Justice Now, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Leadership through Empowerment Action and Dialogue, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Madera Citizens for Better Community and Schools, October 22nd Coalition – LA, Oasis Clinic, Pico Youth and Family Center, SF Drug Users Union, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, TGI-Justice Project, These Cuts Wont’ Heal, United for Drug Policy Reform and Youth Justice Coalition.

For more information about actions, prisons, the budget crisis and realignment, surf to http://www.curbprisonspending.org



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A Declaration of the Common People

By Andrew Jackson Kocher (A Common Homeless Man)

When, in the course of human events, it has become necessary for the Common People to dissolve the political commitments which have connected them with a centralized Federal Government, and to assume among the powers of the Earth the shape and spirit of a democracy which reflects the inalienable rights to which the laws of nature entitle them; a decent respect to the opinions of humanity requires that they should Declare the causes which impel them to make a charge of No Confidence.

We, The Common People, hold these truths to be self-evident, that all humanity is created equal, that they are endowed by their very existence with certain inalienable rights; and that among these are Life, Liberty, Access to the natural bounty of unspoiled land and the Fruits thereof;  Clean Air, Pure Water and the pursuit of happiness within a just and equal society.

To secure these rights, governments have been instituted over communities, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. The Common People maintain that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, by failing to uphold these rights, it is the moral obligation of the People to alter or abolish it and institute in its place a new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its obligations in such a form as to provide for environmentally sound interaction with the Biosphere Earth; and shall seem most likely to effect their safety, health and happiness.

Common sense will dictate that a government long established should not be changed for light and transient reasons and accordingly, experience shows that humankind are more disposed to suffer when corruption, pollution and other evils are bearable, than to correct the evil by abolishing the sources of the corruption and pollution to which they are accustomed.

But, when a long series of abuses, deceptions and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, exposes a design to reduce the Common People under absolute corporate despotism, it is our right and our moral obligation to reject such government and to provide a new form of government by the People to provide for our future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of the Common People and such is now the necessity, which rallies them to separate themselves from the present Federal Government of the United States of America. The history of the present Federal government is one of repeated deception and usurpation, having in direct object the establishment of a corporate tyranny over the American population.

To demonstrate this, let the facts be submitted to a World in Peril.

Corporations, by their very nature, have no sense of national patriotism, and therefore cannot be loyal to any one people or political ideology. The only obligation of a multi-national corporation is to make profit. Therefore, they exist only to exploit the population of the Earth in the quest for ongoing profit.

We, the People, have been deprived of our inalienable rights.

The Federal Government has failed to represent the American people, either as individuals or en masse: as intended by the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. We have learned that Free Trade does not guarantee individual freedoms and that Federal over-legislation provides the opportunity for Federal government to reach into the home or hovel of every common citizen.

We, The Common People, have been deprived of our inalienable right to the bounty of the natural world in the form of unspoiled lands, clean air and pure water.

The Federal government allows multi-national corporations to dominate and exploit the natural resources of America, and to restrict the access of Common citizens to the natural world, due to and as a result of, criminal exploitation of our environment. These same multi-national corporations continue to exploit the Common People through marketing experimentation and the quest for ongoing profit by establishing the complete dependency of the population on corporate production and distribution for the necessities of life.

The Federal government has employed deception and evasion in order to persuade the Common People to offer up their patriotism and progeny on the alter of corporate profit.

The Federal government promotes military aggression and the enhancement of a worldwide ideological struggle for dominion in order to create market opportunities for, and further promote the agenda of, multi-national corporations towards globalization of the world economy and the complete domination of the Common People.

We, therefore, the People of America, appealing to the judgment of the natural force of the universe for the moral righteousness of our intentions, do solemnly publish and Declare that the Common People are, and of right ought to be, free and independent people, that they are absolved from all allegiance to a Federal government dominated in policy by multi-national corporations, and that all political connection between the Common people and the Federal government is, and of right ought to be, totally dissolved, and that as a free and independent people, we have the power to reform our government, establish an ecologically sustainable and moral co-existence with the Biosphere Earth and the Human race, contract alliances, establish commerce, conduct peace, levy war and do all other acts and things which independent people of inalienable right do, and, for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our futures and our sacred Honor.


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Right 2a Roof Open Call to Community

RIGHTS 2A ROOF OPEN CALL

By L.J. Cirilo

Are you homeless, formerly homeless, ever resided in a shelter in San Francisco, or just plain disgusted by our city’s lack of affordable housing? Have you ever been mistreated or discriminated against while residing in a shelter, or been denied services from a shelter, know someone who has, or have a disability and been denied an accommodation? Then WE WANT YOU! Come to the Rights 2a Roof workgroup and join us in our struggle to demand better treatment, improve the shelter system, and force our law makers to make the creation of more affordable housing for all homeless a priority! We, the members of Right 2a Roof, have fought long and hard and have won many battles with the City of San Francisco and will continue to do so until every single man, woman and child living outside, in a car or doubled up in someone else’s garage or SRO, are provided permanent affordable housing! This is a human right and we demand our government to recognize the plight of the poor and say, “This is unacceptable!” No one should ever have to sleep outside, on a cold and wet concrete slab, under a bridge, or in a tent city just because they are poor and cannot afford the exorbitant rent in San Francisco. We as a community cannot and should not accept this. We at the Coalition on Homeless do not accept this. Currently, several homeless services are on the chopping block in an effort to balance this year’s budget. We at Right 2a Roof say “No more cuts! We have no bone marrow for you!”

Over the past several years Rights 2a Roof has successfully created 32 standards of care for all city funded shelters, passed legislation to halt the runaround by lengthening shelter stays, and we also recently won a lawsuit that led to greatly improved access and conditions for people with disabilities. We worked hard to pass the Shelter Monitoring Committee legislation which now ensures that each city funded shelter is inspected and that the conditions of the shelters are tracked, which has succeeded in exposing and correcting countless problems within the shelter system.

However, our work is not done. Currently we are working on ending the biometric imaging that makes it mandatory for all shelter seekers to have their picture taken, along with thumbprint imaging just to get a bed to sleep in. We are also going to the ballot this November to seek the removal of shelter from the definition of housing for Care Not Cash recipients, and to have a more equitable bed ratio for people who are not on the Care Not Cash program, thus decreasing the amount of time someone must stand in line to get a shelter bed. We are also conducting a housing survey to gain valuable information from those that are currently homeless, in order to shed light on the many obstacles which prevent people from accessing real affordable low-income and permanent housing. We at Rights 2a Roof are a dedicated group of homeless and formerly homeless folks who are working hard to ensure a safe and welcoming shelter system for homeless individuals and families where human, disability and civil rights are up held, where respectful staffing reflects the diversity of the community served and where there is accountability to the standards of care. We need your help – Come join the struggle!

We meet every Wednesday from noon to 2:00pm at the Coalition on Homelessness, 468 Turk St. For more information go to our website: http://www.cohsf.org or contact Right 2a Roof at (415)346-3740