Jan 16, 20117 (San Diego) The march from Park Avenue and B street to San Diego City Hall was not a parade. It was a march. Doctor Martin Luther King never participate in parades. His were careful, and strategic marches that had very specific political and social goals. Whether these were the expansion of voting to blacks in the south, or the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which had other elements to it.Reverend Shane Harris President of the San Diego and Imperial County National Action Network chapter, said “we are getting ready to come back and bring the church back into alignment. That is what this is about. Putting the church in its rightful place in society. You ain’t supposed to be hiding in temples. You are supposed to be working out with the people,” standing up for social and economic justice.
Today’s march was not a parade either. While permitted, and watched over by San Diego Police, which stopped traffic and kept marchers safe, this was not a parade with all that this implies. This was a march down to a closed city hall, with a set of demands, that were left taped at City Hall, and were signed by many of the marchers. What are the demands? Here they are:
- Real community and control of policing, and the implementation of Assembly Bill 953. This is what the bill requires:
The bill would require, beginning July 1, 2016, the Attorney General to establish the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board (RIPA) to eliminate racial and identity profiling and improve diversity and racial and identity sensitivity in law enforcement. The bill would specify the composition of the board. The bill would require the board, among other duties, to investigate and analyze state and local law enforcement agencies’ racial and identity profiling policies and practices across geographic areas in California, to annually make publicly available its findings and policy recommendations, to hold public meetings annually, as specified, and to issue the board’s first annual report no later than January 1, 2018.
The bill would require each state and local agency that employs peace officers to annually report to the Attorney General data on all stops, as defined, conducted by the agency’s peace officers, and require that data to include specified information, including the time, date, and location of the stop, and the reason for the stop. The bill would require an agency that employs 1,000 or more peace officers to issue its first annual report by April 1, 2019. The bill would require an agency that employs 667 or more but less than 1,000 peace officers to issue its first annual report by April 1, 2020. The bill would require an agency that employs 334 or more but less than 667 peace officers to issue its first annual report by April 1, 2022. The bill would require an agency that employs one or more but less than 334 peace officers to issue its first annual report by April 1, 2023.
San Diego has yet to implement it, never mind that it came into force on July 1, 2016.
- The use of the now empty Qualqum stadium to house the fast growing homeless population. At this point it is estimated at over 10,000 individuals. Last year it was estimated at over 8 thousand.
- They are also demanded that San Diego Police stop ticketing the homeless and taking away their tents. This makes no sense, unless the objective of the city is to drive the population away through harassment.
- The District Attorney should drop the charges against Robert Branch.
- The end of the use of private prisons in San Diego County, including the facilities in the city of San Diego.
- Replace the criminal justice system for those under 21, with the use of restorative justice principles, which allow for reconciliation. These principles are currently used successfully by the San Diego School district. They also are asking the implementation of trauma informed case in reentry programs. Many people who enter the justice system are traumatized and have trouble readjusting to he outside and after the leave prison, they should receive that care.
- Stop the use of police in schools. San Diego Unified has its own internal police force with jurisdiction only in these schools. Outside of San Diego Unified, other school systems do subcontract with the Sheriffs Office.
- Stop rape in the workplace, including those committed by subcontractors.
- The county should make a priority investing in families.
- Diversity the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods committee.
(Editor’s note, we expanded were explanations were needed, including a link to the Shirley Weber bill).
This list of demands shows the deep intersectionality of causes present, and it is hardly the full story. The four major causes that the marchers took upon themselves were labor rights, which Doctor was part off before he was shot in Memphis. He was at the time organizing janitors.
William Johnson of the United Taxi Workers. He spoke as to what Doctor King “was doing during the last months of his life was union organizing. He was organizing sanitation workers, janitors, the poorest workers. I am sorry to say that the income gap is just continuing to grow. We have more workers in poverty than ever before in this country.” The union that Johnson was referring to was the Memphis City Sanitation workers.
Doctor King was assassinated on April 4th, 1968 in the middle of one of the most intense labor disputes in that city’s history. It was triggered by low pay and very unsafe working conditions. Working with the disadvantage for social and economic justice was a hallmark of the civil rights movement. There was no separation between those two in the 1960s. One begat the other.
The next aspect to this march was civil rights. The likely confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as Attorney General was one of the concerns during the rally after the march. Harris went into the aspect that this man, who was rejected to serve in the court in the 1980s by the Judiciary Committee, is not a friend of any minority. During the speeches, he did say that NAN was ready to help with lawyers to defend immigrants who face deportation. He said that the communities are ready to protect people and become sanctuaries against federal authorities.
Eddie Price was far more specific. He said that President Barack Obama, while he might be controversial, has taken many to the mountaintop. He directly quoted from Dr. King’s speech, “Well, I don’t know what will happen now; we’ve got some difficult days ahead. (Amen) But it really doesn’t matter to with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.” He said that hard times were coming, but that it was time for people to care things not just outside, but also at home. Be ready to act, and correct things at home before anything else. But be ready to act as well.
Then there is the Branch case, which is a civil rights case in the purest form. It is going to court in a week. The precedent, in that case, could be bad, including classifying paper spray as a lethal weapon. Never mind the police uses it regularly as a less than lethal device. The six felony charges also came after Branch threatened to sue the sheriff’s office.
Here is where the intersectionality of issues comes. While there was talk about labor and economic rights, then came the issues of mass incarceration. prison reform and homelessness. They are all related and are all part of both economic and social justice. to this effect, Mark Bartlett talked about the private prison industry and how it keeps people behind bars as a form of slavery. While slavery was abolished after the civil war, behind prison bars people are treated as commodities. He raised the issue of what needs to happen, and the first step is to get rid of private prisons.
The coming administration is expected to use these private prisons far more. So the fight that Bartlett and others have will only increase. Speakers from Union del Barrio spoke to a similar concern, due to the language used by the incoming administration regarding immigrants. There is fear of increased deportation. Of course, a question has to be asked. How can you occupy a piece of land illegally when your family in some cases has been around that land for hundreds of years? Though not directly referenced, Mexican Americans are aware of the time when American citizens were deported to Mexico.
It did not matter that many of these people were born and raised in the United States, they were sent back as it were. So this is a serious issue that is in the mind of many in the communities.
Somewhat related to this is police reform. In many respects. the police needs to change how it treats citizens. The use of body cameras is far from enough. The implementation of AB 953 is part of it, but hardly limited to it. This has become a national emergency. As Price pointed out, this did not start with Branch or Trayvon Martin. Emmet Till is one of the best-known cases, which did trigger the civil rights movement and a similar call for police reform in the 1960s. So the issues are not new, and they affect mostly black and brown people.
There is another aspect to what happened today. It is who was at the march, and who was at the parade yesterday, or the morning breakfast. We are seeing the emergence of a new generation of civil rights leaders. We are also seeing the same tension that existed in the 1960s. While Dr. King has become a giant of American history, and Congressman John Lewis is seen also that way. in their day, they were considered radicals, almost revolutionaries. They challenged the older generation that wanted to work with the establishment. King, Lewis, and others wanted to change the system, not adapt to the system. We are seeing the same dynamic emerge in front of our eyes. We are seeing new leaders, who are changing business as usual in this town.
Marco Amaral, one of our community organizers, put it best near the end. It is time to loose fear, of one word. This is the world revolution. What people are doing is exactly that, revolutionary.
We would be remiss if we did not mention all groups present. They were as follows: Unite Here local 30, SEIU Local 221, People over Profits, Council of Islamic-American Relations San Diego. Women Occupy San Diego, the Olangos, the Peace Resource Center, Showing for Social Justice. Artful Activists, Activist San Diego, San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, MECHA San Diego, San Diego City College Chapter. New Horizon Baptist Church, United Universalist Church, San Diego 350 Climate Action, Black Panthers and Brown Berets, IdeasCabrera.com and if we missed anybody, our apologies.