Winter 2019

(Download .pdf of UltraViolet Winter 2019)

2025 Year In Review

The Woke-Washing of Manny

Marge Nelson

Kanani Kauka

Blessed Be, the elections are over. Now What?

Justice for Chinedu Okobi

No Mail No Way

Voluntary Services First!

Inside Voices:  C.A.G.E.; Everyday…; Shorts From Inside

Report from the Tijuana Border

ICE Murdered Roxsana Hernandez

The MOCHA Column

Fighting Fires with Prisoners

Teachers, Housekeepers and Shrinks, Oh My!

It is Noisy down there!

A failed system has put nearly 750 people on California’s Death Row

2025 Year In Review

photo illustration for political sarcasm

LAGAI-UltraViolet’s highlight reel:

February 2: Revolution Seizes California. 15 million workers take to the barricades.

February 15: Revolution spreads to Oregon, Arizona and half of Texas.

February 21: California legislature resigns. After a brief stand, Governor Newsom is evacuated to Elba.

February 28: Revolution sweeps across the plains like a prairie fire.  Briefly gets stuck in Ohio, then picks up steam heading for New York.

March 2: Revolutionary People’s Socialist Organization (RPSO) shoots video from Oval Office, announcing itself the rightful ruler of the People’s Republic of Mid-North America.

March 3:  President Pence disappears, is allegedly spotted attempting to swim to Mexico. Someone sends a boat to warn him he’s about to run into the submerged Border Wall.

March 8: International Women’s Day – The International Revolutionary Kommunista Educational Dialectic (IRKED) stages one-day strike to protest absence of women on the Central Committees of the RPSO. RPSO responds by naming Jill Stein Figurehead-in-Chief.

April 30: People’s Revolutionary Socialist Organization (PRSO) assumes power, exiles RPSO members to Montana.

May 18: International Socialist People’s Alliance (ISPA) ousts RPSO, declares itself the true heir to Che, opens prison doors and hands each newly freed prisoner a stack of The Revolutionary Socialist newspapers to sell.

June 28: On the 56th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, word reaches LAGAI-Queer Insurrection by carrier pigeon that it has been unanimously elected Last Group Standing and must assume command of the PRMNA effective immediately.

July 1: As its first act as supreme commander, LAGAI abolishes Daylight Savings Time.

August 1: LAGAI dissolves Congress, abdicates the presidency and declares the PRMNA and its predecessor, the United States of America, failed experiments in government.

August 15: Seas begin to recede. Selfies of polar bears partying on restored ice sheets appear on BearBook.

September 1: Butterflies and buffalo declare a liberated zone.

December 25: Lion is spotted lying down with a lamb.

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The Fifth Annual March to Reclaim King’s Radical Legacy

Monday, January 21, 2019

1:00 PM  to 4:00 PM

Oscar Grant Plaza (14th and Broadway, Oakland)

For more info: www.antipoliceterrorproject.org/

********************

2019 WOMEN’S MARCH

SAN FRANCISCO
Saturday, January 19, 2019

11:00am – 3:00pm

Civic Center

This year’s theme is #TruthToPower and celebrating the #WomensWave.

Save the Date, timing subject to change, more details coming soon!

womensmarchbayarea.org/

There will be a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Contingent

The Woke-Washing of Manny

by Deeg

poster of weekly demo

In the often losing battle over gentrification of the Mission, 16th and Valencia has long been contested territory. It’s a block south of Valencia Gardens, one of the first public housing projects in SF. It’s a long block west from 16th and Mission and the BART plazas, where houseless people have hung out for years, now constantly being chased away, in anticipation of the “Monster in the Mission” apartment project. This little neighborhood is the hub of techie culture with bars, scooters, and $7 a scoop ice cream.

On November 6, Manny Yekutiel opened his “cafe, bar, bookstore, and civic gathering space” on the Northeast corner of the intersection, 3092 16th St. Although not a non-profit, Manny solicited and got tens of thousands of dollars in donations through a kickstarter campaign. He also told Gay Shame that he got a reduced rent in the 3000 square foot space through the Mission Housing Development Corporation, headed by Sam Moss, because of his planned “community engagement.”

So now Manny is playing host to everyone from Alicia Garza (Black Lives Matter) to Barbara Kinney (Hilary Clinton photographer) to Janetta Johnson (TGI Justice).

To the Lucy Parsons Project, a radical black queer direct action group, this is Woke Washing. “We call for a community boycott of ‘Manny’s’… ‘Manny’s’ as a gentrifying wine-bar, cafe and fake ‘social justice’ space in the Mission District, will only accelerate the raising of rents and the displacement of Black, Latinx, disabled and trans/queer people in the Mission…”

“Additionally, the proprietor of Manny’s, Emmanuel Yekutiel, has unequivocally espoused racist, Zionist, pro-Israel ideals that we will not tolerate or accept in our community.” (see full statement this page).

LPP is joined by the Black and Brown Social Club, Gay Shame, and Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!) in advocating a boycott of Manny’s. The groups note that in April, as israel attacked the Palestinian Great March for Return, Manny posted on Facebook his celebration of israel’s 70th anniversary of statehood as a response to antisemitism. In the 6 months of the protest, israel has killed at least 214 Palestinians and has wounded more than 18,000.

We have been asked, by people who stop to take our leaflets, and by political allies and friends, why we are targeting this particular gentrifying business, as compared to all the other chocolatiers, boutiques and hipster restaurants that occupy the north end of the Mission. It’s because it’s particularly appalling when the gentrifiers commodify our political movements and cultures, which they then filter, package and sell to not only the techies and would-be politicos, but to us. Manny’s appoints our leaders and spokespeople, those willing to be in the Manny’s picture, and provides them a platform. Manny’s portrays itself as an old-style café, with books, socially conscious food, and $20 a glass wine, while displacing the people who created Latinx, Black, trans, lesbian, gay, and queer culture here. The Mission used to be the home of Latinx trans/gay bars, and the last lesbian bar in SF. Now it’s the site of Manny’s wine bar.  Manny’s holds community events every Wednesday, so LPP has called for picketing and leafletting every Wednesday from 6:30 to 7:30. For more info see the Gay Shame SF facebook page.

Marge Nelson

photo of Marge
Marge Nelson

Marge Nelson, long time human and women’s rights, peace, lesbian and fat liberation activist died in September. She was 89.

Marge grew up in New Brunswick, NJ. She married at age 19 and defined herself primarily as a wife and mother for the next 20 years. Inspired by Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, Nelson returned to college in the mid-1960s and began to participate in the radical political movements of that decade. She graduated from the University of Akron with a B.A. in 1966 and an M.A. in 1968. She was awarded a Ph.D. in Sociology from SUNY of New York at Buffalo in 1976, having completed a dissertation which examined the National Woman’s Party, and was instrumental in the founding of Women’s Studies at both SUNY-Buffalo and Antioch College in Ohio. Among her notable political activities were lobbying for the ERA in Congress, organizing to free Joann Little and the Wilmington Tenn, and co-founding the Women’s Building in San Francisco. Her articles and essays have appeared in a wide variety of feminist publications including Sinister Wisdom, Sojourner, Off Our Backs, and many others.

She came out with Polly Taylor, a Quaker pacifist, moving to San Francisco in 1978 in search of older women’s community.

We’re meeting really radical women who are our age.  The young women are great but, you know, we want people our own age, and here they were. I immediately decided I wanted to organize. I wanted to find a group. We went to a menopause workshop, where we met a couple of women who were our age, who were radical women, and we liked them … But I wanted a radical group, and so organized the Crones Caucus.

Marge lived in San Francisco ever since. She worked as a feminist therapist and a lesbian feminist activist.

 “As we all got older, I began to be involved with older lesbians organizing. There was a conference in San Francisco in 1989 I went to their conference, and there was a struggle, and a lot of us wanted to have an organization that would be political. That’s where Old Lesbians Organizing for Change came into existence.  I’ve been with them ever since … we’re saying, life isn’t over because you’re 70.  We’re also doing a lot of work about facing dying and what you need to do to take care of yourself when you become infirm. Well, you clearly need a community to support you.”

(quotes are from a 2005 interview for Voices of Feminism Oral History Project, Smith College. https://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/vof/transcripts/Nelson.pdf)

Marge is listed in “Feminists who Changed America 1963-1975.”She was a 2004 honoree of the Pat Bond Memorial Old Dyke Awards. Materials from her life as a lesbian activist (1947-2006) are in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College, an internationally recognized archive of women’s history. 

Her life story is an example of how the second wave of the women’s movement changed many women’s lives.

A passionate gardener, Marge cultivated gardens of great beauty and abundance. She is survived by her partner, Sandra Shepherd; three children; two grandchildren; and a son-in-law. And many friends, including us in LAGAI,  who will miss her very much.

When I think of Marge, I think of her compassion, her intellect, and of course her smile and laughter. I’m not even sure what groups Marge and I were in together but I do remember meeting in the 90’s at her house, which was somewhat of an art/political museum. The last demo I remember being on with Marge was an older lesbian Occupy demo in front of the BofA on Mission Street. And I remember seeing her at the Modern Times farewell, up front with her wonderful spirit and smile. I’m sorry I never returned her Elaine Brown book, which she often graciously reminded me to do. Now I will keep it. Goodbye to you Marge with love, Deni

What struck me most about Marge was the combination of her sense of humor, smarts, knowledge and experience with a whole lot of issues, open-heartedness, thoughtfulness and commitment. She was a great advocate of seeking social justice, plus it was always fun to do actions with her. Goodbye Marge, I’ll catch up with you someday at the big protest in the sky, and we can finish that long delayed conversation we were having. — Chaya

Kanani Kauka

photo of Kanani Kauka

Queer and AIDS activist, writer, editor and birdwatcher Kanani Kauka died on November 10th from lung cancer. Kanani was born in Honolulu and grew up in France and Boston. At Dartmouth College in the mid-1980s, she was active in the movement for divestment from South Africa and in building a feminist and queer subculture on a very conservative campus. In response to violent attacks against women divestment activists, Kanani and other women started a tabloid called Womyn’s Re/view, containing features like a “Match the Misogynists” quiz.

As a writer, she contributed stories to the classic anthology Out for Blood: Tales of mystery and suspense by women, Tomboys: Tales of Dyke Derring-do, and A Woman Like That.  As an editor, she was one of the first staff members of Lambda Literary (then Lambda Book Report) and worked for the Kaiser Family Foundation as a member of the production team for twelve years. Before moving to San Francisco, she worked at Lambda Rising bookstore in Washington, DC.

In 2000, Kanani met Laura Thomas, one-time ACT UP member, now Deputy California State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, at a friend’s wedding. Kanani and Laura were married four times – in 2004, when same sex marriage was briefly available in San Francisco, in 2005 in Vancouver, BC, where it was already legal, in a ceremony in Berkeley and then in 2008 just before the passage of Proposition 8.

She was a talented photographer and a passionate birder.  She volunteered counting hawks for the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory and wrote for Pacific Raptor Report. For many years she was a member of the San Francisco Dyke March Organizing Committee.

Kanani’s memorial will be held at the Women’s Building on 18th Street in San Francisco on Sunday January 20th, at 4 pm. In addition to Laura, she leaves many devastated friends. Laura, Lisa, Rebecca, Ingrid, Jennifer, we send our love and support to you all.

photo of women working on posters for the Dyke March

Blessed Be, the elections are over. Now What?

By Kate

Elections bring various things like clockwork, and one of them is debates among leftists about whether, why and how to participate in them. This year more than most, many leftists put considerable time into electoral campaigns. Some threw down with visionary candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Stacey Abrams, Rashida Tlaib and Cat Brooks. Others helped swing historically red districts to blue, sometimes by working on behalf of less than enthralling candidates like venture capitalist Josh Harder, in California’s Central Valley and Jacky Rosen in Nevada, one of two House democrats who voted for a permanent tax cut on rich people. Others ran for city councils, school boards, transit authorities or water boards.

Some leftists did not let themselves get distracted by the elections, just kept doing movement work. Others sat on the sidelines, predicting doom and criticizing those who chose electoral paths as dupes or false friends.

With the elections barely decided – a few of them yet to be called – the postmortems are flowing fast and furiously. Among the folks who committed to the fight, some are on much-needed vacations, some are picking up the neglected threads of their lives, some are rolling up their sleeves to help capitalize on a victory or near-victory. Among the anti-electoral set, some are breathing a sigh of relief and hitting the ground running on tenant assemblies, migrant justice coalitions, caravans to the border, socialist schools, climate sit-ins, mutual aid projects – something nearly every day of the week and four a day on weekends.

For some of us who had one foot in and one foot out of the electoral madness, this is a time for some sober reckoning about what is productive and what role we should play.

Elections are a very flawed tool for the left. We’re nearly always outspent, and our opponents control the media. That’s why California, where almost 50% of voters are renters and almost 60% of renters are paying 30% or more of their income for housing, rejected Proposition 10, which would have allowed cities to expand rent control to include properties built after 1995. The national Democratic machine threw its muscle behind millionaire Dianne Feinstein, even after the state party endorsed Kevin de Léon, a relative progressive from a working class immigrant family.

But blaming Democrats, or blaming people who participate in electoral politics, for the weakness of the Left, is backwards thinking. The reason left-wing candidates and initiatives don’t win elections is because the Left has not built political power. It’s not the other way around. If the Bernie Sanders campaign should have taught us anything, it’s that people who sit out elections are not waiting around for socialist candidates to emerge.

What Is To Be Done: December 2018 Lesbian Chorus Recording

The Left can do many things besides try to win policy victories. We can continue to stand aside, holding a militant pole, helping build protests, supporting strikes, encouraging deeper and more critical analysis, reminding people about wars and other things they prefer not to think about, rooting for or dismissing or cautioning against the Yellow Vests in France and waiting for the next big wave of actions to try to get in front of. If that’s what you want to do, more power to you. If what you believe in is fighting fascists in the street, you don’t want nearly-sixty-year-old women in your bunch and I don’t want to be in there with you. So Go With God.

Table graphic of Health Care for All statistics.

But for those who want to be effective on a policy level, here are a few things we need to do.

(1) Learn to read a map.

We like to quote big-picture statistics: 52% of white women voted for Trump, 70% of the country supports Medicare For All, people of color are the new majority. These are (1) not that accurate – it seems like the percentage of white women who voted for Trump is closer to 47%; “non-Hispanic whites” still make up 62% of the population; and (2) not that relevant, given the political system that we live under.

Take health care:  70% is a huge number, and it’s meaningful. But it becomes a lot less meaningful when you consider that the country does not get to vote on whether to adopt a single payer health care system (point of information: Medicare for All is just a much better name for single payer). Who does vote is Congress, and Congresspeople don’t represent the population that responds to opinion polls; they represent their districts or their states. Here’s another big number: 63% of the population lives in cities.  And here’s a small number: 3.5% is the amount of land that those 63% are crammed into.  Here’s another small number:  9.  Just under half of the country’s population lives in 9 states: California, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia and Florida.  It’s pretty likely that that much of the 30% who don’t support Medicare For All live in those 41 other states, and a huge majority may live in that 96.5% of the land that is not cities, which is vastly overrepresented in Congress. If you’re a Congressperson from some gerrymandered district in Nebraska, Arizona or Mississippi, it makes zero difference what 70% of people in California, New York and Florida want.

(2) Think globally, act strategically

We want everything for everyone now. But that strategy – which is not really a strategy – has for many years gotten us nothing for anyone. Here’s yet another number:  1 in 8 Americans live in California. If California gets single payer, a right to housing and a $20 minimum wage, that will mean more than 12% of Americans have them. Washington and Oregon may well beat us to it. Hawaii and Massachusetts could be close behind. And California is bluer than ever. Orange County, which gave us homophobe John Briggs and Proposition 13 author Howard Jarvis, is now blue and majority people of color.

California has big Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the legislature and a new governor who is not progressive but claims he is. We don’t have to believe that to use it.

Every group doesn’t need to do the same thing, but we should be pulling in the same direction. That means the universal health care people going to the climate justice people and the homeless action people and the no-more-prisons people and working out some agreement that we’ll show up for each other. Social justice nonprofits should (be pressured to) build into their budgets some time spent working on issues that aren’t their primary focus. Grassroots groups should do the same with the resources we can mobilize. In order to do that, we need some way to come together and work out some kind of timeline, so instead of three actions on the same day, we have one major mobilization every two weeks, or whatever, the way the various canvasses used to get together and divide up turf (maybe they still do).

New York and Illinois peeps, get it together. Folks in hopelessly red areas, make this California Winter. I have a guest bed you can sleep on (if you don’t mind a few rats, but we’re working on that).

We got this.

(3) Get out of our own way.

When I was living in Palestine, I went to the bus station in East Jerusalem one day to find a car going to Bethlehem, where I had a meeting. A guy was wandering around and he said, “I heard the checkpoint was closed.” Another woman nodded her head. I asked where they heard it. “Around,” the guy said. I thought, well, maybe it was but often there was a way in, especially for a foreigner. I poked around and finally found a car going that way. I got to the checkpoint. No delay. I went straight through. When I mentioned it to the guy I was meeting, Sami Awad from Holy Land Trust, he said, “That’s what happens when people are occupied for so long. You get so used to being beaten down, you take any excuse not to bother.”

I think parts of the left are infected with that low energy that comes from decades of losing. Some of us are afraid of getting our hopes up and being disappointed again. Some of us are afraid of looking foolish, by believing in some liberal who sells us out. And it’s all a good excuse not to do the f*** of a lot of work it’s going to take to get stuff done.

But here’s the thing: Being right is really nice. I should know, because I’m right almost all the time. But being right with good health care, safe drinking water and a livable minimum wage is much nicer. If someone wants to pledge the flag, I could maybe argue with them about imperialism after we’ve gotten a few wins under our belts together. Something tells me, they might be more willing to listen then. That doesn’t mean I am gonna stand up for the national anthem, but being unwilling to work with liberals has not gotten us revolution in the last four decades. I’m even willing to put up with some annoying nonprofit people.

I suspect some leftists secretly don’t want anything good to happen under Newsom because that might make it look like he’s a good guy. Don’t worry. He’s not. But not-good people have done good things before, or at least allowed themselves to be given credit for them. Need to hear that old saw about Nixon and the Clean Water Act again? George H.W. Bush was just lionized for being the guy who brought us the Americans with Disabilities Act, which he didn’t. He just saw that it was not politically wise to oppose it.

dancing on grave of GHW Bush graphic and text

We all know what gets things done: movements. When Ocasio-Cortez joined the Sunrise Movement sit-in in Nancy Pelosi’s office to demand a Green New Deal, she signaled her understanding that getting progressive candidates elected is only the beginning of a long process of social change. Don’t tell me Newsom will try to backtrack on his campaign pledge to support single payer. I don’t doubt it. But if the 84% of Democrats and 66% of independents who support single payer are out there demanding it – not passively on the internet but loudly in the streets and the halls of the Capitol of this in 46% Democratic and 23% independent state, Newsom won’t dare deny them. Don’t tell me Pelosi won’t allow it. Last I checked, the Speaker of the u.s. House of Representatives doesn’t run California. The potential blow dealt to the hanging-by-a-thread Affordable Care Act by the ending of the individual mandate can only strengthen support for universal health care. So let’s get busy.

4) If we don’t fight, we can’t win.

The happiest woman in the country right about now has to be Jane McAleavy. She’s a labor organizer and author of the 2017 book, No Shortcuts, which looks at unions and other working class organizing projects. Her main thesis is that mobilizations that don’t require participants to make a commitment by signing a union card, paying dues, joining an organizing committee or voting yes or no in an election, are basically worthless. For the record, I do not agree with her assessment of the value of protest and other types of actions. But recent events certainly give a lot of credence to her approach.

The victory by Marriott workers (see labor roundup, page __) proves that full-on strikes work, while the one-day quasi-strikes and corporate campaigns favored by “new labor” often don’t. (Though, I would point out that Fight for $15, which uses a mobilizing and lobbying approach that minimizes the sacrifices individual workers are asked to make, has won bigger raises for more workers than the Marriott strike did.) The November election results did more than just change control of Congress. It also provided clear and usable data on what works and doesn’t work in a wide variety of political contexts. It shows us where our strength is, where we need push just a little harder, and where we maybe can’t win right now. (Beloved Oakland, what’s your problem?)

It’s up to everyone whether to heed the messages in the bottles or continue spinning impossible fantasies or dire predictions. I personally want to see what we can accomplish if we agree to put our inner Eeyores to sleep.

It’s not always true what they say, that “When we fight, we win.” But this is always true: If we don’t fight, we can’t win.

See you in the streets.

Justice for Chinedu Okobi

On October 3, Chinedu Okobi, a 36 year-old Nigerian immigrant who grew up in in the Bay Area, was killed by san mateo county sheriffs. According to police statements, he had been weaving through traffic. He was married, with a 12 year-old daughter. 

Initially, san mateo county district attorney wagstaff had said Chinedu had assaulted a deputy, but he was later forced to admit that was not true. The d.a. then claimed that the deputies had approached him because they were concerned for his safety. wagstaff said deputies tased Chinedu three or four times.  There is video of the incident, but it has not been released.

Chinedu’s sister, Ebele Okobi, is the director of Africa policy for Facebook, and with a group of friends has organized to get justice for Chinedu, and to demand accountability and restrictions on the sheriff’s department use of force. She stated that she had moved her family to London in 2014 after the birth of her son, fearing for his safety from police, as a young Black man. Although the video has not been publicly released, on November 18 she posted what she had been allowed to see of the video:

“Two days ago, I watched the police videos of my brother’s October 3 murder. They were shocking, not just because I sat next to my mother as we watched my little brother getting tortured to death in broad daylight while he begged “Someone, please help me!” and cried out “What did I do?”. They were shocking because they contradicted, in every single particular, the statement that the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office released and to which San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe referred in multiple news outlets after my brother’s murder…

“The video of my brother’s murder starts out with a dash cam view of my brother, walking calmly down the sidewalk, carrying bags. It’s notable, because the view shows other people walking-it’s broad daylight, so there is nothing particularly interesting or sinister about a man walking down the street, holding bags, heading somewhere. He is dressed normally, and doesn’t look disheveled or as if he’s in crisis…”

“They grab him, rip off his jacket. He tries to run, asking, “What’s wrong? What did I do?” That’s when Deputy Joshua Wang tased him. My brother falls in the street, on his back, crying. He has the presence of mind to keep his hands in the air, even as Deputy Wang holds the taser and continuously sends volts of electricity through his prone body. He is not fighting, just crying in pain. I will never forget the visual of his hands, waving above his head, open, begging. He begs them to take the taser prongs off of him. He tries to pull them off himself…”

She then refutes, point by point, the lies told by wagstaff and the sheriff, including that Chinedu had been wandering in traffic (he hadn’t), was acting erratically due to “mental illness” (he wasn’t), was a danger to, or had assaulted a deputy (he wasn’t and didn’t), and that he died on the way to the hospital (he died in the street).  He was tased, pepper sprayed and assaulted by deputies. He was thrown to the ground, and he died.

On Tuesday, December 4, about 40 people spoke at the san mateo county board of supervisors to demand:

1. Immediately release all video footage surrounding Chinedu’s death;
2. Take the five officers involved in Chinedu’s death off active duty until the investigation is over.
3. Charge the deputies involved in Chinedu’s death. This is the third taser killing in 10 months, and no officers have been charged so far.
4. Place a moratorium on taser use until there is an independent review of the county’s taser policy and practice.

After public comments the chairman of the board of supervisors, david pine, stated that the county had hired an “independent taser expert” to review the case, and that therefore the release of the report, and the video, would be delayed, possibly by several months. (wagstaff had previously said the video would be released in December).

Many organizations in san mateo county have joined this campaign, including Faith in Action Bay Area, Democratic Socialists of America – Peninsula, and, Pacifica Social Justice. Everyone is asked to:

  1. Call DA wagstaff at (650) 363-4752.
  2. Attend as many san mateo board of supervisors meetings as you can (they meet on Tuesdays in Redwood City) and keep raising these demands.

For more information, follow Ebele Okobi on facebook, or contact pacificasocialjustice@gmail.com.