Spring 2019

In this issue:

(Download .pdf of UltraViolet Spring 2019)

No Indictment for LAGAI
Cops and Corps Out of Pride!
Five-O Outta of PRIDE™ 50
Whales, starfish and antibiotics: Is there any good news on the environment?
John Iverson
Iris May McGinnis
Barbara Hammer
Teachers Organize to Stop the Takeover of Public Institutions
Uprising in Haiti
Prisoners’ Writings
Shorts From Inside
Christmas All Alone
The Struggle With-Him
Mail Monstrosities
No Death, No LWOP
Immigration Shorts
The MOCHA Column
All Over the World
Pink Tide, Red Blood and Elliott Abrams: A Short(ish) History of the World

No Indictment for LAGAI

photo illustration

San Francisco – Today federal prosecutors revealed that LAGAI – Queer Insurrection had not been indicted in the recent college admissions scandal that has rocked the pretty rich, sort-of famous and somewhat powerful.

“Of course, when we learned that young people were being paid to impersonate the children of the rich and take college entrance exams, we immediately thought of LAGAI,” said new attorney general billy bear. “We tried to infiltrate, but none of our agents met their core sexagenarian demographic.”

In a written statement, the just-us deportment described their multi-year hunt for someone famous enough to get the story into the news cycle. Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlan provided the grist. “Just who do you think would have paid attention if we arrested only tennis and soccer coaches, and packaging executives? To be honest, we would have been better off with LAGAI – more name recognition.”

On hearing of their non-indictment, LAGAI said, “we’re glad that the just-us deportment is focusing on a major crisis in education. At least they are not wasting their time investigating the massive theft of public money by private charter school companies.”   

March 30th protest
US Hands off Venezuela March Announcement

Cops and Corps Out of Pride!

Gay Shame has put out a call to end all police participation in pride; all of it, NO police marching cutely in pride contingents, and particularly NO military style policing of the march in the name of protecting the queers. The police are not our friends and they don’t give a flying fuck about us.  This year is the 50th anniversary of the stonewall riots in the village in new york city. Miss Major, prison abolitionist Black trans gender activist, former director of TGI Justice Project, who was part of the stonewall riot, launched this call with a short video entitled five-O out of pride 50.  It is past time to expel the police from sf pride, cops who regularly murder black and brown people and whose institutional mandate is to protect the greedy ruling class.  Gay Shame also calls for kicking the corporations out of pride. Pride is the biggest money-making tourist event in san francisco and is literally a sea of corporate logos and annoying capitalist floats, all rigidly forced into boring contingents, behind barricades marshaled by police.

Gay Shame poster: Kick Cops and Corporations out of Pride

Over the years since the beginning of gay liberation marches, which began a year after the  Stonewall rebellion in 1970, people have fought to reclaim them as part of our insurrectionary movement. In 1992 ACT UP effectively slowed the SF pride to a snail’s pace by dying-in every seven minutes for the entire length of the parade route, to underscore that someone was dying from AIDS every seven minutes.  LAGAI Queer Insurrection in the early 90’s carried a banner of a burning police car with the slogan  IT’S RIGHT TO REBEL directly behind the police contingent marching in pride. In 1998 LAGAI did a big Crash the Parade campaign, complete with creative wheat pasting, urging people to tear down the barricades and resist the corporate takeover of pride. Our slogan was “IT’S A MOVEMENT NOT A MARKET.” In 2002 Gay Shame had a vomitorium specifically targeting budweiser, a heinous corporate sponsor. Gay Shame activists made a seven-foot-tall cardboard budweiser can that read “Vomit Out Budweiser Pride and the Selling of Queer Identities.” Gay Shame tells the story of dumping a bunch of big stuffed couches into the parade route in an effort to shut down the parade.

More recently, in conjunction with the Movement for Black Lives, Queer and Trans people of Color and allies have disrupted a number of pride marches calling out the heinous police violence and murder. In 2017 people blocked the columbus ohio pride highlighting the police murder of Philando Castile. Four Black Queers, Wripley Bennet, Kendall Denton, Ashley Braxton and Deandre Miles, were arrested and subjected to a year of court proceedings. They were convicted of misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct in spite of a campaign to get the charges dropped. All four eventually got probation.  Also in June 2017 No Justice No Pride in Washington DC disrupted pride forcing the parade to be rerouted.  Disruptions were successfully carried out in boston, minneapolis, chicago, seattle, phoenix and new york city, all demanding the end to police violence and participation of police and corporations in annual pride marches.

photo of LAGAI booth at Pride Parade c. 2010

This movement to confront corporate pride and police presence has become worldwide and has had some success. Toshio from Gay Shame compiled a list of cities that currently don’t allow cops (or at least no cops in uniform):

Gothenburg, Sweden; Auckland, New Zealand; London, Ontario; Minneapolis; Toronto; Sacramento; Calgary, Alberta; Edmonton, Alberta. Charlotte, North Carolina, Columbus, Ohio, New Orleans, Paris, Nice, Toulouse, Lyon, and Cologne, Germany all have cop-and-corp-free alternative pride celebrations.

Old radical dykes have become increasingly appalled by what’s been happening at the Dyke March. We all assemble with excitement on 18th and Dolores to see the exuberant expression of all things dyke. The last couple years have been marred by a hideous display of a battalion of killer cops leading off the march before the Dykes on Bikes, the lead truck and the disabled cable car. We scream ourselves hoarse COPS OUT OF THE MARCH. It is an outrage and affront to our liberation. 

I decided to go to the first meeting of the Dyke March 2019 planning committee to discuss the issue of police in the march. It had been 30 years since I went to a Dyke march planning meeting so it was not such a surprise that things have changed. The Dyke March itself has never gotten a permit for the march and that is still true. However the party/slash rally in Dolores Park has mushroomed into an enormous event, requiring a lot from the entirely voluntary committee structure of the Dyke March. About 20 people showed up, about half queers of color, all at least 30 years younger than me.

The meeting  had the requisite ice breaker, involving butcher paper and markers. I was taken aback when someone from the outreach committee rushed over to me and began busily outreaching at me, because I am so old, while I was trying to shrink into an anonymous corner. I was able to get past all this and floated the question of what to do about the cops at the Dyke March. Turns out that they also really really don’t want the police, but say that the police have become ever more aggressive and demanding with them each year. Apparently there are police snipers on buildings above the march. They also said that the Dykes On Bikes have become increasingly alienated because of police stipulations on them. Although they seemed interested in getting the police out of the Dyke March, they are clearly preoccupied with the myriad of logistics involved with putting on the extensive event in Dolores Park.  The city requires a $10,000 permit for the park and major cooperation with agencies and the police who close the neighborhood streets.

We in LAGAI and Gay Shame have a number of creative ideas about what could be done to improve this nasty police problem at the Dyke March. To further this aim, I girded my loins and signed up for the safety committee: god forbid! Anyone who wants to help us make this happen should go to thedykemarch.org and sign up for their committee and updates.

We will also approach the Trans March about their police problem.

We must reclaim our liberation!


Five-O Outta of PRIDE™ 50

It’s been 50 years since Stonewall and still we have cops at PRIDE™. Stonewall was a series of riots in New York City against police repression and violence where trans women, dykes, fags, butches, hair fairies, street queens (and much more) fought back.  In the past half-century since, police violence against trans/queer people people of color, has not decreased, but has in fact substantially increased through daily harassment, evictions, ICE raids, sex worker stings, and homeless sweeps that funnel trans/queer people of color into the Prison Industrial Complex. Despite this routine violence police visit upon queer and trans communities, at PRIDE™ festivals across the world the police constitute a heavy participatory presence. PRIDE™ is now little more than a marketing scam for partying straight people, tech companies, and other murderous corporations, lead by rainbow colored cop cars.  

While we remember the histories of Stonewall and Compton’s, lets find ways to collectively commemorate, re-(in)state and embody the promises those nights held for queer and trans futures, possibilities, and liberation.

Join us in demanding an immediate and permanent ban of police at PRIDE™.

So long as PRIDE™ continues to enable and welcome the presence of the police, we ask that people participate in a complete boycott (physical, financial, cultural, existential) because we refuse to be paraded by cops. A boycott of PRIDE™, for participating individuals and organizations, means:

·       Don’t attend the parade itself, or SF Pride events throughout the month.

·       Don’t organize or participate in a parade contingent

·       Don’t become a member of SF Pride or join the Board of Directors

·       Don’t marshal (already a militaristic term in itself) the parade or accept any titles, honors or accolades

·       Don’t sponsor SF Pride

·       Don’t spend money on or at any SF Pride events, vendors, sponsors, etc.

·       Don’t create content or art for Pride

·       Don’t perform at Pride

·       Don’t share SF Pride media or content

·       Don’t accept money or donations from SF Pride

·       Don’t Uber with Pride©   

Whales, starfish and antibiotics: Is there any good news on the environment?

by Lisa

One of my dearest friends asked me to write a good news column about the environment—and I tried but it is just so hard to find good news. Here are a few snippets:

Pacific gray whales which migrate along the west coast have rebounded remarkably over the past few decades due to conservation efforts, particularly protections for breeding and rearing areas in several parts of Baja Mexico including at San Ignacio lagoon.  I just got to fulfill a long term dream to see the whales there and it was awesome—I didn’t get any good photos but I did see whales up close and lots of breaching and spy hopping—really amazing to be so close to such large animals.   These whales are still at risk during their long migration to Alaska and back from ship strikes, crab lines and other fishing gear, and plastic trash, but things are looking up. (Unfortunately the vaquita, the smallest and most endangered cetacean – similar to a porpoise– found only in the Sea of Cortez between Baja and the mainland of Mexico, are down to the last 10. The vaquita faces a single threat: entanglement in illegal gillnets set for shrimp and various fish species, including endangered totoaba. Totoaba swim bladders are illegally exported by organized criminal syndicates from Mexico to China, where they are highly valued for their perceived medicinal properties. “perceived medical properties” is also why rhinoceros are being hunted to extinction for their horns. Wait, sorry, this isn’t good news…. Back to the good news.)

photo of sunstar

Sea stars, which used to be called starfish when I was a kid, appear to be making a bit of a comeback along the California coast after being decimated by a wasting disease caused by a virus (a densovirus) that is spreading due to ocean warming. (However, while some sea stars seem to be doing better, the large Sunflower sea stars –about the size of a car tire and packing as many as two dozen arms–were highly susceptible to the virus. The loss of Sunflower sea stars endangers one of the ocean’s most diverse kelp bed ecosystems. The sunflower sea stars feast on sea urchins which will eat almost anything, including kelp. In some places, the loss of sunflower sea stars to disease – up to 90% estimated in some areas– triggered a cascade where sea urchin numbers boomed and kelp forests shrunk. With waters continuing to warm, these key habitats that provide abundant food for many species are at risk. Oh no, I fell off the good news track again…)

Antibiotics? How is that good news? Well, fighting against EPA allowing spraying antibiotics is a good thing! EPA is considering a proposal that would allow for expanded antibiotic spraying on citrus fields. (Expanded! I never even knew any of this was happening before!) Under the proposal, citrus growers would be allowed to spray more than 650,000 pounds of streptomycin on citrus fields to treat the bacteria that causes citrus greening disease—this would be the largest-ever use of a medically important antibiotic in plant agriculture in the US. But spraying streptomycin on citrus fields would be an irresponsible use of an antibiotic that’s considered critically important for human health by the World Health Organization (WHO) because the more an antibiotic is used, the greater the risk that bacteria resistant to the drugs will flourish and spread. It sure looks like those risks – that more bacteria will become resistant to this widely relied on antibiotic certainly outweigh any benefit to the industry from spraying massive amounts of streptomycin on citrus fields.  

John Iverson

photo of John Iverson

John Iversen passed away Monday, Oct. 1, 2019 in Berkeley after experiencing a massive stroke. He was 69. Part Chippewa, John was a member of the Bois Forte Tribe in Minnesota. John did campus organizing against the Vietnam War, then worked with a community kitchen run by the Black Panther Defense Committee, a health center run by the Chicano Brown Berets, and with the United Farm Workers. He was at Wounded Knee.

In the 1980s, John was on the steering committee for Local 535 SEIU where he helped win grievances against the city of Berkley for underpayment of service workers, joining the contract negotiating teams for city workers in 1980s.

In the late 1980s, he started a band called The Stickers, later renamed Dreams Die Hard. A song of John’s criticizing Oliver North gained some notoriety with campus radio stations and Dreams Die Hard performed around London.

photo of John Iverson with quilt

John was a core AIDS activist from the very earliest years. In 1989 he co-founded ACT-Up East Bay and the Berkeley Needle Exchange in 1990 and other groups. When effective AIDS drugs finally became available, John stayed active. He moved directly to working to make the new drugs available to people who had no access to them. He collected them, loading them up on a plane, and physically taking them to wherever they were needed around the world.

He became a life-long supporter of Leonard Peltier, unsuccessfully pleading with President Barack Obama to grant Peltier clemency prior to leaving office. Individuals are encouraged to make a contribution in John’s name through taking an action for justice in an area of your choice or sending a donation to either the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee or the work of Winona LaDuke Executive Director – Honor the Earth.

John might best be expressed as complex and feisty, but always engaged and active in a broad range of social justice issues. The memorial for John will be Sunday, May 5 at noon at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis St., Berkeley.

Iris May McGinnis

photo of Iris

Iris May McGinnis, born Margaret Ann Ruch in Germantown, Pennsylvania, died at home in Santa Rosa, California, on March 1, 2019. She was 75.

When I knew her, Iris was a child care worker and an active member of Reclaiming, the Bay Area’s large pagan social justice community. She was particularly active in the fight against nuclear weapons, and later on equality for disabled people, housing rights and health care for all. She was a wheelchair user for the last fifteen years or so, and at times was houseless or precariously housed.

Iris was smart, funny and a powerful witch. She could communicate with spirits and make broken watches work again.

A friend of hers says, “If you want to do something in Iris’ memory, do something to fight fascism, racist, or systemic poverty this week.”