things that matter

The Los Angeles Times Wrote A Story About This Homeless UC Berkeley Student And People Are Questioning His Circumstances

Help Ish's Family Find a Home / YouCaring

The California housing crisis continues to get worse.

California is in the middle of a severe housing crisis. Staggering prices for rent have left many homeless, despite having jobs or going to school. Simply, there just isn’t enough affordable housing in major California cities and residents are fighting plans for development to ease this pain to keep their neighborhoods as they are. According to the Los Angeles Times, 29 percent of Californians pay more than 50 percent of their income towards rent. The national average in 25 percent.

Ismael Chamu, a student at the University of California, Berkeley, is one student feeling the crunch of the growing housing crisis. Chamu was living in a trailer in someone’s driveway with his brother and two sisters and says he was paying $650 a month. The trailer is not connected to a sewage system and it is barely big enough for one person.

The siblings live together in Hayward and Chamu makes the commute daily to Berkeley, about 40 miles round trip. Chamu is the child of Mexican immigrants who have fallen on their own hard times, according to the LA Times. The parents have moved from place to place chasing jobs and eventually ended up living out of their car. That’s why Chamu’s sisters moved into the trailer in Hayward. Eventually, the parents followed.

Now, Chamu and his siblings are homeless again after city officials sent notice that they were not allowed to live in the trailer. The landlords who evicted them claim they never paid rent and were doing a favor for a friend at church.

“I wouldn’t be living somewhere without paying rent,” Chamu told ABC 7. “That’s a little absurd.”

All of the attention to Chamu and his family’s homeless situation has led to a fundraising campaign on YouCaring that has raised more than $80,000. But it has also brought attention to a recent felony arrest and charges that Chamu denies are legitimate.

According to Berkeleyside, Chamu was one of two people arrested by Berkeley Police Department for vandalism. Police allege that Chamu participated in spray painting graffiti on cars, buildings, and fences, as well as slashing tires. The vandalism caused $400 in damage. Chamu was originally arrested, according to police, when he was allegedly seen hiding an illegal spring-loaded knife.

Chamu said, in a now-deleted Facebook post, that the arrest was racial profiling.

“I was kidnapped by armed agents. I was humiliated. I have been traumatized,” Chamu wrote, according to Berkeleyside. “The Police racially profiled me for being Mexican. For looking like a ‘Burglar’ for appearing ‘Dangerous.’ I will never forget this.”

Berkeleyside reported that Chamu was held for 39 hours and never spoke with an attorney when he requested one. He was also never charged with a crime when he was released.

According to a current Facebook post, Chamu says he and his family have found temporary housing for the next two weeks.


READ: This Harvard-Bound South L.A. Teen Was Able To Pull His Family Out Of Homelessness

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A Street Vendor At A UC Berkeley Football Game Had His Money Taken When Police Issued Him A Ticket

Things That Matter

A Street Vendor At A UC Berkeley Football Game Had His Money Taken When Police Issued Him A Ticket

Gran polémica causa video que muestra a oficiales multando a un vendedor ambulante y quitándole el dinero en UC Berkeley. Autoridades comentan que el hombre no tenía permiso de vender ahí, y el dinero era parte de la evidencia. (Cortesía Martín Flores)

Posted by Noticias Univision 21 Fresno on Sunday, September 10, 2017

 “That’s not right.”

A video of a hot dog vendor being ticketed and having his money confiscated outside of a University of California, Berkeley football game has sparked outrage. The video was shot by Berkeley alumnus Martin Flores, who was buying bacon wrapped hot dogs for his kids after the game when bicycle police showed up, according to LA Times. The police officer issued a ticket to the vendor before taking his cash. Flores told LA Times that he understands that the vendor needed a permit to sell his hot dogs, but when one of the officers took the vendor’s wallet, he felt something was wrong, so he started recording.

The video starts with the police officer taking money out of the vendor’s wallet and folding it into his hand as the vendor, identified as Juan, asks why his money is being taken away. Flores and the officer have a verbal exchange after the officer comments that “this is law and order in action.” Flores points out that people have been drinking in public on the campus during the game officers and questions why officers focused on writing a citation for one hot dog vendor. According to a Berkeley student interviewed by KTVU, there were about eight food vendors lined up along Piedmont Ave.

“If he’s really about law and order there’s really so many other things he could’ve stopped,” Flores told LA Times. “I totally recognize that people have to have permits. But this wasn’t about that. This was about identifying one vendor. If you want law and order, be law and order across the board.”

According to KTVU, UC Berkeley police said that they are cracking down on unauthorized street food vendors and that the money that was taken from Juan was entered as evidence.

In response to the situation, Flores created a GoFundMe page for Juan that had a goal of $10,000. By the time of this article, the GoFundMe page has raised almost $40,000. However, not all of the $40,000 is going to Juan. Instead, Flores states on the GoFundMe page that the original goal of $10,000 will be used to help Juan with his legal and personal losses stemming from the citation and seizure of his money. The rest will be used to help other street vendors who are given citations or have their money and/or equipment confiscated by police.

According to the GoFundMe page, Flores has been connected with Juan and will be giving him the money stated. “I just want to be clear that NO funds will go to me. However, we will ensure that Juan has his personal, legal and professional matters addressed,” wrote Flores.


READ: The Arrest Of A Street Vendor By A California Police Officer Is Sparking Outrage On Social Media

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This Latina Blamed Her Parents For Her Lack Of Education When She Was A Teen, Now She Is Graduating From UC Berkeley And Thanking Them

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This Latina Blamed Her Parents For Her Lack Of Education When She Was A Teen, Now She Is Graduating From UC Berkeley And Thanking Them

Alejandra López / Facebook

Alejandra López is getting ready to graduate from University of California, Berkeley and a few weeks she wrote a powerful message on Facebook about the power of family – and the Internet loved it. Next month she will be graduating with a degree in Sociology and Social work and she told mitú that her goals include getting a Ph.D so she can become a professor. López also talked to us about her powerful Facebook post, overcoming her own obstacles, and how she used the perceptions of her family to get to where she is today.

This is Alejandra López, 23, and she is about to graduate from University of California, Berkeley.

Alejandra López / Facebook
CREDIT: Alejandra López / Facebook

López grew up in Huron, Calif., a predominately Latino town of 7,000 people about 3 hours north of Los Angeles. For López, the town she grew up in didn’t really leave her with much hope of obtaining higher education.

“The closest high school was a 45-minute bus ride, so Huron kids had to wake up extra early and get home later just to get a high school education. This was the most impactful experience that solidified my educational goals because in high school I became one of the Huron students in honors and AP classes,” López told mitú. “Going to these classes was hard because I was seen as one of the few “worthy” Huron kids to be in these top performing classes, when my other Huron peers were just as capable of excelling in these classes.”

Her parents are farmworkers and, as the photo below shows, she often goes to the fields to help her parents.

Courtesy of Alejandra López
CREDIT: Courtesy of Alejandra López

López admits that when she was younger, she was frustrated with the lack of educational opportunity and it translated into resentment towards her mother.

Courtesy of Alejandra López
CREDIT: Courtesy of Alejandra López

“We were always poor and I knew that my ticket out of all of this was education, so in a sense studying became my escape,” López explained to mitú about her longing for an education. “In those moments, I let anger and frustration out on my mom by telling her, “voy ir a la universidad porque no quiero ser mensa como tu toda mi vida,” [I’m going to university because I don’t want to be dumb like you all of my life] because I thought that she purposefully didn’t want to pursue an education. Later I learned that she only received a 3rd grade education in Mexico and had to stop because her family didn’t have the funds to continue sending her to school. Part of my lashing out was frustration and the other half was that I just didn’t really take the time to get to know my mom beyond the mom title until I started to look at higher education as an option.”

Yet, despite her own perceived block from higher education, López excelled and eventually made it to UC Berkeley. She does admit her parents always encouraged college even if her teenage self thought they didn’t.

Courtesy of Alejandra López
CREDIT: Courtesy of Alejandra López

“My parents always emphasized education. They would always tell me, “Tienes que estudiar para no trabajar en el fil como nosotros. [You have to study so you don’t work on the fields like we do.]” That always made sense to me, but it never felt comfortable because I didn’t see anything wrong with being a farmworker,”  López told mitú. “I just knew that they wanted to see me in a career that didn’t require backbreaking work, so the idea of going to college was always there.”

For López, it was a no-brainer to include her parents in her graduation photos because this is their accomplishment too.

graduation picture because my family and i are graduating from UC Berkeley. some would say it’s the #1 public…

Posted by Alejandra López on Saturday, April 22, 2017


She credits her family and their unwavering support in love as giving her the inspiration and encouragement to make it through the process of applying, selecting, and ultimately attending college. Though she does think that her parents don’t understand the full impact of going to a school like UC Berkeley.

As for how she sees her mom, well, that has totally changed.

Alejandra López / Facebook
CREDIT: Alejandra López / Facebook

“I am so proud of my mami,” López exclaimed to mitú. “My mom struggled with letting me go to UC Berkeley because I am the baby of the family, but I think that by supporting my goals she gave herself room to figure out her role in life outside of mami. When I left, I bought her a book (I think it was ‘Los Cuatro Acuerdos’ by Don Miguel Ruiz) and after that, she was hooked. She LOVES to read now and it’s been so beautiful to see her grow. She has been right by my side learning with me as well as teaching me of the things she reads, and vice versa.”

“Gracias, sin su apoyo I wouldn’t have been able to graduate,” López told mitú about what she tells her family about graduating college.

Courtesy of Alejandra López
CREDIT: Courtesy of Alejandra López

She continued: “And thank you for teaching me the importance of familia and comunidad, which have guided me outside our home. Los amo!”


READ: From the Fields to UCLA: This Success Story Will Motivate You to Chase Your Dreams

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