CALL FOR ARTICLES! Fall Edition of Guerrilleros de la Pluma – Journal of the Raza Press and Media Association (October 2, 2013 Submission Deadline)
For this issue, the RMPA will be publishing articles that offer a critical analysis or perspective of the State of the Movimiento.
During the height of the Chicano Power Period, La Raza called for, among others, an end to; our exploitation in the workplace, police brutality, wars of aggression, and failing schools. We demanded that our history be respected by the creation of Chicano Studies. Our gente – alongside other oppressed communities – made important civil rights gains during this period and supported Raza liberation movements in our hemisphere. Many of those gains have now been eroded and many of the activists and organizations from those times no longer exist, have mainstreamed into more conservative assimilationist positions, or have outright sold-out.
For this issue, the RPMA specifically plans to publish pieces that offer a critique or commentary of the question of the State of the Movement and whether our struggle is either for human rights or civil rights, assimilation or liberation, acceptance or rejection of the theft of Southwest lands from Mexico. Other topics are the role of the non-profits and the Democratic Party in the Movimiento. Have we as a community and our movimiento gone forward in the past four decades, why or why not? Where are we now and where is our movimiento going?
All submissions will be read and are subject to edits as necessary and our editorial board will select the most relevant pieces connected to our theme for this issue. Authors will be informed of any edits prior to publishing.
Articles should be 2 1/2 to 3 pages long (800-900 words). Articles should be submitted to the RPMA by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or message us your piece here to our Facebook inbox for review.
Por una Prensa Comprometida con el Pueblo!
20 Years of the Chicano Mexicano Prison Project: Raising the Political Consciousness for Our Gente Inside and Outside the Prison Walls
[Note: The Chicano Mexicano Prison Project organized a conference held in San Diego, Califas on Saturday June 15, 2013 at the Centro Cultural de la Raza. The conference consisted of a tribute to Ernesto Bustillos by the Raza Press and Media Association. The Raza Press Association also awarded the Guerillero de La Pluma Award to Marc Baca of Los Angeles. Panel 1 theme was to provide a 'General outlook on how prisons affect youth, and black and brown unity' with presenters of Jenny Andrade, Brooke Orozco, Pablo Aceves, Jason Kine, and David Rico. Panel 2 theme was the 'Criminalization of workers, political prisoners, activism and solitary confinement ‘ with presenters Teresa Zaragoza, Martha Esquivel, Melissa Roxas, and Benjamin Prado. The conference also had a sharing of solidarity letters from prisoners and ended with a summation of the conference and resolutions to further advance the work around the question of prisons. The conference was endorsed by: Save our Barrios Coalition, International Peoples Democratic Uhuru Movement-San Diego, Brown Berets de Atzlan, SDSU MEChA, Colectivo Zapatista, Association of Raza Educators-San Diego, Anakbayan, and the Colectivo Todo Poder al Pueblo.The following presentation was part of the introductory keynote address by Francisco Chavo Romero at the conference.]
20 Years of the Chicano Mexicano Prison Project and the 15th Annual Conference on Raza Prisoners and Colonialism
Good morning. First I would like to thank the organizers of the conference, the Chicano Mexicano Prison Project(CMPP). I also would like to recognize and send an abrazo revolucionario to all of the other organizations, students, youth and community present here today. I also want to say, that I dedicate this presentation to Robert Ramirez and Alfonso Limon, both killed this last year by the Oxnard Police Department. Robert, was a former student of mine and he was killed on June 23, 2012, nearly a year ago, the cops beat him to death even though he was already cuffed and ‘hog-tied’, they still choked the life out of him. On October 13, 2012, Alfonso was riddled with bullets as he knelt on the ground, clearly yelling he was a bystander, nevertheless, the cops mowed him down with their rifles and semi-automatic weapons where bullets were sprayed all over into vehicles, businesses offices, almost hitting children nearby that luckily hit the deck just in time. Lastly, I also want to dedicate this presentation to my homeboy Lupe, who did 13 years hard time, yet, he made it out and now is going to college and led the re-establishment of MECHA at the local Oxnard College and played an instrumental role in organizing a recent statewide conference on police brutality. I did not get to formally recognize him at that conference, but would like to do that here today.
I and honored to be in your presence and to have been asked to answer a set of questions and attempt to set the tone and context to compliment the panels that you will hear out today, on the question of black and brown unity, political prisoners, the attacks on undocumented communities, and discuss the conditions inside the prisons, in particular inside the Security Housing Units. I will attempt to be brief in answering the three points: 1. What is the significance of 20 years of the CMPP and 15 years of Las Calles and Neto as its editor?, 2. What are the connections between colonialism/capitalism and the prison industrial complex? And finally- 3. What’s the history and function of policing in our communities, and how has it been normalized?
What is the significance of 20 years of the CMPP and 15 years of the newsletter, “Las Calles y La Torcida” and Ernesto ‘Neto’ Bustillos as its editor.
The very fact that we are here today is a great achievement and a testament to the power of organization, commitment and sacrifice. The CMPP, as a project of Unión del Barrio, is an independent organization that sustains itself by volunteers, and without a single dime from the government and non-profits. The resources they have gathered to carry on the work have been raised by dinner fundraisers, donations, dues and at times, by the prisoners themselves raising funds inside the jails to get their own stamps to receive the newsletter. The humble and dignified amount of work, whether it was the workshops, art shows, fundraisers, conferences such as these, and the publication of its newsletter that has been produced is unmatched. As important, is that all of this has been led by the poor, working-class colonized Mexicanos. The work has been carried out by those that live in the most marginalized barrios, deep in poverty, by those that have been in those jail cells or felt the cops’ boots, batons or bullets and that on a daily witness the conditions and violence that stems from our colonial reality. This is the significance of 20 years of the CMPP, showing that it is very possible, and we argue, necessary, to continue to build this type of formation, one that can exist, and be sustained and advanced by the community itself.
First, I would like to say that Ernesto Neto Bustillos, a great mentor and comrade of ours that passed away last year was instrumental in the foundation and the sustaining of this project and the newsletter. Over 17 years ago on March 10, 1996 in a special meeting of the CMPP, at the former Centro Aztlan here in San Diego he highlighted the importance of raising the political consciousness of all Raza in our fight for liberation and especially of the Raza in prisons via Las Calles newsletter,
“We want to bring consciousness to our people because we want to be free. We want to live in peace, dignity and with justice. We can only achieve this with consciousness. We recognize that pintas and pintos [prisoners] are facing the most obvious type of oppression. In other words, they are facing the most ‘overt’ physical aspects of colonial oppression. The pinto and pinta is victim to both the physical and psychological warfare that is being waged upon our people by the colonial institutions… the criminal justice system and prisons. The reality is that pinto/as will not struggle to end their incarceration if they are not conscious of why and how their incarceration is connected to colonialism and capitalism. Being conscious means understanding the reality that prisons are a central component of the strategy of colonial oppression. And we are seeing that the prison system, as an industry, is fast becoming a cornerstone of U.S. Capitalism. This means that without prisons and mass incarcerations of Mexicans, other oppressed nationalities, as well as poor whites, capitalism would not be able to exist. Capitalism needs prisons, both as a tool of oppression and as a source of profits.”
Neto would go on in that presentation to discuss that pintos are one of the most rebellious sectors of our community and if we want to achieve total liberation, then we MUST win over this large sector of our community to unite in our fight. This is why Las Calles newsletter is so critically important, because within the pages of the newsletter we inform prisoners about what is going on the ‘outside’ and we learn what is going down in the ‘inside’ as well getting pintos educated about our cultura, art, revolutionary heroes-men and women, about the movimientos and overall history.
These are the seeds of knowledge for pintos and our community that the CMPP has been planting for nearly 20 years. Hundreds and hundreds and into the thousands of prisoners have read these newsletters. In some of the letters that are sent to the CMPP, the pintos share how much they appreciate and have been given injections of pride and outlook toward joining our ranks when they come out and even organizing on the inside. The pintos talk about how they neatly fold and circulate the newsletter inside, and some even have archives saved and continuously share with others. Especially with the total or near-total dismantling of schools and libraries inside the pintas, access to knowledge is almost non-existent. This of course, is by design with goal of creating and maintaining a unconscious, unorganized and easily manipulated mass of people behind bars as the new slaves.
For us, there is a very thin line between being out here today and locked up tomorrow.
So, ours is a fight for freedom. A fight to break these chains of colonialism and capitalism.
What are the connections between colonialism/capitalism and the prison industrial complex?
First we must define these terms,
Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production, with the goal of making a profit.
Colonialism is the establishment, exploitation, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a set of unequal relationships between the colonial power and the colony and between the colonists and the indigenous population.
Prison–Industrial Complex (PIC) is used to attribute the rapid expansion of the US inmate population to the political influence of private prison companies and businesses that supply goods and services to government prison agencies.
The main connection between colonialism/capitalism and the prison industrial complex is that fact that capitalism as a system, through the process of colonialism is now profiting not only off the theft of our lands, resources and labor, but off the capturing and imprisonment our bodies themselves. By this, we mean that mass-scale warehousing of our physical bodies itself is generating profits. It is in the interest of these private owners, the capitalists, to maintain the ever-growing ‘industry’ of prison-ification and militarization, both within and outside of the walls. Everything related to this industry, which we have shared in past conferences is part of the process of profiting off mass imprisonment; From the cops on the streets, the weapons, to the construction of the prisons, the courts, lawyers, psychologists, guards, cooks, technicians, the supplies, the food, the beds, the blankets, etc., etc. All of this is the industry, the business of incarceration. There are millions and into the billions being made and this does not even include the specialized prisons for undocumented prisoners, which will be discussed later. Here, I will just mention that each undocumented prisoner generates $200 that is funneled into this ‘market’, that is $72,000 per undocumented inmate. [See graph of Private Prisons map] There is a reason why we are being piled up six or seven or ten to a cell made for four. More bodies, more money.
In order to create and maintain the conditions to funnel more of our bodies into these cages, the capitalists must destroy all forms of resistance, alternatives and organizations, whether they are the unions, student organizations, grassroots community formations and others. The ruling-class must also de-fund and deplete by slashing and burning all of the resources geared toward social programs and gains that were made in the last century, cuts to education and access to higher learning, social-welfare, etc., thus creating the ripe conditions for our communities to fall into a state of desperation. Then the capitalists, via their selected political operatives in their halls of power, whether it is the White House, Congress, or state and city-level governing bodies, pass, enact and enforce laws set in place to facilitate the force and legal means to continue with this industry. Those that make these decisions are not from our class, they are from the elite and upper class, period. So, they look out for their own interests.
What’s the history and function of policing in our communities, and how has it been normalized?
The history and function of the police is to protect the interests of the rich ruling class and to keep social classes in order. The very need for police is based on the need to protect those that “have” from those that “have not”, that is, those that have the resources from those that don’t. This unequal distribution of resources and that inequality is based, again, on the fact that we are governed by a settler-colonial state, that has gained power through slavery, genocide and occupation. There were early formations of police during the ‘Colonial’ period of the founding of the U.S., where they first started as ‘watch groups’ made up of colonial volunteers. As time progressed and with an influx of more immigrants from Europe, a slow progression of early forms of local police force began, especially in the organization of slave patrols (paddyrollers). “Groups such as the federal military, the state militia, and the Ku Klux Klan took over the responsibilities of earlier slave patrols and were known to be even more violent than their predecessors. Over time, these groups began to resemble and operate similar to some of the newly established police departments in the United States [and] for example, by 1837, the Charleston Police Department had 100 officers and the primary function of this organization was slave patrol . . . these officers regulated the movements of slaves and free blacks, checking documents, enforcing slave codes, guarding against slave revolts and catching runaway slaves.” [The History of Police-Sage Publications]
The 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the U.S., which was passed to outlaw slavery or indentured servitude, EXCEPT FOR PUNISHMENT OF A CRIME. This part of that clause is exactly the language that tactically protects and continues slavery under its new form. Thus, the former slave-catchers, now were given badges and authority to capture, detain and re-enslave via being convicted of a crime.
Fast forward to the tail end of the ‘Civil Rights’ and Black Power [Chicano Power] movements… During this period, the role of the police essentially continued to be openly the same as those of its foundation. One can easily recall the police brutality and terror waged against blacks in the south, where Jim Crow laws openly kept the apartheid form of containment and swift brutal application of the ‘law’. The same went for those colonized peoples in the urban settings across the U.S., in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles.
COINTELPRO comes into full effect at this time. It is clear, that after the strategic attacks on the people’s movements for liberation in the 70′s, the importation of drugs, the passage of stricter sentencing laws and the advancing of neocolonialism, there was a skyrocketing of the prison population within the borders of the U.S. empire. This trajectory continues to rise, and now is to the point of where states are being sued due to the overcrowding and inhumane conditions and treatment of prisoners. Faced with public outcry and protest, along with the lawsuits, prison officials and politicians are now having to ‘re-align’ and release pintos. This however, is aligned with a two-decade long process of further militarization of barrios and ghettos across the states. Essentially, the state and its repressive forces have prepared the infrastructure for having Prisons Outside of the Walls. With increased numbers in cops, swat teams, gang-units along with targeting communities with gang-injunctions zoning off and demarcating these open-air prisons. There is no surprise that this has led to an increase in police terror laying siege to our people, where hundreds of people, mainly Raza and Africans are being killed by the police every year.
What has brought upon this current intensification of assaults in this super-critical period? In their ‘Let Your Motto Be Resistance’ handbook for organizing, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement identifies several points as to the crisis and why we are facing genocide now; 1. The rapidly changing demographics of the U.S. continental empire. 2. The militarization of society. 3. The downsizing from the financial and economic crisis. 4. The promotion of reactionary and irrational politics. 5. Racial resentment and revenge. 6. The repression and criminalization of dissent. The recent designation of placing Assata Shakur of the Blank Panther Party onto the U.S.’ most wanted terrorist list is a clear message that political activism is increasingly becoming an act of terror. So, the thin line that separates us from being on the inside becomes that much thinner.
This is why the work of the Chicano Mexicano Prison Project is so important, and why the CMPP newsletter Las Calles y La Torcida plays such a critical role in preparing ourselves and our community for self-defense and so, please make sure you join an organization and get involved in this struggle.
Que viva el Chicano Mexicano Prison Project!
Que viva Ernesto Bustillos!
Que viva Union del Barrio!
Visit this link for conference pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/uniondelbarrio/sets/72157634147508357/
[For more information: Chicano Mexicano Prison Project – P.O. Box 13036, San Diego, CA 92170, www.uniondelbarrio.org / email@example.com
As a working-class community, we must redefine what we mean by ‘public safety’, ‘quality of life’, ‘community improvement’ and how we address the disparities and issues that stem from poverty. We must advance an organized movement to achieve community-based solutions to these core issues impacting our barrios and to do so, we must fight to recuperate our resources.
Communities across California and beyond are being further and further militarized as a ‘solution’, and what we are now seeing is an increase in brutal force as a means to ‘manage dissent’ and resistance in an attempt to contain class struggle as we fight for our resources. In order to protect the interests of the ruling class, the cops will have to continue to expand and further deplete our resources by slashing and burning the budgets to parks, recreation, libraries, etc.
We must say, No! It is time to openly challenge the notion and practice that bringing in and spending millions of dollars on the force, instruments and methods of war into our community will create a better society.
Phase One – Oxnard Proposal: Going off of last year’s general budget [see graph above-click to enlarge], let’s demand that we move toward allocating to Library and Recreation/Community a budget of $10 million each. This would increase Recreation/Community by $4.7 million, Library by $5.7 million. We must push for Housing to get at a least a $1 million and get this department a minimum of 1% of the city budget. This means we will cut around $11 million to the police budget, which even then still leaves the cops with over one-third of the city budget.
Increase in the Library/Recreation Community/Housing will go to some of the following areas:
-Recreation/Community: More unionized employment opportunity, including on-the-job paid training for local youth 15-21 years old (with specific goals of employing those that have ‘records’ or low-income). More FREE community athletic and recreation programs (covering costs of ALL registration and equipment), a FREE community pool and gym with extended hours in every single barrio, re-investing in the community centers at every park, public restrooms, community beautification through botanical gardens and increase in local community gardens/farms to grow crops, along with creating open space and nutrition-enhancing programs, particularly in dense, crowded housing and apartment complexes. Mass influx of funds into cultural and art centers with access to FREE space for studios, supplies and instruments.
-Library: More unionized employment opportunity, including on-the-job paid training for local youth 15-21 years old (with specific goals of employing those that have ‘records’ or low income). Extended hours-Open everyday from 8am-10pm. Free year-round tutoring. Expansion of state-of-the-art computer labs and technology, including registration for FREE city-wide access to Wi-Fi/Internet. More books, more magazines, literature, more videos and films, including expansion of Spanish-language or other language selections. Children and youth-oriented services, literature and programming expansion. Let’s get some Book-Mobiles out every weekend to the parks and other events and have some readings, plays, theater and on-site general book checkout.
-Housing: The increase in this department would augment and extend the local services including some part-time employment that can work on providing access to specialized educational workshops, community projects, etc. related to housing/rental rights issues, voucher-assistance as needed, and general community organization.
The current method of handing out small ‘block grants’ is nowhere near scratching the surface of what is needed to improve conditions in our community. Even so-called funds meant to be geared toward ‘community improvement’ are being hi-jacked by the police and their proxy programs. We must come to terms with the reality that continued investment into militarization/policing and di-vestment of social services and programming is a recipe for failure and further deterioration of communities. If we are serious about ‘public safety’, ‘quality of life’, ‘community improvement’, then we must re-shift our current path and begin the process of de-militarization and re-orientate toward a future that invests in humanity, and more specifically into the working-class and our barrios.
No to Militarization and Incarceration!
Yes to Justice, Jobs and Education!
Voz del Pueblo is a project of Unión del Barrio in Oxnard and is a member of the Raza Press and Media Association (razapressassociation.org)
(GUARDE LA FECHA: Por favor de compartir, invitar y difundir )
Por favor, únase a nosotros en esta importante conferencia, vamos a tener una serie de paneles y discusiones sobre las cárceles, leyes opresivas y desenmascarar el negocio de encarcelamiento y detención.
“LAS CALLES Y LA TORCIDA”
20 Años del Proyecto de Prisión Mexicano y Chicano 15a Conferencia Anual Sobre Prisióneros de la Raza y Colonialismo
Sábado 15 de junio 2013
Centro Cultural de la Raza
2004 Park Boulevard
San Diego, Califas 92102
11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Nuestro tema este año destaca el boletín, Las Calles y La Torcida, que circulamos dentro y fuera de la cárcel, y que nos permite comunicarnos con (pintos) presos y que información sobre las últimas noticias de lo que está pasando con ellos en el “interior” y que a su vez, mantenerlos actualizados en nuestras actividades políticas en el “exterior”.
En memoria del Presidente Ernesto Bustillos “Neto”:
La conferencia de este año colaborara con la Asociación de Prensa y Medios de Comunicación de la Raza (RPMA), que mostrará una exposición de este activista de toda la vida, el maestro y revolucionario, que falleció el 26 de marzo 2012 (en San Diego, CalifasAztlán.) Durante cuatro décadas Ernesto Bustillos luchó por los derechos humanos, los derechos de los presos, y la liberación de todos los pueblos y naciones oprimidas.
El Proyecto de Prisión Chicano Mexicano y la RPMA, sobre todo, mantiene la memoria del Presidente Neto porque él asumió una lucha que no ha sido muy popular, especialmente creado dentro el contexto de la Raza de Liberación Nacional, como expresa el entendimiento de que prisiones son herramientas para la opresión nacional de los mexicanos / Raza, africanos, asiáticos y otras nacionalidades que se encuentran viviendo en el “nación de las prisiones” -conocido como los Estados Unidos.
Diariamente, nuestros barrios son híper-vigilada y nuestro pueblo perdura tácticas brutales como ‘paro y esculcar’, mandatos judiciales, e incluso condenar a nuestros niños como adultos. Los prisioneros son obligados a existir en condiciones inhumanas, como las Unidades de Vivienda de Seguridad (SHU), en un 6 ‘x 9′ de 8 ‘x 10′ celda de aislamiento durante un máximo de 22 a 24 horas por día, por años, incluso décadas con poco o ningún contacto humano.
Este terrorismo no se planifica en desacelerar, incluso después de la venta de los presos a ser detenidos en cárceles privadas de fuera del estado no es suficiente, de hecho, California tiene planes para construir más cárceles, porque el Estado no está cumpliendo y ha estado en problemas con la tribunales federales desde 2009, debido a las enfermedades atroces y sobrepoblación. A pesar de que varias cárceles se han construido en California durante las últimas dos décadas, el Estado todavía encontró no poder mantener y tener personas hacinadas en celdas que eran casi el doble de su capacidad.
Entendemos que todo esto es para neutralizar revolucionarios potenciales. Es por eso que casi 2 millones de personas han sido deportados en los últimos 5 años. La interrupción de la unidad familiar y nuestras comunidades son expuestas a este tipo de violencia para mantenernos en un estado constante de pobreza y represión, resultando en que nos ataquemos el uno al otro, así avanzando la agenda del opresor.
El CMPP cree que las cárceles son instrumentos de opresión usados por las fuerzas del capitalismo-imperialismo para mantenernos colonizados (nos hacen dudar de nuestra propia humanidad) y vivir en el miedo, así detiene que nuestras comunidades desarrollen la capacidad de organizar y luchar por nuestros derechos. Somos conscientes de que sin la existencia de estas instituciones el sistema explotador y racista conocido como el capitalismo no existiría.
Hacemos un llamado a los activistas a unirse y luchar para construir una organización avanzada, organizada y disciplinada, que pondrá fin el encarcelamiento de los trabajadores y los pobres y nos llevará a la liberación nacional. Hay que unirnos para luchar contra la guerra que se hace en nuestros barrios durante los últimos 500 años o más.
Si desean endosar la conferencia o compartir información crítica en la conferencia, por favor póngase en contacto con nosotros. La conferencia es gratuita, pero estaremos aceptando donaciones para ayudar a avanzar nuestro trabajo.
¡Venceremos En La Lucha!
Proyecto de Prisión Chicano Mexicano
Para mas informacion: firstname.lastname@example.org
Voz del Pueblo is a project of Unión del Barrio in Oxnard and is a member of the Raza Press and Media Association (razapressassociation.org)
Santa Barbara Resiste! Community and Youth of Santa Barbara Organize to Stop the ‘Gang Injunction’: Fighting to End the Criminalization of a Generation
Community and Youth of Santa Barbara Organize to Stop the ‘Civil Gang Injunction’: Fighting to End the Criminalization of a Generation
The People Organizing for Defense and Equal Rights (PODER), an independent coalition of community activists from Santa Barbara has been organizing for the last year to pressure city officials to stop the proposed Civil Gang Injunction (CGI). PODER has organized two important events in the next few days to expose civil gang injunctions as flawed solutions that must be stopped. Currently, there is an important case that is now at the 9th District Court of Appeals that will most likely end or limit the practice of civil gang injunctions, but, we must keep fighting on and organizing. PODER invites you to join:
1. COMMUNITY FORUM: Saturday, May 11th from 3-5pm at Faulkner Gallery 40, E. Anapamu Street. ACLU Presents: “Gang Injunctions: Right or Racial? Saturday, May 11th from 3-5pm at Faulkner Gallery 40, E. Anapamu Street.
What does it mean when the cities injunction zones makeup the 2 areas that are most populated with Latino residents? Come learn about the impacts of Gang Injunctions in other communities and the proposed order in our city!
-Thomas Carrasco, PhD Chicano/a Studies- Originally from Oxnard, California, Thomas is a scholar, activist, performer, and filmmaker and among the historic first cohort to earn a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Chicano/Chicana Studies from UCSB. He now teaches at SBCC.
-Gaby Hernandez, MSW Clinical Social Work- Native of Santa Barbara and formerly incarcerated juvenile
-Alberto Cazarez, Youth Organizer with Youth Justice Coalition- Student who was served with an injunction in West Los Angeles, who then fought and won a lawsuit against LAPD
-Nayra Pacheco, Student at UCSB- As an undocumented youth who grew up in the Westside, Nayra has been witness to the various experiences of working class Latino families in Santa Barbara and is currently conducting research on the motives for Santa Barbara’s proposed injunction.
2. PRESS CONFERENCE AND CITY COUNCIL MEETING PUBLIC FORUM: Tuesday, May 14th at 4:30pm City of Santa Barbara City Hall, 735 Anacapa St, Corner or Anacapa & De La Guerra St. (Click here to see press release: http://www.independent.com/news/2013/may/08/rally-respect-our-youth/)
(Map of Target Zone for proposed Santa Barbara Injunction – Covering west and east barrios, all parks and the entire beach)
How is Oxnard connected to this struggle in Santa Barbara?
Historically speaking, Oxnard and Santa Barbara share a common past as related to the oppression of Mexicano and working class that goes back to the 1800′s. In Oxnard today, the community is still dealing with the issues related to police abuse and brutality, much of which stems from the power given to the police, especially with their use of gang injunctions as a way of criminalizing and harassing youth. In fact, for the past year, the Colectivo Todo Poder al Pueblo, along with families from across the state have been organizing against the upsurge of police terror and recently held a statewide conference with over 300 participants and over a dozen workshops. One of the workshops was on this very same issue, in which PODER participated in as part of the continuation of building independent grassroots resistance and solutions. (todopoderalpueblo.org)
Nearly 9 years ago, the Committee on Raza Rights – Unión del Barrio in Oxnard also struggled to build a community alliance to expose the gang injunctions as attacks on the working class Mexicans in Oxnard. In the end, however, the local politicians capitulated and went along with the suppression and repression tactic, and to date, the police still get nearly 50% of the city budget, while parks and recreation, for example only get around 5%. This in of itself is the real crime. The systemic discriminatory practice of under-funding youth programs, employment programs, and college-recruitment and skills and trade development geared toward the working poor under-class.
Below are some of the main points we, along with our allies outlined as part of our community’s argument to stop the gang injunctions in Oxnard.
1. THE COPY CAT:
Nearly every single gang injunction that is proposed are “carbon copies” of other gang injunctions from up and down the state. We found out that city and district attorneys were attending police conventions and sharing gang injunctions as “another tool for their toolbox”. One simply has to get copies of several gang injunction Orders to Show Cause (OTC’s)/Preliminary Injunctions and lay them out next to each other. If one highlights all of the language that was used across the different cities you will immediately notice that nearly 80% of language was exactly the same. In other words, the gang injunctions were not TRUE and REAL assessments of the conditions in the community; rather they were language that was ‘precedent’ in other cases. For example, things like, “the community could not walk their dogs, or wash their cars in their front yard or visit the park” due to the violence was carbon copied. In other words, a real and true community-based needs assessment should be developed and presented, coming from the community, not from the testimony from cops that do not even live in the community.
2. DOT MAPS: THE ANALOGY OF FIREFLIES IN A JAR
Another tactic the police/DA/city attorney utilizes is to create a state of urgency is by displaying their infamous Dot Maps. This is a compilation of years of “incidents” related to the targeted community. Sometimes the incidents are all compiled into one map, including all types of infractions, encounters, and incidents. So, when in court or in the city chambers, or at neighborhood council meetings, the police/DA/city attorney will show maps with hundreds upon hundreds of red-dots and with this they develop their “safety zone” which really is a “target zone” painted in a more mainstream marketable language in an attempt to not utilize the language of war.
One of the attorneys in the court battle against the first gang injunction in Oxnard shared the analogy of “fireflies in a jar”. In other words, imagine one firefly floating in the night sky. You can just barely see it. But, if you were to catch every single firefly in a vast forest for a period of a year and placed them into a jar, then, you would notice the bright glow of the fireflies. So, in your court struggle, you may want to get a time-sensitive and disaggregated analysis of the alleged incidents. This would certainly dispel the “chaos” and “mayhem” picture the cops want to paint.
3. GETTIN’ YOU ON “PAPER”: LABELS, DATABASES AND SECRET LISTS:
The Gang Field Identification cards or GFI’s are another major problem. This is how the cops register “encounters” and “incidents” with alleged “gang members” and enter them into their data-base. The GFI cards are essentially note cards where police mark down information about individuals which are later utilized to criminalize and drag people into the gang injunctions. Also, these gang injunctions in the long-term are detrimental to are dragging many youth back into the prison-industrial complex, where you have righteous youngsters that have paid their dues for a crime or incident committed and have gone literally for years, sometimes nearly five to ten years straight and the gang injunctions pull them back in because they fall into their broad category. The criteria used to label and add people onto these gang databases is usually based on broad and un-checked discretion of cops. The broad language of what is an “active member” of the targeted community in is to match two  of the following  criteria: 1. Self admission, 2. A reliable source identifies you as a known ‘gang member’, 3. Tattoos, 4. Corresponds or is in a picture with “known gang members”, 5. Is arrested in the company of “known gang members”
4. ACUNA VS. GALLO CASE AND THE NEW BREED OF GANG INJUNCTIONS:
As you may know, the constitutional precedent utilized to uphold most gang injunctions is the Acuna Vs. Gallo case from 1997. Gang injunctions though, have been morphing and expanding into a “new breed”. The injunctions that were upheld back then by the California State Supreme Court are very different from these new broader in scope and depth injunctions. The Acuna case prohibited a certain, specific and named set of individuals from entering into a specific and concentrated area in San Jose. A four square block area to be exact. None of the individuals that were targeted lived within the “target zone”.
This new brutal breed of gang injunctions only name “representatives” of the targeted community, and usually it is only a handful that is initially “served” with the paperwork. These individuals are then to tell the rest of their “unincorporated association” [using business and nuisance legislation] to show up to court a few weeks later. For example, for the first Oxnard Civil Gang Injunction case about 35 were selected to notify the alleged 1,000 members from the targeted barrio. The plan of course, is that the gang injunction passes and the representatives fail to notify the other 950 members of the “unincorporated association”. In Santa Barbara for example, about 30 individuals have been targeted with 300 that will enjoined after. Then, the goal is to have the injunction pass and give the cops broad and sweeping powers to start slapping the injunction down on other members that didn’t show up to court, including minors. This is clearly a direct and blatant violation of so-called “due process”, condemning hundreds of youth in the community to what can only be described as a life-time probation, some for minor offenses, no criminal record and even those that have yet to be added in the future, that may be 9 years old now, but 10 years from now will be added, and even those yet to be born.
5. TARGET ZONES: ADOPTING MILITARIZATION STRATEGIES ON AN ENTIRE CITY:
The new breed of gang injunctions also take the previous precedent set for defining the ‘target zones” to whole new dangerous and dramatic level by encompassing not square blocks, but square miles! This means majority or nearly all of the targeted individuals live WITHIN the “target zone”. In other words, unlike the Acuna vs.Gallo (caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/californiastatecases/s046980.pdf) case where targeted individuals would have to go to the “target zone”, NOW they simply step out of their home and they are in the “target zone”, making difficult if not damn near impossible to even walk down the block. Hence, the gentrification and displacement of youth and families goes into effect. The goal of the cops is to make life so extremely unbearable that you are, 1. Forced to stay in the house where nobody can see you. 2. Arrested and behind bars so nobody can see you, or, 3. You move to another city, where nobody can see you.
For example, for one of the gang injunctions in the city of Oxnard the police/DA/city attorney argued that the 6.6 square mile gang injunction was only 25% of the city limit. The second CGI in Oxnard encompasses a 4.5 square mile area and these cover 90-95%% of the poor and working class community with 98% population of it being of Mexican descent.
Once the politicians pat each other on the back and the cameras are gone and when the gang injunctions are approved, and increase in police misconduct, abuse, and brutality usually follow suit. Just simply look at the path of militarization the city of Oxnard embarked upon and the current state of the Oxnard Police Department and the major lawsuits and community protests against the brutality.
Voz del Pueblo is a project of Unión del Barrio in Oxnard and is a member of the Raza Press and Media Association (razapressassociation.org)