Prison Strike Solidarity in Oakland

Grabbing banners, flags, and signs, people took to the streets and marched through the downtown to several corporations that profit from prison labor.

[ Hundreds of demonstrators march through Downtown Oakland on September 10, 2016 in solidarity with the nationwide prison strike. The prisoner work stoppage was organized to begin on September 9, the 45th anniversary of the Attica Uprising. ]

Over 300 People Take the Streets to Target Corporations Profiting from Prison Slavery

Text from It’s Going Down*
Photos by Bradley Allen
* Written from the perspective of organizers and participants.

On September 10, 2016 in Oakland, CA, over 300 people took part in a march, rally, and demonstration in solidarity with the ongoing Prison Strike happening across US prisons, jails, and detention facilities. People gathered at 1 PM at Latham Square in Downtown Oakland and held banners, signs, and red and black flags. Several speakers addressed the crowd, the first, a formerly incarcerated member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), gave a speech discussing the cause of the strike, the need for class solidarity, and the revolutionary potential of these events moving beyond making just demands. From the speech:

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Boycott Driscoll’s Protest at Watsonville Strawberry Festival

A banner declaring “No More Blood Berries” hung from the most iconic buildings in downtown Watsonville, which hover over the Strawberry Festival and stand as subtle reminders of the apple industry in the Pájaro Valley.

[ Michael Garcia of the Watsonville Brown Berets speaks with five people about the Driscoll’s Boycott in Strawberry Lane at the Watsonville Strawberry Festival on August 6, 2016. ]

On August 6 and 7, 2016, local activists engaged thousands of people at the 22nd Annual Watsonville Strawberry Festival to raise awareness about the Driscoll’s Boycott and the harsh realities of farmworkers who pick the precious berries. The Boycott Driscoll’s movement is led by, and in solidarity with, farmworkers in San Quintín, México and Washington state fighting for union contracts.

Demonstrators, including the Watsonville Brown Berets, handed out thousands of flyers for Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), an independent union formed by farmworkers in Washington state in July 2013. FUJ has over 450 members and holds elections as well as democratically run business meetings. FUJ maintains a website, Boycott Sakuma Berries, which is the best resource online for information in English about the ongoing labor struggle.

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Watsonville Brown Berets Keep Pressure on Driscoll’s

Solidarity with farmworkers in Washington state and Baja California leading the worldwide boycott of Driscoll’s berries.

[ Michael Garcia of the Watsonville Brown Berets and Stephanie Irene of Direct Action Monterey Network hold signs, “Boycott Driscoll’s in Solidarity with San Quintín Farmworkers,” at the Freedom Blvd. entrance to Safeway in Watsonville, California. July 2, 2016. ]

The Watsonville Brown Berets are keeping the pressure on Driscoll’s, the world’s largest distributor of fresh berries, who are headquartered in Watsonville, California. On July 2, 2016, the Saturday before July 4th BBQs, the Brown Berets and other community members demonstrated in front of the Safeway on Freedom Blvd. in Watsonville to raise awareness and show solidarity with farmworkers in Washington state and Baja California leading the worldwide boycott of Driscoll’s berries, including all products made with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries sold by Driscoll’s.

Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) was formed by farmworkers in Washington state in July 2013, they have over 450 members, hold elections, and democratically run business meetings. FUJ maintains a website, Boycott Sakuma Berries, which is the best resource online for information in English about the ongoing labor struggle.

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No “Free Speech” for Fascists: Neo-Nazis Shut Down in Sacramento

The neo-Nazis were not able to march and they did not have a rally. While the crowd accomplished what it set out to do, it came at a high cost.

[ Nazi salute on the South Steps of the Capitol building in Sacramento, California in front of a permanently closed entrance. June 26, 2016. ]

Text from It’s Going Down
Photos by Bradley Allen

On June 26, 2016, over 400 anti-fascists converged at the Sacramento State Capitol to shut down the Golden State Skinheads (GSS) who were representing for the Traditional Worker Party (TWP).

Members of other neo-Nazi groups were largely no shows, although two members of Blood and Honor were in attendance (and were quickly left behind by GSS) they were promptly ejected. A live streamer/reporter for fascist media outlet Red Ice Creations was also sneaking around the capital; the stream was shut down and they were ejected. Matthew Heimbach, leader of the TWP was noticeably not in attendance and instead sat at home on his computer and made commentary over the livestream and declared victory while his troops were running to their cars.

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Watsonville Vigil Remembers the Victims of Orlando

SOMOS LGBT vigil in Watsonville remembers “one of the most horrific tragedies committed against the LGBT community at a gay club in Orlando, Florida.”

[ Demonstrators send their love and solidarity from Watsonville, California to Orlando, Florida and the queer community everywhere. June 13, 2016. ]

SOMOS LGBT, a community organization raising awareness on equality and acceptance for all, began in Watsonville nine years ago. On the evening of June 13, SOMOS LGBT held a vigil at Watsonville Plaza to “remember one of the most horrific tragedies committed against the LGBT community at a gay club in Orlando, Florida.”

The day before on June 12, a mass shooting occurred inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, resulting in 53 wounded and 50 dead, including the gunman, who was killed by police after a three-hour standoff.

Community members from throughout Santa Cruz County gathered in Watsonville’s historic downtown Plaza to creatively express themselves through chants, singing, and holding signs to bring awareness of the continued attacks against LGBT people in this country.

Haley Brown of Santa Cruz held a sign reading “End Hate: racism • homophobia • transphobia • islamophobia.” Brown stated they stand in solidarity with the people of Orlando and the queer community everywhere.

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UFW & Driscoll’s: United To Exploit

Why won’t the United Farm Workers support the Driscoll’s Boycott?

[ Comprehensive Immigration Reform rally in Oxnard, California on May 1, 2013, International Workers Day. Children and adults wave red and black UFW flags while holding a Reiter Affiliated Companies banner next to a company representative holding a UFW flag. ]

Why won’t the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) support the Driscoll’s Boycott? That’s one of the questions UFW Vice President Lauro Barajas would not answer after he spoke at Hillary Clinton’s rally in Salinas on May 25.

There are two other questions that Barajas was unwilling to answer. He was asked why he personally took down UFW flags while people were speaking on stage and asking for support of the Driscoll’s Boycott at the Cesar Chavez March last month in Salinas. Barajas also refused to reveal anything about the UFW’s intimate relationship with Reiter Affiliated Companies, an Oxnard-based subsidiary of Driscoll’s which grows berries in the United States, Mexico, Europe and Northern Africa.

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New Leaf Community Markets in Felton Honors Driscoll’s Boycott

New Leaf Community Markets in Felton, California takes a righteous step in support of the farmworkers who grow our food. In addition to pulling Driscoll’s berries from their shelves, the market is displaying a letter with an overview of the boycott.

[ New Leaf Community Markets in Felton, CA honors the boycott of Driscoll’s berries. Photos by Michael Gasser (@mapinduzi21k). May 3, 2016. Collage by Bradley Allen. ]

New Leaf Community Markets, purchased by New Seasons Market in 2013, is a grocery chain founded in Santa Cruz, California in 1985. The market currently has seven locations, and an Aptos store is expected to open in August 2017.

On May 2, 2016, New Leaf Community Markets in Felton, which operates with a franchise agreement under separate ownership, confirmed that they are not selling Driscoll’s berries. New Leaf Community Markets in Boulder Creek operates under separate ownership as well.

This comes as exciting news for the boycott Driscoll’s movement. New Leaf Community Markets in Felton is believed to be the first grocery store in Santa Cruz County to remove Driscoll’s berries from their shelves in honor of the boycott.

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