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Activists from Black Power Network Shut Down Economic Development Summit

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Via- April Thomas

Oakland, Calif. — Today a group of activists took over the Oakland Chamber of Commerce’s annual Economic Development Summit with a message for Mayor Libby Schaaf: the Oakland housing crisis is an emergency for Oakland residents, not an opportunity for profit.

Activists from groups including the Black Power Network, Community Ready Corps, Anti Police-Terror Project, Second Acts and others shut down the Summit with a direct action targeting developers seeking to profit from Oakland’s current state of housing emergency. The Chamber of Commerce advertised their event with the description: “Demand to live and work in Oakland is at an unprecedented high, and with that brings new development and great opportunity for new and existing businesses alike.”

“Every day an average of 33 households are evicted in Oakland. That is a crisis, not an opportunity for profit,” said Carroll Fife, co-chair of the Oakland Alliance. “Mayor Schaaf has spent her first year in office rolling out the red carpet for developers instead of working to stop the displacement of Black, brown, disenfranchised and working class people from the community we helped to create. Only last month did she propose any kind of measures to address our growing housing crisis, and only the bare minimum at that. People who are in danger of being displaced can’t afford to wait for the Schaaf administration to build supposedly “affordable” housing – housing that’s still out of reach for the majority of Oakland renters. We demand that electeds declare a housing state of emergency immediately.”

Activists called for Schaaf to support a resolution to declare a housing state of emergency in Oakland, including a moratorium on no-cause evictions. The resolution is currently scheduled to be considered by the Oakland City Council at their hearing on April 5th.

“Black, brown and working class people in Oakland are being displaced from economic opportunity, from public space, from the political discourse, from educational opportunity, from their own homes and from the communities they helped build,” said Cat Brooks of the Anti Police-Terror Project. “That the mayor and the Chamber consider this state of affairs to be an ‘opportunity’ for new and existing businesses rather than a crisis for Oaklanders tells me everything I need to know about their priorities.”

“People are here today because these closed door rooms where you have to pay $95 for access are where the real decisions are made,” said Tia Monique of Eastlake United for Justice. “This past Tuesday, after over a year of resistance from the local community, the Oakland City Council voted in closed session to sell public land to be developed into private, market-rate housing that residents already in the neighborhood will not be able to afford. This time, we’re not going to wait for the Council hearing to make ourselves heard. We know the decisions have been made before those council hearings even begin. We’re here to demand that the Oakland City Council and Mayor declare a housing state of emergency to reflect the reality of the times we’re living in, and to tell these corporate developers that our crisis is not their profit opportunity.”

 

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