RPA New LogoThe Activist

Issue #218, 01-30-2017

In this issue:
Women's march: from protest to organized resistance
Protecting our immigrant neighbors
Day of service on the Richmond Greenway
Support our Richmond teachers!
Know Your Rights sessions for renters and immigrants
10th annual Sisters in Solidarity celebration
Steering Committee spotlight: California Nurses Association
Time to vote in the new RPA Steering Committee

Women's march
From protest to organized resistance

On January 21, the day after Trump's inauguration, some three million people turned out in Women's Marches across the world to resist Trump's agenda of hate and sexism. This show of resistance has already had an impact; three days after the march, Senator Feinstein cited the women's march as a reason for delaying a confirmation vote on Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. "Many, many millions of Americans are deeply concerned about what the future will bring. That's a hallmark of what happened this past Saturday in the march," she told her Senate Judiciary Committee peers. "The least we can do is tell them that we're being as careful as possible in who we place in charge of making these important decisions. For every woman and man who marched over the weekend, we owe it to them."

The Oakland march drew some 60,000 demonstrators, including a contingent from the RPA. Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin was one of the many inspiring speakers who addressed the crowd, saying

I am hopeful even in these bleak times.  We must and can build on our truly great progressive traditions in American history - like the struggles for women's rights, union rights, racial justice, economic justice, environmental justice and all the other struggles that have defined our history.  And in these difficult times, I am reminded that the great African-American abolitionist and journalist Frederick Douglass who published a newspaper during the era of slavery calling it The North Star.  Why did he call it The North Star? …because the distant light of this star guided runaway slaves northward to freedom.  We need to further that freedom today -   in all our diversity -  and move each other to action guided by the knowledge that there is a bright star in our future. 

Read the full text of Councilmember McLaughlin's statement.


[Photo credit: Eric Blum, Photon Films]

CCC Racial Justice Alliance
Protecting our immigrant neighbors

Donald Trump marked his third day on the job, Wednesday, January 25 with an executive order targeted at refugees and immigrants. The EO suspended refugee admissions, indefinitely barred Syrian refugees and also blocked citizens from seven Muslim countries from entering the country. It also instructs the Department of Homeland Security to look for ways to withhold federal grant monies from sanctuary cities.

The city of Richmond is a sanctuary city, and since the 2016 election both Mayor Butt (through a public statement) and the City Council (through a December 6 resolution introduced by Councilmember McLaughlin) have reaffirmed the City's continuing commitment to restrict city police from collaborating with ICE.

However, this is not the case for the unincorporated areas of Richmond, which are served by the Contra Costa Sheriff's office. On the day of Trump's immigration EO, an estimated 150 people gathered in downtown Martinez, calling on the Sheriff and the Probation Office to quit working with federal immigration authorities to deport undocumented residents. "We're here to say that California values, and not Trump values, should rule the day," said Margaret Hanlon-Gradie, executive director of the Contra Costa AFL-Labor Council.

The rally, which was organized by the Contra Costa County Racial Justice Alliance, also called for the resignation of District Attorney Mark Peterson, who last year drew criticism for claiming that there were no racial disparities within the Contra Costa criminal justice system. In addition, earlier this month the California Fair Political Practices Commission fined Peterson $45,000 for illegally spending tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions on personal expenses.

[Photo credit: Claudia Jimenez]

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King
Day of Service on the Richmond Greenway

Big thanks to the volunteers and RPA members who came out to the Richmond Greenway for the annual MLK Day of Service. It was a truly group effort, with Dirt World working on a new public bicycle terrain park, Groundwork Richmond leading a tree planting effort, the Watershed Project constructing a rain garden, and more.  The RPA hosted a clay table to provide activities for the kids – big thanks to Mike Beer for taking the lead.

Friends of the Richmond Greenway was the umbrella organization hosting the event, and it brings together many local groups dedicated to improving the Greenway year-round. RPA is a voting member of FORG, welcomes more participation from RPA members. We are particularly looking for a new liaison to attend FORG monthly meetings. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Mike Beer.

[Photo credit: Michael Beer]

Weds, 2/1 at 6:15pm
Support our Richmond Teachers!

The United Teachers of Richmond are calling the community to join a rally they are organizing at the WCCUSD Board Meeting, Wednesday February 1st from 6:30 to 7:30 at DeJean Middle School (3400 Macdonald Ave, Richmond, CA 94805).

The UTR will be opposing the petition to renew the Richmond Charter Academy, which has a history of illegal student disciplinary practices, promotes a hostile work environment for educators and limits parent involvement. The issue of charter schools is especially salient given the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Trump's education secretary. According to publiccore.net, "the voucher system that she and Trump support will take a huge amount of students and resources from the public school system, leaving it with the most-expensive-to-educate students, and the full burden of costly special needs programs. DeVos promotes charter schools as a way around legal restrictions on vouchers. She has also funded campaigns to prevent charter schools from being more tightly regulated."

Along with opposing the renewed charter for the Richmond Charter Academy, UTR will also be advocating for better pay, and priorities for WCCUSD's Local Control and Accountability Plan, which include smaller class sizes, and more counselors for trauma support.

In related news, recent school board meetings have also dealt with the issue of the long-delayed rebuilding of Wilson Elementary (North and East). Wilson was built in the 1950s and is in dire need of repairs; the barren campus, which is bereft of trees and green spaces, is supposed to be next on the list for a complete rebuild, but construction continues to be delayed.

Resources for Richmond
Know Your Rights sessions for renters and immigrants

Renters' clinic

If you are a renter who has questions about your rights, particularly in light of the new rent control and just cause for eviction laws, you are welcome to attend the Tenants Together and Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment monthly clinic on the 2nd Wednesday of every month at 6pm. Location: ACCE Contra Costa Office at 322 Harbour Way, #25

Know Your Rights immigration session

Please join the RPA and immigration attorney Sharron SK Williams for a Know Your Rights information session and update on the current state of immigration law. Learn how to stay safe in the current climate… and spread the word to friends and neighbors who may be interested! The event will be on Sunday, February 12 from 12pm – 2:30pm at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center, 2540 Macdonald Avenue. Please call (510) 288-8686 for more information.

Saturday, 3/4 at 10am
10th annual Sisters in Solidarity celebration

In honor of International Women's Day, the City of Richmond will host its 10th Annual Sisters in Solidarity celebration on Saturday, March 4, 2017 from 10am to 2pm.

We invite women of all ages and male allies to #beboldforchange by participating in the celebration to affirm our shared values of peace, justice, equity, inclusion, caring for future generations and the community. The day will begin with a rally on the steps of City Hall at 10am, followed by a march to LaVonya Dejean Middle where we will enjoy entertainment, lunch, roundtable discussions and inspirational speakers.

Community Violence Solutions Executive Director Cynthia Peterson will be our keynote speaker. Ms. Peterson is a tireless West County advocate for eliminating all forms of violence against women. Don't miss this wonderful event and opportunity to Be Bold for Change!

For more information contact Trina Jackson at (510) 620 - 6581 or at Trina_Jackson@ci.richmond.ca.us

[Photo credit: Margaret Jordan]

Steering committee spotlight
California Nurses Association

As the RPA Nominating Committee develops a new slate of Steering Committee members, we continue our new series featuring organizational representatives on the RPA Steering Committee.

California Nurses Association

In Becky Bond and Zack Exley's new book, Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything, written by two key members of the Bernie Sanders campaign team, Bond writes, "If there are no nurses, I don't want to be part of your revolution."

California Nurses Association, the largest nurses organization in California, is part of National Nurses United. This 185,000 member union was formed in 2009 through a merger of CNA, United American Nurses, and Massachusetts Nurses Association, creating the largest union and professional association of nurses in U.S. history.

CNA/ NNU was the first national union to endorse Bernie Sanders, and it continues to be a leading force in the progressive political revolution. They helped organize progressive Democrats to vote in California's Assembly District Election Meetings; and as a result progressives won the majority of Assembly District delegate slots for the 2017 California Democratic Party convention. They are also campaigning to elect Rep. Keith Ellison, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, as Chair of the Democratic Party.

On the national policy front, CNA/NNU is helping lead the resistance against Trump's efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid; and is fighting for updating and expanding Medicare so that it provides universal healthcare. NNU is also opposing the nomination of Tom Price as Health and Human Services Secretary, citing Price's support for cutting Medicaid and privatizing Medicare, among other concerns. Locally, CNA is advocating to keep the Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley open; and were a major force in the fight to keep Doctor's Medical Center open.

The CNA representative to the Richmond Progressive Alliance is Alyssa Kang.

Saturday, 2/25
Time to vote in a new RPA Steering Committee

The RPA Nominating Committee has done some excellent work, and last week the Steering Committee approved a slate of Steering Committee candidates to be presented for vote at the next membership meeting, on February 25th, 2017. The slate was circulated on January 25 to all RPA members in good standing, and it includes a balance of returning and new members.

RPA bylaws allow for spontaneous nominations up until two weeks before the Membership votes on the new slate.  Anyone interested in nominating either her or himself, or another person must do so by Friday, February 10.  Please email Diana Wear (dianajeanwear@gmail.com) to request an application. 

We hope to see you at the membership meeting on February 25th!

Signed articles are the opinion of the author. Official RPA positions are noted as Steering Committee decisions. Other content created by Michelle Chan, editor.