Support Uhuru Foods & Be a Part of the Positive Future for African Liberation

As the result of the deepening economic crisis and the resistance to oppression and injustice on the part of the African community in Oakland, CA, the Uhuru Movement has faced attacks on its political fundraising institutions. Uhuru Foods, the Party’s institution coordinated by the African People’s Solidarity Committee that raises resources through food vending at festivals, fairs and farmers markets, is facing attempts by fair coordinators to exclude the Uhuru institution from events and festivals in the liberal San Francisco Bay Area.

Despite Uhuru Movement victories in pushing back some of these attacks some festival coordinators are continuing to attempt to exclude Uhuru Foods from their events.

These attacks come following incidents in March which fundamentally changed the political terrain in Oakland and the Bay Area. These political attacks on the Party’s right to raise resources for the struggle for African Liberation come in the wake of a series of police murders in Oakland including the well-known murder of 22 year old Oscar Grant by BART police on New Year’s day, 2009. The attacks also come at a time when the state of California is in a deep financial crisis and threatens to cut of welfare, MediCal and assistance to the elderly and disabled. It is clearly the African working class community that will bear the brunt of the state’s draconian cutbacks.

On Saturday, March 21st, a young African man named Lovelle Mixon was pulled over in a “routine traffic stop” by two Oakland police officers. Mixon, facing a grim future of decades in prison, shot and killed the two officers and has been held responsible for killing two additional officers following a police raid that also ended his young life. On Wednesday, March 25th, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement held a vigil for Lovelle Mixon and all victims of the policies of police containment. The enthusiastic response of the African community to this action and the struggle to expose the police and Mixon killings in the context of decades of police violence have pushed back further attacks on the African community. The stand the Uhuru Movement took in Oakland has made the Uhuru Movement the lightning rod for outright white nationalist attacks by police supporters, has resulted in the silent withdrawal of support by white liberals and the attempt at denial of fundraising opportunities for the organization that represents the impoverished and colonized African working class community.

Uhuru Foods in Oakland is a political and fundraising program of the Uhuru Movement that raises funds at the Grand Lake Farmers Market, the Uhuru Holiday Pie Campaign and many different food booths in Northern California. The Uhuru Movement institutions and programs which include the Uhuru House, Uhuru Furniture & Collectibles led by the African People’s Education and Defense Fund and Uhuru Foods have deep roots in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since the early 1980’s, campaigns for community control of health care and housing, struggles around the theft of African children through the foster care system and campaigns against the city of Oakland’s policies of police containment have been led out of the Uhuru House at 7911 MacArthur Blvd in East Oakland. Representing decades of struggle in the interest of the African working class, the Uhuru Movement in Oakland put the issues back on the table where the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense had left off following the U.S. government military defeat of the Black Power Movement that destroyed African revolutionary organizations.

Following in the footsteps of the leadership of Marcus Garvey, the Uhuru Movement, led by the African People’s Socialist Party and founded in 1971, has put organizations on the ground to not only defend the democratic rights of the African working class and to provide a means of survival for African communities in the U.S. and around the world, but to unite African people across the borders of colonialism to reclaim the land, the resources and wealth stolen from African people through hundreds of years of slavery and colonialism that has built the wealth of U.S. white power at the expense of the lives of African people.

Founded in St. Petersburg, Florida, the Uhuru Movement originally came to the San Francisco Bay Area following the attack on the African Liberation Movement to develop a base of support and to struggle for an independent means of raising resources for its campaigns and programs. Fundamental was the struggle to develop the African People’s Solidarity Committee and Uhuru Foods as a way to consolidate a principled stand by North Americans organized under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party raising material solidarity with the understanding that reparations are due from the white community for the theft of the resources from the African community through slavery and colonialism.

In 1991, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement was formed to push back the ongoing attacks on the African population in the U.S. that followed the U.S. military defeat of the Black Power Movement. The U.S. government, having carried out the assassinations of powerful leaders of the movement like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Fred Hampton Jr. and destroying organizations through its counterintelligence programs, successfully criminalized the African population in the eyes of the general white population, who enthusiastically supported the building of prisons, the so-called war on drugs and crime because of huge profits that ensued from these attacks on the African population.

Fast forward to 2009 and we see the fallacy of Obama’s “post racial America” in the massive imprisonment of the African community, the disproportionate numbers of African people facing foreclosures and the ongoing rash of police killings of African people all over the United States. In Oakland, California, where the city is facing a budget deficit of over $100 million and more cuts by the state of California, the city spends nearly one half of its budget on “police services” in order to carry out its brutal containment policies of the deeply impoverished African communities of East and West Oakland. East and West Oakland are the “flatlands” where an African child can expect to live 15 years less than a white child in the wealthy Oakland hills.

For the past several years in Oakland, the local International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, the Uhuru Solidarity Movement and Uhuru Foods and the ever popular Uhuru Furniture & Collectibles have engaged in various campaigns and programs to expose the two realities that exist in Oakland and expose the policies of police containment led by the city that react to the deepening economic crisis faced by the African community with a military solution to an economic problem. On a community level, the question of “crime” in Oakland is constantly addressed by the general white population by a call for more police. Following a robbery at the Uhuru Furniture & Collectibles, the African People’s Education and Defense Fund held a press conference at Uhuru Furniture calling for economic development and not police containment of the African community. This stand was supported and respected by many in the Oakland community.

The International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement and Uhuru Solidarity Movement have engaged in struggle with the city, challenging the “war budget” whereby the majority of the city’s monies go to carry out police containment of the African community. The Oakland “Riders” were just four cops out of a department exposed in 2000 for fabricating evidence, brutalizing and terrorizing the African community of West Oakland who never faced serious consequences for their actions. Oakland pays out millions of dollars a year in police brutality settlements at the same time that white people flock to live in the city known for its “diversity.”

The city now finds itself in a budget crisis having funded a police department responsible for seven murders of African and Mexican people last year alone. This is a police department notorious for its historic brutality against African people, having been founded on the brutal attack on the indigenous population of California during the Gold Rush and bolstered by the interest of the U.S. to contain the African population brought in for cheap ship building labor during the second Imperialist war or World War II.

On January 1st, in this same city known for its climate of terror against the African community, 22 year old Oscar Grant III was killed at point blank range while lying face down on a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) platform in Oakland. Caught on numerous phone cameras by courageous young Africans and Mexicans for all the world to see, the struggle for justice for the brutal killing of Oscar Grant put the question of police violence against the African community on center stage.

As part of the public outcry against the killing of Oscar Grant, the Uhuru Movement led a militant march through the streets of West Oakland raising up the issue of 41 years of police terror in Oakland since the murder of the first member of the Black Panther Party until now. The Uhuru Movement challenged Oakland neo-colonial mayor Ron Dellums at the State of the City address for his war budget. Shortly following these actions, Internal Affairs chief Edward Poulson was forced to resign following the exposure of his brutal beating of Jerry Amaro III in 2000 which led to Amaro’s death. The police chief Wayne Tucker was forced to resign for his support of Poulson but also other contradictions in his department, not the least of which were the eleven officers found fabricating search warrants to carry out SWAT team raids of the African community of East Oakland. Hector Jimenez, an Oakland police officer who killed 27 year old African Jody “Mack” Woodfox and 20 year old Andrew Moppin was recently fired as a result of these struggles led by the Uhuru Movement.

While the liberal Bay Area could rally behind a struggle for justice for Oscar Grant as “an innocent victim,” many liberals consistently remain silent about the other police murders and criticized the Uhuru Movement for its stand in support of Lovelle Mixon. The African community, which constitutes a colonial population facing police occupation, was not supposed to resist these conditions with violence. The police and media portrayal of Mixon as a “monster” was embraced by white so-called progressives.

This is occurring in a state with one of the largest prison systems in the world where African people represent 50% of the prison population in a state that is only 5% black.

Following the vigil held by the Uhuru Movement, white nationalist hate calls and emails flooded the phone lines and email boxes at the Uhuru House, Uhuru Furniture and on the Uhuru Solidarity Oakland blog. Anonymous emailers and callers threatened to hold a protest and boycott of the Uhuru Foods at the farmers market, in front of Uhuru Furniture & Collectibles and rallied people to call festival promoters, market coordinators and store managers and anyone who partnered with or supported the Uhuru Movement fundraising institutions. Emailers attack the profile of Uhuru Furniture & Collectives on Yelp.com, an online community that is supposed to “help people find great local businesses.” These emailers and callers attacked the organization by dehumanizing African people at level of a white lynch mob.

Aside from the calls and emails, no public protest or boycott occurred at Uhuru Furniture or the Uhuru Foods booth. In fact, the 20 year old store and the popular food booth at the farmers market has received overwhelming support by the Oakland community. However, the attacks on Uhuru Foods streetfair booths began in April. The KFOG rock and roll radio station holds an annual KFOG Kaboom festival on the San Francisco waterfront. For the past 5 years, Uhuru Foods has held a successful fundraising food booth at this festival involving high school, college and individual volunteers and opening up support for the Uhuru Movement. In April, after already having received a letter of acceptance into the 2009 festival on May 9th, the festival promoters suddenly discovered a policy prohibiting social and political organizations at their event.

On May 22nd, just one week prior to the much celebrated Maker Faire in San Mateo, the food vendor company informed us that they were terminating the contract of Uhuru Foods and that we would not be able to have a food booth at the festival. When pressed, they told us that they didn’t need to give us an explanation. The Maker Faire is billed as the world’s largest do-it-yourelf (DIY) festival, promoting sustainability and a grass roots, community driven future. Over the three day Memorial Day weekend, Uhuru Foods led a campaign of letter writing and calls that called on Ovations Foods Services to allow Uhuru Foods back into the festival. Supporters and volunteers of Uhuru Foods challenged Make Magazine (the fair coordinators) to take a stand. While Make Magazine never took a public stand to defend Uhuru Foods, the pressure put on both Make and Ovations by the call-in and letter writing campaign and the call by Uhuru Foods for a press conference resulted in a reversal of the decision and the successful participation of Uhuru Foods in the Maker Faire.
  

The next festival organizers to be hit by a barrage of calls from police supporters were the coordinators of the upcoming San Francisco Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Pride Festival. With pressure from emails to their organizing committee, the board of SF Pride “voted” to include Uhuru Foods. At a time when the movement for gay marriage and equal rights for gays and lesbians has hit legal roadblocks in California, the largest celebration of gay rights was close to denying the ability of a movement for the right of self-determination for African people a voice and access to the resources of this celebration.

Finally, for the past two years, Uhuru Foods has built a relationship with a nonprofit called The Crucible, an industrial arts training center which operates a “well-equipped 6000 square foot warehouse” in the heart of the impoverished African community that is facing poverty, foreclosures, police violence and gentrification. While the Crucible prides itself on having “staunch support for the Oakland community,” they have excluded Uhuru Foods from vending at their annual Fire Arts Festival on the basis of a “vendor selection process” and the desire of their patrons for “variety.” When urged to reconsider their position and to meet with Uhuru Foods, their response was defensive and dismissive.

At time of this writing, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, Uhuru Foods and the Uhuru Solidarity Movement will confront the organizers of the Crucible at their West Oakland warehouse, through letter writing, phone calls, articles, emails and at by leafletting the Fire Arts Festival in July if necessary.

The Uhuru Movement will not be intimidated or pushed into silence by those who support and uphold the policies of police containment against the African community. Nor will it apologize for its position in defense of the resistance of Lovelle Mixon to the conditions of genocide and state violence of which he was a victim. The white community can not have peace and freedom or an alternative lifestyle at the expense of the African community. The stand that the Uhuru Movement took around Lovelle Mixon will only broaden the base of support the Uhuru Movement has in the African community and will challenge those in solidarity with the movement for freedom and justice for African people to deepen their support.

Uhuru Foods calls on all individuals who support the positive vision of the Uhuru Movement, the African Village Survival Initiative, the stand in defense of the rights of African people here and abroad to join us. Volunteer with Uhuru Foods and support the Uhuru Movement!

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