Things That Matter

Dolores Huerta Was Just Detained For Protesting For Workers’ Rights In Fresno County

Dolores Huerta is one of the best-known and relentless labor organizers in the U.S. Her career fighting for workers’ rights spans decades and her work is nowhere near done. Today, the 89-year-old activist was detained while protesting the treatment of In-House Supportive System workers in Fresno County who have been negotiating a pay raise for years. Here’s what went down during the Board of Supervisors meeting at the Fresno County Hall of Records.

Dolores Huerta kept her chin up in defiance as she was escorted, in plastic handcuffs, from a Board of Supervisors meeting in Fresno County.

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According to the Fresno Bee, Huerta was one of several protesters demanding that the Fresno Board of Supervisors approve a respectable raise for In-Home Supportive System (IHSS) employees.

The IHSS program “helps elderly, blind and disabled people to safely remain in their own homes when they are not able to fully care for themselves or handle routine household tasks,” reads the website. “IHSS encourages independence and self-reliance, when possible, and is an alternative to out-of-home care in institutions or nursing facilities.”

IHSS employees offer clients services like housekeeping, meal prep, laundry, bathing, and accompanying patients to medical appointments, to name a few.

Huerta and other protesters filled the Fresno County Hall of Records to voice their demands to those making the decisions.

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According to the Fresno Bee, the IHSS workers currently make the minimum wage, which is set at $12 an hour. The labor union has been negotiating a pay raise for the workers for years and the Fresno Board of Supervisors was set to approve a 10-cent per hour raise. That is what sparked the protest demanding a proper wage increase.

According to the Fresno Bee, more than 17,000 people in Fresno County rely on caregivers and that number is expected to reach 106,000 by 2030.

People are absolutely celebrating the activist for her unapologetic stance for laborers.

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Huerta co-founded the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers, back in in 1962 and used her activist knowledge to fight for better working conditions for farmworkers in Delano, California. Since then, Huerta has been an example of activism and her fight for the most vulnerable in the employment community has continued.

Her reputation as a strong woman has become an irrefutable characteristic of the activist.

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Señora Chingona, indeed. Huerta has been arrested several times as part of her activism. She has even used her voice and name to fight for what she thinks is right in politics. Her activism was on full display during the 2016 elections as people mobilized to fight for the Latino community.

The protesters at the Fresno Board of Supervisors meeting today were optimistic about their ability to exact change.

Protesters joyfully chanted, “We believe we can win” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, poverty wages have got to go.” The protesters were effective in getting the attention of the board. The protest was disruptive enough that the meeting was recessed for 10 minutes just 30 seconds after they began chanting. The Fresno Bee called the protest ill-timed but the protesters knew they had the attention of those in charge.

“They are finalizing the budget in September. We want to make sure they put us in the budget for a wage increase,” organizer Ua Lugo told the Fresno Bee. “So today is very important.”

Despite numerous people being detained, the protesters continued in their fight.

“It should not come to this. It should not come to this,” protester Martha Valladarez told the Fresno Bee about caring for her daughter with Down Syndrome while officers placed plastic cuffs on her. “They have no idea the love that we have for our family members.”

Huerta was released shortly after being detained and she was greeted with a cheering crowd for her willingness to keep protesting.

What do you think about Dolores Huerta being detained for her protest in Fresno?

READ: Dolores Huerta The Latina Freedom Fighter Who Taught Us ‘Sí Se Puede’ Has Been Arrested Over 20 Times

A California City Is Being Sued Because Of Evictions Of Black And Latino Residents Considered Discriminatory

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A California City Is Being Sued Because Of Evictions Of Black And Latino Residents Considered Discriminatory

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a lawsuit against the city of Hesperia and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department alleging discrimination against black and Latino renters. The suit, filed earlier this month, takes aim at a 2016 Hesperia rental ordinance that requires landlords to evict tenants who had allegedly committed crimes on or near their property. 

Making matters more troublesome is that the housing law was passed at a time when Hesperia, a Mojave Desert city of just under 100,000 people located 35 miles north of San Bernardino, saw it’s Latino and African-American populations growing. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of Latinos living in Hesperia rose 140 percent, and the number of African-Americans by 103 percent, according to Census Bureau data.

The housing law, called the “Crime Free Rental Housing Program” led to the eviction of countless families, including children, for alleged criminal activity that included one tenant or even some non-tenants. This was in addition to the eviction of family members who had reported domestic violence to the police. The housing act even involved allegations from authorities of criminal activity even if the individual wasn’t arrested, charged or convicted. 

According to federal authorities, city councilmembers’ statements in creating the controversial ordinance show that it was designed to reverse “demographic” changes in Hesperia.

The suit, alleges that the housing law was put in place for one primary reason, to drive minorities out of the city of Hesperia. The DOJ is seeking to stop future similarly discriminatory housing laws and for financial compensation for those tenants that were affected by the ordinance. The housing law was put in effect from Jan. 1, 2016 to July 18, 2017.

The DOJ says that the ordinance violated the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, and disability. With the city’s sheriff’s department having determination in which tenants would be evicted, there was an instance when an older Latino couple was removed due to their adult son, who did not live with them, being arrested, the suit said. 

When the measure was initially being drafted, Hesperia Mayor Eric Schmidt made comments about the number of renters that were coming into the city from parts of L.A. County that were known for having large minority populations. According to prosecutors, Schmidt allegedly said that groups left L.A. County  “because it’s a cheap place to live and it’s a place to hide,” and that “the people that aggravate us aren’t from here,” they “come from somewhere else with their tainted history.”

Another questionable comment came from city councilmember Russ Blewett who allegedly said that Hesperia needed to “improve our demographic,” and that he wanted “those kind of people” that the ordinance would particularly target to get “the hell out of our town. 

“I want their butt kicked out of this community as fast as I can possibly humanly get it done,” Blewett said, according to the suit.

“The Fair Housing Act prohibits local governments from enacting ordinances intended to push out African-American and Latino renters because of their race and national origin, or from enforcing their ordinances in a discriminatory manner,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in the press release. “The United States Department of Justice will continue zealously to enforce the Fair Housing Act against anyone and any organization or institution that violates the law’s protections against race, national origin, and other forms of unlawful discrimination.”

As of now, the city of Hesperia has denied any and all wrongdoing in regard to the DOJ lawsuit. 

Rachel Molina, a spokeswoman for the City of Hesperia, told the Victorville Daily Press that the information presented in the DOJ lawsuit is “factually incorrect and grossly misleading.”

“First and foremost, I would like to say that Hesperia is a very diverse community,” Molina said. “We love and embrace diversity in Hesperia. At no time did the City’s crime-free ordinance discriminate against residents of any ethnicity. There are crime-free programs across the United States aimed at providing residents with safer communities — in the recent past HUD supported such programs.”

Before the DOJ filed its own lawsuit, the ACLU took legal action two years ago against the city on similar premises of housing discrimination. 

This isn’t the first time the city and it’s sheriff’s department have faced legal action over the ordinance. Back in 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California filed a suit on the claim that the housing law restricted housing and services for those individuals who had criminal records. In retaliation, Hesperia made adjustments to the law to make the program voluntary for landlords. Just last year, the city agreed to settle with the ACLU lawsuit for $485,000 dollars. 

That lawsuit was filed on behalf of Sharon Green, who leads the Victor Valley Family Resource Center, a housing nonprofit organization. Green told the LA Times that the DOJ suit is important in regards to other cities that might be considering similar discriminatory housing laws. 

The DOJ suit will “send a strong message to cities around the country that they cannot discriminate. Our homeless numbers are far too large and there are far too many obstacles to housing already to be dealing with this kind of foolishness.”

READ: Schools In Mexico’s Yucatan Have Made Mayan Language Classes A Requirement And Here’s Why That Matters

The Colombian Government Has Neglected The Indigenous Community And They Are Mobilizing To Demand Action

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The Colombian Government Has Neglected The Indigenous Community And They Are Mobilizing To Demand Action

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Indigenous Colombians have given far-right President Iván Duque notice that they will “take” the presidential palace if he doesn’t take time to meet with indigenous leaders. Indigenous Colombians are calling for the government to recommit to decades-old government agreements with indigenous nations. Indigenous representative Herney Flor said that more than 30,000 indigenous peoples are prepared to travel to Bogotá in a caravan to ‘take’ the palace by Saturday, according to Colombia Reports. The pressure against Duque has been mounting as the indigenous people continuously witness the government breach their agreements to protect the native nations. This latest wave of mass anti-government protests against Duque has been catalyzed by the violent murder of Cristina Bautista, the indigenous governor of Cauca in October.

“This is the last warning,” Flor alerted President Duque, according to Colombia Reports.

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Herney Flor is on the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, which represents a collection of Indigenous nations in the Cauca region, which has experienced spikes in violence from rebel groups during the last few months. The Nasa people have endured the assassination of their governor, Cristina Bautista, along with four other Nasa members who were guarding their community. The guard is made up of volunteers who consider themselves more as peace officers than a police force. They are not armed. During a routine security check, the peace officers stopped a car as it was entering the community. They would learn that the leader of a rebel group and two other rebels were armed and prepared to wreak havoc. The guards raised an alarm that alerted the entire community, which is when, presumably, governor Cristina Bautista arrived to see what was the matter. The rebel group opened fire and killed Bautista and four of the Nasa peace officers, along with injuring six others. Two months prior, two more Nasa peace officers were assassinated when rebel groups opened fire on their bus.

The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) faction rebel groups are believed to be behind the attacks. The FARC paramilitary rose to power during the Cold War period to physically force a Marxist agenda. The United Nations estimates that FARC was responsible for 12 percent of all civilian deaths during that period. In 2016, FARC leaders signed a peace agreement with the Colombian government and agreed to lay down arms. However, not every FARC rebel agreed and some broke off to form factions that would go on to violently clash with indigenous people as they try to expand their territory.

The United Nations has urged Duque to do more to protect indigenous nations.

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During his 16 months in office, Duque’s approval rating has dropped to 24 percent, the worst in Colombia’s history. The bulk of Colombians are protesting Duque’s “paquetazo” or “the package” that would create a tax reform not dissimilar from Trump’s–lessen taxes on the rich, and limit government benefits to the middle and lower class, effectively widening the wealth gap in Colombia. After Bautista’s death, indigenous people joined the protests in early November. As folks joined protests in the streets with their own frustrations, ranging from the government’s legalization of shark hunting to its weakened stance on climate change, everyone became unified in the singular experience of Duque’s violent response to their peaceful protests. 

Many indigenous people marched in or just outside their own communities, but nothing like what they are threatening now: a full mobilization of indigenous peoples to take over the capital. “We ask you to fulfill the commitments, the agreements that have been signed many years ago, because if not we will leave in a caravan next week,” Flor said, according to Colombia Reports, adding, “This is the last warning and the last demand we make.”

Over the last two years, more than 750 indigenous leaders and activists have been killed, according to INDEPAZ.

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The indigenous peace officers have been regularly attending the protests that have drawn hundreds of thousands of Colombians into the streets, to counter the violence of militarized police with their unarmed intentions for peace. As they arrived, recognizable by their large wooden staffs painted with the colors that represent their nation, thousands applauded them. Others happily threw makeshift white confetti from their high-story windows to rain down on them.”They’re killing indigenous leaders – we want peace,” Indigenous Guard member Jose Asemeo Capiz told Al Jazeera during the country’s third mass protest last week.

Jamileth Mulcueguege was marching with an enormous indigenous flag when she told Al Jazeera, “We came to march for our rights to education, health and the environment that the government is destroying. If we unite and stay strong, the government will listen. It’s all about the strength of the people.”

READ: Dilan Cruz Becomes A Symbol Of Colombia’s Protest Movement After He Was Shot Dead By Police