RPA New LogoThe Activist

Issue #215, 12-05-2016

In this issue:
Community Meeting to Counter Hate Crimes
New RPA Immigration Action Team
The Fight Continues for Affordable Housing
City Council this Tuesday: Stand Up Against Trumpism
Tell BAAQMD: Adopt the Refinery Cap Now!
Sharing our success...and Calling for New Leadership!
Report from Standing Rock
Save the Dates: Poetry, Biking, Celebrating life, and more

Monday, 12/5 at 6:30pm
Community Meeting to Counter Hate Crimes

Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center released two reports documenting how President-elect Donald Trump’s own words have sparked hate incidents across the country. According to the organization, “In the ten days following the election, there were almost 900 reports of harassment and intimidation from across the nation. Many harassers invoked Trump’s name during assaults, making it clear that the outbreak of hate stemmed in large part from his electoral success.”


The alarming pattern of hate crimes in both the run-up to, and wake of, the election has hit very close to home. On September 25, Maan S. Khalsa was attacked near Hilltop Mall by two men who ripped off his Sikh turban, beat him in the face repeatedly, and cut his hair with a knife. The two men, who were not Richmond residents, were charged with felony assault and hate crimes in October. Then on November 12, Richmond musician Will Sims was beaten, robbed and fatally shot outside a bar in El Sobrante. Authorities have charged one of the suspects with robbery, murder and a racially motivated crime.


We cannot let these hate crimes stand -- not in our community! Join an initial organizing meeting to address hate crimes in our community on Monday, Dec 5, 6:30pm at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center (2540 Macdonald, Richmond)


[Photo: December 3, 2016 vigil at the site of Will Simm’s murder in El Sobrante. Credit: Michael Beer] 

Stand up, don't stand by!
New RPA Immigration Action Team

At the last RPA Steering Committee meeting, the Committee approved the creation of a new Immigration Action Team. Initial ideas include hosting a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) information session later this month. All are welcome to join; if you are interested in becoming a part of this important new team, please contact Sharron Williams.


In a recent interview with Richmond Pulse, Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin put it well: “I think the Trump concept of deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants is outrageous, but we have to take everything seriously and I think that requires organizing. And that’s what’s happening in Richmond, and it’s happening in other cities. I think that networking or bonding with each other through our values, city by city throughout the nation, is what’s going to stop any attempts to do this kind of harm and inhumane type of approach to our immigrant community."

[Photo credit: takomabibelot via Flickr]

L-OVE wins out!
The Fight Continues for Affordable Housing

Measure L (rent control and just cause for eviction) is expected to go into effect this month -- as early as December 16 and as late as December 30. One of the next major tasks is to establish a Rent Board, whose members will be nominated by Mayor Butt and approved by the City Council. RPA members and supporters are encouraged to apply as members of the Rent Board; if you are considering doing so, please let RPA Co-chair Marilyn Langlois know as soon as possible.

But as we all know, rent control and just cause eviction are just one piece of the affordable housing puzzle. With some Richmond residents paying sixty or seventy percent of their income on housing, there is much more to do. To learn more about the housing crisis and what you can do to get involved, join Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment at a Community Forum on the Housing Crisis on Saturday, December 10th  at 10:30am at Grace Lutheran Church at 2369 Barrett Ave. in Richmond. Please register here.

Finally, please consider joining the RPA Housing Action Team. This team is dedicated to ensuring housing affordability and minimizing displacement, which is particularly important for Richmond’s low- and -moderate income African-Americans and Latinos, women, and families with children. The next Housing Action Team meeting will be on Saturday, January 21, 2017, from 3-5pm at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center at 2540 Macdonald.

[Photo: Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment]

Tuesday, 12/6 at 6:30pm
City Council this Tuesday: Stand Up Against Trumpism

On December 6, Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin, along with Councilmember Jovanka Beckles and Vice Mayor Eduardo Martinez, will present a resolution reaffirming many of our city's values and policies, including our commitment to remaining a Sanctuary City.


The resolution asserts, among many things, “That we condemn all hate crimes and hate speech perpetrated in this election’s wake. That although the United States will soon have a President who has demonstrated a lack of respect for the values we hold in the highest regard in Richmond, it cannot change who we are, and it will never change our values.” For a copy of the full resolution, see page 1233 of this full Agenda packet.)


Please come out to the City Council meeting on Tuesday at 6:30pm to support this resolution. Also on the agenda will be the Richmond Bay Public Plan, which deals with the south Richmond shoreline and the Zeneca Superfund site; and the Carlson Blvd. improvement project, which will make the thoroughfare more bike and pedestrian friendly. Please show your support for these three items!

Wednesday, 12/7 at 9:45am
Tell BAAQMD: Adopt the Refinery Cap Rule Now!

Our friends at Bay Area 350.org and the Sunflower Alliance are urging folks to come out to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board meeting on December 7 to urge BAAQMD to immediately adopt the Refinery Caps Rule 12-16.


Bay Area residents have been pushing the Air District for almost four years to get the Air District to cap refinery emissions, which, among other things, will prevent Chevron’s Richmond refinery from processing more dirty tar sands crude. Steady public presence has forced staff to put a draft Refinery cap rule before the Board for consideration. However, they are trying to slow things down by presenting the draft Rule as an alternative to a proposed Health Risk Rule. This procedural maneuver will unnecessarily subject the Rule to a drawn out California Environmental Quality Act process.


This important Rule cannot be allowed to drag on any further. Please come out on December 7 to urge the Board to adopt Refinery Caps Rule 12-16 ASAP, with no more foot dragging. The meeting will be held from 9:45am - 11:45am at the Air District Headquarters on 375 Beale St. in San Francisco. Please RSVP here.


[Photo credit: By planet a. [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]

New committee helps other communities replicate RPA model

Sharing our Success... and Calling for New Leadership!


“Whether you know it or not, the eyes of the country are on you [in Richmond]. And if Chevron can roll over you, they and their buddies will roll over every community in America. If you can stand up and beat them with all of their money, you’re going to give hope to people all over America that we can control our destinies…We have got to fight back tooth and nail. We cannot allow them to take over Richmond, we cannot allow them to take over America. And if we do our job, and if we knock on doors and talk to our neighbors, we are going to beat them, and that’s what we’ve got to do.”

-       Bernie Sanders, October 14, 2016, Richmond

At the last RPA Steering Committee meeting, the committee voted to start a new Action Team to help communities replicate the RPA political organizing model. The organization is receiving inquires from communities all over the state and the country asking for help in jump-starting progressive, multi-issue, grassroots organizations. This new Action Team will develop resources for, and support the emergence of, progressive alliances in California cities from El Cerrito to San Diego; as well as activists from as far away as Vermont, New Jersey and Texas.


The RPA story is about to get a much wider audience with the forthcoming publication of Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money, and the Remaking of an American City, written by labor journalist and RPA member Steve Early. Coming out in January from Beacon Press, the book chronicles the grassroots, progressive political power that has been built over the last decade in Richmond through organizations like the RPA, Communities for a Better Environment, ACCE, Asia Pacific Environmental Network, Sunflower Alliance, plus many union partners. Local author events include a January 18 joint book launch and fundraiser for the Richmond Pulse on January 18 at 7pm at Kaleidoscope Coffee (109 Park Place in Point Richmond). KPFA will also be hosting an event on February 2 at 7:30 P.M. at the First Congressional Church of Oakland (2501 Harrison St., Berkeley, CA.)


Finally, if you have been inspired to serve on the RPA Steering Committee, please consider throwing your hat into the ring! A Nominating Committee, comprised of both SC and non-SC members, has recently formed and will be circulating information soon on the process.

Finding hope
Report from Standing Rock

The courageous actions of those at Standing Rock, in the face of brutal police violence, have inspired people from around the world.

Longtime RPA activist and steering committee member Tarnel Abbot recently traveled to Standing Rock to stand in solidarity with indigenous peoples who are protecting their water from the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. She wrote up her experience for Bay View. An excerpt is reprinted below:


I had to go there, to North Dakota in late November. In spite of feeling that my ineptitude with tools, my age and decrepitness would make me more of a hindrance than a help. In spite of seeing the contradiction that material aid (my money spent on travelling) if sent directly, could be of more use than my physical presence. Especially since I had a pact with my compañero, Rafa, not to get arrested, in spite of my inclination to be on the front lines. I felt compelled to express my solidarity, in person, with the people who have gathered at Standing Rock to stop the oil pipeline from being placed beneath the Missouri River.


I now realize that I also needed to go there for a renewal of hope…


Here was the hope I was yearning for: Young people mostly, but elders and some children, living side by side under the sky and learning how to live with a smaller footprint. Very little trash, horses, dogs, chickens, solar panels, winterizing, straw bale buildings under construction, relatively clean portable toilets, handmade signs, sacred fires, drum circles, compost piles, a school, communal kitchens, daily orientations for newcomers, training films, announcements, visiting celebrities, free stores…

To read the whole article, and to find out what you can do to help, visit Bay View.

[Photo: Tarnel Abbot]
Poetry, Biking, Celebrating life...
Save the Dates!

Please save the dates for the following events:
  • December 15, 7pm: Release of the first annual Richmond Anthology of Poetry. This anthology brings together the work of 62 poets who live in Richmond, California, or have ties with the city. It will be released Saturday, December 10 from 7-9pm at Kaleidoscope Coffee (109 Park Place, Point Richmond) and Thursday December 15 from 7-9pm at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center (2540 Macdonald). For pre-orders and info please contact richmondpoetry@sonic.net


  • December 16, 5pm: Rich City Rides' biggest bike ride of the year is coming up -- the Winter Solstice ride. Gather at Rich City Rides (1500 Macdonald Ave, Richmond) and end at Urban Tilth


  • January 8, 2pm: Celebration of Life for RPA member Marion Fay, January 8, 2017 at 2pm at Northbrae Church in Berkeley (941 The Alameda). Please stay tuned for more on Marion's inspiring life in the next issue of The Activist.


[Photo: from Bike East Bay]

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