In the despairing days after Dr. King’s death, the nation was overcome by the blues, so it was fitting that the pre-eminent blues band in the land would play for the activists in Resurrection City.
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Treasure Island is not a recreation destination — it’s a radiation destination. Fifty years of Naval activity have contaminated it with a horrifying array of radioactive and chemical pollutants. Eight of the “dirty dozen” banned chemicals on the Stockholm Convention’s list of the most dangerous chemicals are found at Treasure Island.
“There is no heat. They do not allow tenants to use the elevator. The building has bed bugs, rats, and is loaded with flies from the garbage piled up at the property. Our toilet does not work, the shower barely drips, and the building lacks smoke detectors in most apartments.”
At the first action against the condo development, Guillermina Castellanos, a mother who lives in the Mission, said: “This building they want to build, it won’t be for our families. It will be for another class of families that have money. We don’t have sufficient money to pay for these condominiums.”
As I write of the memorial services for Martin Luther King, Jr., we’re in a similar crisis today, as Ferguson, Missouri, joins the ranks of Memphis, Watts, Selma and far too many other locations where our nation’s racism has given us a shameful record of violations of human rights.
“We take care of our own but in Santa Cruz, ‘our own’ includes the entire community. This meal has always been about community and we will continue to keep this tradition of service to the homeless community alive as long as there is one vet to keep it going.”
Those who pay the cost of these policies are often young people of color – and with alarming frequency that cost is death at the hands of police. Ominously, police increasingly rely on militarized tactics and weapons not only to arrest but to contain people exercising their right to assemble and peacefully protest.
This poet connects/ the one word “gather”/ with the Quaker faith/ as in geese gather/ at lake’s edge before/ the V-flight south,/ as in snowflakes gather,/ mounded on roof tops/ before the downward slide,/ as in two homeless men/ gather around a steam vent/ on a city sidewalk.
Ted Gullicksen was a true hero and will be remembered as such. Ted never sacrificed principle for money. This was the true source of his power. Since he could not be persuaded to act against tenants’ interests for money, power or access, he had an independence that increased his clout.
No one dreams as a child that they might become homeless, addicted, disabled, or jobless. It is critical that we change the way that we value people who may have less money and physical possessions by looking at the talents, strengths, and gifts that each soul has to bring to our world.
Ted was as much at home in the world of bolt cutters and illegal squats as he was at City Hall. He was that rare activist who had one foot in both worlds. Ted could spend one day lobbying supervisors, and the next occupying a vacant building as part of Homes Not Jails.