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Angelenos protest Trump refugee fiasco, immigration policy

After a startling week, Resistance activities take over Los Angeles

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“We are better than this!” roared the estimated 75,000 people who gathered in Downtown Los Angeles at the Families Belong Together – Freedom for Immigrants March.

The Los Angeles march, one of hundreds that took place in cities around the world, was organized, activists say, to “highlight the voices of immigrants and refugees and represent a wide and increasing show of support from Californians who reject the Trump Administration’s racism and xenophobia, and to emphasize that families belong together, not in jail.”

“We are better than this!” The words of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris emanated from the stage in front of City Hall in downtown LA and rang true in the ears of the attentive attendees.

“Right now, this is an inflection moment in the history of our country…we are better than having these detention facilities that are prisons where we house mothers who have been ripped from their children behind barbed wires. When we have over 2,000 children that right now are not with their parents because we took them from their parents, we know we are better than this,” continued Senator Harris. “Years from now, our children will look at us and ask us a question…’where were you at that inflection moment?’”

An undocumented immigrant named Melody related her own personal journey and struggles of being separated from her mother.

“I’m undocumented, unapologetic, and unafraid…I can’t imagine being in a cage being judged by the color of my skin. I am here to tell Donald Trump that we will not stop until all the children, all of their parents, all of our immigrants, and all of our families are judged by the content of their character,” said Melody.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called for those in power to release detained immigrants and give them due judicial process.

“It is time for President Trump to do his job. It is time for ICE to do their job, because they are not,” he said.

Local U.S. House Representative Maxine Waters challenged those who were “…talking about censuring me, kicking me out of Congress, shooting me,” saying that she would not back down on her recent criticism of the Trump Administration.

Activist and model Chrissy Teigen spoke to the positive impacts immigrants have on America.

“Making America Great doesn’t mean building walls to keep people out, it means continuing to embrace the dreams of immigrants who add to our culture, our economy, and our humanity. Making America Great certainly doesn’t mean turning asylum seekers away, or kidnapping their kids to keep them from coming here,” Teigen said before a performance by her husband, singer/songwriter John Legend.

Others, including representatives from organizations like Black Lives Matters, Korean Resource Center of Orange County, and Mi Familia Vota, as well as California State Senator Kevin de Leon, gubernatorial front-runner Gavin Newsom, and LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, spoke on stage at the Grant Park rally and at a smaller one outside the downtown immigration holding facility after the physical march.

However, this day was really about the people.

Before the speeches had even began in Grant Park, the crowds were loud and vocal, chanting “Sí se puede,” and “Where are the kids?.”

The sea of people, clad in white in solidarity with those detained, made themselves heard whenever the speakers hit on a particularly salient point.

After the last speaker had finished at Grant Park, they took to the streets in classic protest style.

Amidst chants of “Up, up with liberation; down, down with deportation,” “Abolish ICE”, and “The people united will never be divided,” marchers made their way to the immigration holding facility on the corner of Aliso and Alameda.

They held their signs up with the determination to send their messages to the Trump Administration.

Some signs had messages like “Build bridges, not walls,” and “Humanity has no borders,” but others were more direct, like the one that read, “Fuck Trump, Abolish ICE, End Family Incarceration” and “Familia, sí! Trump, no, no, no!” and “Love cannot be stopped.”

Flags of various Latin American countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador, México, and Honduras, were waved proudly by their owners in the crowd.

The imagery of monarch butterflies, representative of immigrants due to the annual migration of this species to California and México, appeared everywhere from signs to shirts and even full costumes.

Protestor Denise Plazol participated in today’s march because she “does not believe that children should be put in cages, because [she believes] that the United States represents freedom, and because [she believes] that freedom belongs to all, not just white people.”

Another protestor, Lenin, specifically protested the removal of children from families by ICE, and believes that people should support each other “no matter what”, despite “different colors, different sexual orientations…always be kind to others.”

After the official event was over, the people continued to rally in their own ways. They could be found still roaming the streets of downtown, chanting and making their voices heard.

Hundreds of protestors stayed behind to confront a miniscule group of about ten counter-protestors, but did so in near-total silence as the pro-Trump spattering hurled insults at them.

Perhaps the most striking moment of the entire event, as witnessed by the Los Angeles Blade, happened around the corner from the small stage that had been set up for that second rally.

A man, presumably an immigrant who was being detained in the holding facility, was peering down at the dispersing crowds from his tiny window high above the street. He was quickly noticed, and a group of around one hundred people gathered below him, applauding and offering chants of support in both English and Spanish. More detainees soon joined him at their windows. The cries of “no están solos” by the crowd of tearful protestors was spontaneous and moving.

These people below the windows, in particular, embodied the prevailing passion and spirit of the day: that of selflessness and of standing up for those who have had their voice and human rights ripped away.

It’s a spirit not unfamiliar to LGBTQ+ people; it is the spirit that we have embodied in our continuing fight for equal rights. Many feel it is our duty as a community to help those who are oppressed, just as they offer their support for us, so when our children ask us where we were at this inflection point in American history, we can tell them that we fought for what was right.

Lauren Meister

Across town in West Hollywood, a rally organized by former Mayor and current councilwoman Lauren Meister, drew about 700 people. Among the speakers were actor and activist Rob Reiner, Current West Hollywood Mayor John Duran, Sepi Shyne, Chaz Bono, Eugene Jarecki and Michael Aguilera, District Rep for Congressman Adam Schiff and Steve Rohde.

The posters were prolific and pointed. “Impeach the Kidnapper,” read one. “Fuck Trump,” read another.

Wearing a Trump-style red hat that said “Immigrants Make America Great,” Steve Rohde reminded protestors that the immigration ban upheld by the Supreme Court was based on a law congress can overturn, urging attendees to get out the vote.  He read in it’s entirety and with great passion, Emma Lazarus’ The New Colossus, moving many people in the crowd to tears.

But it was Ivy Bottini who defined the day.  “I sometimes wonder why I am still here at 92 years.  This is why…this moment is why.  We can’t be defeated.” She reminded people to know their history.  “I’ve seen chain link fences before. When I was 11 years old a baffoon rose to power and no one thought he was a threat. We are repeating that now. We have our own baffoon.”

Bottini exhorted the crowd, gathered on the last day of Pride month, to bring back ACT-UP and to tap into that energy. “We fight. We never lose,” she told the Los Angeles Blade.

The message of the day was clear: Los Angeles is city that stands in solidarity with immigrants. Angelenos do not endorse the actions of the current Administration. “We are better than this!”

This DTLA event was organized by a coalition of organizations that included MoveOn, CHIRLA, United We Dream, National Domestic Workers Alliance and We Belong Together, Center for Popular Democracy Action, Alliance Californians for Community Empowerment, ACLU of Southern California, Fair Immigration Reform Movement, Women’s March LA Foundation, Korean Resource Center, American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), FIRM, and UndocuMedia.

While there were no arrests at marches in Southern California, 575 were reported in Washington, D.C.

Troy Masters contributed the reporting and photos from West Hollywood.  All other photos by Austin Mendoza.

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Politics

CDC extends eviction ban as White House pushes to get relief money out

The order expires on October 3 & applies in U.S. counties experiencing substantial & high levels of community transmission levels of COVID

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Screenshot of President Biden's press conference Aug. 3, 2021 via NBC News YouTube

ATLANTA – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, on Tuesday issued a new moratorium on evictions that would last until October 3, while the White House spent the day trying to tamp down rising critique from Democrats and other groups angered over the decision to let the ban expire over the weekend.

Progressive lawmakers including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D-NY) and Missouri Democratic Representative Cori Bush, who has been camped outside on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building since Saturday midnight, were leading a passionate protest urging the White House to do more to prevent about 3.6 million Americans at risk of saying that the administration was allowing vulnerable renters to lose their homes during a pandemic by not acting.

The freshman congresswoman once lived in her car as a young mother and identified with those Americans that would be negatively impacted. A point made in a tweet by MSNBC anchor and host Mehdi Hasan Tuesday after the evictions ban was extended.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed the order determining the evictions of tenants for failure to make rent or housing payments could be detrimental to public health control measures to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

This order will expire on October 3, 2021 and applies in United States counties experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission levels of SARS-CoV-2.

The eviction moratorium allows additional time for rent relief to reach renters and to further increase vaccination rates. In the context of a pandemic, eviction moratoria—like quarantine, isolation, and social distancing—can be an effective public health measure utilized to prevent the spread of communicable disease, the statement from the CDC read.

During an afternoon press conference, President Joe Biden addressed the extension of the ban by his administration.

Biden was asked, “On the evictions and the moratorium that lapsed on Saturday night: What is your strategy to prevent potentially millions of people from being evicted from their homes, given what we are told your administration is considering — a targeted moratorium — is likely to face legal challenges?”
 
In response the President said;  “Any call for a moratorium based on the Supreme Court recent decision is likely to face obstacles.  I’ve indicated to the CDC I’d like them to look at other alternatives than the one that is in pow- — in existence, which the Court has declared they’re not going to allow to continue.  And the CDC will have something to announce to you in the next hour to two hours.”

Another reporter asked, “Mr. President, a question on COVID, if I could, really quickly.  It’s the eviction moratorium.  Can you explain a little bit more why it took so long to have a possible eviction moratorium be put into place?  There was — there are people — this expired on Saturday.  I’m wondering — there are folks who are saying it took too long for this to happen.”

Biden responded; “Well, look, the courts made it clear that the existing moratorium was not constitutional; it wouldn’t stand.  And they made that clear back in, I guess, July 15th or July 18th. 
 
In the meantime, what I’ve been pushing for and calling for is we have billions of dollars that were given to states to provide for rent and utilities for those people who can’t afford to stay in their homes because they can’t — an apartment — they can’t pay their rent.  And so, we’re urging them to distribute those funds to the landlords.  I believe that would take care of the vast majority of what needs to be done to keep people in their — in their ho- — in their apartments now. 
 
And so that’s what we’re working on.  Some states have done it and some communities have, but they have not.  The money is there.  It’s not — we don’t have to send it out.  It’s been sent out to the states and counties — billions of dollars — for the express purpose of providing for back rent and rent for the people who are in the middle of this crisis.  And that’s there; that’s what we’re pushing now.  And we’ve been pushing that.  That’s the immediate thing to do.”

The CDC identified a legal authority for the new, different moratorium for areas with high and substantial increases in COVID-19 infections. 

There have been difficulties ensuring the federal housing aid makes it to renters and landlords with many saying that some states are reporting a lot of logistical problems in dispersing their funds, from websites getting overloaded and crashing to renters not being able to track down all the verification documents. 

During a teleconference briefing Tuesday with House Democrats, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told lawmakers the work was underway to ensure the federal housing aid makes it to renters and landlords. She provided data so that lawmakers could see how their districts and states are performing with distributing the relief, according to a person on the call, Voice of America reported.

The Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Democratic California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, has been urging the Treasury secretary to use her influence to push states to get the money out to renters and landlords. 

After the CDC’s announcement, Rep. Waters released a statement thanking President Biden “for listening and for encouraging the CDC to act! This extension of the moratorium is the lifeline that millions of families have been waiting for.” 

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Los Angeles

Delivering justice and equity, Jasmyne Cannick has ‘the receipts’

This fight is about getting justice for Ed Buck’s victims & also calling out all of the people along the way who failed them & enabled him

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Jasmyne Cannick (Photo Credit: JayBeez)

LOS ANGELES – In the world of popular culture the use of the slang phrase ‘has the receipts‘ translates to bringing proof that someone was/is lying. Conversely it also is used to define that a person is being genuine.

Over the past several years as the crimes committed by West Hollywood resident and political activist Ed Buck, as he preyed on Black men were made public, the person holding the receipts was journalist turned advocate Jasmyne Cannick.

Frustrated and angered by what she perceived as lack of serious engagement by local law enforcement in the initial stages of the investigation into the death of  26-year-old Gemmel Moore, Cannick rallied the community and publicly called out law enforcement to take more aggressive action.

She orchestrated and led a grass-roots effort to get the criminal justice system of Los Angeles to listen to Gemmel’s mother LaTisha Nixon’s plea for justice. She used Gemmel’s own words, written in his journal to alert authorities to the depths of the debauchery occurring inside that second floor flat in West Hollywood. She pleaded with law enforcement including the District Attorney for the County of Los Angeles Jackie Lacey to take action.

Her activism and fueling the rage of the greater community finally received the attention of Federal law enforcement and action that culminated in Buck’s arrest and the trial.

She stood by the families even as to the horror of many, another Black man died nearly two years after Gemmel (2017) in January of 2019 and like that young life snuffed out too early, Timothy Dean, 55, was found deceased on the trash strewn floor of Buck’s flat.

“The lives of Black gay men matter — no matter if they’re homeless, survival sex workers or escorts — this is a case that transcends race, class, wealth. Our lives matter, our community matters, and just because someone is unhoused, an addict, may be a survival sex worker, or an escort, or HIV positive does not mean their lives don’t matter and we should look the other way when they show up dead in a white Democratic donor’s home.” ~ Jasmyne Cannick.

In her owns words Cannick writes after the jury delivered guilty verdicts on nine separate federal counts; “It’s been a long four years on this road for justice–justice that a guilty verdict would be but one small part off.  Real justice is making sure that this never ever happens again.  We can’t do that with the enabling parties still acting like Ed Buck didn’t happen”

She adds, “Ed Buck only got away with it for so long because he was white and because we still don’t believe Black victims–even when they tell us what happened to them.

Gemmel Moore told us in his diary, “Ed Buck is the one to thank, he gave me my first injection of chrystal [sic] meth. It was very painful.”

Buck was not all that he was portrayed as in the media, but he parlayed his influence, funneled through donations from others, and did ingratiate himself into the Democratic party in California over the years. There is plenty of photographic evidence to substantiate those claims to fame showing Buck rubbing elbows with politicians from all quarters.

Worse though was that rumours of Buck’s fetishes were well known and yet even after the death of Gemmel Moore there seemed to be a collective shrugging of shoulders and zero calls for accountability. Cannick however, wasn’t having it.

“Former district attorney Jackie Lacey was sitting on a mountain of evidence and still did nothing to prosecute Ed Buck for the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean,” she said.

Appearing on BNC’s Black News Tonight anchored by journalist Marc Lamont Hill last week,  Cannick told Hill that the case intersected race and sexual orientation.

“As much as this case is about Ed Buck, it’s also about our housing crisis, and what it makes people feel they have to do — play Russian roulette with their lives just to have a roof over their heads,” she stressed.

Cannick is not just a gadfly community activist, in fact far from it. She is a powerful voice for those who have had no voice reminding people that Buck happened because the community allowed him to happen.

In her own words she points out, “Paul Koretz, a candidate for Controller in 2022, who is backed by the Black Democratic establishment and has taken thousands from Ed Buck, told a group that Buck’s victims were all “disadvantaged Black hustlers.”

“So while this fight is as much about getting justice for Ed Buck’s victims it’s also about calling out all of the people and entities along the way who failed them and enabled Ed Buck. Not doing so ensures a repeat of this situation because Ed Buck isn’t the only Ed Buck,” she pointed out. “Entities like the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department who many of Ed Buck’s victims said didn’t take their complaints about Ed Buck seriously.”

“But even though Ed Buck’s crimes have been made public throughout his trial, not much has changed.  The silence in Los Angeles’ is deafening.  If I wasn’t sitting in the courtroom myself, I probably wouldn’t know the trial was happening.  

There’s been no mention of the trial or justice for Ed Buck’s victims from the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, California Democratic Party, Stonewall Democratic Club, or any of the dozens of elected officials he gave his money to,” she noted.

In a conversation with the Blade on Monday Cannick said that the next phase for her advocacy is to seek financial compensation for Buck’s victims. But beyond that is challenging community leaders and elected officials to address the very causes of what gave Buck ready access to the disadvantaged Black men in the first place; homelessness and helping the unhoused is her top priority.

She also serves now as an elected “At-Large” member of the leadership team of the Stonewall Democratic Club, the very place where Buck donated sums of money and rubbed elbows with Democratic Party leadership who gave Buck credibility and status.

For now there are some community leaders who are stepping up to acknowledge Cannick’s holding the receipts including the City Council and Mayor of West Hollywood who honoured her community work during a regularly scheduled Council meeting Monday.

West Hollywood Mayor Linsey Horvath tweeted afterwards, “Thank YOU for your fearless leadership in pursuit of truth and justice, @Jasmyne Our community is safer, and survivors have more confidence that they will be heard & believed, because of you.”

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World

Peru LGBTQ activists express concern over country’s new government

Prime minister has made homophobic, transphobic comments

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Peruvian President Guido Bellido (Photo public domain)

LIMA, Peru — Activists in Peru have expressed concern over their country’s new government and whether it will actively oppose LGBTQ rights.

President Pedro Castillo, a teacher from Cajamarca region of northern Peru who is a member of the leftist and socialist Free Peru party, in June narrowly defeated Keiko Fujimori, his right-wing opponent who is the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, in the second round of Peru’s presidential election. Castillo’s inauguration took place in Lima, the Peruvian capital, on July 28.

The Associated Press reported Castillo during his campaign expressed his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples, but stressed LGBTQ issues “are not a priority.”

Castillo named Congressman Guido Bellido, an indigenous man who represents Cuzco, as his prime minister.

Bellido in a 2019 Facebook post praised former Cuban President Fidel Castro and specifically his 1963 comments in which he said “the (Cuban) revolution does not need hairdressers and work will make them men. The ‘new man’ cannot be a faggot. The socialist society cannot allow this type of degenerates.”

Media reports indicate Bellido in 2020 made transphobic comments in response to gender-based coronavirus prevention measures that activists said discriminated against trans people. Bellido also reportedly said “the woman is so destructive and ruthless when it comes to mixing her grudges and selfishness” and “I don’t see any lesbian or gay (person) mobilizing” against it.

“Violence is going to intensify every day if things continue as they are,” Bellido said.   

Bellido has also been criticized for his previous comments in support of the Shining Path rebel group.

“(Shining Path) has been the biggest violator of human rights in the history of Peru and it concerns me a lot,” Alberto de Belaúnde, an independent congressman from Lima who is openly gay, told the Los Angeles Blade on Monday as he discussed Bellido’s comments. “It is not a good scenario for the human rights agenda in general and specifically for the LGBT agenda.”

Peruvian Prime Minister Guido Bellido (Photo public domain)

Gabriela Oporto Patroni, a Peruvian human rights lawyer, described Bellido’s comments as “concerning.” George Hale of Centro de Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos (PROMSEX), an LGBTQ and women’s rights group in the South American country, echoed Oporto.

“Prime Minister Bellido’s previous comments that reflect his homophobia, transphobia and misogyny are unfortunate,” Hale told the Blade.

Bellido, for his part, in recent days has said he “categorically rejects all forms of violence and terrorism in all of its extremes.” Hale noted to the Blade that Finance Minister Pedro Francke has publicly said his government will support LGBTQ rights.

“I will fight for equality of opportunities without discrimination based on gender, ethnic identity or sexual orientation,” said Francke on July 31. “I will combat homophobia and I will strongly support the fight against the killer (Shining Path), in line with the public promise that our prime minister has made.”

The Latin American and Caribbean Network of Trans People (REDLACTRANS) on Tuesday noted Foreign Affairs Minister Héctor Béjar has said his government supports the Yogyakarta Principles, a set of global LGBTQ rights principles that advocacy groups adopted in 2006.

“We support the 2016 Yogyakarta Principles’ 29 principles about the application of international human rights norms for sexual orientation and gender identity to avoid abuses and to protect the human rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals,” said Béjar. “The human rights of sex workers will also be part of our agenda.”

Miluska Luzquiños is a transgender activist who lives in Lambayeque, a city in northern Peru.

She told the Blade on Monday the situation for LGBTQ Peruvians remains “very complicated and uncertain” because of the pandemic. Luzquiños also noted the country does not have a trans rights law.

“It is necessary for the LGBTIQ movement to keep doing advocacy in government spaces as (part of) civil society,” she said.

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