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.

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.

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