Category Archives: Summer 1999 (6/10/99)

Clinton’s Big Lie

Kosovo war a cynical US power grab not a “humanitarian” mission

Inevitably, the sustained US bombing campaign against Serbia will be considered a “victory” for US aims in the region. Indeed it may be a victory, but not a victory for “humanitarianism”, the Kosovar refugees or the US public. The real beneficiaries of the war (and of the peace) are elites in the US and Yugoslavia, as well as the international military industrial complex and the forces of economic globalization.

The bombing has successfully crushed leftist tendencies in the Balkins, provided justification for continued military spending in the US, and most importantly provided US diplomats a credible threat of US military intervention outside of international law and outside of the United Nations next time the US wants to throw its weight around. Increasingly, the US is carving out a role as the world’s only superpower in the post cold-war New World Order, accountable to no one and immune from international law.

The Kosovar refugees will return to a militarily occupied, ruined, bombed countryside and a devastated economy controlled politically from afar as a NATO protectorate. The wildcat strikes and labor unrest centered in Kosovo which threatened economic stability and a smooth transition from socialism to market capitalism will now be replaced by a more grim struggle for survival. There is considerable evidence that it was this labor unrest which induced Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic to begin manufacturing the ethnic strife which provided justification for his repression. Nothing like “ethnic tensions” to take attention away from economic austerity imposed in the transition to capitalism.

The population of Serbia, which generally did not practice ethnic cleansing, must face the physical devastation of their country and the likely political strengthening of Milosevic. Milosevic clamped-down on dissidents at the beginning of the war, forcing a sizable opposition movement underground, and this clampdown will likely become permanent. Any massive bombing campaign against a country tends to unite its people behind the “leadership,” especially bombing aimed at creating civilian misery like the NATO bombing, which gradually moved from military targets to state television to daily attacks on electric power for the population. International elites are not sad to see the Serbian left, which organized massive strikes and protests over the last few years, crushed. An organized population is a much greater threat to the world’s rulers than the odd brutal dictator.

Media coverage during the war has been fascinating in how little understanding one could extract from it about the reasons for the conflict. The media dramatized the human rights offenses committed by Serb troops, to back up the Clinton line that the war was a “humanitarian” action to stop the slaughter of innocent Kosovar civilians. The big myth was that bombing would somehow stop the slaughter. In fact, there is significant evidence that US military planners knew that the bombing could do nothing to stop Serbian military attacks on the civilian population, and further that they knew that bombing would probably make things worse. In the year prior to the bombing, about 2,000 people were killed in Kosovo, mostly by Serb military and paramilitary forces. After international observers left in preparation for bombing, hundreds of thousands were expelled, their houses burned, and untold thousands probably killed.

The media tried to obscure how close a negotiated settlement between Serbia and NATO might have been in the absence of military action. The night before the bombing started, the Serb Parliament called for negotiations over “an international presence in Kosovo immediately after the signing of an accord for self-administration in Kosovo which will be accepted by all national communities” living in the province – essentially the deal sought after weeks of bombing. This gesture was ignored by Clinton (and the media). Clinton had a much stronger interest in bombing for its own sake than in reaching a settlement, even if this resort to force meant that thousands of Kosovars he claimed he wanted to help would be killed.

The importance of the war as a US attack on the authority of international law and the United Nations has also been obscured. Under international law, it is clear that no government can legally fight a war of aggression against another sovereign state. Only the United Nations has legal authority to use force for “humanitarian” goals. Even though the UN decision making system gives the US and other permanent members of the Security Counsel a veto on decisions of the Counsel, the US still wishes to undermine the UN because of the admittedly meager internationalism it represents. By fighting the war under the auspices of NATO – which has no authority under international law to attack sovereign nations for “humanitarian” reasons – and getting away with it, the US has greatly strengthened the credibility of any future threats of military action outside of any international body it may make. While NATO appears to be an alliance, the US exercises great influence in NATO, which contains no real opponents of US geo-political goals.

Meanwhile, for complex reasons, the US left and peace movement never really got a vigorous campaign off the ground to oppose the war. This is another major victory for Clintonesque advocates of a New World Order: future illegal military interventions can be planned with less fear of effective domestic opposition.

Despite abundant historical examples of US imperialism in which the government made fraudulent claims that the action was “humanitarian” while the real goals were economic and political, US activists have seemed largely paralyzed from acting against the bombing as the media repeatedly touted examples of Serbian brutality. Many groups, rather than taking to the streets, instead held discussion groups in which they questioned whether protests against the bombing would be an endorsement of genocide by the Serbs. “If this is genocide, we can’t just do nothing” went the line. Without doubting any story of Serb brutality (in fact it appears the Serb military did carry out serious human rights violations) it does not follow that if a government represses its own citizens within its own borders, the correct response is for the world’s most powerful nation to commence bombing with no UN authority. Many activist groups have apparently felt constrained to choose one of the narrow, unacceptable options presented to them by Clinton: oppose genocide by keeping quiet about the bombing, or oppose the bombing and support Serb brutality. These are not the only options.

US activists should remember that while the US supposedly tried to avoid death and displacement in Kosovo, it was directly funding similar government repression carried on by our allies in Columbia (1 million refugees, 2000 killed last year) and Turkey (repression against the Kurds have eliminated entire villages and killed tens of thousands) as well as elsewhere. No one in the US government proposed lifting a finger during state sponsored humanitarian disasters in Rwanda, Cambodia, East Timor, Guatemala . . . Clearly US claims of humanitarian concern are highly cynical.

Noam Chomsky has suggested the following solution to the “we must do something” argument: “Suppose you see a crime in the streets, and feel that you can’t just stand by silently, so you pick up an assault rifle and kill everyone involved: criminal, victim, bystanders. Are we to understand that to be the rational and moral response? One choice, always available, is to follow the Hippocratic principle: ‘first, do no harm.’ If you can think of no way to adhere to that elementary principle, then do nothing.”

The best way for activists to help the ordinary Kosovars, Serbians, and people around the world is to keep the pressure up on a US government which seeks world domination through military force. Violence will never stop violence, it can only create more, while strengthening the elites who wield the gun, as well as the elites where the bombs fall.

Resist Genetically Engineered Food

Despite the fact that the percentage of common food crops like soybeans and corn grown with genetically altered seed has been dramatically increasing over the last couple of years, with 40 percent of US soybean production now genetically altered, almost no one in the United States is organizing politically to oppose this dangerous trend.

This is in sharp contrast to extensive public protest in Europe and around the world, including numerous occupations of ships carrying genetically altered food products and attacks on fields growing genetically altered plants.

Recently, in response to public protests, the seven largest European grocery chainstores vowed to refuse to use genetically altered produce in their line of food products.

Finally, however, activism around genetic engineering is moving to the US, with the recent formation of Bay Area Resistance Against Genetic Engineering, which recently conducted its first direct action in Berkeley:

“On April 22nd, Earth Day, we formed a ‘Food Safety Inspection Team’ and hit the local Safeway store to vocally and creatively examine the products on the shelves for possible contamination with genetically engineered food products. After scanning the produce section, our carefully calibrated instruments detected milk products from cows that had been treated with a synthetic hormone. We also had high probability readings on much of the processed food, especially those containing soy, corn, corn sweeteners or aspartame. After about 20 minutes of inspecting and labeling genetically engineered food we were escorted out of the store where we continued to offer free safety inspections to customers with their full shopping carts. Our educational ‘coupon’ flyer helped offer some important information that the Food and Drug Administration has chosen not to provide.”

Genetic engineering is troubling because it further concentrates control over agriculture in corporate hands and accelerates non-sustainable agricultural practices that heavily rely on chemicals, machinery and high technology. These trends threaten traditional small-scale farmers around the world and local control over food production, the most basic human activity. Corporations have no commitment to feeding people, only to making money, and can raise prices at will. Genetic engineering and corporate control over seeds, the very stuff of life, are reducing the diversity of food species, with perhaps disastrous results should the few species grown fall victim to disease or changing conditions.

For example, the massive multi-national Monsanto corporation is aggressively marketing their “Round-Up Ready” soybean, which has been genetically altered to withstand large quantities of the herbicide Round-Up, which Monsanto also produces. This seed increases the use and production of Round-Up and increases farmers’ spending and dependence on corporately-produced inputs of seed and chemicals. Like more traditional hybrids, seeds produced by genetic engineered plants are not viable or will not produce consistent strains. Thus, farmers can’t save seeds, making them permanently dependent on seed companies and therefore production for the market economy rather than local consumption.

It is impossible to know what the long term effects will be of the wide-scale introduction of genetically altered plants into the environment. For example, Monarch butterfly larvae which eat pollen produced by corn engineered to contain genetic material from Bt, a biological insecticide, died. Pollen is widely dispersed by wind and water.

Genetically engineered (GE) foods are hitting the grocery shelves without labeling, without testing and without the awareness of the average consumer. Monsanto Corporation, with their GE soybeans, has been at the lead in a dangerous transformation of basic food crops into genetically altered replacements. Soybeans and oil are used extensively in processed food and animal feed. Other crops approved for

The multi-national biotech companies are engaged in a global race and propaganda campaign to get their products out to a vast market. They are deeply invested in bio-genetic research (and no doubt politicians and regulatory bureaucrats worldwide) and are trying to slip their products into agricultural production and onto the shelves with as little testing and public discourse as possible. The first GE products offer heavier pesticides use, pesticides engineered directly into the cells of food, milk from unhealthy cows, “suicide seeds” and vegetables that will sit on the shelves longer. These are only benefits for multinational pesticide and food production corporations, not for first-world consumers or the hungry.

If you would like information or to be involved in future actions, contact BARAGE at 510 594-4000 #144. Rage on!

Bike Summer 1999

The Revolution will Not be Motorized – Celebrate Bike Summer in San Francisco

Summer is a season of celebration — a time of intense energy when people gather under the sun and ideas bloom. There is no better time to effect social change and inaugurate a new era than summer. At the end of July, Bike Summer will consume San Francisco for one month as people pedal in from points far and wide to celebrate the glories of the bicycle, advocate for a sustainable transportation balance, and educate the greater community and other cyclists about how to bring about this velorution (velo=bike in French; velox is Latin for swift). Bike Summer is one of the most important environmental grassroots gatherings of the decade. By focusing the intense global momentum of the bicycle movement in one place, Bike Summer will raise the visibility of bicycling and transportation concerns, and it cannot come too soon. We must live the velorution.

Why Bicycles? Why Now? One of the pivotal environmental battles at the turn of the millennium is being waged over transportation. Transportation is more than an individual choice of how we decide to get from point A to point B — it is integrally tied to land use, air and water quality, habitat and wilderness loss, public health and safety, and even the rise of political and social apathy. We have built interstate rivers of concrete that emptied out our once-vibrant, compact urban centers and spilled humanity and our waste across the landscape in unending sprawling waves of auto-oriented subdivisions and mega-malls. As our metropolitan areas grow several times faster than do their populations, we are consuming vast tracts of wilderness, farmland, and open space and replacing them with oceanic parking lots, strip malls, and single-use isolated pods of tract housing and office “parks.” The low-density world designed around the needs of the automobile — its space demands, fuel demands, economic demands, psychological demands — leave room for little else in our communities and our lives. Consider these stark statistics:

  • Every year over 300 million gallons of used oil from road runoff, leaks and oil changes pour directly into our rivers and oceans — that’s 33 times as much oil as spilled by the Exxon Valdez.
  • 43,000 people die in the U.S. every single year from auto collisions. Add to that 2 million less-than-fatal motor vehicle injuries annually. o 107 million Americans live in counties that fail to meet one or more air quality standards.
  • 30,000 Americans die each year from respiratory illness stemming from auto-related airborne toxins.
  • The taxpayers paid $1 billion for construction of the 4.5-mile Cypress Freeway in Oakland, CA, or $3,500 per inch.
  • It costs $30,000 to the cost of a new housing unit in San Francisco: to add one off-street parking space.
  • Federal and local governments nationwide spend $185 million per day on highways and major roads.
  • Number of bicycles that can park in the space of one SUV: 16 – 20

We have subdued all other needs — of safety, of equity, of community, of health, of environment — to ensure that the automobile can chug along unfettered. And the irony of the whole system is that we have paralyzed our movement in unending gridlock. Our current transportation superstructure focuses on only the movement of the greatest volume of cars at the greatest speeds possible. All the while we have disassembled, underfunded, and neglected mass transit and marginalized any form of non-motorized transportation, including walking. We have made the corner grocery store, the pedestrian, the public town square, the bicycle commuter, and the blue sky all endangered species. We have forgotten how to move people.

The bicycle is the ultimate vehicle of liberation, of sustainability, of efficiency, of community, and of social equity. The environmental benefits of bicycling are unquestionable. Zero-emission human-powered transport is the ultimate tool of sustainability. Bicycles are inexpensive to manufacture and are affordable to families even on the most meager budgets. Bicycles require very little space in an urban setting to maneuver and park, they take up little room in movement and in place. In tandem with mass transit, bicycles permit a city to keep itself confined to less area, keeping wild lands and open space unpaved, intact, and nearby. Bicycling fosters an ethos of living locally — supporting local business, relying on local agriculture, appreciating local ecosystems.

We cannot forget the human ecology of the bicycle. Community, cultural activity and political discourse need physical and public places to foment and grow, they require entropy and human contact. Public squares, neighborhood parks, sidewalks, marketplaces — these are the places where people mingle, ideas grow, and culture and community germinate. All of this requires a human-scaled built environment. The human spirit needs contact with others to grow and flourish. The bicycle is ideal transportation to travel this compact, traditional urban landscape. Bicycling fosters community and gathering. It promotes social interaction at every turn. It fits in perfectly in a human-scaled city.

Cycling keeps the body fit and the mind and reflexes sharp. In this age of super convenience and drive-thrus, we have let our health and vigor deteriorate. Cycling as everyday transportation is a simple solution to regular exercise. And of course, the simple acts of bicycling lifts the human spirit and revives our connection with air, land, and water.

What is Bike Summer?

Bike Summer will be a month of intensive advocacy and celebration with daily events. Events will kick off on Friday, July 30, with the largest Critical Mass ride ever (we’re hoping to double the 5,000+ rider Mass of July 1997), and continue with daily events until the August 27 Critical Mass. Events will include film festivals, activist trainings, art exhibits, daily mass rides, political strategy workshops, cultural and natural history bike tours, street theatre, camping excursions, guerrilla bike rack installations, lectures and teach-ins, bike rodeos, family rides, street parties, and many direct action events aimed at raising consciousness and demanding change (as well as having fun!).

San Francisco is the birthplace of Critical Mass and the epicenter of the bicycling movement. Often looked to as a trend-setting capital, this city, grappling with its transportation and land-use future at this millennial crossroads, is the natural stage for intensifying the global struggle against automobile domination. Bicycling has been making slow incremental progress, but we need to take the campaign to the next level, strengthen the web of global activists, and begin to turn the wheels toward sustainability. Bike Summer 1999 in San Francisco is the first monumental wave of the velorution. Be a part of history and help pedal toward a greener, more livable future.

Bike Summer organizers are expecting large packs of cyclists and activists from all over the country to descend on San Francisco. If you want publicity material (press kits, stickers, flyers, full-color posters, logistical information, audio public service announcements), or want to help plan a Bike Summer event, please call (415) 431-2453 ext.9, send an email to bike_summer_sf@hotmail.com, or visit the official Bike Summer website at www.bikesummer.org.

Bicycling fosters an ethos of living locally — supporting local business, relying on local agriculture, appreciating local ecosystems. Bicycling fosters an ethos of living locally — supporting local business, relying on local agriculture, appreciating local ecosystems.

Bicycling fosters an ethos of living locally — supporting local business, relying on local agriculture, appreciating local ecosystems.

Can’t hack the USA

Dear Slingshot:

I’m in a pretty, secluded, scenic park in Lausanne, Switzerland right now. I’m enjoying all the privilege a white-American male can have here (shoplifting, dumpstering, scamming. . . ) and staying in mansion-type houses that are being squatted. Pretty easy livin’ here, which is partly why I came here many months ago.

In this time I’ve been slowly forgetting about the average, everyday life of the US. While reading the Spring, 1999 issue of Slingshot, it all came back to me like a boot in the head. I just broke down and started bawling my eyes out about the fucked-up conditions the poor and working class have to deal with there. This is not a usual thing I blubber about, for I’m pretty used to reading contents like this, but being away has really softened me up. Actually, I can’t picture myself going back to the friendly-fascist US anytime in the next years, for I’m not strong enough to lvie there anymore, which is a cop-out, I realized, but I must think of sanity first.

And that is why I’m writing this letter–to commend you on continuing the ever so important struggle against the sick, inhumane, capitalist machine known as the US government. This is the best issue of Slingshot I’ve ever read, and it’s always getting better. Thank you so much for putting this paper out. Stay strong, folx, and keep doing what you’re doing

Love, Stuart

Unite for Mumia

Revolutionary greetings to all at Slingshot!

I’m writing to ask that you extend my subscription. Your paper is good for contacting a lot of other prisoners who wouldn’t normally engage in any conversation about this rotten-ass system. But give ‘em your paper, and they’re sure to come back with some pro or con on some issue that’s in the paper! So keep it coming, please!

On another note: there was a squib on page 2 of issue #64 that proposed an anarchist bloc at the rally for Mumia in Philly on April 24. That event will have already taken place by the time you get this, but check this. Everybody that’s serious about getting rid of this rotten-ass system should have no reservations about attending an event such as the Millions for Mumia march. For one thing, to help save the life of any freedom fighter, whether you agree with his or her so-called ideology or not, is a worthy effort! A victory for Mumia is a victory for everyone opposed to this fascist state! The same way the government was rocked by the liberation of Assata Shakur is the same way we can shake up these demons by freeing Mumia. So I urge all freedom fighters, revolutionaries, activists, anarchists, Black nationalists, rebels, whatever, not to let any divisional b.s. get in the way of striking a blow for freedom! Be serious about what you’re doing, for revolution is not a game! As MOVE’s founder, John Africa, taught: People are not to be played with like a game. Life is not a game. Life is a need; when games are allowed to be played with people’s lives, people’s lives are reduced to a game, and history will show that the game players are reduced to ashes when the people truly realize they are being played with.

Alright now, everybody keep up the fight against this corrupt system! We can win! We will win! Ona Move!

Some Sort of Revolutionary Datebook

Dear Slingshot:

I wanted to tell you all a little bit about how much we love our Slingshot Organizers. You know by now that they are totally ubiquitous in the scene; when they arrive we all cut out pictures from magazines and stuff and glue them on, and then cover them with packing tape because, let’s face it, those covers don’t last. Then a few weeks later we compare how each of our Slingshots conforms to the shape of our butts .

Did you know there is a really cool mountain bike called a Slingshot? Many consider it the first “full suspension” bike. Instead of a downtube it had a steel cable on a spring, and there was a fiberglass “joint” just in front of the seat post on the top tube, so it could flex. I guess they climb like demons, tho the joint bends in all directions, so they tend to walk around sideways a bit too. They still make them – it might be a neat illustration for a future issue.

I’d also like to thank you on a more personal level with the following unsolicited testimonial, which you may use as you wish. Maybe just call me Chris C. or something if you want to print it. It’s just a little story about love and revolution and my Slingshot organizer.

A bunch of us from Firecracker [Infoshop - in Worcester, Mass] went to Worcester Polytechnic to see Amiri Baraka speak. He was great, but through the whole thing I couldn’t take my eyes off this cool looking punk rock girl. You know how it is when you just kind of see someone like that – you’re all trying to figure out stuff about them. So all these things are going through my head, like that she’s alone, so probably isn’t there just for a class, and that she’s really into it and laughing at Mr. Baraka’s jokes at the expense of the government and such, so she’s probably clued in. So anyway, I say fuck it, I’m going to pass her a note. You only live once, right? So I’m all giddy and trying to figure out what to say, and make it so that my offer – to have tea with me is irresistible. So I pull out my Slingshot and rip out the previous week’s page (January 8-14 if you’re wondering) and ask her to tea and give my name and number. And then I have to sit through the talk all nervous, not nearly giving Amiri the attention he deserves.

So finally it ends, and I go over to near where she’s sitting, and see her bag which has an Avail patch on it. So now I’m totally sold, but when she gets up she goes to move around me and I look her right in her eyes (well, glasses) and say “Excuse me,” but all loaded with meaning and ready to give her the note, but there’s no flicker of recognition or lust or anything in her eyes, which was what I was hoping for, so I lose my nerve, and out she walks.

So now my friends are around me talking about the talk and what to do next and all, and I’m just like “Fuck this, I am such an asshole.” So I run around and chase her down outside and say “Excuse me, I think you dropped this . . .” and she says “I’m sorry?” and I say it again, and she is all confused because she has never seen that piece of paper before in her life, but she takes it and I walk away.

A week later I’m in the middle of cooking dinner for my house and entertaining an old family friend who is now a Unitarian minister, and the food is burning and the phone rings and it’s for me and guess what, it’s her. And it kills me to do it but I have to ask her to call me back, but she does and a couple of weeks later we go out for Indian food. There she tells me her side of the story, like how she was totally spaced out when I gave her the note and had no idea what was going on, and was going to throw it out but she didn’t pass a garbage can. And then she read it later and saw that it was from (I quote) “some sort of revolutionary datebook” and that was one of the reasons she called. So anyway that was a few weeks ago and we’re hanging out a lot and I just wanted to say “thank you, Slingshot,” and if anyone is lovesick I tell them “get yourself a Slingshot Organizer and be ready, because you just never know.”

Come visit us in Worcester if you’re on the coast. Thanks again. –Chris C.

p.s. Her name is Sue.

Betrayal of the Homeless

Dear Slingshot:

In regards to Rob Anderson’s article in the Spring Issue of Slingshot # 64 “The Left’s Betrayal of the Homeless,” many people are homeless because they want to be. For many runaway teens as well as other social outcasts, being homeless is the middle finger response to the system which caters to the rich and upper-class establishment of America. To many homeless, “we fight just by living, our existence is resistance.” Squatters Rights!

Food Not Bombs supports this way of life and so what? Who’s “status quo” are we challenging now? When homeless people take over abandoned houses and buildings, they challenge the status quo. These government funded shelters are just like anything else operated or funded by the American government: money making schemes pretending to “help the needy.”

Most of these shelters are revolving doors (I was in Innvision in Santa Clara County). These programs offer no type of rehabilitation or ways for these people to move forward in their life, but to stay in these government funded shelters. The shelters in return make more money. Often, the few programs that do help the homeless have such intense regulations that only a handful qualify, such as Housing, Social Security, Unemployment.. and other smaller programs, per “When Housing Disappears,” by Michael Radding, Spring issue #64.

Rob Anderson wrote, “The fact that these people find themselves living on the streets is evidence that their lives are out of control.” I think it is evidence that our government is out of control. Some people are homeless because they can’t find a decent paying job to survive on. Some people are homeless because they are addicted to drugs and alcohol, but not all homeless people are addicted to drugs and alcohol. Most of the homeless youth are runaways because they’ve had tough family lives and when the Child Welfare System (the counties legal kidnapping ring) intervenes, they take these children out of their homes, place them into institutions, like shelters and juvenile halls that fail to give the love these kids need and deserve. What do you think these kids do? They reflect and become a reflection and rebel. There are plenty of circumstances where our current system status quo needs to be challenged.

When San Francisco’s Mayor Willie Brown got a pie in his face, he got just what he deserved, if not more. Part of being a radical is direct action in any shape or form. The Biotic Baking Brigade’s pieing of Mayor Brown was a crafty, artistic political statement; like throwing a pie at a clown. Willie Brown is a joke; a bad joke and he just got what he deserves. The BBB should do their time proudly.

Of course, there are those situations as well, where there are the elderly, the sick, the mentally ill, drug abusers, people that want a change of life, but can’t find a place to fit their special needs. At least they can go get a warm meal at a Food Not Bombs serving.

If homelessness is such a problem for the working people, renters, homeowners, and small business owners, help them out! Offer a homeless person a job, organize within your community, take over abandoned buildings that could house these people. United we stand, divided we fall. What ever happened to the Presidio? Mr. Rob Anderson, you are complaining about people complaining about homelessness with no real action. What are your actions? Have you ever been homeless? Have you ever been involved with Food Not Bombs? While some of the homeless stay homeless and others join the struggle to rise from homelessness, at least FNB gives these people a warm meal. Would you rather see them starve or eat out of trash cans? We challenge the System’s status quo much more than your article in Slingshot does.

We also fight by living, our existence is resistance.

Campaign for Renters’ Rights Goes after the Landlords

With rents all over the Bay Area reaching heights that property owners in most parts of the country can only dream about, the pressure has come down hard on working class renters. For people who want to live in the vibrant city of Berkeley, proximity to the university means rents that are incredibly expensive. As prices rise, Berkeley’s famed economic and ethnic diversity is steadily disappearing.

Now that landlords can set rents for vacant properties to any level the market will bear, they have a high incentive to evict tenants. Take the case of Lisette Jones. Lisette is a single mother on Section Eight, (a federal housing subsidy) living in a Berkeley apartment owned by millionaire landlord Andrew Lipnosky. Lipnosky has evicted Lisette and two other Section Eight tenants in the same building. The building is in downtown Berkeley, not far from the university, and Lipnosky must be licking his chops at the thought of a couple of wealthy students taking Lisette’s place.

The Campaign for Renters’ Rights (CRR) has taken up the case and has been fighting to force Lipnosky to let Lisette stay. In April, a group of 20 marched to Lipnosky’s residence in the hills of El Cerrito and staged a mock trial of the absentee landlord. Not only is Lipnosky guilty of greed in kicking out Lisette Jones, he has repeatedly shown a callous disregard for his tenants’ rights. Tenants in many of his 45 Alameda County buildings have reported that their requests for maintenance have gone unanswered for months and even years. When tenants do get a response from Lipnosky, it is generally through manager John Yancy, a man who has been charged with physically assaulting a tenant and who has verbally threatened many of Lipnosky’s renters.

At a meeting of the CRR in May, Lipnosky tenants from Berkeley and Oakland came and shared stories about mold-infested drapes and carpets, broken stoves, and bathrooms without any working lights. People are sick and tired of living in substandard housing and getting abused by the manager who is supposed to fix their apartments. The meeting voted to take up the case of two single mothers sharing an Oakland apartment owned by Lipnosky who are also facing eviction.

The fight against Lipnosky’s poor treatment of his tenants will continue with the Campaign for Renters’ Rights staging an Open House where the public can come and see how neglected his buildings really are.

If you want to get involved with the Campaign for Renters’ Rights, or if you’re having problems with your landlord, call CRR’s hotline: (510) 595-5545.

Mission Yuppie Eradication Project

S.F. Anti-Gentrification Activist Arrested, House Searched

Although some claim that it is futile to resist gentrification and almost impossible to go against the force of the market economy, many groups have formed to resist rising rents, especially in San Francisco’s Mission district. Groups like the Eviction Defense Network (E.D.N.), Mission Agenda, and Mission Artists Gentrification Insurrection Coalition (M.A.G.I.C.), are still fighting. One group, the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project (M.Y.E.P.), has been on the forefront of resistance by creating propaganda, through a poster campaign that probes the outer boundaries of conventional decorum, and calling for direct action, in the hopes of dissuading yuppies from settling in the Mission.

Recently, the person accused of being Nestor Makhno, the MYEP spokesperson, was arrested and held incommunicado, chained to a bench at the Mission police station for over 12 hours while being jeered at by police complaining about damage to their Jeep Cherokees. A felony, “making terrorist threats”, and misdemeanor “malicious mischief” and vandalism charges have since been dropped. But his girlfriend had to hustle $1,060 dollars (which they aren’t getting back) to get him out on bail, over 24 hours later, from the 850 Bryant police station.

While he was in custody, his house was raided by six S.F.P.D. gang members. His computer, house keys, phone-address book, writings, radical literature, posters, documents, a Coup hip-hop tape (with an song called Kill My Landlord), and a nearly complete 16mm film project were all confiscated. They also wanted to grab a bag of what they mistakenly presumed was fertilizer but, as his girlfriend pointed out to them, was just a bag of organic black beans! Apparently they were really out to bust ‘Nestor’ and tried to blame an unsolved landlord arson on him. Thought crime is punishable in this society in which private property is more sacred than people’s lives. The pen is a formidable weapon, indeed.

Rents have never been higher in the city. According to the May issue of the New Mission News, because of the passing of Proposition G, owner move in evictions are now down to about 60 a month; as compared to the 180 OMI evictions a month, last year. However, Ellis evictions, in which the landlord withdraws rental units from the market, have increased to about 20 evictions a month. Local newspapers also claimed that there were about 168 homeless deaths in the city streets in 1998, one of the highest rates since they’ve been supposedly keeping count.

Individuals like ‘Nestor’ need our full support even if you don’t 100% agree with ‘his’ provocative posters. At least someone is making a stink! Most people are evicted and quietly pushed out without a fight or fuss. A local illegal move-in eviction, by the Cort family, who had previously white-washed a huge mural on 17th and Harrison St., was exposed by the posters. The Corts got a little too greedy. In 1996, they evicted, among others, residents who were in their 70′s and who had been living there for 20-30 years. The house, at 3257 20th St., is still unoccupied.

The Mission Yuppie Eradication Project posters have definitely sparked debate and discussions about the issue of gentrification. Complaints about the posters are not coming from Latino residents on the verge of eviction (the last posters were also translated into Spanish) but mostly from new white residents who, although they claim they are not yuppies, can still afford expensive cars and high rents.

The real issue is clear. We have to decide which side we are on: with those who want to perpetuate this destructive, oppressive status quo, or with those who want to make positive social change for all, towards a society where at least the basics, such as housing and food are free to all.

Student Movement Wins Ethnic Studies Victory

UC Berkeley saw the largest student protests in more than a decade this spring as hundreds of students successfully used direct action tactics to defend the Ethnic Studies Department from a slow, institutional starvation. The multi-racial coalition of students, faculty and community members won a number of limited concessions from the UCB administration after a brief but intense struggle that was designed around attainable goals in order to virtually ensure that victory could be declared.

The victory at UCB demonstrates that when students organize, they can win. The struggle was a positive example of a multiracial alliance with strong participation and leadership by women activists. It was a proactive struggle that not only defended past gains, but pushed forward with new demands. Finally, the victory creates institutionalized change.

Ethnic Studies, along with Women’s Studies, Labor Studies and (where they have it) Queer Studies represent institutional challenges to power structures based on white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism and authoritarianism. These departments have been catalysts in developing new theories and concepts of race, gender, class and power, as well as providing new generations of activists and organizers with skills and knowledge. The survival and success of these departments contributes to the survival and success of movements for social change.

The first Ethnic Studies Departments in the United States were created at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University after long and courageous student strikes in 1968-69. Students from both campuses formed the Third World Liberation Front and completely closed down the schools in a demonstration of multiracial power supported by teachers, employees and community members. While the strikers were met with fierce police brutality and repeatedly denounced by then Governor Ronald Reagan, the demands were won. Ethnic Studies (ES) Departments and courses have been developed on campuses across the US, but since the day they were created they have been contested, denounced and attacked by defenders of the traditional canons of Western Civilization ” conservatives and liberals alike.

Thirty years after the creation of Ethnic Studies at UCB, students this spring re-formed the Third World Liberation Front to ensure the future of the ES department. An action alert by graduate students K. Liao and K. Yep stated: “The administration has derailed departmental efforts to fill empty tenured track faculty positions. As a result, there are NO full-time tenured Native American Studies professors, only ONE full-time Chicano studies professor… with the expected retirement of faculty in the new decade, the future existence of ES is in question.”

A student flyer titled “Welcome to UC Berkeley of the 21st Century” gave further evidence that ES is under attack: “ES has the smallest budget in the College of Letters and Science ” across the board cuts affect its programs disproportionately; One-third of the overall Ethnic Studies budget has been cut, forcing the department to cut eight classes next semester; The department has lost four to five faculty members that the University has not allowed the department to replace.” Student actions to defend and extend Ethnic Studies began on April 14 with an occupation of Barrows Hall, home of the ES department. The students, organized under the banner of the TWLF, held the building for over 10 hours. Campus police, suited up for a riot, used pain compliance techniques to remove and arrest 46 students for trespassing. Several days after the occupation, the TWLF protested at the annual “Cal Day.” Student activists disrupted speeches by UC Chancellor Berdahl and Provost Carol Christ. The students challenged the UC leadership to explain what was happening to Ethnic Studies. Student protesters articulated the connections between attacks on ES and the voter approved Proposition 209 which further dismantled affirmative action programs and lead to a sharp decline in the number of people of color accepted into the UC system. On April 29, hundreds of students held a protest vigil in front of the offices of the Chancellor and the Provost. At the vigil, six students announced they were beginning a hunger strike to increase pressure on the administration to accept the demands of the TWLF. The hunger strikers, who maintained a liquid diet, and dozens of other protesters set up a tent city in front of the administration’s office in California Hall, where they would stay until the demands had been won. Over the next few days, more and more students and people from the community joined the protest, creating a massive encampment on the Chancellor’s doorstep, reminiscent of the anti-apartheid shantytown established on the same spot in 1986.

Early on May 4, police arrested 104 protesters, including all 6 hunger strikers. Campus police from UC Davis, UCLA and other campuses were brought in to assist in the arrests. The protesters returned immediately and news of the police action increased both media attention and community support. Activities around the tent city increased. Protest signs and messages of solidarity from students around the country decorated California Hall. More and more students and community activists joined the occupation. The student government passed a resolution to support the TWLF’s demands

The administration was put in an impossible situation as the encampment grew and their act of repression backfired. Any further mass arrest would make them look like brutes, but the hundreds of students in sleeping bags just couldn’t be ignored.

On May 8, negotiations between students, faculty and the Chancellor led to an agreement which included the following provisions: 8 faculty ladder positions over the next 5 years, 3 of which will be filled this coming year; a budget sufficient to maintain the department ” no more cut backs on classes; a research center on “Race & Gender Studies”; additional office space; a Multicultural Center for students; funds for recruiting qualified transfer students who are interested in ES; a mural in the building that houses ES; dropping all criminal charges against student protesters (although disciplinary letters will be