The July 2005 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Oakland Youth Organize

Hate Crimes Against the Homeless

Food Bank Helps Ease Hunger

Food Bank Keeps Growing

San Diego's Economic Cleansing

Psychiatric Abuse and Repression

Transit Activists Win Victory

Technology for the Poor

Violent Arrest at City Hall

The Dream of People's Park

New Richmond Shelter to Open

Street Spirit Vendor Tony McNair

Bush's Tax Cuts for the Rich

Corporate Benedict Arnolds

Rain Lane's Photographs

"Say Something" A Short Story

Poor Leonard's Almanack

Poetry of the Streets


June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005






Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

Young Transportation Activists Win Crucial Victory

by Janny Castillo, BOSS

"We shouldn't have to choose between lunch and bus fare." The Real Hard youth group rallies to save youth bus passes. Janny Castillo photo

"Free Transportation To Get Our Education!" That demand was chanted from the front steps of the Scottish Rite Center in Oakland on May 18. Real Hard, a youth group associated with Kids First, held a rally demanding that the discounted youth bus pass stay affordable.

Youth organizers had mobilized to oppose the proposal by AC Transit staff to eliminate monthly bus passes, a plan that would have forced low-income youth to pay as much as $80 per month for bus fare, instead of being able to buy a pass for $15 a month.

Fadeelah Muhyee, program assistant for Real Hard, spoke out on the need for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to funnel more money into AC Transit's strapped bus agency, which is running an $8 million deficit. Sassia Harrell from Real Hard announced preliminary results from a transportation survey conducted by Kids First which polled over a thousand middle and high school students.

The Kids First survey found that:
1. One out of three students paid for bus passes and fares out of their own pocket.
2. Seventy-six percent of students said they use their lunch money.
3. Four out of five students say their transfers expire during their bus trips.
4. Almost half, or 49 percent, of low-income students find it harder to get to after-school programs without a free pass.
5. Nearly four out of five youth, or 79 percent, depend on the bus for mobility.

Speakers at the May 18th rally included Greg Hodge, OUSD School Board member; Amy Costa, District Director for Senator Don Perata; Burrill Hansen, United Seniors Board Member, Reverend Andre Shumake, Richmond Improvement Association; and Sylvia Darensburg, lead plaintiff in the MTC civil lawsuit.

The unified message was the importance of nurturing and taking care of our community's children and youth, and how keeping the youth bus pass affordable is critical to their education and well-being.

Julie Iny, Kids First organizer, shared some telling quotes from the survey:

"I get my brother after school sometimes and I save my lunch money for the bus because my mom only buys one bus pass. Whoever is going to school uses it." -- Gompers High School student, Richmond.
"Sometimes I must walk home because I don't have a bus pass or money." -- Berkeley High student, Berkeley.
"My family is a low-income family and $15 dollars is too much for us to afford." -- McClymond's High student, Oakland.

The organizers followed the rally by speaking out at public hearings up until AC Transit voted to keep discounted bus passes on June 22, 2005. Julie Iny from Kid's First described the successful organizing campaign as a "youth transportation victory."

In announcing the victory to transportation justice activists, Iny stated, "Now, after months of organizing, rallying and testifying, Oakland youth and their allies are celebrating AC Transit's 4-3 vote yesterday to keep youth passes at $15 and reject a proposal to raise the price of transfers. Transfers will remain at 25 cents, saving low-income, transit-dependent families $15 per rider each month (based on 2 transfers a day).

"Moreover, AC Transit is now keeping its promise to voters and to young people to maintain youth passes at $15.00. Director Peeples stated that the youth pass should remain at $15.00 until Measure BB sunsets in 2015 given the language put before the voters that the parcel tax would be used to maintain AC Transit's discount passes for youth."

Beginning on September 6, 2005, adult fares will go from $1.50 to $1.75; youth, seniors and disabled fares will go from 75 cents to 85 cents; and a monthly adult pass will jump from $60 to $70.

To contact Kids First, call (510) 452-2043.

1515 Webster St,#303
Oakland, CA 94612Phone: (510) 238-8080, ext. 303

E-mail: Spirit

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Editor : Terry Messman

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