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Friday, February 13, 2009

On the Waterfront: S.F. Longshoremen To Protest Racism, Cops, Racist Cops

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2009 at 4:14 PM

Still itching for a fight.
  • Still itching for a fight.

No matter what you make of the politics of the hard-bitten types who run the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, you've got to hand it to them for keeping the drum beating. Since the radical left-wing syndicate was born out of the violent San Francisco Maritime Strike in 1934, it's shown plenty of backbone standing up for those with a compelling claim to being screwed by the system.

Cops -- against whom the ILWU has nursed a blood-feud since police killed strikers in 1934 -- are a perennial target of the union's protests, and the longshoremen's rally in San Francisco tomorrow will be no exception. To recognize Black History Month, the ILWU has planned a demonstration at the union hall on North Point Street, near Fisherman's Wharf.

"We're trying to draw attention to the fact that racism is unfortunately alive and well in America, even though we have an African-American president," said Jack Heyman, a member of the ILWU's executive board. Among the speakers at the event will be former Black Panther Party activist Angela Davis and The Rev. Cecil Williams of Glide Memorial Church.

Expect plenty of references to Oscar Grant, the unarmed 22-year-old black man who was shot dead on an Oakland train platform by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle last month. Mumia Abu-Jamal and Troy Davis -- two black men on death row with legions of followers who proclaim their innocence -- will also be prominently mentioned. Davis' sister, Martina Correia, is one of the featured speakers.

Correia told SF Weekly that she looks forward to making her voice heard in activist-friendly San Francisco, which she described as a far cry from her hometown of Savannah, Ga. "This is a much more diverse community, a more conscious community," Correia said. "Where I live, even though it's 2009, people's mindset is back in the '50s and '60s." We're guessing she's not talking about the 1950s mindset of Marlon Brando and Elia Kazan.

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Peter Jamison

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