By Claudia Jimenez
The death of George Floyd is deeply painful to me. I cannot stop feeling angry. Another beautiful Black life was taken by the police in America. We all should be angry, we all should be feeling that our society needs to change. It is not ok to have to bury our brothers and sisters because they are being killed just for the color of their skin. It is unacceptable that white police officers kill unarmed Black people in front of a camera without fear of reprisal.
While we are protesting against police brutality and a broken system that has given too much power to police officers, we should also be outraged by policies that also harm Black people.
In Richmond, the mayor is proposing to repeal rent control and just cause for eviction using this pandemic and budget crisis as an excuse. In a city where 60% of Black residents are renters, this is a direct attack on Black communities. Two city council members and the mayor also voted against strengthening the city’s eviction moratorium, another move that will be felt the most by Black residents.
Photo by Eric Ruud
The mayor is also proposing to take away funds that will go to support kids and youth in the city, a move which will disproportionately affect Black children and youth. He wants to close libraries in order to balance a $30 million dollar budget deficit when libraries are a necessary community resource in Richmond. This divestment in services will hit our Black and brown families in Richmond the hardest.
It may be a step for progress that a wide variety of people are writing emails and posting social media messages that proclaim Black Lives Matter. Some of these people, especially in political leadership, have historically backed agendas that harmed Black lives. What remains to be seen now is if words are backed up by actions which demonstrate that the lives of Black residents in Richmond do matter.
We should be angry and protest what is happening. We should be on the streets, we should be outraged, and we should turn that fire inside of us to take the collective next steps that create a strong platform. One demand is that our city remove our tax dollars from criminal systems that are killing precious Black lives and pour those resources into restorative systems.
As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just said "So if you're out here asking for an end to unrest, you better be asking for healthcare as a human right, you better be calling for accountability in our policing, you better be supporting community review boards, you better be supporting the end of housing discrimination, you better be standing up to for-profit real estate developers that are intimidating people and trying to evict them from their homes—that's what you better be calling for.” "If you are calling for an end to this unrest... but you are not calling for the end to the conditions that created the unrest, you are a hypocrite."
Author: Claudia Jimenez
I am a Richmond resident. It is hard to believe that while many cities and even the state of California are championing Rent Control, tonight the mayor of Richmond is proposing a ballot measure to repeal rent control. In this time when many cities are passing moratoriums to allow families to be safe and keep their homes, the mayor Tom Butt is considering removing protections for more than 3,000 Richmond families and individuals. The pandemic has shown how devastating it can be when our incomes are not enough to cover rent or mortgage payments. Rent control is a fair policy to make sure rents don’t rise so fast that people lose their homes. It hasn’t been a perfect policy. Like any policy, it has needed adjustments in the first few years. But it has worked. Rents are not rising as much as they were four years ago. People who are evicted for no reason have the right to stand up for themselves. This means tenants get a little bit more freedom to choose when they move, choose when they pull their kids out of their school, choose when they leave the neighborhood where their long-time neighbors, relatives, or church may be.
We have real issues in this city that deserve our attention now, not a political battle over a policy that we already voted on. We need to be thinking about how we keep our small businesses open during the pandemic and afterwards. We need to think about supporting working parents with kids at home all summer. We need to support homeowners who haven’t been able to work and have to pay their mortgages. We need to make sure no-one is going hungry in our city. These are real issues that are urgent and demand a response from our local government. We don’t need to waste time with a political fight about protecting renters from unfair rent increases and evictions.