San Francisco is NOT Florida! civil rights and voting rights violations in our Mayoral Election

POOR correspondent - Posted on 25 June 2010

Tuesday, February 17, 2004;

"We have been Florida for a long time" a small circle of civil rights activists, media and concerned citizen's formed a tight circle on the steps of City Hall last Thursday as Willie ratcliff, publisher of the SF Bayview spoke at a press conference exposing the frightening allegations of voter abuse that occurred in the recent San Francisco mayoral race, "I am really glad to see this come up - we have been trying to get this story out for a long time - this is nothing new"

As Willie spoke myself, and my fellow PNN reporters Joseph Bolden and Clive whistle shook our heads in frustrated agreement. Clive mumbled, "maybe the truth about A. Phillip Randolph Institute (known as APRI, or Willie Brown's voting machine) will finally come out " Within minutes several representatives from the newly formed, People of color electoral coalition approached the microphone, demanding redress and accountability from the City Attorney, Ethics Commission and Secretary of State if need be, for over 150 incidents of documented voter abuse. This press conference and coalition building was inspired in part by the recent allegations of the nine street cleaners who were pressured to vote for Gavin Newsom and walk precincts for the Newsom campaign. As the testimonies were spoken, I remembered back to the year 2000 and the odd experience of having to tell homeless people who were expecting their "payoff" from APRI, for voting, that there was nothing we could do (we shared an office building at the time). Later, that year I heard from Clive that he, as a homeless shelter resident was approached several times to "vote for the right person" and then in the last election as reported in Clives' SF Bayview Op-ed that he was aggressively "courted" by Newsom supporters coming to and fro his Sunnydale apartment

"When I went to vote I had a poster of Matt Gonzalez on my truck -and I heard a man scream at me, " Alvin Jones, you can't vote here," Alvin Jones from the Bayview Project Area Committee (PAC) and Community activist for the Bayview was speaking nervously into the mike, " I didn't know what to think so I went down to the Matt Gonzalez headquarters, and there I saw all these young folks outside, threatening people, intimidating people, saying things like, "you gonna lose your homes if you vote for Gonzalez"

"The worst thing I witnessed was in our district (dist 10) especially on election day," After Mr. Jones left the mike Community Activist Majeid Crawford (who was profiled in a PNN/SF Bayview article by PNN youth in media writer Martrice Candler on October 21) "The Newsom people were blocking the entrance in front of our office - slamming our doors open and shut - intimidating people, bumping into people - telling us they were gonna come down shooting. If people had Matt Gonzalez stickers and posters on their cars they would snatch the posters and rip them off the cars -so on election day when we needed to walk the precinct our staff was inside the office intimidated, it got so bad that we had to bring folks down just to protect us" Majeid went on to relate the story surrounding an event called "pop yo collaz for Matt gonzalez" in which a "Newsom supporter showed up threatening the organizers with violence if they promoted Matt Gonzelez on the mike

"I am a true believer of civil rights - my family fought for the right to vote", Bianca Henry from Family Rights and Dignity of the coalition on Homelessness best expressed the basic tenets that the grassroots coalition claimed as their founding principles; To preserve and protect the voting and civil rights of communities of color. and is why as well as an investigation of the hundreds of abuses of voters rights, the coalition is demanding that the City Attorney also deepen their investigation to initiate pro-active steps by the city to ensure that an on-going, permanent voter fraud unit be established by the Department of Elections as well as fund and publicize a city wide multi-lingual voter fraud reporting hotline.

"What I still can't understand is the plantation mentality that informs an election like this one," Clive was still mumbling under his breath next to me, "galvanizing all these poor folk of color to vote for this rich white boy (Newsom) backed by all these other rich white power brokers only to promote more and more gentrification and decimation of poor communities and communities of color like the Bayview"

"Something stinks in City Hall", Riva Enteen, civil rights attorney and part of the Matt Gonzalez voter fraud unit, revealed the levels of corruption plaguing this last election, " There were over 400 reports of voter fraud reported to Gonzalez volunteers who were monitoring polling places as well as 150 incidences of abuse such as Power outages, harassment by Newsom volunteers, and Newsom campaign staff walking door to door with provisional ballots. Riva continued with a shocking revelation that the director of the Cities' Ethics commission demanded that members of the ethics commission destroy documents disclosing how Newsom campaign money was supposed to be used, and that luckily the commission staff refused to destroy the documents.

The conference ended with inspiring words by Coalition member, Ana Maria loya exec director of La Raza Centro Legal, "San Francisco is not Florida - we are here to demand that the most basic civil right of people to vote be protected and that steps be implemented so the next election in San Francisco is fair and free and safe"


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