RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #167
5-7 -15   
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IN THIS ISSUE
5/8 Who's the real "Danger to Society"?
Help design Unity Park
Become a Pt. Molate Beach Docent or Advisory Committee Member
Plan 5/12 for RPA Membership Meeting 5/23
Mike Parker calls Standard's "reporting" sub-standard
Sign Petition to Re-open DMC
5/17: 2nd 2015 Refinery Corridor Healing Walk
Creative & Progressive Funding Ideas
See anyone you know?
5/29: Make It Fresh: One Night Only!
 

Bobby Bowens Progressive Center
1021 Macdonald,
510-412-2260


PASS IT ON!!  

Since we don't take corporate money,  our success depends on our ability to use "people power" to promote activities and programs in Richmond. The RPA Activist is one tool we use to put out our ideas. One simple thing that YOU can do is to forward the RPA Activist to friends and acquaintances. Thanks.

 

Fri. 5/8, 2pm, 4 Marina Bay Parkway, plan an action:
Juvenile Justice System: Danger to Black Youth


[Ed.note: This piece is unusually long for the Activist, but I am leaving it full length here because of its importance and urgency.  Please give it your attention. --PB]

"A danger to society," are the words used by Contra Costa County Judge Tom Maddock as he sent one of our children, directly to juvenile hall this week for a minor first offense.

 

I was outraged when the judge handed down the decision, seemingly without any regard to the special circumstances the case presented. Adult providers and caregivers who were prepared to advocate for the child, were not allowed to speak on her behalf. They were prepared to demonstrate with documentation and anecdote, that the girl perceived as "a danger to society" has in fact been working hard, successfully and with great promise. She aspires to be a nurse one day. If allowed to pursue her dream, we know that she can do it. Rather than her being a danger to society, the juvenile justice system is a danger to her.

 

When the incident occurred, this young person was sent straight to juvenile hall for one week. She was released with an ankle monitor. Upon her release, she told me that she never wanted to go back there again. She proved it by improving her grades; staying away from negative peers; attending therapeutic groups and by becoming an effective mediator working with her peers. Further proof was in the several letters written on her behalf, and offered to the court by teachers, advocates and mental health providers. The letters documented how well she had improved overall.


Judge Maddock did not appear to take any of this into consideration. He didn't see the need to read those letters, or to hear from adults who could attest to her motivation to do well. According to one of the advocates present, J.G. Larochette (a mindfulness teacher who shares his teaching, through his Mindful Life Yoga program, with Richmond children), Judge Maddock's decision was made up without reviewing any of the documented support for this youth. Nor did the judge hear from any of the advocates in the room. He did, however, allow a witness to speak against her.

Our children and young people are clearly in pain. It is our responsibility as adults to do our best to alleviate that pain. They need our support in ways that teach them to be healthy and productive. They do not need to be punished in institutionalized settings that kill their spirits. This young person was doing well with the services she was receiving. In fact she was thriving. Rather than allow her to continue with the services that were put in place to help her succeed, she was placed in juvenile hall without the supports that are essential to her well being.

 

What does that do to a young person who tried so hard to do the right thing, but is institutionalized anyway? I'll tell you. It creates hopelessness. It creates cynicism, anger and bitterness in an already traumatized child. Is that the plan? The question warrants examination and action.

 

I understand and accept that there are natural consequences for behaviors. I am not suggesting  there be an exception made for this individual. My issue is that the punishment does not fit the crime. My issue is that it seldom does when it comes to our our youth. My issue is that this young person is not a danger to society. If the safety of society were a genuine concern of the judge, he needs to know that incarcerating this young person is not the way to keep society safe. It is critical that he understand that the punishment of incarceration neither benefits her or society. If we are truly concerned about creating a "safe" society, we must create a just and safe society. There are ways to do that. Many of them can be found in the services currently being provided.

 

I agree with local advocate Tamisha Torres of the Safe Return Project, who so eloquently stated: "We must commit to dismantling a system that labels our children a danger to society." 

  

One way to dismantle a justice system that was not created to protect Black Americans, other people of Color and our children - rather it was designed to protect White Americans and their children - is to take it apart one chip at a time. We can chip away at judges who send our children to jail for minor offenses for which White children simply get a slap on the hand.  This is not new; on the contrary. There is historical precedence for this: "...lots of laws on the books, ... were only enforced to African Americans;" see: http://www.pbs.org/tpt/slavery-by-another-name/themes/black-codes/ .

 

I have been encouraging people to read or listen to Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the age of Colorblindness, for some time. In her book Ms. Alexander, a Harvard and Stanford (Law School) graduate, presents a brilliant analysis of a profound truth many would rather ignore or deny.

Here's a link to a lecture by Michelle Alexander: http://youtu.be/Gln1JwDUI64

  

There will be a planning meeting tomorrow, at 2pm Friday May 8th, at 4 Marina Bay Parkway, Richmond, to organize an action to advocate for our youth in the racist juvenile justice system.  You're welcome to join us.  

  

Peace and blessings,

Jovanka (Beckles)   

 

[Reprinted from her periodic email newsletter, Real Talk.  Send requests to receive these emails to Jovankabeckles@gmail.com with the title: Add me.]  

  

Participate in a community-driven process:
Help design the Richmond Greenway's Unity Park

Photo from 2014 MLK Day on the Greenway: People's Eye Photography
Friends of the Richmond Greenway (FORG) is a collaborative of 17 organizations in Richmond, including the RPA.  It's main focus at present is involvement in the pre-construction phase of the new Unity Park on large sections of the Richmond Greenway between 2nd and 16th Streets.  This is a community driven effort.  The project is funded by a $5 million state grant, and during the grant application process a couple of years ago, community outreach was done to identify key elements of the proposed park, including playgrounds, community gardens, arts and amenities, bike and pedestrian access, and a community plaza.  Now that we have the grant and a contract with the City for community participation, some of the funding is being used to hire youth from FORG organizations to conduct additional outreach and draw up preliminary designs.   

If you've been on the Greenway lately, you may have already seen Outreach Tents, where surveys have been collected from passersby.  Door to door canvassers are soliciting input from those who live near the Greenway.  Input is welcome from anyone in the broader community, too!  If you use the Greenway and care about making Unity Park the best it an be, please complete the following on-line survey:


For more information about FORG and Unity Park, go to: https://forgrichmond.wordpress.com 

                      --Marilyn Langlois, RPA rep along with Michael Beer, on FORG 
                                                                
Sun. 5/17, 1:30-3pm, Pt. Molate Beach Park Docent Training
Or, apply for the Advisory Committee, or both!

 

Photos: Joan Garrett

Friends of Pt. Molate and the Richmond Parks Dept. are starting a docent program at Pt. Molate Beach Park. The first training will be at the Beach Park on Sunday, May 17th from 1:30 to 3:00 PM. The 11-acre park is located in Richmond just north of I-580 and the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge on Stenmark Drive. If you're interested in participating --even if you have only a few hours to spare -- please attend Sunday, or contact me to arrange a time to meet.
                                                                         --Pam Stello, Friends of Pt. Molate                                                                            510-299-9446
   
Can you see yourself here?
As a current PMCAC member recently explained to a 10th grader: For democracy to work, we have to work at it. 
Meet Tu., 5/12, 3:30pm, at 1021 Macdonald to help plan
Next RPA Members' Meeting Sat. 5/23, 3-5:30pm

Save the meeting date now!  Details to follow.  

 

Mike Parker on Richmond Standard coverage:
Lies and Shoddy Reporting
 
The  Chevron sponsored Richmond Standard and its supposedly professional reporter, Mike Aldax, can not sink too low when reporting anything about the RPA.

In a piece titled  "Richmond's progressive police chief not progressive enough for RPA,"  Aldax tries to drive divisions in Richmond.  Aldax totally manufactures "the RPA's campaign against the police department"  and that the RPA has been "asking people to tell their tales of 'police terror."'
In fact nowhere has the RPA ever even suggested that there is  "police terror" in Richmond.  On the contrary, the RPA and its spokespeople have continually made it clear that we are proud of the police department, community policing policy, and Police Chief Magnus.

What we do say is that in the case of the death of  Pedie Perez, there is evidence that indicates that things were not right and that the community needs to hear this evidence and more about the case.  One of the rights --and duties-- in a democracy is for people to hold government accountable by demanding transparency and review of government actions.

One way we will keep the  community' s pride in the Richmond Police Department is through the alertness of citizens.  We sponsored an event to allow discussion and for the Perez family and other  Richmond residents to speak to the community.  As an organization, the RPA has made no judgment in the case except to call for more transparency and openness.

Unfortunately, because of legal suits and  the Policemen's Bill of Rights written into the law, we are not likely to get the information we need from official sources. As with incidents in other cities, the only reason we now have some information that questions how the Pedie Perez death was handled is because we have independent video and witnesses.

Aldax had the RPA's position and could have quoted from it.  Aldax gave as one of his sources the announcement and RPA co-signed leaflet for the Perez forum.  Please check it out for yourself and note the respectful tone toward the Richmond Police. 

At the end of his article, Aldax claimed he requested but could not get comment from the RPA.   No RPA leader received such a request and no email was received at an RPA email addresses.  If Aldax were actually a reporter and not a paid Chevron hatchet man, he might have checked out the Pedie Perez information on the Oscar Grant Website and reported on that. (The correct website is  oscargrantcommittee.org  but it has recently been having difficulty.) The web site contains witness statements and videos. Some videos are can be seen on YouTube  There is also a video of portions of the Forum sponsored by the RPA, linked below:
 
                                                                                               --Mike Parker

As a recent LA Times article on the Richmond police force and its relationship with the community notes: "...[I]t is the combination of reforms --better training, community policing and new technologies-- that truly set Richmond apart and could prove a model for other departments large and small."  The RPA agrees. 
        
A full service hospital is our right.
Petition drive to re-open Doctors Medical Center


The red letters say: DMC CLOSED.  Photo: Patsy Byers
 
The goal is to reach 1,500 signatures, and we need more support. Read more and sign the petition here.   
Sun. 5/17, Connect the Dots Refinery Corridor Healing Walk: 
Tesoro & Shell, Martinez to Valero Refinery Benicia

The second walk of 2015 will begin near the Martinez Shoreline Park at the end of Ferry Street in the City of Martinez, California:
8:00 a.m. Water Ceremony & Registration  ~  9:30 a.m. Walk Begins
There are several places along the walk where folks can join the walk; please see the details here.

The walk will end at the 9th Street Park in the City of Benicia, California, about 9.5 miles from its start.
 

These walks bring attention to the health risks and dangers posed by the 5 refineries along Northeast San Francisco Bay and by the explosive crude by rail coming through the communities from the Alberta tar sands and the Bakken oil fields.
Photo from here.
 
These are Nonviolent Walks Led by Native American Elders in Prayer.  

Join to walk in prayer & conversation for:  
Clean Air, Water & Soil 
Safe Jobs, Roads, Railroads & Waterways
A Vibrantly Healthy Future for All Children

A Just Transition to Safe & Sustainable Energy
 
Something to think about as Richmond looks at the budget:
How Cities' Funding Woes Are Driving Racial and Economic Injustice-And What We Can Do About It


From the conclusion to The Nation article by Brad Lander and Karl Kumodzi:

   

"Cities are America's bedrock and its future: both for our country and for the progressive movement. Cities are home to 67 percent of the population, account for 75 percent of our GDP, and house our best public institutions and infrastructure.

 

"The policy recommendations laid out by Local Progress in our new report can help municipalities develop progressive revenue solutions-so they can pay for public education, health, and housing programs that help families thrive, invest in the infrastructure of public transportation, climate resilience, parks that sustainable cities need, and stimulate inclusive economic growth that creates good jobs.

 

"Through progressive revenue strategies, cities can turn the Ferguson-like cycle of disinvestment and inequality into a cycle of reinvestment and opportunity-and help make sure that our cities can become the models for our vision of a more progressive and prosperous America."


Some of their ideas, summarize briefly in The Nation [quoted below], include:

● Eliminating corporate tax breaks at the city level, particularly Tax Increment Financing and business improvement districts that come with tax breaks

● Restructuring fines so that residents pay different rates based on income. A $200 traffic ticket has no deterrent effect for a millionaire, but can be devastating for a low wage worker; a more rational fine system, like the one adopted in Finland, would be more fair and generate more revenue.

● Mandating that major tax-exempt institutions like hospitals and universities make genuine and fair payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) to help cover the costs of crucial city services that they use.

● Converting city services into municipality-owned utilities when possible, charging utility fees to all users, and applying conservation pricing so lower-income households pay a lower rate while bulk users-such as commercial and industry-pay higher rates

● Forming statewide coalitions of municipal elected officials, grassroots organizations, school boards, and other affected parties to change preemption and revenue policies at the state level.

 

Richmond City Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin, who has spoken at dozens of events and programs about the Richmond electoral experience and the RPA, serves on the Board of Local Progress, along with NYC Councilmember Brad Lander. 

  
In the neighborhood:
Recent causes for celebration

From the world premiere of Romeo Is Bleeding, this photo, shot from the back of a very full El Cerrito High School auditorium, of the documentary's leads flanked by a RYSE program head, the film's director, and its producer, all ready for Q&A:
Photo: Tarnel Abbott

 Part of the crowd enjoying the Cinco de Mayo festivities last week-end,  

Photo: Eduardo Martinez

and Councilmember Eduardo Martinez and a friend on an uncrowded section of the parade route earlier in the celebration:

Photo: Peter Chau
Fri. 5/29, 7-9:30pm, East Bay Ctr for Performing Arts:
Make It Fresh Performance Showcase
 
More details in the next issue of the Activist. To reserve your spot now, click here.    
Some History and Understanding of the RPA
  Social Policy Article









Long article with pictures 

--have patience in downloading

 

RPA Activist Info

is for Richmond community members who want to be active in taking on the problems of the environment, racism, joblessness, housing, and crime to create a healthy Richmond. We believe that community involvement means more than voting every two years. It means regular communication with the candidates we elect, letting them know our issues and positions, supporting them as they try to take our issues forward. It means we attend meetings, use email, phone our neighbors, or go on marches building an organized movement to create real change.

Comments and columns are welcome. Articles and columns are the views of the authors, unsigned text  the views of the editor, Patsy Byers, and not necessarily those of the RPA. Send photos, articles, and comments to  RPAactivist@gmail.com or call  510-595-4661. Longer articles of analysis and archives of past newsletters can be found on our website.