Los Angeles: Supporters of Palestinian Rights Protest Israeli Attacks on Worshipers in the Al Aqsa Mosque

11 Apr

About 200 people, supporters of Palestinian rights, mostly of college age, on Saturday, April 8, gathered outside the Consulate General of Israel, at 11766 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, and marched to the Los Angeles Federal Building, at 11000 Wilshire Blvd., a distance of about 1.1 miles and then back to the consulate to protest the most recent attacks on worshipers by Israeli police in the Al Aqsa Mosque.

About 200 supporters, Saturday, April 8, returning from the Los Angeles from the Los Angeles Federal Building arrive at the Consulate General of Israel; Video by Barry Saks.

An emailed digital flyer from Jewish Voice for Peace – Los Angeles, a self-identified ally of Palestinian rights, on Friday, April 7, the day before the protest listed the sponsoring organizations as the Palestinian Youth Movement, American Muslims for Palestine and Al-Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition.

The same flyer said, “Israeli police raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem for a second straight night on Wednesday, attacking and forcibly removing Palestinians who were praying during the holy month of Ramadan. Police deployed stun grenades and fired rubber-coated steel bullets at worshipers. On Thursday, Israeli police escorted dozens of Israeli settlers into the Al-Aqsa courtyards. Meanwhile, witnesses say Palestinian men under the age of 40 were being barred from entering the mosque.

Yesterday the Israeli military launched air strikes in the Gaza Strip, hours after rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel this afternoon.”

GAHFU Performance

2 Mar

Hundreds of people, on Sunday, Feb. 26, attended the Afro-Latinx Festival at the Museum of Latin American Art, where beside art, there were crafts, food and musical performances. Of the performances, I had the pleasure of recording some snippets of video with my iPhone SE of performers from the Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United, also known as GAHFU.

The website of GAHFU says its mission is “to serve the Garifuna-American, Caribbean-American and Central American community in the greater Los Angeles and Long Beach area, the United States and abroad through cultural education programs, outreach, advocacy and social services programs.”

The UNESCO website describes the Garifuna, as “a population of mixed origin incorporating cultural elements of indigenous Caribbean and African groups, the Garifuna settled along the Atlantic coast of Central America after being forced to flee from the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent in the eighteenth century. Today, Garifuna communities mainly live in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Belize.

The Garifuna language belongs to the Arawakan group of languages and has survived centuries of discrimination and linguistic domination. It is rich in tales (úraga) originally recited during wakes or large gatherings. The melodies bring together African and Amerindian elements, and the texts are a veritable repository of the history and traditional knowledge of the Garifuna, such as cassava-growing, fishing, canoe-building and the construction of baked mud houses. There is also a considerable amount of satire in these songs, which are accompanied by various drums and dances, which the spectators may join in.”

A View Off the Coast of Long Beach

24 Feb

I regularly in the mornings walk a little more than two miles every other day. Over the many years I’ve been walking in Long Beach, I’ve traveled many different paths, however, lately I’ve been walking south from Third Street on the Promenade toward Ocean Boulevard. I especially like walking down the Promenade because of all the trees and green growth generally on both sides of it and because for some unexplained reason, it reminds me of Copenhagen, Denmark.  At Ocean I turn left toward Alamitos Avenue. Even on a cold winter morning some times the sun will pierce through the clouds and I can feel the sun’s rays on my shoulders.

While I walk regularly, I irregularly take online journalism classes. My latest is a mobile journalism class, which relies heavily on photography, videography and social media skills all of which I would characterize myself as woefully lacking. The upshot is I’m learning by doing, like so many other things we do in life; so, be patient with me. A few days back, I used me iPhone SE camera to shoot this view near the corner of Alamitos Ave. and Ocean Blvd., looking southeast toward the ocean.

Los Angeles: Supporters of Palestinian Rights Protest Killing of 10 Palestinians in Jenin by Israeli Forces

5 Feb

About 100 people, who were supporters of Palestinian rights and who were mostly of college age, on Friday, Feb. 3, stood outside the Consulate General of Israel, at 11766 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, to protest the recent killing of 10 Palestinians in the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank by the Israeli Defense Forces.

Photo by Barry Saks.
Photo by Barry Saks, Feb. 3, 2023,

The Palestinian Youth Movement called the protest and it was supported by Stop LAPD Spying, If Not Now, Jewish Voice for Peace-LA and other organizations in Southern California.

One protester was Mark Friedman. Friedman said, “I was born Jewish. I am an atheist. I have aways supported the Palestinian movement. I’m an active member of many unions, (I’ve) been in the teachers’ union, machinists’ union.”

Many of the protesters wore a keffiyeh, which means scarf in Arabic, others carried Palestinian flags and many carried signs, with the JVP-LA logo and which read, “Palestinians Should Be Free.

A speaker from Stop LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) Spying Coalition said, “We affirm Palestinians’ right to resist and defend themselves and their land however they see fit…. (W)e see our struggle against police surveillance as intimately tied to the Palestinian struggle against Zionist colonization….Much of our work is doing collective research, using public records requests…and in the research we found records…(that) two very prominent Zionist organizations here in LA have repeatedly coordinated directly with LAPD to spy on Palestinian anti-Zionists protests. This includes protests led by the Palestinian Youth Movement, Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now.”

In response to the attack on Jenin by the Israeli Defense Forces, JVP national issued a press release that, in part, said, “On Thursday, the Israeli military launched an attack that killed ten Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp. In response, earlier today, there was a lethal attack near a synagogue in a settlement outside of Jerusalem by a Palestinian, where seven Jewish Israelis were killed. Already in 2023, the Israeli army has killed almost 30 Palestinians. This is the inevitable, horrifying, outcome of decades of Israeli apartheid. 


Feb. 3, 2023 Outside Israeli Consulate

Supporters of Abortion Rights March in Long Beach

23 Jan

About 300 people, who were mostly women, marched in downtown Long Beach, as part of the protests in dozens of cities across the United States and dubbed “Bigger than Roe” by the organizers, on Jan. 22, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade, which the Supreme Court overturned last year.

The supporters of abortion rights marched from Victory Park, 448 E. Ocean Blvd., where they heard a few speeches, to the Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse, 275 Magnolia Ave., where they heard more speeches from some local activists and many locally elected Democratic Party officials.

Newly elected U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia, who is a former mayor of Long Beach, spoke. The congressman first asked for a minute of silence in response to the murder of mostly elderly Chinese-Americans, the previous day in Monterey Park, about 30 miles north of Long Beach. The former mayor said, “(T)he Republicans in congress are absolutely insane … They are not just working every day to diminish women, to take away the rights of people. They are working to attack trans-people, to attacking young people, people who are unhoused (and) immigrants.”

Leila Byron, who was at the courthouse waiting for the marchers to arrive, said that she believed in civil rights for everyone and that women’s rights are not being respected. Byron added that while it is true the movement is focused on abortion rights, it also wants to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. Later, she said, “I believe women’s rights should be nonpartisan.”  Byron said her mother, who was born in Lebanon and died last year, said her mother was secular and was pro-choice.

The march was organized by Long Beach / Orange County Women Rising.

Long Beach: LBAPN Marches in Solidarity with Ukraine

10 Apr

About a dozen people, who were mostly self-identified members of the Long Beach Area Peace Network, marched in the Belmont Shore neighborhood of Long Beach, California on Friday, April 8, in solidarity with Ukraine.

Some of the marchers carried little blue and yellow Ukrainian flags and other marchers passed out flyers, which stated LBAPN’s position on the Russian-Ukraine war to people passing them on the crowded sidewalk.

The marchers gathered near the corner of Corona Ave. and East Second St. One marcher near the corner was Naida Tushnet, a longtime LBAPN activist. Regarding the tension between unconditional support for self-determination for Ukraine and LBAPN’s opposition to a no-fly zone and to providing U.S. arms to the Ukrainians, Tushnet said she opposed the no-fly zone to avoid a nuclear war with Russia. Tushnet, who is also a longtime activist in the local Democratic Party, said, “We want to end the (U.S.) military-industrial complex is part of the issue that we (LBAPN) is trying to get at…in the statement.”

Naida Tushnet, longtime LBAPN and local Democratic Party activist, Friday, April 8, holds flyers to be passed out during the march;; Photo by Barry Saks.

A short while before marching, Dennis Korteuer, who taught history at Cal State University Long Beach and now a pro-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel) activist, read the LBAPN position statement to the crowd. After Korteuer, Tushnet, spoke briefly explained they would march to Bayshore Ave. and East Second St., would cross Second St. and walk back on the other side of the street toward where they originally started.

LBAPN’s position states, “The Long Beach Area Peace Network … believes the current crisis in Ukraine will not be solved through military means but must be solved through diplomacy, including all parties equally. 

“We believe in the Ukrainian people’s right to self (-) determination.

“We recognize the dangers posed by the presence of multiple nuclear power plants in Ukraine and their vulnerability to military attacks. 

“We urge against creating a “no-fly zone.”  This will only draw the United States and NATO allies into what could quickly become World War III and lead to mass destruction on an international scale.

“We urge no support of the (U.S.) military-industrial complex through sales of U.S. arms to Ukraine.

“We call on the United States to divest financially from Russia.

“The United States must help rebuild Ukraine as soon as possible.”

“The United States and the United Nations must support the current medical, nutritional, shelter, and other needs of the Ukrainian people during the invasion of their land.

“We recognize the current and ongoing refugee crises in the world, frequently caused by U. S. actions and policies that involve people of color and the level of hypocrisy evident in the rush to support Ukrainian refugees while we deny the same rights to refugees of color. Support for refugees must mean support for ALL (sic) refugees.”

Barry Saks’s wife, Marlene Alvarado, is on the steering committee of LBAPN.

On April 16, the story was corrected by adding the words: “(U.S.) military-industrial” in the fifth paragraph of the LBAPN statement,

Long Beach: VFP, SCIC, LBAPN, MFSO Celebrate Armistice Day

14 Nov
Antonio Palacios, of Veterans for Peace, speaks at Armistice Day, on Nov. 11 about his experience in the Navy; Photo by Barry Saks

About 50 people, many of whom were veterans, celebrated Armistice Day, instead of Veterans Day, on Thursday, Nov.11, to “(r)eclaim Armistice Day,” according to a Veterans for Peace flyer by gathering at Valparaiso Plaza, 2100 E. Ocean Blvd., hearing speakers and marching to the Lone Sailor Memorial at 3000 E. Ocean Blvd., where they heard more speakers.

Veterans for Peace, Long Beach Area Peace Network, Military Families Speak Out and the South Coast Interfaith Council primarily sponsored the celebration. SCIC was well-represented with many speakers from the local faith-based community.

Antonio Palacios, representing Veterans for Peace, was a speaker at Valparaiso Plaza, served in the Navy. Palacios characterized himself as “a smart, hard-working, ambitious, brown kid from La Puente, California.” He joined the Navy anticipating to use his service as a means of paying for college. While serving, a Master Chief Petty Officer took a liking to him. However, the Master Chief’s liking turned into sexual harassment, which traumatized him. Eventually Palacios was discharged early under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Palacios expressed his ambivalence when people expressed their gratitude for his service. He said, “I don’t know how to accept it. I don’t know how to hear those words and feel normal. I don’t know how to casually reply with a ‘Thank You’ without feeling something sticks to me that I don’t want to feel… I don’t know how I can accept the fact that over a million Iraqis are dead now… I don’t know how I can accept a ‘Thank you for your service’ in relation to this.”

Pat Alviso, National Coordinator of Military Families Speak Out, speaks on Armistice Day, Nov. 11, about her son’s wartime experience; Photo by Barry Saks

Pat Alviso, the National Coordinator of MFSO, spoke at Lone Sailor Memorial. She said, “Earlier I said Nov. 11 is painful (for) me as I’m sure it is to other victims of war because I still can’t look away from all the faces of the young recruits (that) I have to witness at the endless color-guard ceremonies going on today and I flash back to my 18-year-old son’s innocent face as he was marching off to a war which he actually thought would be helping the Afghan people… Instead, he returned, like so many others completely demoralized because he ended up knocking down the doors of the homes of terrorized families, mostly women and children, and getting flipped off by those very same children.”

Alviso also said her son was redeployed five more times and now suffers from traumatic brain injury, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), chronic back and neck injury and hearing loss.

The same flyer, titled “Help Us Celebrate Armistice Day 2021,” said, in part, “Over 100 years ago the world celebrated peace as a universal principle. The first World War had just ended and nations mourning their dead collectively called for an end to all wars. Armistice Day was born and was designated as ‘a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated’.

“After World War II, the U.S. Congress decided to rebrand November 11 as Veterans Day. Honoring the warrior quickly morphed into honoring the military and glorifying war. Armistice Day was flipped from a day for peace into a for displays of militarism.”

Barry Saks was a member of MFSO.

SoCal Sunrise Movement Rallies to Stop Oil Drilling

12 Oct

About 100 people, on Monday, Oct. 11., mostly Sunrise Movement youth activists, rallied outside of the Wells Fargo Bank Building in Long Beach to demand “an END (sic) to offshore drilling, according to a Sunrise Movement Orange County webpage event announcement, while inside the building were the offices of Beta Offshore, the firm that ran the failed pipeline, causing, the oil spill, in early October off Huntington Beach in Orange County.

Josiah Edwards, 21, spokesperson for Sunrise Movement Los Angeles speaks, Monday, Oct. 11, at rally to end oil drilling; Photo by Barry Saks

One speaker at the rally was Josiah Edwards, the spokesperson from Sunrise Movement Los Angeles. Edwards, 21, said, “(W)e understand that our generation is going to be the one that inherits the world of climate catastrophe and climate disaster. We are in the frontlines of this crisis simply by the nature of our age. We are put at risk by the exploitation that is perpetuated against black and brown folks, indigenous folks, young people and poor and working-class folks because corporations, like, … Beta Offshore and Amplify Energy … believe it’s alright to take advantage of us young people, to take advantage of black and brown folks, to take advantage of poor folks….We are the generation on fire because these  people set us on fire, in the same way they set this state on fire, in the same way they our oceans on fire, in the same they set our communities on fire, they put us on fire… And now we are burning of flame of a generation that will continue to fight and make sure that we put an end to all offshore drilling and we put an end to the fossil fuel industry.”

Kenny Allen, 28, who is the Hub Coordinator for of the Sunrise Movement Long Beach, a couple of hours before the rally, by email, said, regarding the demographic makeup of the Sunrise Movement, “(F)rom my experience a majority of our organizers are high-schoolers, college-age students, and recent college graduates. Like most social justice movements, our movement is made up of a majority femme-identified (according to Wikipedia, a term, which ‘is most often a term used to describe a lesbian who exhibits a feminine identity. It is sometimes also used by feminine gay men, bisexuals, and transgender individuals.’) people.”

Dean Toji, who characterized himself as a member of 350.org Long Beach, on Oct. 5, by email, said, “Oil pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure is leaking and spilling all of the time, all across the country and the world. It’s a regular part of their operations.

Toji, who taught Asian-American Studies and Environmental Science and Policy at California State University Long Beach, added, “But even if there’s not an ‘accident,’ think about what happen. The oil goes to the refineries, where it poisons the air breathed by people in West Long Beach, Wilmington and Carson and in Torrance.  Then the processed fuel goes to trucks, cars and ships, as diesel fuel, gasoline and bunker fuel, producing more air pollution and also greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Fossil fuels have to be ended, along with program of just transition for workers in the industry and the surrounding communities.”

According to the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, Beta Offshore is an oil and gas producer at 111 W. Ocean Blvd., Suite 1240, “operate(ing) three offshore platforms (Ellen, Elly and Eureka, according to Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement) …12 miles south of Long Beach (in Federal waters)” and is “a division of Amplify Energy Corp.”

Allen, at the Long Beach City Council meeting of Tuesday, Oct. 5, said, “This past weekend, another pipeline did what pipelines everywhere are just about guaranteed to do. It burst. This time it was a pipeline in our own backyard connecting the Long Beach oil platform, named Elly to inland operations. The results have been devastating…This Council body is complicit in this spill… I’ve watched you sacrifice the air I breathe, our sacred wetlands and the future of my generation for too long.”

The Orange County Sunrise Movement event announcement also “strongly encouraged” people to comply with local mask mandates and to wear a mask. It also reminded people “outside of Sunrise” that Sunrise believes “in-nonviolent, direct action.”

Sunrise Movement activists on Monday, Oct. 11, demand the end to oil drilling; Photo by Barry Saks

Long Beach Marches for Women’s Reproductive Rights

2 Oct
About 500 marchers gathered in Harvey Milk Promenade Park on Saturday, Oct. 2 to defend women’s reproductive rights, after marching less than a mile from the County of Los Angeles, Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse in downtown Long Beach; Photo by Barry Saks

About 500 people in Long Beach, as part of more than 600 events across the U.S. the Women’s March National initiated, on Saturday, Oct. 2, marched and rallied downtown for women’s reproductive rights, in response to recent anti-abortion laws in Texas and Mississippi.

The marchers started on their less-than-a-mile march at the Los Angeles County, Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse, 275 Magnolia Ave. From the courthouse, they walked on the sidewalk south toward Ocean Boulevard. From Ocean they turned east toward The Promenade North. From there, they went north toward Harvey Milk Promenade Park, 185 E. Third St., where they heard music and speakers, many of whom were locally elected officials.

Molly Watson, of the California Black Women’s Democratic Club, emceed at the rally at the courthouse and at the park. At the courthouse, Watson led call-and-response chants: Watson shouted, “My Body” and crowd responded with “My decision;” Watson shouted, “Abortion” and the crowd yelled, “Justice.” Another chant consisted of the call of “Hands off” with the response of “My body.”

After the chants, Watson said, “I would be remiss to not go ahead and pay attention to the disparities that we see every single day in particularly here Long Beach as well. We know that black women, brown women, indigenous women have higher rates of death, complications when they are pregnant, when they give birth. We know that access to affordable healthcare is not there for everybody. We know that reproductive rights for a very long time has been a white women’s issue and there are lot of us here who are ready to take a lot of that back. It’s about all of us.”

Emcee Molly Watson (Left), of the California Black Women’s Democratic Club and former 2nd District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce (Right) stand together on Oct. 2, before the next speaker reaches the podium at the Long Beach rally for women’s reproductive rights; Photo by Barry Saks.

In a press release of Sept. 24, from the Long Beach March for Reproductive Rights, former 2nd District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce, said, “The current attacks on women’s reproductive rights are one part of the efforts to suppress the voices of women and people of color. Suppressing voices is clearly an example of oppression. I urge Congress to act to ensure women remain in control of their bodies. Women refuse to be victims of state oppression. We stand together to make sure we retain control of our bodies and our lives.”

On Sept. 28, Christina Sergy, who characterized herself as a host of the march, in an email, said, “We are so proud to see Long Beach come together so quickly to send a message that Congress must pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (The act codifies the right to an abortion in every state.) and the EACH Act to end the Hyde Amendment (The amendment bans federal funding for abortion except for rape, incest or threat to a women’s life, according to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund).”

According to the “Press-Telegram” of Sept. 29, the march was planned by The Women of Long Beach Political Action Committee, the North Pine Neighborhood Alliance and the Long Beach Resister Sisters.

According to the same press release of Sept. 24, the march was sponsored by Mayor Robert Garcia, Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, Councilmembers: Cindy Allen and Suely Saro, the Democratic Women’s Study Club, the Long Beach Young Democrats, the Long Beach Gray Panthers, Planned Parenthood, the National Association of Social Workers California Chapter, the California Working Families’ Party and the Yes We Can Democratic Club.

Sexual Assault, Drugging Allegations Follow JP23 Restaurant, Bar and Nightclub from Fullerton to Long Beach

13 Sep

About 15 people stand with their signs and chant near the southeast corner of Pine Avenue and Broadway in Long Beach on Saturday, Sept. 11, to demand the closing of the Long Beach location of JP23 Restaurant, Bar and Nightclub; Photo by Barry Saks.

About 15 protesters, near the southeast corner of Pine Avenue and Broadway, in downtown Long Beach, on Saturday, Sept. 11, stood with their signs and chanted, demanding the closure of the Long Beach JP23 location in solidarity with Samantha Velasquez, who alleged she had been drugged at the Fullerton nightclub, on Sunday, Aug.1, and sexually assaulted after leaving.

Among the protesters was Ron Feldman. Feldman said he heard about the protest from the Instagram account of the Democratic Socialists of America – Long Beach. He said he followed up by reading online news stories, like the Aug. 5 FoxLA story on the JP23 protest.

Above the heads of the protesters was the JP23 logo. The nightclub was closed.

Earlier, the protesters met at Harvey Milk Promenade Park, 185 E. Third St., where some painted signs. From the park, they walked to the protest.

The JP23 website, before the protest, announced its Long Beach “Grand Opening” of Friday, Sept. 3 and Saturday, Sept. 4 was postponed.

About 15 protesters gathered at and Harvey Milk Promenade Park, 185 E. Third St., Long Beach, where some painted signs on Saturday, Sept. 11, before the protest sight;; Photo by Barry Saks.