Social and Economic Rights

Ban the Box

Prince White, Jahmese Myres and John Jones. Courtesy of Jahmese Myers.By Jahmese Myres with John Jones III

When John and I first met in 2014, I was working with Lift Up Oakland, a coalition of community and labor organizations leading a ballot initiative that would raise Oakland’s minimum wage to one of the highest in the country and provide sick time to all workers. John was working as a security guard at a fast food restaurant downtown and had recently been released after spending one-third of his life in prison. He was committed to creating a stable home for his son, and we bonded over a shared belief that obtaining a good job is a critical component of realizing this commitment.

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Expanding Sanctuary

Expand sanctuary convening in Philadelphia. ©2017 Steve PaveyBy Karina Muñiz-Pagán

The word sanctuary means a sacred place of refuge and protection where predators are controlled and hunting is illegal.1 What does sanctuary mean today when the Federal government’s renewed calls for “law and order” are euphemisms for predatory attacks on communities of color?

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Fight or Flight

Protestors at Oakland City Council hearing on homeless emergency.  ©blog.oaklandxings.com/

Oakland’s Homeless and African American Residents Face Uphill Battle Against Pro-Gentrification City Government

By Kheven LaGrone

One of the more visible signs of the growing income inequality in Oakland is the sprawling encampments of homeless people building tents and other shelters to escape this year’s rains. Not surprisingly, most of those who are homeless in Oakland are African American, and sadly, it’s also not surprising that this is a direct outgrowth of city policy.

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Homeless Residents Build Intentional Community in Berkeley

By David Bacon

The camp outside the old Berkeley City Hall, called by the residents an occupation. It was a protest against the Berkeley City Council passing an anti-homeless ordinance.Michael Lee started living on the streets of San Francisco last May. He had traveled from Las Vegas to seek medical treatment. When he arrived, he searched for cheap, temporary housing in some of San Francisco’s most affordable neighborhoods, but he had seriously underestimated the cost of living in the nation’s most expensive city.

“I was under the impression the rent was $300 a month, and I brought the resources for 60 days,” he said in an interview. “I was going to go back to Las Vegas afterwards and go back to work. But the first place I walked into, they told me it was $300 a week. The next was $400 a week, and then $500. People were laughing at me—$300 a week is actually cheap on Skid Row. So I wound up living on the streets.”

Lee soon heard of a large encampment in Berkeley that homeless activists had set up to protest the US Postal Service’s (USPS) plan to sell Berkeley’s historic downtown post office building. So he moved across the bay and quickly became a leader of the Berkeley camp, advocating for a plan to transform the building into a community resource—“a homeless contact center run by homeless people.”

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City College: Free, Accredited and Still Fighting

By Marcy Rein

Relentless organizing by labor, students, and community members won San Francisco the most inclusive free community college plan in the country. Yet the program approved by the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) Board of Trustees on Feb. 9, 2017 fell short of proponents’ goals. Assistance for students who already get state tuition waivers will be much more limited than originally planned, and many undocumented students will get no help at all.

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