African arts showcase at UC Berkeley

The spirit of Africa was alive at the African Arts Society's "Showcase" on November 20 at UC Berkeley.

Ready to Learn Fun Fair

Children enjoyed face painting, legos and storytelling at the Ready to Learn Fun Fair at Peralta Elementary School in Oakland.

Occupy Oakland calls for West Coast Port Shutdown

Organizers say Port owners are "1%." Port begs to keep the Ports Open for 99% workers.

Oakland Labor Day BBQ hosts good time for 'fam bam'

The "I am Oakland" collective hosted the Labor Day Fam Bam BBQ at Mosswood Park on September 6.

Protest against censorship of Palestinian Children's Art

In response to censorship of Palestinian children's art by an Oakland art museum, dozens came out to protest in Oakland.

RIP Peabo Wellington

College of Alameda student Jepeabo Wellington was murdered days before the school year began.

Students gain college acceptance at Black College Fair

Hundreds of young people attended the third annual Black College Fair at Laney College, the second year the Oakland community college has hosted the event.

Feds monitoring Oscar Grant protests since 2009

Editor's Note: Last week, KALW News' 'The Informant' dropped a bombshell concerning what many activists in the Justice for Oscar Grant movement already expected. Reading between the lines, it becomes obvious that a) Law enforcement brought to Oakland during recent protests were primarily concerned with protecting property and, (b) the federal involvement of law enforcement likely means agent provocateurs are being placed amongst crowds.

Police files reveal Federal interest in Oscar Grant protests, 'Anarchists'
By Ali Winston

Documents recently obtained by The Informant reveal the significant involvement of state and federal law enforcement in monitoring the various Oscar Grant protests in Oakland over the past two years.

According to internal Oakland Police Department documents about the July 8th protests that followed Johannes Mehserle’s involuntary manslaughter conviction, agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, United States Secret Service, and the California Department of Justice were assigned to monitor crowd activities.

Thirty-three federal, state and local officers were assigned to video details posted in buildings surrounding Frank Ogawa Plaza and throughout the crowd of several hundred demonstrators. Among them were personnel from the Secret Service, the state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, and Bureau of Intelligence and Investigation who took video of the protest. Some DEA and Oakland Police officers recorded the protest, while others dressed in plainclothes provided intelligence from within the crowd to OPD’s Emergency Operations Command Center at 1605 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

The documents indicate FBI involvement in monitoring the Oscar Grant protests as early as January 2009. A police report included in the case file of Holly Noll, a 24-year-old activist who plead no contest to charges of assaulting a police officer, shows the FBI was providing intelligence to OPD on the movements of “black bloc” anarchists in Downtown Oakland on the night of January 14, 2009, when the latest of several protests agitating for Johannes Mehserle’s arrest erupted into property destruction and clashes with police.

Oakland Police Officer Scott Seder’s report from that night indicates specific FBI interest in “anarchists.” The report reads as follows:

“OPD [Oakland Police Department] radio announced a communications order stating the FBI advised groups of anarchists, described as MW [male, white], 17-25 years old, wearing black and red clothing, were en route to the protest and planned to commit acts of violence and vandalism adjacent to the main demonstration.”

Jose Luis Fuentes, an attorney at Siegel & Yee, the law firm that is defending those arrested in the July 8th protests, believes the involvement of state and federal agencies in intelligence-gathering is part of a larger effort to scrutinize political protest. “They’re trying to build a case against ‘black blocs’ or anarchists as domestic terrorism,” said Fuentes. “The federal government wants to know who’s protesting. They’re documenting who the agitators are — This is all COINTELPRO resurfacing.”

The Counter Intelligence Program, or COINTELPRO, was an extensive federal operation that ran from the 1950s through the 1970s that monitored political activists, sometime using law enforcement to harass and discredit everyone from the National Association of Colored People to the Ku Klux Klan, who federal authorities considered dangerous.

But law enforcement personnel who worked the Oscar Grant protests say federal involvement had nothing to do with a political ideology and everything to do with keeping civilians and critical infrastructure sites safe and preventing disorder.

Oakland Police Captain David Downing, who was in charge of “Operation Verdict,” the police response to the July 8th post-verdict protests, says the handful of federal agents were nothing more than extra eyes among the several hundred law enforcement officers working on July 8th.

“Their only job was to be out there and videotape, be observers and feed information,” said Downing, who was in charge of Operation Verdict. The DEA, California DOJ and Secret Services agents were a fraction of the several hundreds of law enforcement agents from across Northern California who took part in Operation Verdict.

Much like several police departments provided officers to assist with crowd control, the state and federal agencies brought their investigative capacities to the table, as well as equipment. The FBI and DEA both offered helicopters for air support.

Documents indicate that anarchists were on everyone’s mind.

In a running police log from the July 8 protests and in emails exchanged between OPD command staff in the days prior, there is extensive mention of potential acts of property destruction and violence by “anarchists.” The log was later forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center. “They were interested in the event,” said Captain Downing.

During previous protests about the Oscar Grant case, media reports focused on property destruction allegedly perpetrated by “black bloc” anarchists.

“They’re a concern,” said Captain Downing of the Oakland Police. “They don’t really care about the cause other than using the mask of a large mob to engage in property damage.”

Defense attorney Jose Luis Fuentes remains convinced the intelligence gathered during Operation Verdict was part of a broader effort to intimidate political protest. The subtext is that, “If you’re going to protest and violate any law, we might prosecute you federally,” Fuentes said.

A November 16th primer on “Anarchist Extremism” on the FBI’s website describes the Bureau’s general policy on anarchists:

“Currently, much of the criminal activities of anarchist extremists fall under local jurisdiction, so they’re investigated by local police. If asked by police, the Bureau can assist. But we have a heavy presence at a major national or international events generating significant media coverage—that’s when the threat from anarchist extremists, as well as others who are up to no good, dramatically increases.”

According to an OPD investigative log, the FBI explored the possibility of charging some of the July Oscar Grant protesters federally.

FBI Special Agent Russell Romero contacted OPD on July 21 to set up a meeting about the July 8th incident. On July 27, Agents Russell Romero and Kari McInturf met with OPD investigators “to see if Federal charges can be brought.” Romero and McInturf obtained a list of all the July 8th arrestees and their charges from OPD. To date, no federal charges have been filed.

Critical Locations Down Town Commercial

Photos by Ali Winston.

"Yes, No, Maybe" by Ise Lyfe - Music Monday

Finalists for new Peralta Colleges Chancellor to attend forums

Three finalists have been selected for the next Chancellor of the Peralta Community College District. The finalist are: are Dr. Lawrence M. Cox, Provost/CEO of Compton College (California); Dr. Edna B. Chun, Vice President of Human Resources at Broward College (Florida); and Dr. Ed Gould, Superintendent/President of Imperial Valley College (California).

The first forum will be held on the evening of Monday, Nov. 29, 2010, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., in the Boardroom of the Peralta Community College District offices, 333 East 8th Street, Oakland. The second forum will take place during the day on Tuesday, November 30, 2010, 12:00 noon - 2:00 p.m., at the Berkeley City College Auditorium, 2050 Center Street in Berkeley.

"While each candidate brings an extensive resume of administrative college experience, none of his or her records is without blemish," according to the Laney Tower newspaper

Peralta Board president Abel Guillén told the Laney Tower student newspaper, "I am pleased that the Committee selected three very qualified finalists. The Board looks forward to interviewing each of the candidates."
  • Most recently, Chun, who currently serves as the vice president for Human Resources and Equity at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, filed a lawsuit against the college's president, J. David Armstrong.
  • Cox, who serves as the Provost/CEO of the Compton Community College District, was given a vote of no confidence while serving as President of Olive-Harvey College on the south side of Chicago in 2001.
  • Gould, who currently serves as president and superintendent of Imperial Valley College, located east of San Diego, also received a vote of no confidence while serving as President of Monterey Peninsula College in 1996.
To add to an already tumultuous process, the Peralta Federation of Teachers (PFT), the union representing Peralta teachers, is considering initiating a no-confidence vote in the District's hiring process for a new Chancellor. Long-time educator Dr. Wise Allen has been serving as interim Chancellor since July, after trustees opted not to renew the contract of former Chancellor Elihu Harris.

Those attending the forums will be able to ask questions of the finalists and provide written comments to the Board of Trustees. The Peralta board is expected to appoint a new chancellor at a Closed Session meeting on November 30 meeting. The candidate appointed will begin July 1, 2011. More information on the candidates can be found on the Peralta Colleges News Centre.

Graphic: Peralta Colleges

Ishmael Reed Book Reading in Oakland - Barack Obama and the Jim Croww Media

By Al Young
Special to

Ishmael Reed will read from and discuss his latest book, BARACK OBAMA AND THE JIM CROW MEDIA: The Return of the Nigger Breakers, on Tuesday, November 23 at the Black Dot Cafe in West Oakland.

Under slavery, 'nigger breakers' had the job of destroying the spirits of tough black men by whatever means necessary. At age 15, Frederick Douglass was sold to Edward Covey who had the mandate to break him. Ishmael Reed makes the case that President Barack Obama is being assailed by 20th-Century descendants of Covey.

In a series of essays written during the 2008 primaries and after Obama’s election, Reed describes how Obama’s opponents and some supposed allies use modern reincarnations of those same ugly demons to break him. What’s more, statements and alliances he made during the campaign and in office have made him easy prey. A book sale will follow the reading.

Poet Al Young is California's Poet Laureate.

Mystified - Naru Kwina - Music Monday

This week's Music Monday:

To raise awareness about the silent epidemic of sexual abuse in the community, filmmaker and activist Dedoceo Habi, rap artist Naru Kwina and songstress Yolanda Davis have created, "Mystified."

"Both young boys and young girls — yes, even here in our fair city of Oakland — are being victimized by these quiet perpetrators who endear themselves to a family or are considered a “good person” in the neighborhood and therefore not assumed to be a threat," writes producer Dedoceo Habi on These people enter our homes and communities to perform the most destructive psychological, emotional, and spiritual betrayal one could imagine. The end result is that these children grow up hurting, growing more and more desensitized, and in many cases they become only a shell of what they once were, failing to realize their fullest potential.

AC Transit cancels December cuts, bus riders rally for service

AC transit rally Nov 9

AC Transit riders rallied against service cuts in downtown Oakland on Nov. 9 as agency officials announced an agreement in an ongoing labor dispute with bus drivers.

The decision halted planned December service cuts, that would have brought service to its lowest levels in 30 years, but there will likely be future service reductions.

In the past year, the agency has hiked fares and slashed service twice, as the agency was “hemorrhaging” towards fiscal insolvency. Meanwhile, bus riders have been paying more money for less transit service.

Riders, who launched a “Stop the Cuts” campaign, held “Rest in Peace” gravestones with the names of former bus lines and routes that were to be cut next month. Some signed a testimonial board, sharing that they would no longer be able to get to school, work, the grocery store, or to other services if there were more cuts.

Nearly 150 riders and supporters attended the rally, which grew as time progressed. Many said they arrived later due to crowded or late buses.

AC transit rally Nov 9Riders and allies called on elected officials to fight for AC Transit riders with the same tenacity that many fought for BART’s Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) project. The $500 million rail extension will primarily serve wealthy and white suburban commuters, advocates said, and follows a historical trend discriminatory transit funding in the Bay Area.

Elected officials from throughout Oakland, Alameda County up to California’s congressional delegation collaborated to find money when BART lost $70 million worth of federal stimulus money for failure to comply with civil rights rules. Over 15 elected officials attended last month’s ceremonial groundbreaking for the OAC at the Oakland Coliseum.

“Now AC Transit is short $56 million and is cutting core service to thousands of riders, and no one seems to be paying any attention,” said Jana Lane, a bus rider and member of Genesis, a faith based advocacy group.

At the bus riders rally, two elected officials, and two staffers of other electeds, were present.

“People need to get to school, people need to get to work, to the grocery store, to the doctor,” Richmond Mayor Gayle MacLaughlin said. Discussing some of the city’s efforts of smart redevelopment, she asked, “What good is it to have Transit Oriented Deveopment if you don’t have the transit?”

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, also president of United Seniors of Oakland and Alameda County, encouraged people to keep up the fight.

“We’ve been in the struggle for better, accessible transit service since 1982,” said Miley. The most vulnerable populations–seniors, youth, disabled and low-income– are hurt most by service cuts., Miley said. With the recent passage of Measure F, a vehicle registration fee at the county level, more funds will come to AC Transit soon, he said. However, Miley said advocates must also focus on the upcoming reauthorization of Measure B, a county sales tax measure.

Both Miley and MacLaughlin signed the pledge at the rally. Supervisor Keith Carson and Assembly Member Nancy Skinner were unable to attend, but had staff representatives present, and have signed the pledge.

The OAC’s top supporters were Oakland Mayor Dellums, Council President Larry Reid, and County Supervisor and chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Scott Haggerty, according to advocates.

These elected officials stepped in to find funds and swap monies at the federal, state and local level, and battled Obama’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

After the rally finished, Thia Artemis, arrived on a 26 line bus from West Oakland. She needs both a wheelchair and service dog, and often has to wait longer for less frequent buses because of crowding.

AC transit rally Nov 9“It’s much harder now to get around,” Artemis said of the October service reduction. And with cuts to Paratransit service also, she has difficulty getting around, “Are we supposed to just not go anywhere?”

After labor negotiations broke down between AC Transit and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 192, the union representing the district’s 1,750 bus drivers, the Board of Directors voted to impose a contract.

That contract; however, was challenged by the union in court. A judge ordered the district return to the previous contract, and sent both parties to binding interest arbitration.

The three-year contract agreement has averted December’s proposed cuts, and calls for drivers to contribute a percentage of their health and benefit plans, work rule and holiday, according to an AC Transit press release.

The December cuts would have slashed nearly half of all weekend service completely and the majority of its All-Nighter (Owl) service.

Despite the seemingly good news, AC Transit is at its lowest service levels in years., and will likely have more cuts in the future. AC Transit completely reconfigured its routes with a 7.5 percent service reduction March, followed by another 7.5 percent cut that took place Oct. 31.

The agency has declared a fiscal emergency two years in a row, after projected deficits of $56 million. Additionally, 50 drivers were laid off in October and the AC Transit recently outsourced its in-house customer service center to Iowa, resulting in nearly a dozen long-time employees being laid off or forced to retire.

“We are not out of the woods yet when it comes to having sustainable long-term financial stability,” Interim General Manager Mary King said. “In all probability cuts will still have to be made sometime in 2011.”

Although the majority of seats were up on the AC Transit Board, all but one incumbent–who did not run for office–was elected.

Oakland police shoot unarmed man, community plans march

Oakland police shot and killed unarmed business owner Derrick Jones on Nov. 8. A march from his Bancroft Ave barbershop, Kwic Cuts, to Fruitvale BART is planned for Thursday for 3 p.m. Police are defending the shooting.

According to police, OPD responded to a report of a domestic abuse between Jones and his ex-girlfriend, ABC News reports. When police arrived at Jones' barber shop, police said Jones fled, KALW News reported.

Police said they attempted to Tase Jones, but missed, adding that her appeared to be grabbing "towards his waistband."

"During the foot chase the suspect was seen grabbing towards his waistband. This occurred several times; this is a move obviously consistent with someone reaching for a weapon, possibly arming himself," Deputy Police Chief Jeffrey Israel said at a press conference.

The family took to OPD headquarters to protest the shooting of an innocent man. KALW reports:

"The names of the police officers were not released – however, OPD Spokesman Jeff Thomason did say that both officers were not white, in hope of reducing racial tensions around officer-involved shooting. According to Officer Jeff Thomason, an Oakland Police spokesman, Jones was not armed. Thomason would not identify the metal object found on Jones."

Witnesses said Jones was shot eight times. Although community members said Jones was shot in the back, mainstream press now report an autopsy reveals Jones was shot from front.

Friends and Family express their grief in a video by Oakland filmmaker Michael Cotton:

Photo: Ali Winston, KALW • Video: Michael Cotton, Cotton Club Productions

AC Transit riders to fight back

With AC Transit at its lowest service levels in decades, bus riders are fighting back. On Tuesday, Nov. 9, riders are holding a rally at 14th and Broadway to "Stop the Cuts" and encourage officials–who worked so hard for the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC)–to work to preserve AC Transit service.

"Due to unjust funding decisions by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), compounded by cuts to transit service at the state level and very low tax revenues driven by the persisting recession, AC Transit is planning on cutting service to its lowest levels in over 30 years," advocates said in a statement.

After major service cuts in March of this year, the agency cut an additional 7.5 percent. In December, half of all weekend service and two-thirds of All-Nighter bus service will be eliminated.

The rally and press conference begins at 5 p.m. at 14th and Broadway. Organizations taking part of the action include: Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS), Center for Progressive Action, Genesis, Urban Habitat, United Seniors of Oakland and Alameda County, Public Advocates and other members of the Transportation Justice Working Group.

Urban Habitat

Black Elected Officials, Clergy, Legal Groups Condemn Mehserle Sentence

The following statement was released by the Black Elected Officials and Faith Based Leaders of the East Bay a few hours after the sentencing of former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle.

The organizations and individuals listed below condemn today’s sentencing of former BART Officer Johannes Mehserle. The sentence of two years minus time served is far more lenient than would normally be handed down in similar cases not involving law enforcement defendants. Combined with an already lenient conviction for involuntary manslaughter, the slap on the wrist for the murder of Oscar Grant is a snapshot of everything wrong with the criminal justice system.

Were the roles reversed and a white police officer had been killed by an African American civilian, the chances are high that the defendant would be facing life in prison if not capital punishment. In this case, Mehserle could have faced only as many as 14 years in prison for an involuntary manslaughter conviction with a gun enhancement. Instead, he will spend as little as seven months in prison.

Police officers across the country shoot and kill an average of one person a day and people of color are an overrepresented proportion of the dead. These victims are often unarmed, yet the perpetrators are rarely prosecuted much less disciplined. Civil lawsuits brought by family members are occasionally successful, but because of the nature of law enforcement shootings, much of the evidence in such cases is collected by law enforcement and therefore suspect.

The undersigned call for greater transparency regarding police misconduct. This includes, among other things, greater access to previous complaints against officers and agency-wide information about shootings.

The undersigned call for genuine civilian oversight of law enforcement. Police must be accountable to the communities in which they work. Although BART is creating a civilian oversight board for its police force, like many other California police oversight structures, this new board will not have real power to take necessary action against officers.

Finally, the undersigned urge the Justice Department, which is already looking into the matter of Oscar Grant’s killing, to take action and prosecute Mehserle since the state proceeding has lacked the due process and thoroughness necessary to reach a just outcome.

These actions are necessary if California is to have safer, healthier communities, and if shootings like Oscar Grant’s are to be prevented in the future.

The Black Elected Officials and Faith Based Leaders
The California Branch of the NAACP
The Oakland Branch of the NAACP
The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, San Francisco Chapter
Black Women Organized for Political Action, California Chapter
Minister Keith Muhammad, Nation of Islam
Rabbi David Copper of the Kehilla Community Synagogue

Updated: Added You Tube video. Courtesy of Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson

Oakland to dedicate City Hall rooms after four Oakland police officers

During a press conference last month to announce the most recent Oakland gang injunction, the hearing room at Oakland City Hall was hard for some people to find because the room number was covered up.

Underneath a white sheet of plastic was the name of one of the four officers who were killed last year during a March 2009 shootout with Oakland resident Lovelle Mixon.

On Monday, November 8, City Council President and other City Officials are officially dedicating four City Hall Hearing rooms to Oakland Police officers Sgt. Mark T. Dunakin, St. Ervin J. Romans, Sgt. Daniel T. Sakai, and Officer John R. Hege. The event begins at 10 a.m.

Oakland rally planned in response to Mehserle sentencing

Former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle will be sentence on Friday, November 5 for the shooting death of Oscar Grant, III. Hundreds will gather at Oakland City Hall, and later in West Oakland, to respond to the sentencing and to honor Oscar.

“While many of us will undoubtedly be angry on that day, we will also take time out to honor the memory of Oscar Grant,” said Ann Weils, Attorney at Law. “Oscar ignited a movement across the entire nation and this movement will not stop with the sentencing of Johannes Mehserle. We will continue to build and to organize until the State understands that we will not lie down silently as they murder the people in cold blood.”

“Where is the accountability?” asked Cat Brooks, Co-Chair of the ONYX Organizing Committee. “The verdict was unjust so the sentence will be unjust. And we are angry about it. We are tired of burying our children and we are tired of the open season on black men in this country by police who are then returned to their families with a slap on the wrist.”

From the start of this case Michael Raines has portrayed Johannes Mehserle as an innocent victim of circumstance and not a murderer. Paying no attention to the racial slurs uttered before his death or the fact that Mehserle first held a Taser before putting it away and reaching for his gun. What is more, Judge Perry refused to allow Mehserle’s record into evidence so his pattern of violently assaulting men of color that culminated into Oscar’s murder was never revealed to the jury.

Adding insult to injury, KTVU of Oakland recently aired a special profiling Mehserle in efforts to gain sympathy for him before his sentencing. These are signs of what many are anticipating: a lenient sentence for a murderer.

“Given the likely scenario that Mehserle will receive a light sentence, people are going to need a place to come together and be supported in their process,” said Rachel Jackson of the New Years Movement. “We hope people come and share their rage, frustration and pain and also their hope, ideas and passion for building a world where young men and women of color are no longer terrorized and assassinated by those who are claim to be here to protect and serve.”

A live art show is planned from 2-4 p.m. at Oakland City Hall, followed by a two-hour program. At 6 p.m., a march from 14th and Broadway to Lil Bobby Hutton Park (18th & Adeline) will be held.

Activists condemn KTVU's Mehserle PR

KTVU supports Killer Cops

On the eve of the sentencing of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, KTVU is lobbying for his freedom, activists said.

On Nov. 1, the Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant protested outside KTVU-Fox News' Oakland offices, condemning the recent televised jailhouse interview of Mehserle.

"Rita Williams' recent 'interview' of Mehserle was not that of an authentic reporter," said Rachal Jackson of the New Years Movement for Justice for Oscar Grant, "but a shockingly dishonest, untruthful PR stunt with the intention of creating a more sympathetic picture of Mehserle for his sentencing judge, Robert Perry, and KTVU's viewers."

"We are here to denouce KTVU and its blatant disregard for the family of the victim," Jackson said.

People held up a banner reading, "KTVU supports killer cops." This was the second time since Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in July that community members have protested outside of KTVU. Both times, KTVU recorded the protests, but did not air that the station was the target of the protests.

Many also objected to KTVU constantly airing footage of a "Justice for Johannes" banner hoisted by Mehserle's father, Todd, during the World Series in San Francisco.

"The family can't even watch the news or a ballgame without KTVU giving free advertisement to a convicted killer," Jackson said.

After the picket, the group headed over to the Ferry Terminal at Jack London Square where former Oakland mayor and governor-elect Jerry Brown was having a campaign rally.

'Head of the State' by Baracka Flacka - Music Monday

"Head of the State" by Baracka Flacka

Laney College receives bomb threat

Laney College has received a bomb threat from an anonymous caller, according to an email sent out to students on Thurs October 21.

"There has been a suspicious phone call from an anonymous individual declaring a bomb threat at Laney College," wrote Laney College President Elnora Webb.

Many students were notified by text message or email, but some did not find out until Friday morning when told about the bomb threat by other students.

"They must not have the right email or phone number for me," said Laney BSU member Tim Killings. "As the economy gets worse, domestic terrorism will get worse," he added, referring to this past summers Oakland shootout on the 580 freeway.

A few students were worried, but most didn't take it too serious.

"Who would want to blow up Laney College?" asked one international student. "It's such a nice, diverse place." She added that although she received the email last night, she disregarded the threat.

Peralta Police Services conducted a walk through of the campus, according to Webb, and may do a canine sweep if anything suspicious is found. Webb encouraged students to report anything suspicious.

"While we have no evidence to validate the credibility of this threat, we ask you to be very aware of your surroundings, which includes being vigilant in reporting any suspicious package," Webb wrote. "In the meantime, remain calm and go about your normal business."

Peralta Police Services phone number is (510) 466–7236.

Oakland Mayoral Candidates Forum at Holy Names

The Bay Area Black Journalists Association will host the final Oakland mayoral candidates forum tonight at Holy Names University.

The program will take place from 6-8:30 p.m. Holy Names is located at 3500 Mountain Blvd. The program is co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters in Oakland.

Urban Releaf to Break Ground in Tree Poor West Oakland Neighborhood

The Ground Breaking for Urban Releaf's 31st Green Street Demonstration Project takes place Thursday, October 21 from 11-1 p.m. The event will take place on the corner of 31st and Market Street in West Oakland.

Following the success of Urban Releaf's Ettie Street watershed research and evaluation projects funded by the statewide CALFED Watershed Program, the only Black run urban forestry organization in the county is launching a cutting-edge research and demonstration project with Dr. Qingfu Xiao, a water scientist with UC Davis Department of Land and Water.

The 31st Street Green Street Demonstration Project is located in the tree-scarce Hoover neighborhood in West Oakland, along two blocks between Market Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way where tree canopy is currently non-existent.

Dr. Xiao will develop innovative tree wells using special rocks and soil that save water in two ways, according to Urban Releaf. According to the Center for Urban Forest Research, trees in urban areas mitigate air pollution, beautify the neighborhood by adding greenery and shade, save on heating and cooling costs, build a sense of community, and provide opportunities for green job training -- all in addition to saving water.

"We are looking to spread the word and demonstrate the myriad water benefits of our city's trees," says Kemba Shakur, executive director of Urban Releaf, the Oakland nonprofit leading the project. "Cities all over the world are facing water crises and are seeking water-sensitive tree well design and approach to urban forestry like this."

For more information, visit or call (510) 601-9062.

Labor to rally for Oscar Grant in Oakland

The International Longshoremans Worker's Union (ILWU) has will shut down the Port of Oakland and host a rally at Oakland City Hall on Saturday, October 23 for Justice for Oscar Grant.

The noontime rally, two weeks before former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle is to be sentenced for the 2009 New Year's murder of Oscar Grant, is sponsored by dozens of labor and community organizations.

"Mehserle will be sentenced on November 5th and we need to get out on the 23rd to show the sentencing judge that we mean business," reads one flyer. "It took video evidence AND a massive outpouring in downtown Oakland to even get the District Attorney to charge Mehserle. It will take people in the streets to get the killer cop jailed."

Reginald James awarded Chauncey Bailey Scholarship

BABJA Scholarship Gala

By Tracey Tate
Special to

Reginald James receives Chauncey Bailey Scholarship AwardThe Bay Area Black Journalists Association (BABJA) awarded Laney College student Reginald James the Chauncey Wendell Bailey Jr. Scholarship on Oct. 2. At the Seventh Annual Young Journalists Scholarship Gala, held at Scott's Seafood Restaurant in Jack London Square, James received a check for $2,500 for his work as a student journalist.

James, a former editor-in-chief of the Laney Tower, received his associates arts degree in Journalism from Laney this year and has been accepted to the University of California at Berkeley for the spring 2011 semester. He plans to study political science at Cal while continuing his personal journalistic endeavors.

In 2004 James, an Alameda resident, decided to pursue journalism when he realized that "the press didn't represent my community's voice."

Gentrification in West Alameda uprooted his family and hundreds of others. The controversial incident spurred James to pursue his educational path in journalism. It was then that James noticed that "they [the press] did not speak to me or for me."

While studying journalism at Laney, James has honed his news writing, newspaper design and photography skills. Excerpts from his body of work at the Tower, along with an essay answering the question "What will you do to impact your community as a journalist?" earned James the Bailey Scholarship.

Present at the awards ceremony which honored KCBS Radio Broadcaster Bob Butler, were legends in local media, including Belva Davis, Barbara Rogers and current KRON anchor Pam Moore. On being in the presence of such journalistic icons, James said, "As a young journalist, is was humbling to be honored by a group of black media professionals."

James' other media endeavors include his radio show--"The Black Hour," an educational blog, The Peralta Report and his role as a contributing editor to Oakland Local. He hopes to contribute to the Daily Californian when he continues his studies at Cal, as well as to the Black Student magazine, "Onyx Express."

A major milestone for James was writing for the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, and getting paid as a professional journalist. His future goals include building a hyper-local website for his community in west Alameda, called the "West End Times".

Photos: Top, Bay Area Black Journalists Association President Michelle Fitzburg-Craig, James receiving check from Belva Davis, James' mother and former California Voice Arts Editor Deborah James, BABJA Scholarship Chair Ellison Horne and Membership Chair Marcus Osbourne. Right, James gives acceptance speech. Photos by Z'ma Wyatt of Shades Magazine.

Tracey Tate has been the editor-in-chief of the Laney Tower newspaper since Fall 2009. She almost maintains the online magazine, This article originally appeared in the Laney Tower newspaper.

Black Cartoonists Showcase at Laney College

Black Cartoonists participate in a panel discussion on October 13 at the Laney College as a part of the Library's current exhibit, "Coloring Outside the Lines: Black Cartoonists as Social Commentators."

The exhibit, curated by Kheven LaGrone, is about breaking outside those lines."

LaGrone told "In particular, as an African American … I feel like I'm being given a coloring book and told to stay in my proper place," he said.

A few featured cartoonists will participate in the panel.

The panel discussion will take place Wednesday, October 15 at 11 a.m. in the Laney College Library, located at 900 Fallon Street.

The Black Cartoonists as Social Commentators exhibit, which runs through October 23 at the Laney College Library.

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Photo Credit:

Bay Area Black Journalists Honored

Former BABJA President Bob Butler

By Niema Jordan

Media professionals, students, and community members gathered in Jack London Oct. 2 for the 7th Annual Young Journalists Scholarship Gala.

One of the many projects coordinated by the Bay Area Association of Black Journalists (BABJA), the event honored broadcast journalist and industry mentor Bob Butler for his contributions both past and present.

During the Gala program slides and special video were shown honoring Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Bob Butler. A number of people who have worked with and been impacted by Butler, spoke at the Gala and sent video messages. Butler shared stories about how he became the journalist he is today, including his move from DJing parties to reading the news just to get on air.

BABJA also awarded scholarships to students pursing careers in journalism highlighting the work they are doing and the work they will do years from now.

Reginald James was one of two scholarship recipients. A student at Peralta Colleges who will start full-time at UC Berkeley for spring semester. He received the Chauncey Bailey Scholarship. When James accepted his award he explained how being disappointed in local media coverage led him to dedicate himself to journalism.

His mission in the field became extremely clear when he ended his speech reciting and encouraging others to repeat the “Credo for the Negro Press”:

"I Shall Be A Crusader...
I Shall Be An Advocate...
I Shall Be A Herald...
I Shall Be A Mirror And A Record...
I Shall Have Integrity...
I Shall be a crusader and an advocate, a mirror and a record, a herald and a spotlight, and I Shall not falter.
So help me God."

Photo Credit: Z'ma Wyatt via Flickr

For more information on the Bay Area Association of Black Journalists visit

This article originally appeared on Visit the writer's website at

Students wanted for volunteer reading program at Laney College

A student-run literacy project at the Peralta College is seeking volunteers at the Children’s Centers of Laney College and Merritt Colleges in Oakland, and College of Alameda.

Orientations will be held this Tuesday and Thursday for Laney College students interested in being Volunteer Readers with Peralta Reads. Students will read to the pre-schoolers at the Laney College Children’s Center each week.

Tuesday, October 12
Noon to 1 PM
(Orientation #2 – RSVP Here)
4th Floor, Laney College Student Center

Thursday, October 14
Noon to 1 PM
(Orientation #3 – RVSP Here)
4th Floor, Laney College Student Center
Besides a fun, rewarding experience working with dynamic children, organizers said, volunteering is a great way to improve your transfer application or resume.

">Peralta Reads is a reading program connecting student volunteers at College of Alameda, Laney College and Merritt College with the children at the campuses’ childcare centers. The program promotes literacy, community service, and family and community engagement in the literacy of children.

Visit for more information, or call 510-473-READ (7323).

Photo Credit: Former Laney College student Charles Perkins reads to child at Oakland Freedom School. Photo by Reginald James/Oakland Freedom School

Reconsider Columbus Day

Christopher Columbus was a rapist, murderer and a thief. And there's a holiday named after him.

Celebrate Indigenous People's Day instead. Respect those who were here first.

Reconsider Columbus Day.

Laney College students occupy Peralta Colleges Chancellor's Office

Following a rally at Laney College on October 7, a group of students stormed the Peralta Colleges District headquarters and briefly occupied the Chancellor's office.

The rally abruptly ended as about 30 students marched from Laney’s quad, down 8th Street towards the district’s headquarters chanting, “No cuts! No fees! Education should be free!”

The group burst into the the Peralta District’s headquarters, interrupting a Benefits Fair for employees. Corporate representatives from CostCo and 24 Hour Fitness appeared stunned as students marched past before doubling back and entering the offices of Chancellor’s staff.

Students were looking for Chancellor Dr. Wise Allen or district trustees. None were present at the time.

Staff quickly called Peralta Police Services – a contract of the Alameda County Sheriffs Office – whose offices are housed in the same building. Students continued chanting, demanding to see trustees.

“We should stay here until the Chancellor agrees to meet with us,” Laney College student Jevon Cochran said.

Deputy Glen Pace, entering the offices at that same time responded, “Here’s the agreement, you have thirty seconds to leave.” The scene greatly resembled the April 22 board meeting that was shutdown by student’s protesting the closure of the College of Alameda Children’s Center. The group left the building a minute later, while sheriff’s locked and blocking the entrance.

Students marched back to Laney, with many taking public transportation to join the demonstrations taking place at UC Berkeley.

West Oakland Community Theater presents August Wilson's 'Gem of the Ocean'

The Lower Bottom Playaz Present August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean" from October 8 through October 17 in West Oakland.

Gem of the Ocean is the first installment of his decade-by-decade, ten-play chronicle, The Pittsburgh Cycle, dramatizing the African-American experience in the twentieth century.

The play is set in 1904 at 1839 Wylie Avenue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Hill District. Aunt Ester, the drama's 285-year-old fiery matriarch, welcomes into her home Solly Two Kings, who was born into slavery and scouted for the Union Army, and Citizen Barlow, a young man from Alabama searching for a new life. Citizen Barlow is in search of redemption. Aunt Ester is not too old to practice healing; she guides him on a soaring, lyrical journey of spiritual awakening to the City of Bones.

The play runs October 8-17, Fridays-Sundays. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Sister Thea Bowman Memorial Theater is located at 920 Peralta Street, and is accessible by AC Transit lines 31, 26 and West Oakland BART.

Laney College students occupy Peralta Colleges Chancellor's Office

Demanding no more budget cuts, staff layoffs, or fee increases, Laney College students held a noontime rally on the main campus quad on October 7. Some later marched to the Peralta Colleges district and briefly occupied the Chancellor’s office.

Coinciding with a National Day of Action in Defense of Education, the “Speak Out” let any student share how education budget cuts affected them. At the bottom of the event’s stage was a banner that read, “Free Speech Zone,” mocking a policy proposed last spring that critics said would limit free speech on the campus.

While most talked about budget cuts have affected them, their families and classmates, the overall emphasis of speakers was the press need for organization.

“This is exactly what we need to do to let our voices be heard and to show the powers that be that we are organized and we are one,” said Jurena Storm, a student member of the Peralta Colleges Board of Trustees. Storm left the rally early to attend a program at College of Alameda that featured a mass graveyard for education.

Laney College Black Student Union member Timothy Killings told students to take charge of their education’s by being actively engaged in the colleges’ governance, and retaking control of the school.

“First thing we need to do is clear up the misconception that our school is run by the Board of Trustees,” Killings said. “This is our school.” Killings criticized a new fee policy that dropping students from their classes if they do not pay their fees promptly.

In between speakers, the rally’s emcee, former Laney BSU President Jabari Shaw, rapped the song, “Chop from the Top.” The song – based on a popular chant at Peralta board meetings last fall – became a budget cuts anthem of sorts last spring.

“People have called the cuts a tragedy,” said Peter Brown, an instructor in the machine technology department. “A tragedy is when someone is hurt and no one benefits. But when someone benefits, that’s not a tragedy, that’s a crime.” Brown’s comment was a reference to Senator Diane Feinstein’s husband, Richard C. Plum, a UC Regent who has profited while the tuition has skyrocketed, along with others who benefit while people suffer.

Shaw then introduced the next speaker, a challenger for the Peralta board facing a two-term incumbent in the November 2 election, adding, “We’re trying to get rid of the incompetents.”

Monica Tell, a former Laney College student running in Trustee Area 3, introduced herself as a person who grew up in Oakland that is “going to fight the good fight to represent you.”

Student Adon Ortega, an intern with Californians for Justice, encouraged students to sign a petition about financial aid issues and the district’s new policy. “People are supposed to pay fees, and use financial aid, but financial aid doesn’t come until weeks after,” Ortega said.

Student Jevon Cochran, a member of Laney’s Student Unity and Power (SUP), called for repealing Peralta’s new fee policy and for cuts from administrators.

“When these cuts started to come down, they gave administrators raises,” Cochran said. Last year, the Bay Area News Group revealed that former Chancellor Elihu Harris gave raises to administrators against board policy. When trustees found out, instead of repeal the raises, trustees ratified the decision. “They didn’t think it was fair that (Peralta) administrators didn’t make as much as other (districts) administrators. But it’s fair for students to get kicked out of school and it’s fair that workers lose their jobs?”

Administrators need to fight against the cuts, also, Cochan said, calling on students to go picket the district’s headquarters. “We’ve got to take it to the state and to the administrators too. Let’s march!”

A group of 30 students then marched over to Peralta's district headquarters.

Read complete story on The Peralta Report.

Dance performances tells unknown stories of early Blacks in San Francisco

Of all urban cities in the U.S., the percentage of San Francisco's African American population is the smallest. Yet, much of early Black history in California is set in the city, and remains largely untold.

Sailing Away, a site-specific dance performance on Market Street from October 7 to October 10 will explore the history of African Americans' early contributions to the development of San Francisco.

Created by Joanna Haigood, the artistic director of Zaccho Dance Theatre, Sailing Away tells the story of eight prominent African Americans who lived and worked near Market Street during the mid-nineteenth century and of the events leading up to the mass exodus of African Americans from San Francisco in 1858.

Market Street will provide the backdrop as performers enact historical narratives through a series of gestures and activities incorporating sites and monuments located between Powell and First streets. Through character interactions, audience members will get a feel for 19th-century commercial life on the city's most important thoroughfare, which was once home to myriad African American-owned enterprises.

"African Americans and their histories are disappearing from San Francisco. The average San Franciscan would not recognize the names of Mifflin Gibbs or James Whitfield and yet they were national figures, working on behalf of all African Americans. This piece hopes to illuminate obscured histories and initiate meaningful dialogue around their subsequent legacies.”
Joanna Haidgood
Some of the figures explored in the work include: Mary Ellen Pleasant, an entrepreneur who used her fortune to further the abolitionist movement; Mifflin Wistar Gibbs, a devoted abolitionist, participant in the Underground Railroad and friend of Frederick Douglass, who made a fortune in the clothing and dry goods trade, real estate speculation, and transportation industries; Archy Lee, a slave who was the focus of several court cases involving slavery laws and a civil rights movement in 1858. During the performance, newspapers containing historical information is referenced in the work will be distributed.

Sailing Away also includes a contemporary character referencing African Americans living in San Francisco today and the current trend in relocation to East Bay communities.

“African Americans and their histories are disappearing from San Francisco,” Haigood said. “The average San Franciscan would not recognize the names of Mifflin Gibbs or James Whitfield and yet they were national figures, working on behalf of all African Americans. This piece hopes to illuminate obscured histories and initiate meaningful dialogue around their subsequent legacies.”

At the top of each half hour all the characters will appear at the North East corner of Market and Battery streets near Shoreline Plaque, the brass plaque that marks the early San Francisco shoreline.

“While creating this work, it was important for me to include a moment to reflect on the invisibility and loss of African American history and to comment on the current out-migration of African Americans,” Haigood said.

Sailing Way begins Thursday, October 7 and runs through Sunday, October 10. Performances will take place at the top of each half hour from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Photo Credits: San Francisco Arts Commission

Film: Gerrymandering at Laney College

Laney College is hosting a free screening of the film, "Gerrymandering," on Friday, October 8 in the Theater building.

What is "gerrymandering"? Named for the Massachusetts governor who conveniently redrew a few erratic lines in 1812, gerrymandering is the redistricting of electoral boundaries to effect voting outcome in favor of a particular candidate, political party, et cetera.

Director Jeff Reichert gathers an impressive bevy of experts to smartly present a well-rounded exposé. This accessible and informative documentary encourages us to put on our bifocals and more closely inspect the warp and woof of America's democratic system.

A reception begins at 5 p.m., followed by a 5:30 p.m. lecture, and the movie from 6-8 p.m.

This event is open to the public and is free of charge. However, donations will be accepted to help send the Fusion Theater (Laney College Theater Company) theater student to Scotland for the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Black Cartoonists Exhibit at Laney College

By Tracey Brown
Special to

In 1965 there was "Wee Pals," a friendly comic strip advocating racial integration. Now there is "Boondocks," a comic strip morphed into an animated TV series whose primary characters are two inner-city kids who have moved to the suburbs--Huey, an angry revolutionary, and Riley, a wannabe gangsta. The evolution of this social commentary by black cartoonists--"Coloring Outside the Lines: Black Cartoonists as Social Commentator's," is on display at the Laney College Library through Oct. 23.

Created and curated by Kheven LaGrone, "Coloring," which premiered at the San Francisco Main Public Library, features black cartoonists whose comic strips appear in newspapers across the nation.

Born from a retrospective exhibit of Berkeley native Morrie Turner's "Wee Pals" comic strip at the San Francisco Library last September, "Coloring" focuses on contemporary cartoons strips with characters from today.


"Coloring" even shows new millennium "Wee Pals" characters that are tech savvy.

A strip from June 2009, features Randy, the athletic black kid with the backward baseball cap, and Oliver, the chubby white nerd modeled on a boy Turner went to school with in Oakland during the Depression:

Randy: "I'll text-message you on my African American Berry when I get home."

Oliver: "You mean BlackBerry, dontcha Randy?"

Randy: "Not at my house!"

LaGrone's intent with the Turner exhibit was to focus on social commentary from a black perspective. While many did not view "Wee Pals" as social commentary, LaGrone said that "Lots of his [Turner] work had been seen, but most people didn't know it was his political perspective that was being made in his cartoon."

A desire to inspire his nephew, a black youth, to think of success as a path in life, positioned LaGrone for his foray into showcasing art as a motivating medium for young people. In 2006, LaGrone created the art show "Black Artists' Expressions of Father," an exhibit which premiered in San Francisco and Richmond, and was later expanded in 2007 to become "BABA: Black Artists' Expressions of Father," a featured exhibit at the International Fatherhood Conference in Atlanta.

Photo Credit:

The show was eventually brought to New York City the following year. In 2007, along with his 19-year old nephew Jarrel Phillips, LaGrone curated the art show "ASPIRE! Black Teen Artists Interpretations of Success" which was exhibited in San Francisco and Richmond. LaGrone served as the curator of the visual arts program for 2008 AfroSolo Arts Festival in San Francisco.

After the Turner exhibit in San Francisco, other black cartoonists approached LaGrone to present their work as well. "Coloring" was born.

In addition to Turner, other cartoonists participating in the exhibit are:

Darrin Bell, creator of "Candorville."

"Candorville" is about a brilliant, but under-achieving blogger, a gangsta rapper with a heart of fool's gold and a Latina advertising executive. The two have been friends since childhood and they struggle to stay close even though life's taken them in vastly different directions.

They battle backstabbing coworkers, discrimination, crooked politicians, evil vampires, a lazy mainstream media and a hilariously amoral corporate America to get their piece of the American Pie that might've been left out of the fridge a little too long.

Cory Thomas, creator of "Watch Your Head."

"Watch Your Head" chronicles the lives of six students attending Oliver Otis University, a traditionally black college. The strip is told largely through the eyes of Thomas, who's academically brilliant and socially awkward, especially with girls.

Jerry Craft, creator of "Mama's Boyz."

"Mama's Boyz" follows the lives of Pauline Porter and her two teenage sons, Tyrell and Yusuf. The strip has been syndicated weekly since 1995 by King Features Syndicate and is sent to more than 1,500 newspapers and magazines around the world. In 2009, "Mama's Boyz" was named "Best Comic Strip" by the African American Literary Awards Show.

Keith Knight, creator of "K Chronicles," "(th)ink," and "The KnightLife."

In addition to being a regular contributor to MAD Magazine, his comic strips appear in more than 100 publications worldwide. "K Chronicles" is the winner of the Glyph Award for Best Comic Strip in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010. "The Knight Life," also was nominated in 2010. Knight is currently producing a graphic novel about being a Michael Jackson in high school.

Morrie Turner, creator of "Wee Pals."

"Wee Pals" was the first nationally syndicated racially integrated comic strip. Created in 1965, initially, few newspapers were interested in a racially-integrated cartoon. After the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., there was a surge of interest in racial integration and as a result, 100 newspapers published "Wee Pals."

Through the comic, Turner portrays a world without prejudice. It is a world where people's differences--racial, religion, gender, as well as physical and mental abilities--are cherished and not scorned. Turner served as a forum member of the White House Conference on Children in 1970.

Nate Creekmore, creator of "Maintaining."

"Maintaining" is about life's absurdities and the ways in which a bi-racial high school student named Marcus tries to make sense of them. At its peak, "Maintaining" appeared in about 40 newspapers nationwide, including the Detroit Free Press, the Portland Oregonian, The Trentonian and Honolulu Star Bulletin. In addition, the strip appeared in New Delhi, India and London.

Brumsic Brandon, Jr. author of "Luther."

"Luther" was first syndicated by Newsday Specials and then The Los Angeles Times Syndicate. Based on his social criticism, Brandon was invited to serve (and served) as a forum member of the White House Conference on Children in 1970. Brandon also wrote and illustrated several Luther segments for the children's television show "Vegetable Soup" and "Bebop Fables" (which was narrated by Dizzy Gillespie).

Barbara Brandon-Croft, creator of "Where I'm Coming From."

"Where I'm Coming From" was internationally distributed from 1991 to 2004 by Universal Press Syndicate. It appeared in more than 60 newspapers and voiced social and political commentary through the voices of "the girls"--fictional characters based on Brandon-Croft and her friends. The strip included about a dozen women, ranging from the issues-conscious Lekesia to the self-absorbed, man-obsessed Nicole.

Black cartoons often disappear from the pages of newspapers without warning. LaGrone said that the public needs to take action when this happens. "When newspapers take away our black cartoons, we must call them, write letters. We have to demand that they bring them back. Otherwise they don't know that we care," he said.

LaGrone, a Bay Area native, is a licensed civil engineer holding a BS degree in Civil Engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and an MA in mass communication from Emerson College in Boston.

Tracey Brown is the Editor-in-Chief of the Laney Tower newspaper. This article originally appeared in the Laney Tower.

Laney College hosts Peralta Colleges trustees candidates forum

Candidates for the Peralta Colleges Board of Trustees will be at Laney College on Tuesday, September 28 from 11:45 am to 1 p.m. in the Forum to answer questions and share their platforms. The Candidates Forum, sponsored by the Associated Students of Laney College (ASLC) and the Laney College Classified Senate will feature all the candidates for Area 3(Linda Handy and Monica Tell) and Area 5 (Dr. Bill Riley and Williams J. Mattox).

Students can ask questions to the incumbents and challengers.

This event will feature a Question and Answer session for students and other audience members to directly engage the candidates on key issues. The election will be held November 2nd.

WHEN: Tuesday, September 28th from 11:45am – 1:15pm
WHERE: The Forum, Laney College

Laney College hosts Black College Recruitment Fair

After too many years of holding Transfer Day events and College Fairs with NO representatives from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Laney College will host the Second Annual HBCU College Recruitment Fair September 15.

Students will be able to receive:
  1. ON THE SPOT Admissions and Scholarships
  2. Application Fee Waived for Many Colleges
  3. Face-to-face contact with official college admission representatives
  4. Exposure to many Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs)
  5. Assistance and information regarding SAT and ACT college admission tests
Bring an official transcript and ACT/SAT score(s), if taken, for each college application you plan to complete.

This FREE event will be Wednesday, September 15 from 4 to 8pm at Laney College Student Center (900 Fallon Street, Oakland, CA 94607). The College Fair is sponsored by Oakland Unified School District and Laney College in partnership with United College Action Network (U-CAN) and United Black Student Unions of California.

Documentary focuses on ghetto life in Bayview-Hunters Point of San Francisco

Russian news agency RT has a news program focusing on San Francisco's Bayview -Hunters Point neighborhood.

"USA: Prisoner of the Ghetto," takes an interesting look at the plight of Black people in southeast San Francisco.

"USA: Prisoners of the Ghetto gives a powerful portrayal of the difficult and dangerous life in the black ghettos of San Francisco," according to RT.

Video Credit: Russia Today

Peralta Board of Trustees November 2010 Election Preview

Three of the Peralta Board of Trustees seven seats will be up for reelection on Tuesday, November 2. With three incumbents running, one trustee is running unopposed while the others each face one challenger.

In Area 3, two-term incumbent Linda Handy faces a challenge from Monica Tell.

Handy, who served as board president in 2006, defeated the embattled trustee Brenda Knight in 2002, with major support from Peralta’s labor unions.

“Despite diminished funding and other challenges, my absolute dedication to student success and our local community is producing results,” Handy said in her candidate statement. “While Board President, I demanded quality service delivery, accountability and employee acknowledgement; fought for transparency and standardized reporting systems; pushed for for an indepdent auditor, and instituted a Board civility policy.” She also cites her work at getting local businesses contracts from Peralta’s $390 million bond Measure A (2006) and Peralta’s Student Health Clinic.

Tell, a former aide for then-Assembly Member Don Perata, lists her occupation as a Public Relations Specialist and Community Liaison. She is currently employed by PG&E.

“The Peralta Colleges need to be critically reviewed and dramatically improved,” writes Tell in her candidate statement. “Earlier this year, the Alameda County Grand Jury criticized the Peralta College trustees and highlighted various concerns, including: inadequate management and oversight; wasteful spending; [and ] excessive travel and improper use of credit cards.” She pledges to “focus on fiscal responsibility, strict management accountability and improved educational services.”
Area 3 includes parts of the Laurel, along with the Fruitvale, Brookdale and Fairfax districts in Oakland.

Trustee Dr. William “Bill” Riley (Area 5) was first elected to the Board in 1998. He’s served as president twice and is currently board VP.

“When I was first elected, Peralta received adequate state funding to support every student enrolling in our colleges. Today, we’re challenged with serving 5,200 more students than the state pays for,” Riley writes.

“I pledge to continue monitoring District completion of Measure A’s $390 million expenditures for college improvements, improving fiscal accountability, fighting for local business participation in capital projects, collaborating to secure our fair share of state funding and mot importantly, strengthening student support services.”

The three-term incument Riley is being challenged for the first time, (unopposed in2002, 2006) by William J. Mattox, a human resources consultant.

“I am a candidate of reform,” writes Mattox. “I am determined to make sure this board is accountable to the community for fiscal responsibility, effective employee management, focus, vision, and purpose.” Mattox cites his experience in HR as sufficient for budget analysis and monitoring employee performance.

Area 5 includes Oakland’s Rockridge District and the City of Piedmont.

Incumbent Abel Guillen (Area 7), the current board president is running unopposed. His name will not appear on the ballot.

“We are on the frontlines of college access and career training in growing industries,” Guillen writes in his candidate statement. Guillen was elected in 2006, defeating two-term incumbent Alona Clifton with major support from Peralta’s labor unions. “I have fought to hold Peralta’s management more accountable through a series of financial reforms and cost-saving measures; and a national search for a new chancellor is under way to build upon these improvements.

Area 7 includes West Oakland, Temescal, Uptown, Lake Merritt and most of Oakland’s Chinatown.

The Peralta Federation of Teachers (PFT), representing the District’s faculty, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021, the union representing classified staff, have yet to make any endorsements for the contested positions. PFT endorsed Guillen in June.

Photo Credit: Peralta Colleges' SmugMug

Editors Note: This article is the first in a planned ten part series covering the Peralta Board of Trustees elections taking place Tuesday, November 2, 2010. Do you have questions for the candidates? Leave them in a comment below, or email us.

Video - Hal Linton's "Mind Control" - Music Monday

Back in April, debuted Hal Linton's "Mind Control" song for our Music Monday.

Last month, the Barbadian artist released an official video. Check it out below.

"Mind Control" by Hal Linton

Event - Caribbean Allstars benefit for Justice for Oscar Grant

Just one night after an amazing show at East Side Arts Alliance, another benefit for the Justice for Oscar Grant movement is taking place Friday, August 20 at the Humanist Hall in Oakland.

The event, titled, "Caribbean Allstars, a benefit for Justice for Oscar Grant," will feature spoken word and great food, organizers said.

Doors open at 6 p.m., music begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $10. The Humanist Hall is located at 390 27th Street, off Broadway. The program is sponsored by the New Year's Movement for Justice for Oscar Grant.

Justice for Oscar Grant Fundraiser at East Side Arts Alliance

The Holla Back Open Mic series will host a fundraiser for the Oscar Grant family and friends on Thursday, August 19 at East Side Arts Alliance.

The benefit concert will feature many local and also well known artists. Artists include: Ras Ceylon, Malika Ubaka, Do D.A.T., Buccet Belafonte and T. Killings, and the paid poet society.

The event will take place at 7 p.m. at East Side Cultural Center, 2277 International Blvd. For more information, email Holla Back is regularly held every Thursday at 8 p.m.

AC Transit outsourcing Oakland call center to Connecticut

By Reginald James Editor

If you call AC Transit’s Customer Relations for a question or a complaint, don’t be surprised to hear someone with a New England accent.

AC Transit plans on outsourcing its local Telephone Information Center to Connecticut based American Customer Care starting next month. The center is currently located at the District’s downtown Oakland headquarters.

“We can save about a million dollars by outsourcing,” said Kathleen Kelly, chief operating officer of the proposal. The projected costs for an internal staff are almost $1.3 million dollars, while the contact services would be under $300,000, according to documents.

AC Transit recently declared a fiscal emergency for the second time in two years due to a projected $56 million deficit.

A 60 day transitional period will take place from September through October, although it was anticipated that the call center would be in place already.

“We originally thought we’d have this together for July,” Kelly said. “Because we are not going to be able to do that, we still have current costs.” The delay and blended cost of internal staff and contract services will result in AC Transit going over its 2010/2011 budget.

AC Transit also acknowledges the loss of “market knowledge,” with the transition. Private call center employees in Connecticut will not know geography as well as current staff.

“This is less a concern as it would have been in the past since there’s Google Earth,” Kelly said. The call center will rely on technology like, Next Bus and Google Transit to assist riders. Still, the lack of familiarity will be a loss for AC Transit.

“Some of our people were operators. So they are able to say, “Remember where that old Chevron station was?’ That kind of knowledge, they (new call center) won’t be able to pick up,” Kelly said.

What will happen to the 14 people currently working in AC Transit’s Information Center?

“They would be laid off,” Kelly said. “Many of them are eligible for retirement. Many have already done that, or are planning to do so before October.”

This includes 13 information clerks and one supervisor. All of the clerks are members of AC Transit’s largest union, ATU, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192. ATU is currently in a labor dispute with management after the District voted to impose a contract in July. A judge ordered AC Transit to return to its previous work rules last week.

This move does not relate to the current labor dispute, Kelly said, as outsourcing the center was contemplated over a year ago.

Other companies that applied for the contract include Nebraska-based EMS, Inc.; Verizon and France’s multinational company Veolia.

The new call center will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

AC Transit will hold a Special Meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, August 18 (PDF) at its downtown Oakland headquarters at 1600 Franklin Street.

Editor's Note: Reginald James interned at AC Transit in the External Affairs Department from 2008-2010. He was laid off in May due to budget cuts.

Art & Soul Festival in Downtown Oakland

Looking for a fun weekend of live music, art and food? Head to downtown Oakland for the 10th Art & Soul Festival on Saturday, August 21 and Sunday, August 22.

Art & Soul features Oakland legend MC Hammer, Tony! Toni! Tone!, En Vogue, Lenny Williams of Tower of Power, Sheila E and her father Pete Escovedo and the Kev Choice Ensemble and the Mo' Rocking Project. Although there is no Hip Hop stage, there will be a gospel stage.

Admission is $15 for adults; $8 for seniors (65+) & youth (13-17); and FREE for children 12 and under. Downtown Oakland is accessible by downtown BART Stations at 12th Street and 19th Street and most downtown Oakland AC Transit bus lines. More information at

Event - Film Screening - Disappearing Voices: The Decline of Black Voices in Radio

Block Report Radio will host a screening of the film, "Disappearing Voices: The Decline of Black Voices in Radio" at the Black Dot Cafe in West Oakland on Tuesday, August 17.

Disappearing Voices is filled with interviews with prominent individuals in media and Black culture and features rare air checks by some of the most famous Black jocks of all time.

Whether they are students of media, radio history buffs or simply avid listeners, Disappearing Voices – The Decline of Black Radio is sure to take viewers on a visual and audio journey that will educate, inspire and provide more answers and solutions ...than any other documentary film about radio to date."

The screening will take place from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Black Dot. 1195 Pine Street in West Oakland. A Question and Answer with journalist and Hip-Hop Historian Davey D will take place afterward.

Peralta trustee Marcie Hodge running for Mayor of Oakland

Peralta Colleges trustee Marcie Hodge wants to be the next Mayor of Oakland, the Oakland Tribune reports.

Hodge is one of 13 candidates who filed nomination papers August 11 to succeed Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums -- who recently announced he would not be running for reelection -- in the Nov. 2 election. She said is unimpressed with the other candidates.

Hodge told the Oakland Tribune: “We need to usher in new faces, new ideas and people who are intrinsically concerned with the values of those who live in the city of Oakland.”

Last year, Hodge came under scrutiny for routinely using district credit cards for private expenses. She spent nearly $5,000 including a $600 she purchased in Las Vegas. Hodge later reimbursed the purchases when prompted to by district officials.

Photo Credit: Peralta Colleges.

Oakland mayoral candidates file, speak on proposed local currency

As Oakland mayoral hopefuls filed their nomination papers, the Oakland Community Action Network (Oakland C.A.N.) held a press conference August 11 for candidates to express support for a proposed local currency and present their platforms.

The proposed Alternative Currency for Oakland Residents and Neighbors, or ACORN – not to be confused with the now defunct human rights organization – would combine both a local debit card city ID card in order to promote the circulation of money in Oakland.

Half of the 13 candidates spoke at the press conference, in order of their arrival.

Greg Harland announced would not support a local currency. Instead, Harland favors improving parking and alleviating the fear of crime to bring in more shopping revenues to Oakland. Harland proposed increasing the Oakland Police Department to 1,050 officers, a proposal met with light jeering by the audience.

Joe Tuman stated he supported the concept of a local currency, but needed more details. He added, “I want to spend dollars in Oakland, especially in poorer parts of our city.” He called the current state of the city “unacceptable,” and said the widening gap between rich and poor “has to change.”

Don Mcleay, the Green Party’s candidate, supports the initiative hoping Oakland learns from other communities with local currencies and city ID’s.

“I think it will help our economy,” Mcleay said, “especially when we have a budget emergency and a worldwide financial crisis.”

Orlando Johnson, a member of Oakland CAN said he has long supported ACORN and organized for the local currency. Although citing his experience as a community organizer as his credentials, he announced he will be dropping out of the race. He will be supporting Mcleay.

“I don’t have what it takes to break the glass ceiling of the elitists and prejudice racist structure of Oakland,” Johnson said. “I look forward to the day when campaigns are not judged by how much money is raised, or by which developers support us.”

Councilwoman Jean Quan took a few jabs at former Don Perata for his efforts to stop Ranked Choice Voting and for spending most of his campaign war chest. She also criticized those who wanted to double campaign expense limits earlier this year.

“I’m not parachuting or using this position as a launching pad,” Quan said.” My family has been here 100 years. I want to be mayor of Oakland.” She cited her experience on the OUSD school board and efforts around community policing as her qualifications. After prodding by the moderator, she said had been working on ideas related to the municipal ID and “Buy Oakland” campaigns.

Terrence Candell stated he supported the local currency, and proposed that non-Oakland residents who work in the city pay a one per cent commuter tax. Candell also proposed a $100 million Mayor Summer Job’s Program in which workers get On-The-Job training in local small businesses. He also proposed longer hours for recreation centers, a roller skating rink and a bowling alley for youth. The proposals were met with cheers from children in the audience that attend his prepatory academy.

The final candidate to speak, Larry Lionel Young, Jr., stated he was reserving judgement on the local currency until he had more information. He supported Candell’s proposed commuter tax as well as increased funding for youth programs.

“I want Oakland to be the best place to live, work and vacation,” Young said.

Other mayoral candidates who have filed, but were not present are: Arnie Fields, Don Perata, Marcie Hodge, Niki Okuk, Rebecaa Kaplan,and Tim Brown.

For two years, a coalition of local organizations has been working on the ID/local currency card. So far, 29 organizations shave endorsed the City ID/Value Storage Card, according to Oakland C.A.N. The combination of a local currency on the ID card will defray implementation costs.

“This is about currency circulation,” said Wilson Riles, Jr., president of Oakland C.A.N. “This will be the first electronic local currency in the U.S.” Riles said ACORN will not solve all of Oakland’s problems, like poverty, institutionalized prejudice or past injustices, but it will contribute to the vision of Oakland as a model city.

Since many people who work in Oakland do not live in Oakland, after the employed leave work, they spend their dollars elsewhere, Riles said. The former city council man added that businesses fail to hire Oakland residents.

The card is supposed to benefit small businesses, as it can only be used in Oakland. Oakland residents will have an ID card combined with a debit card, while non-residents would be able to get the ACORN debit card.

Anyone who lives in Oakland would be eligible for the card, regardless of citizenship. In response to concerns about the card being used to invade people’s privacy, Riles said the ID card’s connection to the financial system requires more stringent privacy laws, and would not be applicable to Freedom of Information Act requests, for example.

There are over two dozen communities in the U.S. that have local currencies, Oakland C.A.N. said, over 60 at one time or another. In a press release, Oakland C.A.N. said, “During times of economic crisis, interest in local currencies increase because of their proven ability to relieve economic distress in a micro-economy.”

Three vendors have responded to the ID cards Request for Qualifications issued by the city in March. Riles expects that the council will select a vendor in September.

For more information about the ACORN currency and city ID, visit For more information about local currencies, visit the E.F. Schumacher Society at

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