Posts Tagged ‘black lives matter’

Usually, an “emergency” action in San Francisco concerning the military means a protest against an American act of war.

But Wednesday night, after President Trump’s morning announcement that transgenders would no longer be allowed, almost 1,000 people met in the Castro and marched for the right to serve. With chants including “Out of the bars and into the streets,” evoking Harvey Milk and 1970s gay rights, they blocked traffic on Market Street until reaching City Hall, which was lit in the light blue and pink colors of the transgender flag.

Speakers included those who have served, and a teen who wanted to continue the family tradition of military service. Of course, many others did point out their objection to the military on grounds such as oppression and better use of resources.

It made me wonder about the number of transgenders, which President Obama lifted the official ban on last year. A lot of media referenced last year’s RAND Corporation report titled “Assessing the Implications of Allowing Transgender Personnel to Serve Openly” that gave a “midrange estimate of around 2,450 transgender personnel in the active component (out of a total number of approximately 1.3 million active-component service members) and 1,510 in the selected reserve.” So, a small amount of the less than 1 percent of Americans active in the all-volunteer military.

It made me think of my interview with attendee Tayler Williams, who while not looking to join the military service, said transgender people should be given the opportunity.

“I thought he was crazy, ‘cause he’s going to start a war, and he’s going to need people to fight. And if they’re willing to fight, they should be able to.”

Here’s video from the protest.

 

 

Speaking of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender communities, last month was Pride. Some have criticized it for becoming too corporate instead of political as it has grown. But like many such events across the country this year, opposition to President Trump’s views including immigration, refugees, the Muslim registry, and Black Lives Matter took center stage. The first several contingents were dedicated to those causes. Some carried flags and signs, with a group of women taking a more militant stance with masks and bats. That was followed by hours more of politicians, corporate floats, school marching bands, and the like. I felt old when the younger folks in attendance got all excited when cast members of Internet shows “13 Reasons Why” and “Orange is the New Black” came through, and I was not starstruck nor in possession of a good cell phone to prepare a proper selfie.

In gathering interviews, I came across gay rights activists John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney in the crowd, who said all those at risk from Trump’s policies must come together.

“The new administration in Washington, once again, the LGBT community feels under threat,” Lewis said. “Stand up. Stand up for our lives. Stand up for the lives of so many people who are suffering of the new administration.”

Here is video from that.

 

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This week the family of Alex Nieto started their federal civil lawsuit in his police shooting death, one of a handful of cases in the Bay Area that have drawn significant protests in recent years over police brutality. It has also brought in discussion of San Francisco’s gentrification, with Nieto a Latino born and raised in the Mission and Bernal Heights. On the trial’s first day a couple hundred people gathered in his family’s support outside the courthouse. Here’s a video I put together.

Nieto, 28, was killed March 21, 2014. He was at Bernal Heights Park on a Friday having a burrito before work as a nightclub security guard when passers-by called police and reported a man with a gun. Police responding said he pulled a Taser at them, causing them to fire, including reloading their handguns and shooting him more until he was no longer a threat. There is no video, as has become the standard in the current outrage over police shootings, but a witness said he was not a threat. There’s debate over whether his hands were in his jacket pockets when he was shot, and many other specifics that are being followed by multiple local media outlets daily.

The officers involved were long cleared of criminal wrongdoing, with some promoted, without any big visible change to police or window smashing protests in reaction. But with the Black Lives Matter movement continuing, with Beyonce’s dancers giving a nod to the Mario Woods shooting with an off-stage video at the Super Bowl, the outcome will have an impact on both the movement locally and community at large. The fact that it is getting daily media coverage, while many lawsuits against police reported at their conclusion, if at all, shows how closely this discussion has become one of the nation’s top issues.

By Eric Louie

Last night I covered another community outrage after police killed a black man. Police say he was a stabbing suspect with a knife that left them no choice but to shoot when confronted. Protesters say witness cell phone video shows otherwise.

It’s a story seen many times and in many cities, especially with technologies that let us record images and distribute them through the Web. But this goes further than what happened when five officers fired on Mario Woods that Wednesday afternoon, or even the wider talk of police brutality. 

Last night’s demonstration was during a police commission meeting at City Hall. The largest banner, being used to frame the speakers rallying the crowd outside, read “We are the Last 3% of Black SF.” With the current tech boom others are not just left out, but in some cases physically moved out from rising housing costs with gentrification. During the meeting many speakers identified themselves as native San Franciscans who felt alienated.

Coincidentally, I saw this change first-hand recently. The night after police shot Woods, I was in the same neighborhood working coat check for a welcome party for buyers of newly-built homes. The bus went through the same dilapidated, plywood-covered-window, low-rise apartment housing projects I remember passing through on some occasional journey when young. I had before never taken the 19 Polk to the end of the line before this night, or seen the city from the shipyards my grandfather worked. Though I grew up in San Francisco, there was never a reason to go to Bayview-Hunters Point, with more reasons to avoid it. Once, during a high school journalism camp, I helped navigate us by bus to see a Giants game at Candlestick Park. Many wondered why I took them through a sketchy neighborhood to go there.   

SF City Hall.MarioWoods.12.9.2015

The most heated point last night didn’t come from someone asking police to stay away, but Sala Chandler, whose son Yalani Chinyamurindi was 19 when he was killed with three others in a car earlier this year. She said the fact that her son’s shooting remains unsolved is an example of a low priority for black lives.

Chandler went over her allotted two-minute public speaker time and wouldn’t stop. The audience stood for her support, police walked towards her, and there was some yelling that led to an emergency recess. Commissioners left the room before resuming shortly after. 

“We ain’t going nowhere,” Chandler said into the mic during the chaos.  “We’re gonna shut the streets down.”