Gray Panthers of San Francisco
November 2007 Newsletter

November Meeting


The November general meeting will be a discussion of justice issues which affect San Franciscans. Kiilu Nyasha will talk about the San Francisco 8, Damone Hale will talk about the Gang Injunctions, and Jennifer Friedenbach will talk about criminalizing the homeless.

Kiilu Nyasha, a long-time anti-racist radio and video commentator, will tell about the San Francisco 8, eight former Black Panthers on trial around the killing of a SF Police officer 36 years ago. The case is based on confessions extracted under torture by New Orleans Police soon afterward. Charges were dismissed decades ago because the confessions, the main evidence, were made under torture, but now the charges are reinstated, even though there is no new substantial evidence. The SF-8 range in age from late 50s to 70s, and six have led exemplary lives for decades in various communities, including San Francisco. Two have been jailed for decades after a similar trial in New York City on other charges. We have a webpage devoted to the SF-8 case, and the link is below.

Activist lawyer Damone Hale will talk about the anti-gang injunctions against 94 men requested by City Attorney Dennis Herrera over the last two years. Among other things, the men are barred from associating with each other in certain areas of the city designated “safety zones.” Public Defender Jeff Adachi is opposed to these injunctions. He quotes a recent report by a Washington think-tank, the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) that found injunctions don't work to reduce violence. The JPI report further states that although youth crime in the US is at its lowest level in three decades, public concern and media coverage has skyrocketed since 2000. As Damone Hale has said, “You're going to have young men who are going to have to prove that they have a legitimate reason to be in a particular area in San Francisco. What we're going to have is comparable to South Africa's pass laws.”

Jennifer Friedenbach, Executive Director for the Coalition on Homelessness, will describe new City moves to criminalize homelessness. Since Newsom took office, the City has spent $7.8 million issuing 46,000 citations for homelessness offenses. It has drastically reduced mental health and substance abuse services, blocked millions for homeless housing, and reduced GA checks to less than $80. Now Newsom and the District Attorney's office are promoting a new Community Justice Center, a full-scale court with judges, prosecutors, and public defenders, which they say would force those judged guilty of homelessness crimes into housing and treatment services. But there is no way the City can supply these services. 54,000 households are already on a wait list for housing. Thousands are waiting for the meager array of mental health and substance abuse services that still exist after years of cuts. As Jennifer says, “No amount of punishment will lift people out of poverty.” Gray Panthers adds that it's an obscene lie to blame the homeless for not accessing housing and services, when it's decades of City and Federal cuts that have caused these services to disappear.

Come with your input.

See the Gray Panthers SF-8 web page and the Free the SF-8 webpage.

Watch the trailer for the video Legacy of Torture, describing the torture of Black Panthers by New Orleans police and the FBI/Cointelpro operations against the Black Panthers.

Read SF Gray Panthers blog Anti-Gang crackdowns make cities more dangerous, intervention needed instead, Justice Policy Insitute says.

Visit the SF Public Defender's Gant Injunction Resources webpages, including the Justice Pilicy Instutute study, anti-Gang Injunction legal briefs, news articles, press releases and more.

Read the SF BayView's pieces Gang Injunctions Take Root in San Francisco, and Black, Brown Communities Unite against Gang Injunctions. Also, Demone Hale's SF Bayview piece Gang Injunction: 300 Black Men Targeted.

Read SF Guardian articles on the City's criminalization of homelessness: The Crime of Being Homeless and The Price of the Sweeps.

Read the Coalition on Homelessness Street Sheet summary of Newsom's homeless policy, Mayor Newsom's First Term: Let the Record Speak.

Listen to KALW "City Visions" program on the proposed Community Justice Centers with Coalition on Homelessness Director Jennifer Friedenbach and others.

(back to November 2007 Newsletter front page)