Long Beach Students March for Their Lives

26 Mar

More than a 1,000 students, parents and their supporters, in solidarity with the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 24, rallied twice at Bixby Park, with a march in between, to end gun violence.

Student leader Kelly Chinchilla, who is a student in the Long Beach Unified School District, emceed the rally, which included speeches by student leaders and local elected officials.  Among the elected local officials who spoke were Mayor Robert Garcia, 3rd District Councilwoman Suzie Price, Long Beach Unified District President Megan Kerr and Los Angeles County 4th District Los Angeles Supervisor Janice Hahn.

Hahn told the crowd that tougher gun-control ordinances for Los Angeles County will be forthcoming, without being specific, which will limit where and what kind of gun  may be purchased and how old someone must be to purchase a gun.

Besides the speeches, there was poetry and music.

The rally’s program began with Isaiah Walker, who teaches at Wilson High School and the director of the school’s gospel choir.  Walker said he is passionate about social justice. He then sang Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come.’

Chinchilla, who is also a member of Californians for Justice, at the end of the first rally and just before the march admonished the audience to not walk in the street, to not obstruct traffic and to not engage with any counter protesters.

The marchers headed on Ocean Blvd. toward downtown.  Once downtown, they turned north toward Broadway.  On Broadway, the marchers headed back to Bixby Park.

Jennifer Allyn carrying her sign at Long Beach March for Our Lives

Jennifer Allyn, with her sign, said, “I’m marching so my kids will never text me under a desk.” Photo by Barry Saks

The audience for the second rally at the park had shrunk to about three hundred.  Again, like the first rally, student leaders from the different schools spoke or performed their poetry.  Not all the speakers at the second rally were student leaders.

Alan Lowenthal, the representative from the 47th Congressional District spoke.  Lowenthal told the audience, “This is an historic moment that we are living through…I’m just honored to be part of something that was created by students, organized by students, carried out by students and will lead the nation to change.  The last time we had a student movement like this is we stopped the Vietnam War, we changed the major civil rights of this nation to protect all.”

At the end of the second rally, Chinchilla reiterated the students’ demands: ban the sale of assault-style weapons; prohibit the sale of high-capacity magazines; and, close the gun-show loophole.

Ben Rockwell at Long Beach March for Our Lives

Long Beach resident and longtime civic activist Ben Rockwell in his wheelchair with sign, on Saturday, March 24, before the first rally; photo by Barry Saks.

Before the protest, while the student leaders were setting up, Josie Hahn, a 17-year-old student at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, said, “We are here, of course, to march for our lives because recently there has been the Parkland shooting and we want our voices to be heard that guns in schools and kids dying with gun violence is no longer OK.”  She added, “As a student at Long Beach Poly, there is always gun violence around the neighborhood.”  More particularly, she said that a couple of weeks ago, as she and others were driving to Poly, she saw on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Martin Luther King Blvd., five police cars.  She later found out that there were three shootings around the school that time.  Hahn, who said she joined the Women’s March, later as part of the first rally’s program, read one of her poems.

One supporter, who was present with her son for the first rally was Candyce Simpson, 50.  Simpson, who has been a LBUSD high school counselor for 22 years and lives in the city of Signal Hill, said, “I’m here to support students…They shouldn’t be scared to go to school…I think they’re going to make the biggest change.  It always comes from them…We don’t support them with social and emotional counseling.  We just test them more.”

Long Beach LGBTQ Community and Allies Hold Transgender Day of Remembrance

24 Nov

About 200 people gathered on Monday, Nov. 20, at Harvey Milk Promenade Park in Long Beach, at 185 E. Third St, to remember those killed in the last year due to anti-transgender hatred, by publicly reading their names aloud.

The LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) Center of Long Beach, the Human Rights Campaign, the Long Beach Imperial Court and Long Beach 1st District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez hosted the remembrance, according to the Facebook page that announced the remembrance.


Long Beach 1st District Councilwoman speaking, Monday, Nov. 20, at the Transgender Day of Remembrance; Photo by Barry Saks

According to the Center’s website, under its mission, “(t)he Center engages, empowers and advocates to achieve a more equitable society and fosters an ever-improving quality of life for the LGBTQ community.”

The HRC represents 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide, it’s the largest national LGBTQ civil rights organization and it “envisions a world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community,” according to its website.

According to the About Facebook page of the Long Beach Imperial Court, its mission is “(t)o sponsor, support and promote charitable and educational programs and efforts; to raise funds for organizations within the Long Beach Empire in particular organizations within the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning community; to promote and recognize community leaders and to shine a light on those social service organizations that offer support and overall enrichment to those in need.”


Porter Gilberg, the Executive Director of the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, emceeing, on Monday, Nov. 20, at the Transgender Day of Remembrance; Photo by  Barry Saks 

Before the names were read, Porter Gilberg, who’s the executive director of the Center, emceed. Gilberg opened the program by introducing Councilwoman Gonzalez and characterizing her as “one of the LGBTQ community’s strongest allies.”

Gonzalez said, “As we commence, you know, this beautiful night and event, it’s always so very difficult because I’ve been given a paper that show names and how people have past…It always shocks me and it is so difficult to read many of these.”

Gonzalez wasn’t the only elected official to speak.  City of Signal Hill Councilman Larry Forester followed her.  He said, “This is a very, very solemn evening.”  He added he is the president of GLBT caucus for the League of California Cities and that it published to educate people a municipal guide, “Transgender in the Workplace.”  The guide may be accessed by clicking here.


After Forester spoke, Gilberg said, “On a night where we are remembering lives lost from one of our most marginalized communities, I think it is incredibly important to acknowledge the leadership that is here tonight.”  Besides acknowledging the presence of Long Beach Councilwoman Gonzalez and Signal Hill Councilman Larry Forester, Gilberg also acknowledged the presence of Tim Patton representing Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Megan Kerr, the president of the Long Beach Unified School District, Larry Blunden, the Signal Hill City Treasurer, and Maricela Renteria de Rivera, the chair of the Long Beach Transit Board.


Anna Gerringer speaking on Monday, Nov.20, at the Transgender Day of Remembrance; Pnoto by Barry Saks

Gilberg then introduced Anna Gerringer, as a “local community member” and said that Gerringer was going “to share her story of resiliency.”  She said, “I’ve been female for all of my existence…I knew I wasn’t strong enough to be openly trans (transgender) the first 48 years of my life. To be absolutely honest, I’m still not sure that I am….I’ve been assaulted several times….Violence against trans-women is rampant because they don’t want to call law enforcement, they feel that law enforcement often feels they (trans-women) have no value.”

The names were read solemnly with the audience holding candles.

The same Facebook announcing the event also said the Transgender Day of Remembrance is held yearly in November to honor Rita Hester, who was murdered on Nov. 28, 1998.


Deadly Exchange to ADL: Stop Police Programs between Israel and the US

15 Nov



About 50 people protested the police exchange programs that the Anti-Defamation League organizes, between the United States and Israel, on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 10495 Santa Monica Blvd., outside the Los Angeles office of the ADL.

According to the Facebook page, which announced the protest, Jewish Voice for Peace – Los Angeles, USC (University of Southern California) Students for Justice in Palestine, and Palestinian and Jews Decolonize hosted the protest, which they dubbed “Deadly Exchange,” that JVP organized nationally.


Protesters, Wednesday, Nov. 8 march toward the LA local ADL office; photo by Barry Saks

The protesters started at corner of Westholme Ave. and Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles and marched about .3 miles to 10495 Santa Monica Blvd., a local ADL office.

On the short march, through the noise of the rush-hour traffic, the protesters chanted: From Palestine to Mexico, all walls have got to go; From LA to Palestine, cop surveillance is a crime.

When a delegation of the protesters attempted to enter the front door, it was locked.  The delegation tried to engage with the person at the reception desk.  The person told the delegation she or he not was authorized to accept whatever the delegation had and that it should be sent to the ADL national office.


Outside the office, the protesters heard speakers and chanted more.  One speaker was Rawan Tayuoon, the chairwoman of USC SJP, Palestinian and co-founder of PJD.  Tayuoon, who according to the Electronic Intifada is a member of the Young Democratic Socialists, told the protesters ADL views what she and others call “intersectionality” (sic) as threat and blames it for the growth of Palestinian solidarity.

The protesters again chanted: From LA to Palestine, jailing children is a crime; We are unstoppable, another world is possible; ADL, Stop the exchange.

JVP Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson, in an email, on Thursday, Nov. 9, said the protests were in 15 cities.  She also reported in New York City seven JVP members were arrested when ADL refused to meet with a delegation and seven of the delegates refused to leave.

While the ADL website says it supports social and racial justice movements, the website also says, “ADL is the nation’s top non-governmental law enforcement training organization” and yearly it “train(s) more than 14,000 law enforcement professionals on extremism, terrorism (and) crimes….Since 1999, more than 130,000 law enforcement professionals have received Law Enforcement and Society training, with programs established in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle, Tampa, St. Louis and Houston.”  The same website added, “ADL takes a small number of law enforcement executives to Israel to study its counter-terrorism approaches. More than 200 high-ranking American officials have participated in ADL’s week-long National Counter-Terrorism Seminar in Israel since it began in 2004.”


Rawan Tayoon, USC SJP chairwoman, Wednesday, Nov. 8, speaking outside LA ADL office; Photo by Barry Saks

Regarding JVP, the ADL website says, “Jewish Voice for Peace’s hardline (sic) stance is demonstrated by its positions on BDS, willingness to partner with anti-Israel organizations that deny Israel’s right to exist and legitimize terror, and its refusal to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”


The protesters, on Wednesday, Nov. 8, listening to a speaker, outside the ADL office; photo by Barry Saks

HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual and B’Tselem jointly in October 2017 produced the report, “Unprotected: The Detention of Palestinian Teenagers in East Jerusalem.”  The website of HaMoked characterizes itself as an Israeli human rights organization with the main aim of assisting Palestinians of the occupied territories whose rights are violated due to Israel’s policies.  The website of B’Tselem, characterizes itself as defending human rights in  “the (Israeli) Occupied Territories.”

A summary of the report, said, “Palestinian teenagers from East Jerusalem are pulled out of bed in the middle of the night, unnecessarily handcuffed and then made to spend a long time waiting for their interrogation to begin. Only then, when they are tired and broken, are they taken in for lengthy interrogation sessions, without being given the opportunity to speak to a lawyer or their parents before the questioning begins and without understanding that they have the right to remain silent. They are then held in the detention facility under harsh conditions, for days and weeks, even once the interrogation has, in fact, ended. In some cases, all this is attended by threats, verbal and physical abuse – before or during the interrogation.”

A little later, the summary adds, “These practices leave law enforcement agencies free to use pressure to force them to confess. And indeed, many of the detained minors sign involuntary confessions (sometimes the confessions are false and sometimes written in a language they do not understand), which are then used as the basis for the indictments against them.”

The Los Angeles Police Department and the ADL were unavailable for comment.

Barry Saks is a socialist and a member of JVP.



Long Beach Rent Control Advocates File to Launch Initiative for November 2018 Ballot

10 Nov

Local rent control advocates—Josh Butler, executive director of Housing Long Beach, and Karen Reside, secretary of the Grey Panthers—on Wednesday, Nov. 8, filed paperwork to launch a November 2018 ballot measure to bring rent control to the city of Long Beach.

Martha Cota, executive director of Latinos in Action, whose name and signature were on the paperwork, was not present when the paperwork was submitted.


Karen Reside and Josh Butler on Wednesday, Nov. 8, after filing paper work at Long Beach City Hall to launch a rent control initiative for November 2018 ballot, turn around to face supporters; photo by Barry Saks

According to the first page of the paperwork, the rent control measure, if passed, will be based on the consumer price index, rent increases will be allowed to rise no more than 100 percent of the rise in the index, a just cause for eviction will be required and a five-member rent board, appointed by the City Council, would be established.  Short-term rentals would be exempt.  Also a maximum of two board members would be allowed to own or manage rentals or be realtors.  The index measures the changes in the retail prices of a constant basket of goods and services.  It’s computed by comparing the cost of the basket at a fixed time with its cost at subsequent or prior intervals.

When Butler and Reside submitted the paperwork, about 20 supporters accompanied them.


Mary Sedillo, on Wednesday, Nov. 8, waits in Long Beach Hall lobby with other supporters while initial paperwork is approved; photo by Barry Saks.

Mary Sedillo, 73, who was among the supporters and chair of the Senior Advisory Commission, said, “Our (the city’s) seniors are living just on Social Security and with the rent increases and them having to pay rent, buy medication plus food….The seniors don’t have enough money to cover everything.  Sedillo, who is a 20-year resident of Long Beach and the treasurer of the Long Beach Gray Panthers, added with the rent increases seniors are being pushed out of affordable housing, the fear is many will become homeless.

Meanwhile, statewide rent control advocates—Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) Healthcare Foundation; Elena Popp, attorney, founder and executive director of the Eviction Defense Network; and Christina Livingston, executive director of ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment—filed, on Oct. 23, the paperwork with the Office of the California Attorney General to launch a November 2018 ballot initiative to allow cities and counties in the state to strengthen local rent control laws by repealing California law regarding rental housing, known as the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which excludes rental housing built after 1995 from local rent control.


About 20 rent control supporters, on Wednesday, Nov. 8, outside Long Beach Hall, rally before the submission of the paperwork to launch initiative for November 2018 ballot; photo by Barry Saks 

Los Angeles Marches and Rallies Against Trump’s Travel Ban

19 Oct


About 250 people, on Sunday, Oct. 15, in downtown Los Angeles, protested against the presidential proclamation of Sept. 24 that would have banned, beginning Wednesday, Oct. 18, citizens from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea from entering the United States.


Marchers  in Los Angeles at the Japanese American National Museum, on Sunday, Oct. 15, gather before protesting Trump’s Ban 3.0; photo by Barry Saks

The Council on American-Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles, which its website says its vision is to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding, organized the protest, which CAIR-LA dubbed the “No Muslim Ban Ever.”


Asmaa Ahmed Speaks to the prtotesters outside the JANM, Oct. 15; photo by Barry Saks

The protest assembled at the Japanese American National Museum, where speakers were heard atop a wooden-gated truck.  Asmaa Ahmed, who’s the Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at CAIR-LA, emceed.  Ahmed said, “Our speakers at this location will be highlighting the similarities between the Muslim Ban and other exclusionary policies we’ve seen throughout history, like the incarceration of the Japanese-American community.”  She added that after the speeches at this location, the protest would head next to the Roybal Court Center, which houses the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services and the Metropolitan Detention Center, and finish at the Federal Courthouse.


Rick Noguchi speaks to protesters

Rick Noguchi, the chief operating officer of JANM, said, “It is fitting that we are gathered here to protest the Muslim Ban.  It is fitting that the march today will begin on exactly the spot where 75 years ago L.A.’s Japanese Americans were loaded on to buses that would take them to America’s concentration camps….(B)ecause the Japanese-American community knows all too well what race hysteria and the failure of political leadership can lead to, we will never ignore new calls for prejudicial treatment of any group.”

Former internee Kanji Sahara, who told the crowd he was too arthritic to stand, sat and explained what happened from the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese to when he, his family and the Japanese-American community were registered and then interned during the remainder of World War II.  Sahara ended with “Never again.”

Following the speeches, the protesters marched and chanted to the second protest site, the Roybal Court Center.  The protesters chanted: Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, the Muslim ban has got to go; Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here; No ban, no wall, go back to building shopping malls; No Justice, No Peace; Love trumps hate; You build a wall, we tear it down.

At the end of the speeches at the Roybal Court Center, the protesters chanted and marched to their last stop, the Federal Courthouse.


Hussam Ayloush speaks, on Sunday, Oct.15, against the Travel Ban 3.0; photo by Barry Saks

Hussam Ayloush, who is the Executive Director at CAIR-LA, thanked everyone who organized the protest and marched.  He said, “For me it is personal, as an American Muslim.  My parents are from Syria… How can I tell my relatives they cannot come here to seek education or medical treatment or come and visit, just because they happen to be Muslims from that part of the world?”


Mark Masaoka, longtime labor and community activist, and Manusha Kulkami, who is the Executive Director of A3PCON (Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, hold an A3PCON banner, on Sunday, Oct. 15,  before the protest; photo by Barry Saks.

Reuters reports ‘Russia says will target U.S.-backed fighters in Syria if provoked.’ To read story, go to http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-russia/russia-says-will-target-u-s-backed-fighters-in-syria-if-provoked-idUSKCN1BW14U.

21 Sep

Will Long Beach Become a ‘Sanctuary City’?

17 Sep

The Long Beach City Council is to decide or not, on Tuesday, Sept.19, if Long Beach is to become a ‘Sanctuary City.’

Sponsoring the motion in support of SB 54 are 1st District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, 2nd District Councilwoman Jeanine Pearce, 7th District Councilman Roberto Uranga and Vice Mayor and 9th District Councilman Rex Richardson.

According to the legislative text, which avoids the word, sanctuary, and which may be read here, would reaffirm the city’s “commitment to the laws adopted in SB 54 (California Senate Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, Democrat, 24th District) and its “continued support of the California Trust Act” and would direct the City Manager to work with local immigrant rights organizations and local schools to write and present a local policy that expands SB 54 in 60 days.

The same legislative text states the policy considerations should include: “(p)rotecting and advocating for local DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)  and DREAMER (sic) students,” “(p)reventing future deportations of local residents,” “(e)xamining partnerships with LA County for local legal defense fund,” “(p)rotecting the confidentiality of local immigrant residents and their information, and ensuring no City resources are used to create registries based on religious affiliation, immigration status or any other protected class such as gender, sexual orientation, race, etc.” and “(a)ffirm an aggressive approach to advocating at the federal and state level for pro-immigrant policies.”

According to bill information from the California Legislature, which may be viewed here,  SB 54 passed the California Senate, on Saturday, Sept. 16, with a vote of 27-11 and passed the California Assembly on Friday, Sept. 15, with a vote of 51-26.

According to a Sacramento Bee story on Saturday, Sept. 16, which may be read here, Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill after de Leon and Brown reached a compromise, which “now allows local police to respond to notification requests and transfers immigrants to U.S. Immigrations (sic) and Customs Enforcement if individual  has committed one of more than 800 crimes outlined in The Trust Act.”

The same story pointed out, “(t)he California Police Chiefs Association went neutral on the measure after Brown’s demands were reflected in the last round of amendments,” while “(t)he California Sheriffs’ Association continues to oppose it,” and that a partisan divide between Democrats and Republican exists, where the Democrats argue the bill makes the population safer and the Republicans argue the opposite.

The City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 7, went on record supporting SB 54.