UPDATE: Public Safety Committee Meeting 2/22

Thanks to all that turned out last night as we packed City Hall with youth, parents, elders, teachers, organizers and community members from all walks of life! Special thanks to United Playaz and the Oakland Education Association for showing up and opposing the gang injunctions!

For those that didn’t stay until the bitter end, here is how it turned out:

We made 50+ presentations on every angle of the injunctions.  Nancy Nadel was the first Councilperson to speak, and she stated that she is against the injunctions.  Kaplan spoke next, and stated she had questions about the lack of City Council authorization for the injunctions.   Larry Reid refused to comment.  Pat Kernighan then stated that she wanted to see how the injunctions worked out, and would re-evaluate in a year.

Kernighan also stated that she did not want to see any new injunctions until the first two could be evaluated. Then, Nadel made a motion to schedule a vote on the injunctions.  Kaplan seconded.  But Reid and Kernighan voted “no,” so there is not yet a vote scheduled regarding authorization/deauthorization of the injunctions.

VIDEO: Public Safety Committee Meeting 2/22

We can claim some victories: We came out in great numbers to show our opposition and voice our own solutions to harm & violence in our communities, Kernighan doesn’t want to see any new injunctions until the ones on the table can be further evaluated, and Nadel is the first Councilperson to go on record against the injunctions.

Legal Team Introductions

As the court hearings are now in full force, we would like to take a moment to introduce the legal team that is representing defendants against the East Oakland gang injunction.

Dennis Cunningham has been a civil rights attorney since the 60s. He helped found the Chicago People’s Law Office, and participated in numerous cases involving protesters and protest movements, prisoners and prison rebellions. Notable cases include the infamous “weapons raid” on December 4, 1969, in which Illinois Black Panther Party leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were shot to death, and the defense of dozens of prisoners falsely accused as “ringleaders” of the rebellion at the Attica State Prison in western New York in 1971. He helped represent protesters in mass arrests in the 1984 Democratic Party convention, anti-nuke actions at Site 300, anti-apartheid demonstrations in Berkeley San Francisco, the police sweep of Castro Street in 1987, Central American solidarity actions in the 80s, the Rodney verdict protests in 1992, Food Not Bombs, ActUp, Religious Witness with the Homeless, and others.

Jose Luis Fuentes practiced law for the Working Peoples Law Center in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles, specializing in criminal, family and community law, and now works at the prominant civil rights law firm, Siegel & Yee. Mr. Fuentes has served in a leadership capacity in community and legal organizations, including serving as past president of the National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles Chapter; People United For A Better Oakland; Bay Area PoliceWatch; Constitutional Rights Foundation; Barrister Domestic Violence Clinic; Students for Justice for Palestine and Homies Organizing The Mission To Empower Youth.

Yolanda Huang has been practicing law in the bay area for over 25 years as a criminal defense and civil litigator. She has vast experience defending the rights to liberty for young people.  The daughter of Chinese immigrants, she started school in New York City speaking no English.  “Learning to read and write English was the hardest thing I ever did.”  In high school, her parents moved south of Washington, D.C., and there Yolanda Huang experienced the end of segregation and the successes of the civil rights movement.  Active in the anti-Vietnam War movement, and the effort to save the I’Hotel, Yolanda Huang went on to attended Boalt Hall Law School, in order to develop better tools to make social change.  In 1999, Ms. Huang organized and wrote the first grant that led to  Berkeley School Board adopting a policy to ensure that no child is hungry, and that the food served in schools should, whenever possible, be organic.   “Every child should eat quality food free from pesticides and chemicals.”

Michael Siegel is an associate attorney with Siegel & Yee. He is currently working on several matters including claims of wrongful termination, disability discrimination, race discrimination, and retaliation for exercise of First Amendment rights. Prior to entering the legal field, Michael worked as a teacher in Oakland, California and Brooklyn, New York, and served as a union representative in the Oakland Education Association. He was also a co-founder and executive director of Oakland Leaf, a local nonprofit education organization focused on “community transformation through creative education.”

Jeff Wozniak, a native of San Francisco, is an aggressive criminal defense lawyer with a progressive and compassionate approach to practicing law. Before starting his own firm, Jeff worked under notable criminal defense lawyers, including Stuart Hanlon. This experience allowed him to develop important relationships throughout the bay area criminal justice community. He has a strong belief in the importance of pro-bono work, and dedicates a substantial portion of his practice to such work.

Estelle Davis is an East Oakland resident who comes to the legal team with an avid energy for social justice. On the legal team she helps prepare legal filings, and aids in communications between the legal team, community members, and defendants on the case. Estelle has always worked for the empowerment of young people, having worked in public health, public high schools, drop-in centers for street involved youth, LGBT helplines, and peer health education projects. Estelle grew up in the Bay Area, and is happy to be home after a 5 year stint in Boston [Roxbury, represent!].

We hope to see all of you come out for the two big events this week: Public Safety Committee on Tuesday at 5:30PM at City Hall, and Preliminary Injunction Court Hearing on Wednesday at 2:00PM at Alameda County Superior Court, Department 1.


En lucha,

The Legal Team