One Strike Law or Jim Crow Law?

root - Posted on 20 June 2002

Served with a One strike eviction notice – one very low-income Sacramento resident faces homelessness.

Protests held at the Oakland Housing Authority and across the country

by Emilio Guiterrez and Lisa Gray-Garcia/PNN

It was late.. perhaps a little over when I should be getting to bed – but the call sounded urgent- and after all it was my sisters’ youngest daughter on the end of the line. "Uncle Fred, I know its late but can I stay there tonite, I have nowhere to go and I can’t sleep on the street another night."

That’s all she said and then the phone was silent, a deep, precious silence, implying so much. Speakin’ of a life spent without a mama or even a decent papa, no-good men after no good men, alongside money troubles and lost children. My niece was not perfect nor was she sober, but she was family and therefore I would open my door to this child once again. "Come outa the cold before it gets any later" I whispered.

"Thank-you, Uncle" Click

Lissa, my niece, only stayed at my house for one night, enough time to get one nights sleep, a shower and a hot meal. Before breakfast the next morning she was gone like a wisp of string in the night sky.

That was a six months ago. Last week I received an official letter from The Housing Authority. I wasn’t sure why I should feel nervous. I paid my rent on time. I cleaned up around my apartment. I mean what had I ever done but be too poor to ever move my family out of the projects, something I will always regret, something I will always live with. Then I opened the letter. "You are officially served with notice to move…." There were more words citing the "illegal stays by a person under the influence, based on the One Strike Policy" I dropped the letter.. as though it was made of concrete instead of underweight county-issue paper. I will not be able to fight this, I don’t even know who to call, or what to do.. or most importantly..where to go

Emilio Guiterezz, a disabled elder of Samoan and Chicano descent, currently resides in a building run by the Housing Authority of Sacramento, Ca. He co-wrote this piece with Lisa Gray-Garcia as part of POOR Magazine’s writer-facilitation program which aims to give very low and no-income folks a voice in the media about issues of poverty


"One Strike" Policy is Jim Crow!
Oakland InPDUM Protests Federal Eviction Law at
Oakland Housing Authority
by Oaktown Uhuru News

"Drug Activity is in the White House, not the
Projects!" and "Evict George and Jeb Bush!" read some
of the signs held by demonstrators on Monday, April
1st in front of Oakland Housing Authority. The Oakland
branch of the International People's Democratic Uhuru
Movement (InPDUM) held a press conference and
demonstration in protest to the Supreme Court ruling
last week to uphold the "One Strike" policy.
Participating organizations included Just Cause
Oakland, the National Coalition for Black Reparations
in America, the African People's Solidarity Committee
and Poor News Network.

On March 25th, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled
that public housing tenants can be evicted for their
relatives' or visitors' suspected drug activity, even
if it occurred without their knowledge. The ruling
upheld the federal eviction law for federal subsidized
housing operated by the Department of Housing and
Urban Development and local housing agencies such as
the Oakland Housing Authority.

Four African residents of Oakland's public housing
challenged the law. According to the Oakland Housing
Authority, nearly 80 percent of public housing
residents are black.

Oakland president of the InPDUM Bakari Olatunji
spelled out the contradiction in this blatantly
vicious law, "African people are already victims of a
drug economy we do not control. The government has
used the drug economy to lock up over one million
black men and to justify killing African people. Now
this same government wants to use the presence of
illegal drugs to justify making entire families
homeless. President Bush lives in public housing and
his daughters have used drugs. Is he on the streets?"

Passersby on Harrison St. honked their support at the
demonstrators which also included Jervis Muwwakkil,
whose son Jamil Muwwakkil was beaten to death by six
Oakland Police Officers last year. His death was
justified by the OPD because of the presence of drugs
in Muwwakkil's system.

Stated Wendy Snyder, a member of the African People's
Solidarity Commmitee, "White people make up the
majority of the drug users in this country and yet
white people can sit up in our homes in Berkeley and
Mill Valley and use drugs and not get thrown in jail.
There has been and continued to be so much unnecessary
suffering. We must build a movement of white people's
reparations to the African community."

Eddie Ytuarte of Just Cause Oakland discussed Oakland
Housing Authority's other unfair practices while
N'COBRA denounced the law and called for participation
in the August "Millions for Reparations March" in
Washington D.C.

The International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement
is calling for all concerned individuals and
organizations to come together to take on this issue
and other blatant violations of the democratic rights
of the African community. Contact
or call (510) 569-9620.


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