By Francisco ‘Chavo’ Romero
Re-posted from Voz del Pueblo, May 24, 2013
As a working-class community, we must redefine what we mean by ‘public safety’, ‘quality of life’, ‘community improvement’ and how we address the disparities and issues that stem from poverty. We must advance an organized movement to achieve community-based solutions to these core issues impacting our barrios and to do so, we must fight to recuperate our resources.
Communities across California and beyond are being further and further militarized as a ‘solution’, and what we are now seeing is an increase in brutal force as a means to ‘manage dissent’ and resistance in an attempt to contain class struggle as we fight for our resources. In order to protect the interests of the ruling class, the cops will have to continue to expand and further deplete our resources and further slash and burn the budgets to parks, recreation, libraries, etc.
We must say, No! It is time to openly challenge the notion and practice that bringing in and spending millions of dollars on the force, instruments and methods of war into our community will create a better society.
Oxnard Proposal: Going off of last year’s general budget, let’s demand that we move toward allocating to Library and Recreation/Community a budget of $10 million each. This would increase Recreation/Community by $4.7 million, Library by $5.7 million. We must push for Housing to get at a least a $1 million and get this department a minimum of 1% of the city budget. This means we will cut around $11 million to the police budget, which even then still leaves the cops with over one-third of the city budget.
Increase in the Library/Recreation Community/Housing will go to some of the following areas:
Recreation/Community: More unionized employment opportunity, including on-the-job paid training for local youth 15-21 years old (with specific goals of employing those that have ‘records’ or low-income). More FREE community athletic and recreation programs (covering costs of ALL registration and equipment), a FREE community pool and gym with extended hours in every single barrio, re-investing in the community centers at every park, public restrooms, community beautification through botanical gardens and increase in local community gardens/farms to grow crops, along with creating open space and nutrition-enhancing programs, particularly in dense, crowded housing and apartment complexes. Mass influx of funds into cultural and art centers with access to FREE space for studios, supplies and instruments.
Library: More unionized employment opportunity, including on-the-job paid training for local youth 15-21 years old (with specific goals of employing those that have ‘records’ or low income). Extended hours-Open everyday from 8am-10pm. Free year-round tutoring. Expansion of state-of-the-art computer labs and technology, including registration for FREE city-wide access to Wi-Fi/Internet. More books, more magazines, literature, more videos and films, including expansion of Spanish-language or other language selections. Children and youth-oriented services, literature and programming expansion. Let’s get some Book-Mobiles out every weekend to the parks and other events and have some readings, plays, theater and on-site general book checkout.
Housing: The increase in this department would augment and extend the local services including some part-time employment that can work on providing access to specialized educational workshops, community projects, etc. related to housing/rental rights issues, voucher-assistance as needed, and general community organization.
The current method of handing out small ‘block grants’ is nowhere near scratching the surface of what is needed to improve conditions in our community. Even so-called funds meant to be geared toward ‘community improvement’ are being hi-jacked by the police and their proxy programs. We must come to terms with the reality that continued investment into militarization/policing and di-vestment of social services and programming is a recipe for failure and further deterioration of communities. If we are serious about ‘public safety’, ‘quality of life’, ‘community improvement’, then we must re-shift our current path and begin the process of de-militarization and re-orientate toward a future that invests in humanity, and more specifically into the working-class and our barrios.
No to Militarization and Incarceration!
Yes to Justice, Jobs and Education!
I finally have time to continue my research for my manuscript! It seem that every time when I’m searching the local newspapers, I always come around great photos or articles of the history of Mexicans on the Oxnard Plain. This time when I was searching for articles on “school segregation,” I came around the following photos on local Braceros during the final years of the Bracero Program.
Source: The Press-Courier, 11 Jun 1963
Source: The Press-Courier, 19 Oct 1963
Source: The Press-Courier, 13 Nov 1964
It seems that every time I return to teaching I have no time for writing. But, I have been thinking about writing. I have outlined the following new blog’s articles; Pachuca/os: The Criminalization of Mexican Youth and Education Yes! Segregation No!: Soria, et al. v. Oxnard School District Board of Trustees. Both are connected to my research. My goal is to have them up sometime in May!
On the other note, I’m employed for another year at BSGU! Now, I’m counting the days until the semester ends!