Immigrants around the Mission close their businesses for day of protest

from May 1, 2017 at 06:18AM

On a day workers around the world have traditionally marked as a day to protest for labor rights, immigrants have added their voices, or rather their absence, to make a point. On May 1, or May Day, many around the Bay Area and the Mission closed up shop for a day without immigrants.

“I want to support my community,” said Robert Sanchez, owner of El Taco Loco at 3274 24th St. Although Sanchez could be found inside of his business on Monday, his staff was absent, and a sign hung up in the storefront read in bold letters “Cerrado – Por Apoyar (closed – in support).”

Most of those employed with the 30-year-old business, said Sanchez, are immigrants.

The owner of El Taco Loco at 3274 24th St. said he shut down his business on May 1 to support the immigrant community. Photo by Laura Waxmann

“No hay pan, nada (There’s no bread, nothing),” said a woman walking past La Victoria Bakery at 2937 24th St.  The panaderia, nearly 70 years old, also closed its doors Monday in a show of support. Those who walked a few blocks up to try their luck at La Reyna Bakery, located at 3114 24th St., were met by locked doors and a storefront devoid of pastries.

Other neighborhood staples and legacy businesses along the 24th Street Corridor, a designated Latino Cultural District spanning roughly from Mission Street to Potrero Avenue along 24th Street, participated in the day-long action.

Signage on the entrance of Precita Eyes Muralists at 2981 24th St. stated that the local arts organization would be closed all day for “repairs and for Day with No Immigrants.” Outside of the shuttered storefront of Alley Cat Books at 3036 24th St., a poster board was decorated with the word “Resist.”

And a Coca Cola delivery truck driver who was en route to delivering inventory to Belmar La Gallinita Meat Market at the corner of 24th and Harrison streets, looked inside of the shut-down storefront, visibly puzzled.  The man snapped a photo of a poster announcing the action that was hung in the market’s storefront, before retreating to his truck.

“I didn’t realize they were closed today, but it makes sense,” he said, upon being informed about the ‘Day Without Immigrants” protest.

Taqueria Guadalajara at 3146 24th St. was closed on May 1 for “Day Without Immigrants.” Photo by Laura Waxmann

Staffed largely by immigrants, most corner stores along 24th Street also followed suit – George’s Market at the corner of Shotwell Street, Maurice’s Cornerstone at Treat and 24th Streets and Sammy’s Liquor and Groceries on Bryant Street were shut down for the day.

A sign in the window of Temo’s Cafe at the corner of 24th and Harrison streets offered would-be patrons an explanation for the business’ closure. “San Francisco and the Mission District, as well as other neighborhoods in the city, are characterized by their cultural diversity whose richness is due to their communities of immigrants who live and work there,” the sign read. “The Day Without Immigrants will be a way to express our support for these communities and to recognize them as an essential part of this city.”

Outside of Taqueria Vallarta, which was also closed for the day, a maintenance worker and a passerby could be overheard discussing the effectiveness of the protest.

I don’t think it will make a difference personally – these stores will be closed. But go up to Valencia Street and they will be open because its a more Anglo area,” said the woman, who gave her name as Carmen. “I think the Latinos [in the Mission] have to be more unified.”

At 38 percent, the Mission has the densest Latino population in San Francisco despite that proportion dropping from 50 percent since 2000. Overall, immigrants make up 35 percent of the city’s population. A more aggressive federal stance on immigration has prompted protests and marches citywide since the election, including one prior day without immigrants in February. On Monday, protesters took to the streets all over the city, including at Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters. That was followed by a march from Justin Hermann Plaza to Civic Center later in the day.

Freddy, who was overseeing repairs inside of the shuttered Taqueria Vallarta and is a friend of the owner, said he supports the business’ decision to close on the busy corridor, adding that he himself had called out of his other job as a plumber to participate in the action.

“I think its a good thing, I have friends and family who are all immigrants,” said Freddy, who is from Mexico. 

A few businesses along Valencia Street also closed their doors in protest, including Arizmendi Bakery, the Mexican goods store Casa Bonampak, and the nonprofit Dolores Street Community Services.

One woman read the notice on the door of the Mission Street felt goods store Peace Industry and remarked, “It’s good. Something’s got to change.”

“As a business founded by an immigrant, Peace Industry will be closed on Monday, May 1st to express our support for the immigrant community who is being targeted unjustly by laws that tear apart families. No business as usual,” wrote the owners of Peace Industry.

The popular Peruvian ceviche counter and restaurant Cholo Soy also remained closed Monday in support of the protest, as did bar and restaurant Cha Cha Cha.

Just a few doors away, Chely’s Beauty Salon was also shut, its windows sporting flyers encouraging immigrants to join the march.

“For the defense of immigrant rights! No to the wall, no to the anti-muslim ban!” the flyers read.

Read more at: MissionLocal

Demonstrators protest DA’s decision to exonerate officers in fatal police shooting

from April 12, 2017 at 02:37PM

Some 25 people took to the street in front of Mission Police Station on Wednesday night to protest the San Francisco District Attorney’s decision not to bring criminal charges against the two officers involved in the February, 2015 shooting of Amilcar Lopez Perez.

The decision was announced hours earlier and comes after more than two years of demonstrations and public scrutiny of the officer-involved shooting that anti-police brutality activists and some community members say was unjustified.

At 8:45 p.m., several protesters held up an 8-foot banner banner imprinted with the slain man’s image, using it to block off Valencia Street at 17th Street. Officers who had been redirecting traffic then told a reporter on site that their “time is up” and the officers began to retreat.

The protest’s organizers briefly contemplated moving the protest elsewhere, but decided to remain at Mission Station and as the demonstration continued,  so did traffic congestion at the intersection, and the officers returned by 9 p.m. to direct traffic.  Protesters could be heard chanting “indict, convict, send these killer cops to jail” and “stand with your community, end police impunity.”

“This city is for the struggle,” said one of the protesters.  Another said in reference to the District Attorney’s decision that the weekly vigils held in honor of the Perez Lopez for the past year in front of the station are likely over.

“We now are in a new phase of our struggle,” said Father Richard Smith of St. John’s Episcopal Church, who organized the vigils and spearheaded a movement calling for police accountability in the shooting. Just what they would be doing in the future was unclear.

Several passersby stopped to check in with the protesters amid the honking of passing cars – their drivers raising their fists in the air in a show of support. Others passed by the intersection in silence.

By 9:10 p.m., the group of protesters had dwindled down to about a dozen people. Those who remained locked arms and formed a human chain along a crosswalk at the intersection – in unison, the group began reciting the names of civilians who have died at the hands of law enforcement.

This is a developing story. We will update as more information comes in.

Some two dozen people gathered on the street in front of Mission Police Station to protest decision in the police shooting of Amilcar Perez Lopez. Photo by Laura Wenus

Photo by Laura Wenus

Read more at: MissionLocal

Homeless encampments are being removed but homeless remain

from January 12, 2017 at 10:16AM

Editor’s Note: This article is a project of San Francisco State University’s Latina/Latino Journalism class taught by Katynka Martinez.

Edwin Mus, a 49-year-old man originally from Guatemala, has been homeless on the streets of San Francisco for about six years. He and his dog ‘Cabezon’ live in the area around 16th and Mission streets. Photo: Marisol Cabrera

“There’s not enough room for everybody,” said 49-year-old Edwin Mus, who is known by his fellow homeless neighbors as “El Vampiro.”

Mus, originally from Guatemala, is a homeless man who has lived in the Mission for over eight years, and has been homeless six of them.

Mus used to have a family and a job, but after being stopped for a DUI and unable to pay for his $8,000 bail, he was jailed. His money and personal troubles led his wife to leave him.

He eventually found a loyal companion in his dog “Cabezon,” whom he met while dog sitting trying to earn money for food. They’ve been together since. But finding a shelter has proved difficult due to overcrowding and shelter regulations that prohibit animals from entering. Mus would rather sleep on the street than leave his dog for a warm bed.

“I can’t be without the dog. He’s the only thing I have,” said Mus. “He is the only one that makes my life happy. He is attached to me and I am attached to him too.”

Edwin Mus, a 49-year-old man originally from Guatemala, has been homeless on the streets of San Francisco for about six years. He and his dog ‘Cabezon’ live in the area around 16th and Mission streets. Photo: Marisol Cabrera

The San Francisco Point-in-Time Homeless Count has noted that despite efforts to solve the homeless problem, the city’s general homeless population actually rose slightly between 2005 (6,248) and 2015 (6,686). And in San Francisco, immigrants and people of color who are homeless have less access to housing and shelters.

Section 214 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1980 states that only certain categories of noncitizens are eligible for benefits under the housing programs. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) also states that undocumented people, unless they are “qualified aliens,” are not eligible for federal public benefits. Immigrants have faced extreme marginalization with laws that prohibit their eligibility for housing programs.

PRWORA coined the term “qualified alien” to differentiate noncitizens, who can receive federal public benefits from those who are prohibited.

The director of Homeless Services at the Mission Neighborhood Health Center, Laura Guzman, has been an advocate for immigrant homeless in San Francisco for more than a decade. Guzman has served as chair of the only shelter that offers housing for Spanish-speaking immigrants with limited access to shelters or subsidized housing from other organizations.

She says recent San Francisco propositions “Q” (which made tents on city sidewalks illegal) and “R” (which failed, but would’ve created an SFPD Neighborhood Crime Unit to respond to “quality of life” crimes, including homelessness)  only meet the needs of the wealthy in the city, and ultimately won’t resolve the city’s homeless problem.

“The neighbors that are pushing for some of these initiatives are the very people that will not allow you to build housing or shelter,” Guzman said.   

There are about 900 people currently living in encampments for whom there are no shelter beds according to Guzman.

Mus explained how he and a couple of his friends came to live in a tent in the Mission this year near 15th street, and how police forced them out of their tent.

“They came in at around 5:30 in the morning and threw everything [out],” Mus said. “They took everything from us. They threw all our dishes and clothes to the trash. That hurt me the most.”

Paul Boden, executive director of Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP), argues that the system of laws encompassing homeless immigrants and minorities are structured to criminalize people that fit both categories. He agrees that the system cannot resolve homelessness through the removal of tents.

Boden thinks these laws are designed to make residents believe that over time, homelessness will no longer be a problem because they aren’t able to see it anymore.

“You can’t have a discussion around homelessness without talking about racism, criminalization, [and] class,” said Boden. “This is that liberal pretense that ‘neoliberalism’ promotes so much. It’s: ‘We’re going to make the person you see today disappear and once that person has disappeared you’re [the community] going to figure we fixed the problem.’”

WRAP’s report “Without Housing,” which Boden presented, found that the department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) budget authority was cut by 77 percent from 1978 to 1983. Since 1983, there has been a significant increase in laws criminalizing homelessness in California. The main “offenses” that homeless people are being targeted for are sleeping, sitting or lying down and loitering.

Despite his difficulties, Mus continues to search for ways in which he can provide a better life for himself and for his companion dog.

“I’m fighting to move ahead. I’m always working anywhere,” Mus said. “Thank god right now I’m not missing much, only a roof over my head for the cold nights.”

Read more at: News – El Tecolote

Woman Handcuffed And Held Down By BART Police Suffers Miscarriage

from December 22, 2016 at 01:23AM
Woman Handcuffed And Held Down By BART Police Suffers Miscarriage
This stemmed from a widely covered incident in July in which an African American couple was detained with great force by BART police after exiting a train at Embarcadero Station, following an alleged incident of racism aboard the train. [ more › ]

Read more at: SFist

Academy Of Art, Longtime Zoning Scofflaw, Agrees To $60 Million Settlement With SF

from December 19, 2016 at 03:43AM
Academy Of Art, Longtime Zoning Scofflaw, Agrees To $60 Million Settlement With SF
"Academy of Art University and its real estate affiliates behaved for more than a decade like they were above the law," said Dennis Herrera, but "those days are over." [ more › ]

Read more at: SFist