The power to change the world

root - Posted on 31 December 1969

Hundreds of folks march against corporate-driven displacement, poisoning,criminalization and destruction of poor communities of color across the globe on the third anniverary of Hurricane Katrina

by Jen Fogg/PNN

The struggle continues, three years after hurricane Katrina and the devastating aftermath of an administration who left people to die and criminalized--those who fought to survive. It's still business as usual for predator companies to grab up land from those dealing with hardship, whether from natural disaster or economic despair. Today that struggle was taken to the streets from New Orleans, to Miami, to Providence, to New York, to Washington DC, and Los Angeles; to right here in the Bay Area--from San Francisco to Oakland.

To honor that struggle, me and several of my compatriots from POOR magazine/PoorNewsNetwork woke early to re-port, sup-port and resist. The sun was starting to peek over the roofs of the brick and mortar buildings that line mid-Market, yet our exposed skin is already seared. We are going to join "Right to the City's, Day of Action", commerorating the 3rd anniversary of Katrina and protest the criminalization of the poor and communities of color. A broad coalition of organizations are beginning to arrive-- POWER, Just Cause Oakland, The Chinese Progressive Association, The Day Labor Program Women's Collective, the Asian Pacific Environmental Network and the El Balazo Worker's Defense Fund, and us, POOR Magazine poverty and race scholars among others.

People unfurled banners and practiced chants before an audience of curious tourists waiting in line for cable car tickets, getting a quintessential San Francisco experience. What they may not realize is that the true quintessential San Francisco experience is unfolding right in front of them--a march and protest that will proceed down Market Street to the headquarters of the Lennar corporation, responsible for poisoning the citizens of Bayview & Hunters Point, closing schools in those same communities, and displacing hundreds of people from their homes. The protest will continue across the bay in front of Oakland's City Hall, then onward, ending at the Oakland Police Department headquarters.

While we in the Bay Area may not know what it's like to be in the eye of the storm of a hurricane, we are most definitely in the eye of a storm--fighting displacement, gentrification, and the criminalization of poor peoples. In New Orleans, 5,000 units of public housing are being demolished while 5,000 new prison beds are being constructed simultaneously. These same tactics are being exported from New Orleans to places like Bayview/Hunters Point and West Oakland, where public housing is "redeveloped" and rents jacked up. August Forman, survivor of Katrina, speaks to this very issue, "Me, myself, I find it similar to what I went through in New Orleans. I was living in the housing projects called St. Thomas in the 10th ward when they (developers) came to us residents and told us they wanted us to leave and come back after they finished redeveloping the area with condos. They said we could come back to those condos... if we could afford the rent." The same story is playing out here. It's hard to believe these things are a coincidence and not part of a larger plan.

Renee Saucedo from La Raza Centro Legal is keenly aware of that plan. In front of the Lennar headquarters in San Francisco, Renee takes the microphone and passionately confronts profit over people. "Their plan calls those abandoned in the Gulf...looters; it calls those forced to migrate due to desperate economic situations...illegals. All criminals they call us. Their plan wants to subjugate us into submission so they can PROFIT, but we have a more inspiring plan, we have the power to change the world. Under our plan, Black/Brown, Asian, American Indian unity is fighting the criminalization of our communities; under Our plan human needs always take priority over corporate greed - the struggle continues!"

As the long day of protests ends in front of the Oakland Police Department headquarters, the fog is rolling in, ending the short heat-wave and cooling our sun burned skin but the burning for change remains, as Assata Shakur's words are evoked, "It is our duty to fight for our freedom, it is our duty to win!"


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