The Connections, Protections and Complexions - The BRT Scandal

Tiny - Posted on 18 January 2018

Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia

“I can’t move that fast,” Johnny X was ducking to avoid the 50 mile an hour rushing water coming his way from a Department of Public Works (DPW)  truck  at the corner of 90th and International boulevards…”DPW started power-washing the streets, our belongings and us when the construction workers began tearing this street to build the rail-line, now we have nowhere to stand, sit or be…”

Johnny, who was one of POOR Magazine’s reporters and WeSearchers (Poverty, Unhoused Skolaz telling our own stories, in our own words), had begun reporting out this situation in November of 2017. According to his WeSearch a rail-line which we later found out was called the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) was causing the unhoused residents of East Oakland to be power-washed, cited and even arrested if they didn’t move from their long-time corners on International boulevard.

“Who does this BRT transit benefit? Those with the connections, those with the protection and those with the complexion.. thats who…” called out poverty skola and POOR Magazine family Bilal Ali at the Transportation Gentrification press conference in Oakland on Tuesday, Jan 16th organized by youth and family poverty skolaz at POOR Magazine, all who have ourselves struggled with gentrification, homelessness and displacement at Oakland City hall. After our speak-out at Oscar Grant Plaza we all marched over to AC transit headquarters where we delivered our WeSearch to AC transit authorities and made a demand for Community Reparations to house the people facing removal threats due to the BRT.

So what's wrong with improving the broken transportation system ?

We all need better, faster, cheaper buses and transportation systems, right? Of course we do, but sadly, the multi-million dollar, benevolent-sounding transportation projects like the BRT system are never built for us . Actually what these 21st century systems are being built for are the people who would like to never see us, encounter or deal with poor and unhoused people and would actually like us to disappear. And the housing devil-opers and real estate snakkkes work closely with the poltricksters and transportation devil-opers like BRT as a covert tactic to remove, displace and criminalize poor and unhoused people in poor people neighborhoods like East Oakland, so they can attract more new hipster, white ( and even POC) Oakland residents. Whats sadder is how easy it is to trick people by using the "T" (T for transportation) word, once you say it, even progressives and conscious folks stay quiet and shut up.

“In other words, with all the money AC transit squandered and stole, which has never been returned to the people they could help poor and unhoused folks buy land so we can build our own self-determined poor people-led projects like Homefulness and help people stay in Oakland while you try to kick out Oakland.” I said at the press conference when we made a demand for community reparations to AC Transit.

“All the migrante Raza in our barrio are scared, our families are already facing removal threats, eviction and then those of who are not are expecting it - this kind of construction for the BRT usually always means one thing- rents get raised higher than what we can afford or we just get evicted because of illegal evictions for profit,” Adriana, one of POOR Magazine’s reporteras reported this violence to us about the BRT.” she concluded

“The biggest scandal to hit East Oakland is this BRT…its all bad, its cutting a huge swath into East Oakland, causing working class families and Black and Brown businesses to be forced out, and its connected to the Coliseum City and most of the non-profits are being bought off, I’m so scared for our communities, I’m hoping you can get this story out,” In September of 2017, POOR Magazine/Prensa POBRE got this news tip from a long-time community member.

Because POOR Magazine is in fact Po’ we were unable to launch a full WeSearch investigation, but as soon as we could we began to speak with fellow unhoused, working class and poor skolaz who lived, worked, sat and stood in the International bl corridor to gather the street based truths.

After we did extensive WeSearch, our youth skola reporters, also unhoused and formerly unhoused Oakland residents at Deecolonize Academy/POOR Magazine who have learned in their journalism department about how to file Freedom of Information Act Requests, filed 14 requests with the County of Alameda and the City of Oakland in 14 different departments.

“There were so many scams related to BRT,” said elder community scholar, and activist with Manna from Heaven, Omowale Foweles, at the Transportation Gentrification press conference. “it began with the Van Hoole buses - where AC transit board members were flown to Europe to “check on the buses,” and ended up spending thousands of public dollars on private expense accounts or the scandal of Rick Fernandez and the buying of a house they couldnt sell, its been a mess, and all of the monies AC transit squandered were public, from the benches to the steering wheels.. 

“The BRT is part of Bay Area Plan 2040 - the huge gentrification plan which has openly stated will result in the reduction of Black residents from Oakland,” said POOR Magazine family Jeremy Miller, “so yea, you guys uncovered the belly of the beast,” concluded Jeremy

The first version of the story that the youth wrote for their school newspaper Deecolonewz was published in the SF Bay View and received all kinds of hater comments, which proved to me that we were touching a nerve and at the end of the day POOR Magazine is here to speak for us eviction and displacement victims who no-one speaks for, who are always forgotten and who are always talked about but never talked get in line haters….

Stay tuned for more WeSearch on the BRT by youth and family poverty skolaz- to give a newz tip to POOR Magazine - come to Community Newsroom at the sacred liberated land us po folks call Homefulness on the 1st Tuesday of the Month at 6:30pm- 8032 BlackArthur Bl. Oakland- or email us at


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