Ella Baker Center Disrupts Board of Supervisors Meeting, Wins Key Victories for Jobs Not Jails Campaign

Today, on Tuesday, March 3rd, approximately 75 community members gathered with the Ella Baker Center and peacefully disrupted the Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting to demand that the county officials support our campaign for Jobs Not Jails.

Amidst chants of #JobsNotJails and #SignThePledge from the crowd, five individuals went behind the barrier separating the supervisors from the meeting attendees and asked each supervisor to sign a pledge expressing their support of a Jobs Not Jails budget for Alameda County.

The five individuals who participated in the civil disobedience included Reverend Jacqueline Duhart from the First Unitarian Church, Bill Chorneau from the First, Gopal Dayaneni from Movement Generation and Asians for Black, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club member Judy Belcher, and Ella Baker Center Executive Director and BlackLivesMatter member Zachary Norris.

For the past six months, the Ella Baker Center has campaigned for the supervisors to set aside half of their public safety funding for community programs and services that prioritize job training, education, housing, and healthcare for people coming out of jail.

In the past, the vast majority of public safety funds have been allocated to the sheriff, which only serves to expand the web of criminalization and incarceration that traps too many Alameda County residents, especially low income people and people of color.

Today, we made significant progress in our campaign, with Supervisor Richard Valle signing our pledge and expressing his support for a Jobs Not Jails budget. Supervisor Keith Carson also indicated his support for allocating 50% of the public safety funds towards programs and services for 2015-16.

The Alameda County undersheriff and his deputies entered the meeting chambers shortly after we began our civil disobedience, but we held control of the space for more than an hour and ultimately the sheriff and his deputies retreated.

The Ella Baker Center has presented the Board of Supervisors with an alternative Jobs Not Jails budget, which recommends how they should allocate their public safety funds. We look forward to keeping the pressure on the supervisors so that they vote for that budget later this month.

For more information, please contact Communications Manager Zaineb Mohammed at Zaineb@ellabakercenter.org or 510-285-8236.