"The City of Oakland is up to their old tricks again. They are not respectful. They don't want us here and they don't give us assistance, so now they're mad because we're organized and build our own solutions to our own problems."" said Black Panther and founder of the Self-Help Hunger Program
(SHHP) Auntie Frances Moore, who has been serving food, building gardens and providing advocacy for poor, Black, unhoused and disabled people of North Oakland and North Berkeley for the last seven years
On October 11th, on the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party in North Oakland, the City of Oakland's Public Works Agency launched an attack on the Self-Help Hunger Program (SHHP) and its founder Auntie Frances Moore, mere blocks from where the Party was founded in October, 1966.
Public Works forcibly removed 20 established tree collard plants from the Driver Plaza commUNITY orchard, which were planted by Self-Help Hunger Program, Santa Fe CAN, and surrounding neighbors in honor of a local resident, Carla "CC" Carman," who had passed in 2015. These collard trees -- removed without proper consultation or discussion with SHHP or local residents -- were harvested and cooked every Tuesday as part of the SHHP's weekly meal at Driver Plaza, a.k.a. "the Island." Now seven years running, this meal is meant to feed and nourish neighbors and build people-led solutions to address the lack of fresh, healthy food and other necessary services in North Oakland and South Berkeley.
"The Very poor, elder, Black, disabled, displced and unhoused peoples of Oakland are excluded from the City of Oakland's narrative about the Black Panthers, even though the very issues of white supremacy, state control and redistribution of equity are what The Black Panthers and Aunti Frances Self-Help Love Mission are about, this is classic hypocrisy by the CIty, " said Lisa Tiny Gray-Garcia, author of Growing Up Homeless in America and co-founder of POOR Magazine and Homefulness.
SHHP, in coalition with POOR Magazine
, Phat Beets Produce
, and Sante Fe CAN
, is calling on the City of Oakland to replace the plants they destroyed, heal the harm from this attack, and work with neighbors to support, rather than dictate, what North Oakland needs to thrive. Community-planting of food in public spaces to create "Edible Parks" is a necessary solution to localize food production in order to meet people's health and cultural needs. SHHP and Santa Fe CAN also steward a 40+ memorial fruit tree orchard at Driver Plaza, which must be hand-watered by neighbors, since the City of Oakland refuses to provide a water source, despite Driver Plaza's designation as a public space.
"Oakland has always been a city of Black Self Determination whoever is in political office or who has power, the People of Oakland run Oakland like Soul Beat to the sickle cell program of black panther party to the first home recording studio, J-Jam, of the late Blind Joe Capers, lets keep Oakland a true land of self-determination," said Leroy Moore, POOR Magazine race and poverty scholar and co-founder of Krip Hop Nation.
Since the founding of the Self-Help Hunger Program in 2009, Driver Plaza has been subjected to numerous attacks by the City of Oakland, the Oakland Police Department and some neighbors who see the SHHP as an obstacle to their plans to intensity gentrification in the surrounding area, which is continuing to displace low-income black and brown elders and historic residents of Oakland and Berkeley.
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