Archive | April, 2017

Protesters March in Los Angeles Against U.S. Wars

26 Apr

Antiwar Protest at Pershing Square, Los Angeles, April 2017; Photo by Barry Saks

About 25 people, many were from California for Progress and the local Green Party, marched from Pershing Square in Los Angeles, on Sunday, April 23, to the downtown Federal Building on Temple Ave. to protest the U.S. interventions in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Pakistan and Somalia.



Whether standing outside of Pershing Square on the corner of 5th and Olive Streets or marching to the Federal Building, the protesters chanted.


Stephanie Delgado, standing on the edge of Pershing Square on April 23, 2017, with her sign, protesting; Photo by Barry Saks 

One chant was “Funds for jobs and education, not for wars and occupation.”  Another was “No war in the Middle East.” A third chant was “When the Middle East is under attack, what do we do?  Stand up, fight back.”  A fourth chant was “All we are saying is give peace a chance.”  A fifth chant was “What do we want?  Peace.  When do we want it?  Now.” A sixth chant was “Love and peace, no more war in the Middle East.”  A seventh chant was “This racist war has got to go.”


Antiwar Protesters Marching Toward the Downtown Federal Building, April 23, 2017; Photo by Barry Saks

While most of the chants, addressed peace, war and its costs, the issue of immigration was, particularly raised with the chants, “No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all. No hate no fear, refugees are welcome here” and “You build a wall, we tear it down.  From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go.”


Antiwar Protesters Listening to Speakers, April 23, 2017, Outside an Entrance to the Downtown Federal Building; Photo by Barry Saks 

On arrival to one side of the Federal Building, a pro-immigrant rights rally was taking place.  The antiwar protesters, who had early chanted a couple of pro-immigrant chants, greeted the other rally by continuing their pro-immigrant chants.  After about 10 minutes, the antiwar protesters moved to another entrance to the Federal Building, where they ended their protest with more speakers and announcements.


Tania Singh Speaking, April 23, 2017, at Downtown Federal Building; Photo by Barry Saks

The idea of the protest came initially from Tania Singh, 28, who has a bachelor’s degree in political science.  Singh said she started thinking about the need to protest two or three months ago and was aware of the U. S. bombings.  She tried to get people in the Democratic Party involved, but found no interest.  At first she was going to stand on a corner by herself in her neighborhood with a sign.  She posted her desire to protest on Facebook; she heard from California for Progress and others, which wanted to do more and this is how this protest came about.  Singh said, “There has never been a time when they (the United States) go in and that place is left better than it was before….(T)here are better ways to achieve peace.”


Allie White at Pershing Square, Los Angeles, April 23, 2017; Photo by Barry Saks

One of those who encouraged Singh to build something larger was Allie White, 29, who is with California for Progress.  White characterized California for Progress as leaderless.  She pointed out her organization supports indigenous and immigrant rights.

One of those who marched was James Carter, 24.  Carter said he was a member of the Socialist Party of Los Angeles and belongs to West Angeles Church of God in Christ.  He said he was there to oppose U.S. imperialism in the Middle East and added, “Usually we (the U.S.) say we are freeing people or liberating them from some kind of dictator, but that is rarely ever the case…. But then we occupied them for two decades or so.”

Another marcher was Jimmy Rivera.  Rivera said he was “part of the Green Party.”  Rivera, like Carter, said he was opposed to the U.S. imperialist wars.


Yolanda Gonzalez, outside Pershing Square, Los Angeles, April 23, leading chants; Photo by Barry Saks

Another marcher was Yolanda Gonzalez, 56.  Gonzales said she’s a member of the Green Party and a teacher of 25 years, who teaches in a project-based-learning classroom.  Gonzalez, said, “I want to teach my students about the militarization that has been occurring in this country since its inception and that peace has to come from each one of us.”

The Facebook page for the event said, “On April 23, 2017 the people of Los Angeles unite to denounce military interventions, wars, and war crimes the United States is culpable for…. (W)e unite to call for demilitarization, de-escalation, & diplomacy….We call on our human family around the world to join us in demanding a demilitarized world.”




Long Beach Marches for Science

24 Apr


Hundreds of people, many of them—teachers, scientists and students—marched on the sidewalk on Saturday, April 22, north on Atlantic from San Antonio Drive to Houghton Park in Long Beach, which was part of the marches worldwide, nationally and in California, which was self-identified as the March for Science.

The Facebook page for the Long Beach event said, “We are people who value science: scientists, educators, journalists, students, neighbors, friends, and family. We come from all races, all religions, all gender identities, all sexual orientations, all abilities, all socioeconomic backgrounds, all political perspectives, and all nationalities…What unites us is a love of science, and an insatiable curiosity. We all recognize that science is everywhere and affects everyone.”

According to the Facebook page for the national event, marches were in more than 600 cities nationally and in more than 40 cities across California.


Long Beach Unified School District Board Member Megan Kerr speaking at March for Science Rally, on April 22, in Long Beach, California; Photo by Barry Saks

An organizer of the march was Megan Kerr, who is a member of Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education.  Kerr estimated just as the march began at about 400 people.


Elaine Villanueva holding a sign before speaking on April 22, at the rally before the March for Science in Long Beach; Photo by Barry Saks

Kerr introduced Elaine Villanueva Bernal, who teaches organic chemistry at Cal State University Long Beach.  Bernal said, “Today I march because chemistry is an essential science that allows us to connect to the world around us and to each other.  It is one, of the many scientific disciplines, that enables us to see that climate change is real and chemistry empowers us to advocate for cleaner air and cleaner water.”


Lisa Martin-Hansen speaking April 22 at rally before the March for Science in Long Beach, California; Photo by Barry Saks

Next to speak was Lisa Martin-Hansen, who also teaches at CSULB.  Martin-Hansen said she was speaking officially for the Association for Science Teacher Education and the National Science Teachers Association.  She said, “When the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) tells scientists not to share data with the public, science was silenced.  When the NIH (National Institute of Health) budget is cut, it affects research that directly relates to our wellbeing.  When funding for satellites to gather climate data is no longer provided, that holds back our progress.”


Chris Lowe speaking at March for Science rally before marching on April 22 in Long Beach, California; Photo by Barry Saks

The last CSULB educator to speak was Chris Lowe, who is the Director of the Shark Lab.   Lowe said, “I’m here today to march for the ocean.  So, we have made great strides improving our ocean health.  In fact, sharks have come back….Marine mammals have come back…. and, of course, our oceans are getting cleaner…. As someone who is training the next generation…we need to be here today and we need to show that we care about science.”


Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia on April 22 speaking at rally for March for Science; Photo by Barry Saks 

The last to speak before the march was Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia.  The Mayor said he wanted to thank the women because they were the ones who organized the march.

One chant was “more science less silence.”  Another was “science is discovery.”


In the parking lot of Teachers Association of Long Beach, on April 22, before the March for Science; Photo by Barry Saks

Before the march, just south of Atlantic, the Teachers Association of Long Bead hosted in the union parking lot, tables, where signs could to made before walking a couple of blocks north, where the march was to begin.

Before the march, one person who took the local bus to San Antonio and Atlantic and then walked south to the TALB parking lot was Domenica Coronel.  Coronel, who is 35 and a Licensed Vocational Nurse, said science is fundamental because “It’s in everything, it’s in medicine, it’s in technology.”  Coronel said this was not her first march and she had been at the Women’s March in Los Angeles.  She said people had to wake up, we need to hold our government account and ended that the future scares her.


Friends, Nancy Patterson and Anne Wright, on April 22, in the Teachers Association of Long Beach parking lot before the March for Science; Photo by Barry Saks 

Another marcher in the TALB parking lot was Anne Wright, 51, who said she is an unemployed secretary and lives in Long Beach.  Wright said she was scared of Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education, wanting to make public education heavily involved with fundamentalist Christianity.  With Wright was her longtime friend, Nancy Patterson, 52, who said she is a social worker.  She said she lives in the city Orange and drove over in her hybrid car.  Patterson said she doesn’t usually go to demonstrations, but she thought this one was important enough for her to be at.  Patterson said she was partly influenced as a child by the television program, Cosmos, with Carl Sagen, and now reads Scientific American.

Another person in the TALB parking lot was Nrapendra Prasad, 72.  Prasad, who lives in Newport Beach, said he is a scientist.  Prasad, who said he became a U.S. citizen for at least 45 years, said he has a Doctor’s degree in entomology, however, now he is a photographer.  He said, “We have one planet and we need to save this planet…People don’t realize that we have clean air, clean water and clean cars.  It’s all because of science.  It’s not because some religious propaganda.”  He said he’s not political but this last election changed his mind that he had to come out.

Barry Saks has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Cal State College at Long Beach, now CSULB.

Long Beach City Council Pulls Proposal for Rental Application Credit Check Reform

20 Apr

Outside of City Hall, at a rally to urge the Long Beach City Council on Tuesday, April 18, to proclaim the third Wednesday of April, yearly, as Renters Day, Jorge Rivera, the Program Director of Long Beach Residents Empowered, local renters’ rights organization, announced the other agenda item on the council, called the Rental Application Credit Report Reform, was pulled from the agenda, without stating his source, because of pressure from the Apartment Association of Southern California Cities and from some property owners.

The agenda item which was pulled was sponsored by 2nd District Councilwoman Jeanine Pearce, 7th District Councilman Roberto Uranga, and Vice Mayor and 9th District Councilman Rex Richardson.

If the agenda item passed, it would have required the City Manager to work with the Department of Development Services, housing groups and property owners to draft a report on streamlining and making the rental credit check more affordable through a third-party, which would be presented in 60 to 90 days.

Rivera, after his announcement, urged the crowd to tell the City Council that they needed credit check reform.

Daryl Supernaw, who represents the 4th District, in an email after the meeting, said, “I have absolutely no knowledge of any such allegation nor any idea of why the item was pulled from the agenda.”

Celina Luna, who is the Chief of Staff for 7th District Councilman Roberto Uranga, in an email after the meeting, said, Councilman Uranga has had no communication with either the Apartment Association of California Southern Cities or with Better Housing  for Long Beach.

Alyssa Gutierrez, who is the Business and Community Relations Manager for Vice Mayor and 9th District Councilman Rex Richardson, in an email after the meeting, said, “Vice Mayor Richardson’s wife just delivered their second child this morning, which is why he was not at the council meeting last night” and added, “Vice Mayor Richardson was not the sponsor of the item. He is in no position to pull or withdraw the proposal. This item was brought to council by Councilmember Jeannine Pearce’s office, and pulled by Councilmember Pearce’s office.”

Joani Weir, who is the President of Better Housing for Long Beach, said she volunteers her time for the organization.  She didn’t deny Better Housing for Long Beach lobbied to pull the item off of the agenda.  Weir, who admitted she is a property owner and manages her rental units herself, said she and other members of her organization were concerned about the liability associated with credit checks because of personal information being confidential.  She said, “Me personally, I get my credit reports done with one agency and I wouldn’t want to move from one agency to different agency and have them hold all of my prospective tenants’ credit reports.  So yes, we weren’t in favor of the 90-day credit report having (the Apartment Association of California) Southern Cities holding all the credit reports.”

Josh Butler, who is the Executive Director of Housing Long Beach and who said his salary is $60,000 each year before benefits, said, “Items are regularly pulled from the agenda and this item will come back and Housing Long Beach looks forward to that conversation.”

The vote on making the third Wednesday April, Renters Day passed 7-0, with 5th District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo and Vice Mayor Richardson absent.

The Apartment Association of Southern California Cities was not available for comment.  Mayor Garcia, 1st District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, 2nd District Councilwoman Jeanine Pearce, 3rd District Councilwoman Suzie Price, 5th District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo, 6th District Councilman Dee Andrews and 8th District Councilman Al Austin were also not available for comment.




California Senate Bill 562, Healthy California: An Analysis

17 Apr
California Senate Bill 562, which was amended on March 29 and which Senators Ricardo Lara (Democrat, 33rd District) and Toni Atkins (Democrat, 39th District) introduced as an intent bill, on Feb. 17, is now known as the Healthy California (HC) Act.  The amended bill now lists Senators Allen, Galgiani, McGuire and Skinner, all Democrats, as coauthors.  It also now lists Assembly members Bonta, Chiu, Friedman, Nazarian and Thurmond, all Democrats, also as coauthors.

While before being amended the bill stated that it was the Legislature’s intent “to … establish a comprehensive universal single-payer health care coverage program and a health care cost control system for the benefit of all residents of the state,” the amended bill adds that “(i)t is further the intent of the Legislature to establish the Healthy California (HC) program to provide universal health coverage for every Californian based on his or her ability to pay and funded by broad-based revenue.”  Other than stating that “(i)t is the intent of the Legislature for the state to work to obtain waivers and other approvals relating to Medi-Cal, the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicare, the PPACA, and any other federal programs so that any federal funds and other subsidies that would otherwise be paid to the State of California, Californians, and health care providers would be paid by the federal government to the State of California and deposited in the Healthy California Trust Fund,” no further discussion of funding is provided as amended.

The amended bill states, “Every resident of the state shall be eligible and entitled to enroll as a member under the program” and that “(c)overed health care benefits under the program include all medical care determined to be medically appropriate by the member’s health care provider.”

It lists the benefits as licensed inpatient and outpatient medical and health facility services; inpatient and outpatient professional health care provider medical services; diagnostic imaging, laboratory services, and other diagnostic and evaluative services; medical equipment, appliances, and assistive technology, including prosthetics, eyeglasses, and hearing aids and the repair, technical support, and customization needed for individual use; inpatient and outpatient rehabilitative care; emergency care services and transportation; necessary transportation for health care services for persons with disabilities or qualify as low income; child and adult immunizations and preventive care; health and wellness education; hospice care; care in a skilled nursing facility; home health care or provided in an assisted living facility; mental health services; substance abuse treatment; dental, vision, pediatric, prenatal, postnatal, podiatric and  chiropractic care; prescription drugs; and acupuncture.

Additionally it lists therapies that are shown by the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health to be safe and effective; blood and blood products; dialysis; adult day care; rehabilitative and “habilitative (sic)” services; ancillary health care or social services previously covered by county integrated health and human services programs; ancillary health care or social services previously covered by a regional center for persons with developmental disabilities; case management and care coordination; language interpretation and translation for health care services, including sign language and Braille or other services needed for people with communication barriers; health care and long-term supportive services now covered by Medi-Cal or the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); covered benefits for members shall also include all health care services required to be covered under any of the following provisions: the state’s CHIP, Medi-Cal, the federal Medicare program, health care service plans pursuant to the Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act of 1975, health insurers, as defined in Section 106 of the Insurance Code, any additional health care services authorized to be added to the program’s benefits by the program and all essential health benefits mandated by the Affordable Care Act as of January 1, 2017.

Regarding governance, the amended bill will create an independent 9-member board to govern the “Healthy California” program.  The nine members are all appointed.  The California governor will appoint four, which the Senate must confirm.  The Senate Rules Committee will appoint two.  The Assembly Speaker will appoint two.  The California Health and Human Services Secretary, who the California governor also appoints, will serve as an ex-officio member and his or her appointee will have a vote.  All are appointed for four years except for the ex officio member.  Regarding the appointments, the amended bill states that each appointee “shall have demonstrated acknowledged expertise in health care,” that the “(a)ppointing shall also consider the expertise of the other members of the board and attempt to make appointments so that the board’s composition reflects a diversity of expertise in the various aspects of health care, and that among the appointees that “(a)t least one representative (be) of a labor organization representing registered nurses,” that “(a)t least one representative (be) of the general public,” that “(a)t least one representative (be) of a labor organization” and “(a)t least one representative of the medical provider community.”

Besides the amended bill stating that the 9-appointed-member board will govern the program, the amended bill states, “The Secretary of California Health and Human Services shall establish a public advisory committee to advise the board on all matters of policy for the program.”

The amended bill also states that “any state or local agency, or a public employee acting under color of law shall not provide or disclose to anyone, including, but not limited to, the federal government any personally identifiable information obtained, including, but not limited to, a person’s religious beliefs, practices, or affiliation, national origin, ethnicity, or immigration status for law enforcement or immigration purposes” and that “law enforcement agencies shall not use Healthy California moneys, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to investigate, enforce, or assist in the investigation or enforcement of any criminal, civil, or administrative violation or warrant for a violation of any requirement that individuals register with the federal government or any federal agency based on religion, national origin, ethnicity, or immigration status.”

The amended bill defines a carrier as “either a private health insurer holding a valid outstanding certificate of authority from the Insurance Commissioner or a health care service plan, as defined under subdivision (f) of Section 1345 of the Health and Safety Code, licensed by the Department of Managed Health Care”and states, “(a)carrier may not offer benefits or cover any services for which coverage is offered to individuals under the program, but may, if otherwise authorized, offer benefits to cover health care services that are not offered to individuals under the program.”

The text of the amended bill may be found here.


Local Christian-Faith-Based Clergy and Other Supporters of Warehouse Workers Show Their Support for the Teamsters Union in Front of California Cartage

13 Apr


Dozens of people, from the faith-based Christian community and other allies of the Teamsters union, prayed and walked in procession carrying a large wooden cross on Tuesday, April 16, in the “Stations of the Cross at the Port,” at seven sites near the warehouse and trucking facilities in Wilmington of the California Cartage Company, likening Christ’s crucifixion to the working conditions and management’s alleged mistreatment of the port’s warehouse workers.

Clergy and Laity for Economic Justice (CLUE) organized the event.  Each site represented two of the 14 stations with the last site being used to present management a letter stating the grievances the workers had with the company.


Rev. Scott Fritz; Photo by Barry Saks

At the first site, Rev. Scott Fritz of Trinity Lutheran Church, welcomed those present and linked the crucifixion to support of the warehouse workers by saying, “Today we gather to commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. At the same time, we proclaim the modern-day wounds and injustice that workers at the ports experience daily.”  Rev. Fritz then introduced Rev. Michael Eagle of Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church Long Beach.


Rev. Michael Eagle; Photo by Barry Saks

Rev. Eagle introduced the first two stations and echoed Rev. Fritz’s linking the crucifixion with support for the warehouse workers.  Then Rev. Eagle introduced Manuel Rios, who told his story as a port driver.  Rios spoke in Spanish.  Grecia Lopez-Rios, who is on CLUE staff, translated for Rios.


Manuel Rios; Photo by Barry Saks

Rios said he had worked at K & R, which is one of the subsidiaries of California Cartage, for 23 years.  He said (as an owner-operator,) he was responsible for paying for all the costs for his rig, those costs were deducted from his pay and he never received overtime, workers compensation or health insurance, in which he worked 14 hours each day.  He added management was disrespectful to the drivers by humiliating them; if the drivers complained about the humiliation, management would prevent the drivers from working for two or three days; and when the union was trying to recognized, management threatened to close the warehouse if the workers unionized.

At each of the other stations except for the last two, the Christian-faith-based leaders linked the crucifixion to support of the warehouse workers.  Besides the Christian-faith-based leaders showing their solidarity, Alicia Morales from the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition and Ann Burdette, who identified herself as a parishioner at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church of Long Beach and active in Long Beach United spoke briefly declaring their solidarity with the warehouse workers.

At the last two stations, CLUE led a delegation of the Christian-faith-based leaders and other union supporters into California Cartage, which was the same entrance workers leave or enter when a shift changes, to deliver a letter to management, stating CLUE’s support for union rights and the alleged violation of labor laws by California Cartage.


Bishop Bonnie Radden; Photo by Barry Saks

Bishop Bonnie Radden, of the Refiner’s Fire Fellowship United Church of Christ, was the spokeswoman for the delegation.  She stated the delegation was there to discuss the injustices that have occurred to the workers and “we know these workers will triumph.”  When leaving, several of the clergy, including Bishop Radden, said to the workers coming in that they were there to support them.  The delegation left chanting, “The workers united will never be divided.”


Javier Rodriguez dragging the Cross; Photo by Barry Saks

One participant was Javier Rodriguez, who identified himself as an organizer for the Teamster international.  Rodriguez said the event was to show the clergy and the community the “poor” and “bad” conditions the workers work under, and to show the workers they have support of clergy and the community.  He estimated about one-third of the people there were either organizers for the union or supporters who work inside.


Victor Gonzales; Photo by Barry Saks

One union supporter, who has worked at California Cartage for eight years, was Victor Gonzales, 55.  Gonzales said he took time off time from work to be there.  He said he wasn’t worried about being harassed for his pro-union activity because he is such a hard worker.  He said, “They (management) love me in there.”  He said the activist workers inside are getting support from the Warehouse Workers Resource Center.  He said because of threats to expose those who are felons or those who are undocumented and threats to close the warehouse down, the majority voted against being represented by the Teamsters.  Gonzales said by sending delegations, of from four to 20 people, to air their grievances with management during their breaks the activists have been able to win some gains like water breaks and better respectful treatment by managers to more microwave ovens.

California Cartage management was unavailable for comment.


Long Beach’s People’s State of the City Urge City Council to Support Their Issues

8 Apr

Crowd on the ground level at People’s State of the City, April 5; Photo by Barry Saks

Hundreds of people sat in the pews on the ground level and in the balcony of the First Congregation Church in downtown Long Beach in the evening of Wednesday, April 4, to hear and see speakers, videos and dramatizations regarding issues Long Beach residents face and confront, such as police killings of young men of color, gentrification, ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids, struggles by hotel workers and port drivers, and struggles around education by students and parents.

The press release for the event said Long Beach Rising organized the event and characterized Long Beach Rising as a coalition of organizations focused on promoting civic participation, voter engagement, and organizing among communities historically marginalized from the political process.


Staged potest, April 5, at State of City; Photo by Barry Saks

The evening program began with about 20 young people marching in a circle in front of the audience chanting are carrying signs, as if they were at a protest.  While they aimed some of their anger toward the President by chanting “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go,” they included two other chants, one indicating their solidarity with “Black Lives Matter” and another indicating their solidarity with women’s reproductive freedom.

Some of the young people spoke individually.  While one referred to Hillary Clinton and said she would have a better president the Trump, others raised the need for people who are new to activism to continue.   They ended with the chant, “The people United will never be divided.”


Emcees Victor Espinoza and Yunique. on April 5, at People’s State of the City; Photo by Barry Saks

The emcees were Yunique Pettigrew and Victor Espinoza.  They introduced the Rev. Elena Larssen, the Senior Minister of the First Congregation Church.  The Reverend welcomed everybody.

A video was next shown, which started with a quoting the Mayor Robert Garcia, where he said he would defend the rights of the people of Long Beach.  It then highlighted the efforts to get the City Council to address sexual harassment of hotel workers by passing Claudia’s Law and to create affordable housing, and to spend more money on youth programs; it also highlighted the marches of Black Lives Matter regarding police killings and the organizing efforts of port drivers.


Amber-Rose Howard and Maria Lopez, April 5, at People’s State of the City; Photo by Barry Saks

Amber-Rose Howard presented the People’s State of the City.  Howard said that she grew up in Pomona in a poor Black and Brown community and was a focused student.  By the time, she was a high school senior, she said, she had lost her mother and sister, and a month after her eighteenth birthday she was in prison for committing a felony.  After being released, she said she was determined to succeed.  She worked 40 hours a week, went to school fulltime and stayed connected with her community.  She said even after doing everything right, she still continued to face barriers and realized that she had to dedicate her life for people’s rights and for fighting for social justice.  She said her father worked hard and sacrificed himself for his family, but like her faced the same systematic barriers.

She said while some people get ahead, most don’t because of systemic barriers—like low paying jobs, poor housing, toxic air, abuse and discrimination that prevents them from succeeding.  Howard said what makes tonight exciting is we’re moving into action to change the odds for everyone.  She pointed out a couple of the local victories—getting the minimum wage raised to $15 per hour and getting the City Council to allocate $700,000 to fight wage theft.  Howard said, “Tonight we renew that call to our City Council and ask them to stand up for working families.”

She, then, highlighted the need for safe and affordable housing, and the need for renter protections.  She talked about the polluted drinking water in west Long Beach and the expansion of Tesoro Refinery, as examples of environmental racism.  She said that we stand in solidarity with Don’t Waste Long Beach and reiterated the need for the City Council to pass Claudia’s Law.

Howard brought attention to activity in the Long Beach Unified School District, such as the youth-led “Every Student Matters” campaigns led by Khmer Girls in Acton and the legal-struggle by parents represented by the Uniform Complaint Procedure.  Then she introduced Maria Lopez.  They left for the audience to see and hear two dramatizations between a parent and a child.  One dealt with police killings of young black men.  The second dealt with the fear of deportations immigrants face.

Howard and Lopez returned and in response to the dramatizations, Lopez spoke.  She said, “Communities like ours have been oppressed for trying to unite and fight against racism, sexism and capitalism….Unity is the only thing that will lead us toward a true sanctuary, a sanctuary where families don’t get deported, where I don’t worry about my black brothers and sisters being killed, and where all workers are treated with dignity and respect.”

Before the evening’s program, a community fair was held, where about 30 local organizations with their volunteers had set up informational tables to engage community members.

One volunteer was Annika Swenson, 28, standing behind a table for Long Beach 350, which according to a flyer is a group of residents “with a passion for climate justice table.”  Swenson said she lives in the northeast of Long Beach, near Lakewood.  She said she has been with Long Beach 350 about four months and that she has volunteered in the past to do beach cleanups and trash collections.  Swenson said, “I think events like this are important because they bring a pretty-wide variety of groups together and so that we can learn about other people’s interests and things they care about and learn how we can collaborate together.”

Another person who had volunteered to be at the table for Long Beach 350 was Sean Kearns, 29.  Kearns said he lived in Long Beach from 2009 to 2011, but now lives in Redondo Beach and studies Political Science at Cal State University Long Beach (CSULB).  Kearns said it was his first time at the Peoples State of the City and was interested in Housing Justice and Environmental Justice.  He said he had previously volunteered his time with Housing Beach and East Yards Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ).


Taylor Thomas of East Yards Communities for Environmental Justice Outside at the Community Fair, April 5, before People’s State of the City; Photo by Barry Saks

Meanwhile, Taylor Thomas, who is also a CSULB student said, “I’m here to get folks to come out to the People’s Climate March, in Wilmington, on April 29 (Saturday) at Banning Park.  We want to center front-line communities, communities of color (and) low-income communities in the climate discussion because they are the ones most impacted by climate change.”


Bobbie Ferencsik Sitting with her Sign at the Community Fair, April 5; Photo by Barry Saks

Four people were sitting with signs.  Holding one in front of her was Bobbie Ferencsik.  Sitting with Ferencsik were Margaret Hennessey and Elizabeth Cino, both of whom identify with the Gray Panthers.  With her sign in front and wearing a line-green sweater, Cino indicated they lived at Plymouth West, which is about a block away from the church on Chestnut Ave.  Cino said she was 74 said she has lived in Long Beach since 1956.  She said, “There are (sic) not enough low-rent housing for seniors from HUD (Housing and Urban Dcvelopment) program.  They’re just not available” and added that costs for rental units locally are now thousands of dollars each month.

The event’s press release added the coalition’s member organizations include A New Way of Life Re-entry Project, All Of Us Or None, Anakbayan Long Beach, Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach, California Faculty Association Long Beach Chapter, Don’t Waste Long Beach, End Oil, Filipino Migrant Center, Housing Long Beach, Khmer Girls in Action, Latinos in Action California, The LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, Long Beach Area Peace Network, Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, The Long Beach Time Exchange, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, the Participatory Budgeting Project  and Unite Here Local 11.



Crowd, April 5, at People’s State of the City; Photo by Barry Saks