From Black Equity to Eviction of Black Elders: SF Dist Atty Refuses to Prosecute Elder Abuse Case of 100 yr old Black Elder Iris Canada
(Photo by Christopher Cook)
"This is racism, this is ageism, " Iris Merrioums spoke to the small crowd of media, advocates and POOR Magazine family gathered outside the San Francisco District attorney's office on Friday, BlackAugust 12th. POOR Magazine had organized this press conference to demand a meeting with DA George Gascon for Iris's 100 year old grand-auntie, life-long Fillmore resident Iris Canada, who has been fighting for the right to stay in her home of 50 years since last year.
"Iris is an owner, she has a life estate, and they have been harassing her because they want her out," Iris added.
Friday's visit to the DA follows yet another attempt by the landlord to evict Iris in kkkort on Wednesday BlackAugust 10th when the attorney for landlords Peter Owens, Carolyn Radische and Stephen Owens brought yet another filing against Iris to get her out.
And notwithstanding the fact that a powerful group of advocates from Housing Rights Committee, Senior disability Advocates, POOR Magazine and community showed up to support and resist yet another attempt to evict a 100 year old Black elder from the increasingly white and rich San Francisco, the judge allowed Wednesay's appeal to go through putting Iris in the dangerous position of being homeless in her lifelong home,
Though the court granted Iris a relief from forfeiture, allowing her to stay despite the eviction, it also granted the owner’s legal and other fees of $164,000. Ms. Canada’s attorney, Dennis Zaragoza, has filed an appeal because he believes the court had no right to impose the fees.
Friday's visit to the DA follows a 2014 series of elder abuse cases brought by disabled, evicted and displaced elders, family and youth leaders from POOR Magazine, Krip Hop Nation, the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper, Idirss Stelley Foundation and Manilatown Heritage Foundation because we were able to prove the clear cases of elder abuse under 368 of the elder abuse code that dictates the standards for Adult Protective Services and Child Protection Services by landlords for the acts of eviction and pre-eviction harassment of elders and children. In all of the cases we brought, the DA's assistant Sharon Woo went to great pains to show us how the Ellis Act and other land-stealer, settler colonizer born laws protect the landords, even when their falacious evictions for profit resulted in the deaths of Elaine Turner and Ron Likkers and many more elders. After two visits we never heard anymore from the District attorney, who consistently rules and acts in favor of the rich and powerful in San Francisco.
After Iris explained the complex history of harassment by Peter Owens and other co-owners of the building which included putting camera's up to "spy" on Iris, accusations of Iris living somewhere else and an endless list of court filings, that has been happening since this case began we walked into the DA to demand the meeting.
When we arrived at Gascon's office we were met by a disinterested and patronizing "Public Relations person who was there to "spin" a story but not answer any of our questions. "The communications person is coming out to meet with you." said the woman sitting behind the glass at the DA's office.
"We didn't ask to meet with the communications person, " Iris and I shot back in unison, " Where is George Gascon?, we opened the elder abuse case in 2015 and there has been no movement since then," Iris concluded.
"Why are you sending a PR person to meet with us?," Leroy Moore from Krip Hop Nation who along with Queenandi XSheba, Vivian Thorp and Laure Mcelroy from POOR Magazine, Tony Robles from Manilatown Heritage Foundation, HRC and and so many powerful community members showed up to support Ms Canada and her family.
"Mr Gascon is not available right now," After almost an hour of patronizing excuses from the Public Relations officer for the DA, the room began to fill up with armed sheriffs.
"You need to leave this office right now, " another assistant District Attorney who knew me from the last time we came in in 2014 and tried to silence us with a promise of yet another meeting time and then resorted to just calling in the weapon filled sheriffs, who fingered their guns nervously. At one point they blocked the doorway and said Iris couldn't even help her auntie leave the office.
The story of Iris Canada isn't just about eviction, its about African peoples who were stolen to build this stolen Turtle Island' Its about Iris's equity being stolen by settler colonizer paper trails and lying lawyers who have been stealing Black , Brown and 1st Peoples lives and land since the beginning of this capitalist project called Amerikkklan. Its about the pattern of intentional displacement of the Black, Brown and working class communities of San Francisco. Its about disrespect and endless pushing out of poor and working class peoples from their rightful claim to the City they worked to build and yet get no respect from.Its about the disrespect, killing , profiling and genocide of Black and indigenous peoples. Iris story is the collective story of Marcus Books, Mario Woods, Luis Demetrio Gongora Pat, Alex Nieto, Ron Likkers and Elaine Turner.
"Its called Karma, and God and Mother Nature will be your final judge," Four generations lived poverty skola, teacher and POOR Magazine staff writer Queenandi XSheba called out to the DA's office after the whole community was evicted from the DA's office "We will be back," she concluded.
Yes we will. all of us gentrified, displaced, poLice terrorized and never thought about peoples. We will be back. For Iris, for Ron, for Elaine, for Mario, Luis, Alex, Amilcar and so many more...
EMERGENCY ACTION REQUIRED:100 Year old Iris Canada has fought eviction from her Western Addition home of more than 40 years. She was evicted by her landlord Peter Owens via the Ellis Act. She won her court case to stay in her home. Her landlord sued for court costs and won. Now she faces eviction. This has caused stress to Iris, which has included a stroke. Judge James A Robertson ruled in favor of the landlord. Let him know that it is wrong to evict an elder. Please call his office and let your voice be heard. His office at SF Superior Court is 415-551-3768.