EDITOR’S NOTE: Residents across Los Angeles are fed up with City Hall’s mishandling of our tax dollars and the dangerous elimination of essential services, including cuts in police and fire staffing that endanger the public safety. Neighborhood Councils, resident groups and activists from every community are rallying at City Hall at 10 a.m. Wednesday when the City Council begins budget deliberations (LAPressConference_051811.pdf). We have different points of view on many issues but we are united in demanding respect for everyone and an honest conversation about how to fix L.A. Here is an open letter of support from Kwazi Nkrumah, a leader in the Martin Luther King Coalition, Coffee Party and KPFK Advisory Board followed by a Call to Action by Neighborhood Council acitivists sent by Jay Handal, chair of the Budget Advocates:
By Kwazi Nkrumah
“Freedom is not won
by a passive acceptance of suffering. Freedom is won by a struggle against
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dear MLK Coalition Members and Friends:
On Thursday afternoon I
attended a meeting organized by MLK activist Nyabingi Kuti (who is also the
head of Urban Progressives). Present at the meeting were a number of
individuals from a range of disparate groupings and institutions based in the
L.A. area. What we all shared in common was a sense of urgency about the
upcoming budget discussions slated to take place in the city council this
coming week. I’m sure we are all aware of the proposals to reduce essential
city services for our communities, lay-off some city employees and reduce pay,
health benefits and retirement provisions for thousands of others.
These proposals are merely the first wave of a “tsunami” of economic
fallout that will come crashing down on our communities over the next few
months. City budget cuts will soon be followed by additional state budget cuts.
State budget cuts will in turn be compounded by deep proposed federal budget
cuts, which are currently being debated in Congress. As I said, we will
literally be facing a tsunami of political and economic blows that will be
hitting us from every side. Among other things, this is the product of a
failure of political leadership at every level of our society. We are living in
an era when massive disparities of wealth and political power have been
mounting year after year. The giant banks and corporations have long since
mastered the game of manipulating the economy, the politicians and political
institutions, and everything else that moves — including us! It is time for us
to collectively call a halt to this insanity! It is time for us — “the
people”, “the electorate”, “the masses” — to
intervene in the political process on our own behalf, while we still have the
freedom and the collective will to do so!
Over the past several months, a number of resistance efforts have been
germinating here in the Los Angeles area:
- In mid-January, a coalition of local non-profit service
organizations and agencies held a joint rally in downtown L.A. to protest
state budget proposals which would eliminate or cripple their ability to
provide essential services.These agencies have continued to organize
collectively to fight budget cuts by lobbying the state legislature,
organizing in the community and conducting educational work on the impact
that cuts will have on community living standards.
- In mid-February, city employees, through their unions,
organized a Valentine’s Day action at City Hall to protest proposals to
cut many basic city services. They later joined with other unions on March
26th in a major march for labor and community solidarity. They are
currently facing efforts by the city administration to impose massive
furlows, lay-offs and/or reductions in pay, health and pension benefits on
- On March 19th, the Answer Coalition’s March Against War
mobilized thousands of people demanding an end to the wars in Iraq,
Afghanistan and Libya, and the use of our public funds to support
education, health care and other necessary public services instead.
- Over the past several weeks, students, parents and
teachers — at both the secondary and college levels — have organized a
variety of demonstrations and protests against tuition hikes, massive
lay-offs of teachers, and the elimination of programs. There are efforts
underway, even as I write, to build and extend this fight. (On Tuesday,
May 24th, the Youth Justice Coalition and several other progressive
organizations will be organizing a “Car March” to LAUSD
headquarters to protest cuts and defend the right of students to get an
education. I’ve forwarded information on this action, and a planning
meeting in prep for it, to you yesterday. Please make an effort to give it
your active support.)
- On Monday, I will be boarding a bus to Sacramento,
along with Bilal Ali and other local activists who will be lobbying the
state legislature this Tuesday (May 17th) on behalf of food access
programs throughout the state.
- The MLK Coalition has participated in and supported ALL
of the above actions since our formation in January. At our last meeting
we agreed to make the struggle against budget cuts (and their impact) our
For all of the above
reasons, on behalf of the Los Angeles Coffee Party, the KPFK Community Advisory
Board and the Martin Luther King Coalition, I strongly endorse the attached
call to action from the Emergency Response Coalition (see below). We are
calling on all concerned organizations and community residents to show up at
the L.A. City Council meeting at 9:00 a.m., Wednesday, May 18th. Sign up and
speak out against the destruction and privatization of public services! Demand
better use and administration of our tax dollars! Demand changes in taxation
policy at every governmental level. (Start taxing the giant corporations, the
banks, and the super-rich!) We must continue to demand the end of massive
expenditures of our tax dollars on military adventures in Iraq, Afghanistan and
elsewhere, and also demand an immediate end to the war being waged against us,
right here “at home”!
No More Lay-Offs, No More Cuts, and No More Communities Down the Drain!!!
Chair, KPFK Community Advisory Board,
Coordinator of Locals, Los Angeles Coffee Party,
Coordinating Committee, Martin Luther King Coalition For Jobs, Justice and
Citizens of Los Angeles
Call To Action
City Hall 10 A.M. Wednesday May 18
will vote to decrease fire, police and other core essential services to
its citizens, while asking us all to pay more.
The time has come to unite to tell our elected officials that the waste, fraud, neglect MUST stop.
The lack of leadership, the lack of a real fiscal plan, the lack of
services and the disrespect towards the city workers must stop now..
Join us in telling the City Council.. NO to reductions of core essential services…
Chair Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates