Meet the Black Organizing Project

Over the next few months we’ll be highlighting some of the groups that are working with Oakland Alliance to take power for the people in the 2016 elections. First up: Black Organizing Project, or BOP. BOP has been instrumental in our early organizing efforts and played a leadership role in our November electoral strategy forum. In their own words:

The Black Organizing Project is a Black member-led organization working for racial, social, and economic justice through grassroots organizing and community building. We work for meaningful policy change and develop Black leaders in the Bay Area.  Most of all we believe in transformative leadership that challenges us to think of new alternatives that allow us to dream of a world free of state violence. Our campaign focus has been on the  criminalization and mass incarceration of Black people, specifically as it relates to the school to prison pipeline. We believe that the presence of police does not equal safety. We have always been committed to removing police from schools, and have won several reforms that limit the power and role of police in schools which include:
  1. A  Police Complaint Policy and Procedure that allows students, parents, teachers and community members to report any complaints against the Oakland School Police Department.
  2. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Oakland Police department and OUSD that limits the role of Oakland Police that were placed in school OUSD the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant.
  3. A school board policy that defines the role of administration vs police in matters of school discipline and requires parent concept before questioning any Oakland Student by police.
  4. Elimination of willful defiance, a policy that disproportionately suspends Black boys and girls, criminalizing things as simple as questioning a teacher.
  5. Redistribution of  over 2 million dollars to be invested in restorative justice, prevention and mentoring programs.
Last year we demanded a cap on the police budget and were met with tremendous opposition. We will continue to pursue the goal of police divestment but it must be led by Black parents and students, even if that takes time. BOP is committed to organizing those most impacted. Funding should be invested in initiatives and programs that bring dignity to people, rather than those that criminalize as a way to control. If you want to help us these are ways you can support our work:
  1. Help with monitoring the implementation of the policies we have won in the last 3 years and,
  2. Put police removal from school campuses on the table to our school board candidates. Challenge our candidates to put real investment and value in alternatives that do not rely on policing but rather preventative programs that address the needs and lives of OUSD students, particularly Black children.
If you are interested in getting involved you can learn more about us on our website: blackorganizingproject.org or contact Organizing Director Reggie Harris Jr. at reggie@blackorganizingproject.org.

Agenda for the Electoral Strategy Forum

We have an exciting agenda for our next 2016 electoral strategy forum this Saturday, December 5th, from 1-4 pm at First AME at 530 37th St. Please take a moment to RSVP on Facebook and invite your friends. We'll be tweeting about the forum under the hashtags #YouShouldRun and #Strategy2Win2016 from @OakAllianceCA.

We'll have presentations from community groups working on ballot initiatives, talk about what makes a candidate truly radical, and we'll dive deeper into planning our electoral work district by district.

Agenda:

  • Welcome and summary of progress to date: 1 pm

Ballot Initiatives as an Organizing Strategy

  • Presentation from Oakland Rising on lessons learned from Lift Up Oakland minimum wage initiative and group discussion: 1:15 pm
  • Case study from Socialist Alternative on using a single polarizing issue to elect radical candidates: 1:30 pm
  • Presentation from Oakland Tenants Union on their plan for a ballot initiative on rent control: 1:35 pm
  • Group discussion on the approach of using a ballot initiative to motivate and organize voters: 1:50 pm

What Kind of Candidates Do We Need?

  • Group discussion on shared campaign platform for all candidates to sign on to: 2:00 pm
  • Group discussion on what makes a truly radical candidate, and what our expectations are for them: 2:25 pm

Meet Your Neighbors and Organize by District

  • Introduction and instructions for small group discussions divided by district: 2:45 pm
  • Small group discussions of assets and opportunities in each district: 2:50 pm
  • Report backs from district groups: 3:25 pm
  • Closing remarks and announcements: 3:50 pm

OA Brings Together Over 30 Organizations to Plan For 2016 Elections

On November 7, over 100 people representing more than 30 community groups, political organizations, and unions came together to begin planning for the 2016 Oakland elections. Rather than letting the progressive vote in Oakland be split between establishment candidates who fail to represent the true values and needs of Oakland communities, groups from across the Oakland left are joining forces to recruit, support, and elect our own candidates and to hold them accountable.

Representatives from the Anti Police-Terror Project, the Oakland Tenants Union, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, the Oakland Education Association, and SEIU 1021 reported on the state of struggle in Oakland around education, displacement, economic justice, public safety, civil rights, and environmental justice. We prioritized issues facing the community and discussed our experiences working with incumbent elected officials on those issues. 

The group will meet again on December 5, at 1 p.m. at the First AME Church, 3700 Telegraph Avenue, to discuss which races to prioritize, the process for selecting candidates, and developing a progressive campaign platform. We will also discuss what form the growing coalition will take going forward. Oakland Alliance seeks to unite the progressive movement in Oakland behind a slate of candidates who will challenge the institutional power structure that has failed to represent the interests of the people over the powerful.

Join OA for SPEAK OUT TO STAY PUT! An Oakland-wide Anti-Displacement Forum

Oakland is in crisis. Our rents are rising faster than any other city in the U.S. As of 2010, Oakland had lost over 25% of our Black residents to displacement - a trend that has accelerated over the last five years. Our elected leaders are either in denial or actively working to promote gentrification. Many organizations and individuals are fighting hard to stem the tide of displacement, but without elected officials who take this crisis seriously and are committed to real solutions, we lack the political will to make a real difference.

We need a new plan. We need to recruit and elect our own candidates, people who have made concrete commitments to the kind of policies we need to stop displacement - and then we need to hold them accountable to those promises. But it will take all of us, the entire Oakland left, to get it done.

Join us for an Oakland Alliance-hosted panel at Speak Out to Stay Put! An Oakland-Wide Anti-Displacement Forum on October 17th. Oakland Alliance co-chairs Carroll Fife and Dan Siegel, along with housing policy activist and OA member James Vann, will lead a workshop entitled Toward a United Front: The Impact of Politics on Displacement. This workshop will provide a historic overview of how the actions of local decision makers have directly or indirectly led to the ever-growing displacement of low income residents, particularly people of color, from the city of Oakland. We will examine the opportunities and challenges presented by the 2016 Oakland elections and work together to begin to build a plan to for electoral power of the people, for the people, and by the people.

Join us on October 17th at 11:05 am (or 9 am to catch the full event, with lots of important information and discussion on housing policy and tenants’ rights) at the West Oakland Youth Center at 3233 Market Street.

Oakland Alliance Statement on the Oakland Protest Curfew

The City of Oakland and the Oakland police unconstitutionally denied the people's right to protest on and after May 21st, 2015, interfering with a ‘Say Her Name’ march in honor of black women killed by police violence. Subsequently, on May 23rd, the Oakland Police unleashed less-lethal weapons on peaceful protesters protesting the new curfew.
Oakland's crowd control policy specifically prohibits many of the actions taken by Oakland police and their mutual aid partners on May 23rd, including arbitrary arrests, orders to the press to disperse, illegal "unlawful assembly" orders, and interference with, rather than facilitation of, the right to peacefully march. Mayor Schaaf’s protest curfew policy itself is in direct violation of agreements with the police department’s Department of Justice-assigned court monitor.

Demonstrating disregard for the city’s taxpayers, these OPD actions may well result in lawsuit settlements which could cost Oakland's taxpayers sums of money they would surely wish to spend otherwise to good cause.

Demonstrating no respect for the constitution, Oakland police arrested Oakland Alliance members on May 23rd, violating their right to peacefully assemble.

Demonstrating a callous disregard for the lives and well-being of Oaklanders the Oakland Police used homicide detectives as sidewalk enforcers on May 23rd, the same day three murders occurred in Oakland, and again on May 24th.

Therefore the Oakland Alliance denounces the actions of the Oakland Police and the City of Oakland as they relate to peaceful demonstrations on May 21st and May 23rd, 2015. We condemn Mayor Schaaf for her unconstitutional executive orders restricting the rights to free speech and to peacefully assemble, and we call for the policy to be immediately undone.

Finally, the Oakland Alliance calls on all Oaklanders to resist such policies, and to peacefully protest such policies, including, as necessary, acts of civil disobedience to make our voices clearly heard.

Hella Privacy!

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At 3:00 AM on June 3rd, the Oakland City Council unanimously passed the Oakland Alliance endorsed Domain Awareness Center (DAC) privacy policy. It also committed to the Oakland Alliance endorsed idea of establishing a city-wide Privacy Committee, whose first task will be to create a Surveillance Equipment Acquisition Ordinance.

The Privacy Policy was a year's worth of work by the Ad Hoc Privacy Committee, chaired by Brian Hofer, an Oakland Alliance member. Almost two years ago the fight against the DAC, spearheaded by the Oakland Privacy Working Group began, and a year ago the City Council voted to restrict its spying to the Port of Oakland and to not allow it to come online until a Privacy Policy had been created and passed.

A success, but this is only still the beginning of a fight for privacy, both here in Oakland and across the United States.