Open Letter: Black Oakland Demands in Light of COVID-19 and Rates of Black Death

Black People are being infected and dying at disproportionate rates from COVID-19.

This past Saturday, Community Ready Corps (CRC) and The Anti Police-Terror Project  (APTP) virtually convened a range of Black leaders in Oakland to develop a set of demands around how we expect Oakland to respond to this crisis.

Despite the mainstream media narrative that Black people are “unhealthy” or live “risky lifestyles,” the reality is that for 400 years Black people in this country have been pushed down to the bottom of every indicator that would lead to a healthy and thriving quality of life.

This is true in Oakland. Black people make up the majority of the unhoused and displaced, live in the neighborhoods with the highest concentration of air pollution and have the least access to healthcare and healthy food.  As a result, Black bodies are more susceptible to the ravages of COVID-19.

Oakland should have moved preemptively to stop the spread of this virus in Black neighborhoods and ensured Black residents had accurate information, cloth masks, hand sanitizers; but this work was instead left up to grassroots organizations like Community Ready Corps.

In San Francisco, new data revealed that Blacks and Latinos make up the majority of the 1,126 cases in the city.  We can be sure that this will hold true in Oakland as well. The City of Oakland needs to release similar data immediately and work with trusted Black community leaders and organizations to respond.

The coalition’s demands are both short and long-term in a wide range of areas from housing to education to testing and healthcare.  Some of these include:  Free, full, accessible testing and retesting sites, both walk-up and drive-through, in East and West Oakland and at encampments, No criminalization of youth-related to COVID 19 precautions such as wearing a mask, etc., Immediate paid sick days for all essential service workers, Rent abatement for the duration of the administrative closure followed by percentage rent through 2020 for tenants coupled with mortgage forgiveness for landlords.

Access the full document at www.antipoliceterrorproject.org

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