This impassioned cry for justice was made by Servant Brian K. Woodson at a tax day rally at the Federal Building in Oakland organized by the American Friends Service Committee as part of the April 12 Global Day of Action on Military Spending. Woodson is pastor of the Bay Area Christian Connection, an Oakland church with a women’s treatment program and a food program that this year has distributed over 453,000 pounds of food to inner-city residents.
Nearly every homeless organization in Berkeley is now united in opposition to the sitting ban before it has even been introduced at the City Council. Already, some council members that the business associations had boasted were already in the bag are evidently having second thoughts about supporting the ban.
They call them “public libraries” for a reason. In an increasingly corporatized world, public space is growing scarcer. Shopping centers have collaborated to form “business improvement districts” where “outsiders” are monitored and curtailed, often by private security forces.
Also, laws such as the sit-lie ordinance, approved by San Francisco voters in November, place further limits on where homeless people may assemble peaceably.
But before Berkeley sends another potentially pointless anti-poor ordinance through the courts, it makes sense to institute a retail vacancy fee on landlords who keep storefront locations empty for years, refusing to acknowledge the recession’s effect on merchants, generally, and the effect of empty storefronts, specifically, on a struggling commercial area.
In the late 1970s, the richest 1 percent of Americans earned about 9 percent of the nation’s income. By the start of the Great Recession, the rich were getting more than 23 percent of total income. Yet real income for the rest of us has remained stagnant, and the number of Americans in poverty is rising.
Congress and President Obama should join forces to put America back to work, even if investments in education and infrastructure cause short-term deficits. Money in the wallets of low-income and working-class people is the best recipe for raising demand and producing economic growth.
Investigating the assassinations of Martin and Malcolm over the past decade has been a pilgrimage into martyrdom. From that journey, I have learned, first of all, how naïve I was about systemic evil. While there is nothing new about prophets being murdered by the system, I was not aware of how well our own system carries out such murders — and why.