Aug. 19, 2017, Boston. Photo: Liberation News/ Kaileigh O’Keefe
By Dan Siegel
“We are the Trump vanguard.” – Richard Spencer, white supremacist, anti-Semite and leader of the “identitarian” movement.
There were “very fine people” on both sides in Charlottesville. – Donald Trump.
Many progressives are still reluctant to take the fascist “alt-right” seriously. Others hope that if we just ignore them they will go away. Their perspective seems to be that until the Nazi flag is flying from the White House we can afford to ignore the threat posed by American fascists.
Fascism is a growing threat in America, in part because it is expanding in numbers and violence, in part because it is linked to Donald Trump. A new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center counts 43 murders linked to the alt-right since 2014, 17 in 2017 alone.
A definition and some historical perspective are in order. When the Soviet Union was trying to build a worldwide coalition against fascism in the mid-1930s, it and its allies described fascism as “the open, terroristic rule of the most reactionary, most chauvinist wing of the ruling elite.” That definition works well to describe a fascist state, like Germany in 1935.
Fascism today is a social and political movement: (1) Pre-occupied with complaints of exclusion, impoverishment, and marginalization (They chanted “we will not be replaced by Jews” in Charlottesville.); (2) Obsessed with hatred for the people they blame for their decline – Blacks, feminists, Jews, Latinx immigrants, queers, Muslims; (3) Violent; and (4) Supported financially and politically by factions among the “respectable” right-wing elites. Individuals like Richard Spencer try to bridge the social gap between the thuggish gangs and their better dressed funders.
Fascism came to power suddenly and legally in a Europe facing many of the conditions America experiences today. Just as in Europe in the 1920s, economic decline has degraded the living standards of millions of working class families, and the country’s political institutions and elected leaders are hopelessly polarized and ineffective. The fascists of the 1920s seemed marginal and even somewhat absurd.
The Fascist Party that Mussolini led had just a few hundred members prior to 1921 when it was invited to join the government. In 1922, as conditions in the country became more and more chaotic as a result of economic decline and political fragmentation, the fascists numbered in the tens of thousands, and King Victor Emmanuel invited Mussolini to form a government. By 1925 he had turned Italy into a one party, totalitarian state. And all this by a man whose “attitudes were highly theatrical, his opinions were contradictory, his facts were often wrong, and his attacks were frequently malicious and misdirected.” That statement could easily have been written about Trump.
Hitler and the National Socialists were dismissed and ridiculed early in their rise to power. Before 1930, they received less than three percent of the vote in successive national elections. A few years later they grew exponentially as the Great Depression drove millions of Germans into unemployment, poverty, and fear. Hitler was a powerful orator, who promised to restore Germany’s pride and prosperity. Trump again?
In 1933 German President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler as Chancellor. His legacy was the murder of six million Jews and hundreds of thousands of “social deviants,” 100 million dead in World War 2.
Even before the rise of fascism in Europe, the United States experienced the rise of its homegrown, fascist movement, the Ku Klux Klan. Founded as a social club in Pulaski, Tennessee in 1866, the KKK quickly grew as a terrorist vehicle for whites fighting against their perceived displacement and frustration. The Klan’s growth in the South followed the end of the civil war during the Reconstruction period and the short-lived empowerment of newly freed African Americans.
No-one seems to know precisely the extent of the carnage inflicted by the Klan, but few would dispute that its toll of murdered African Americans numbered in the tens of thousands. After a period of decline the KKK expanded exponentially to at least four million members during the 1920s, including business people, preachers, and politicians in every state in America. The Governor of Indiana was an open member. The Klan’s decline came at its own hand in a series of financial and other scandals.
But the KKK never disappeared. During the 1960s Klan members committed the most notorious acts of violence against the civil rights movement. KKK and White Citizens Council member Byron De La Beckwith assassinated NAACP leader Medgar Evans on June 12, 1963, in Jackson, Mississippi. On September 15, 1963, four Klansmen planted at least 15 sticks of dynamite at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young Black girls and injuring 22 others. On June 21, 1964, civil rights workers James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman were arrested by police near Philadelphia, Mississippi, and then turned over to Klansmen who beat and murdered them.
Photo: People’s World
On November 3, 1979, Klansmen and Nazis, with the help of local and federal law enforcement officers, carried out an armed attack on an anti-Klan rally at a Greensboro, North Carolina, public housing project. A caravan of 10 or more cars and pick-ups pulled up to the project. White men got out of the vehicles, opened their trunks, pulled out rifles, shotguns, and pistols, and began shooting. When the smoke cleared five people were dead and many more wounded, some seriously. The victims had been carefully selected from the crowd – union leaders and community activists, most associated with the newly announced Communist Workers Party.
Some of the murderers were indicted, tried, and freed, demonstrating the Klan’s ongoing influence in a state then lauded as symbolizing the “New South.” Despite overwhelming evidence, including videotape of the attack, the Klansmen were acquitted in a federal criminal trial in which they successfully turned the tables on the “communist provocateurs.” Only after years of community organizing around the theme of reconciliation did public sentiment change to support of the victims and condemnation of the violent rightists and their law enforcement allies.
Donald Trump and the fascist right have supported each other since the early days of his campaign. Trump is easily the most racist president in U.S. history, quite an accomplishment among a group including Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson. Trump has never shied from racist rhetoric and action.
Along with his father Fred, who was arrested during a 1927 KKK demonstration that turned into a riot in Queens, New York, Trump and his building management company were sued by the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department for housing discrimination in 1973. Two years later they entered into a consent decree with the government.
Trump bought full-page ads in four New York City newspapers calling for the harsh punishment and “suffering” of five young African American and Latino men who were wrongly convicted of assaulting and raping a white woman in New York’s Central Park in 1989. Long after the Central Park Five were freed, Trump continued to maintain that they were guilty.
During his campaign for President Trump refused to disavow the support of the KKK leader David Duke and falsely claimed that he did not know who Duke was. But years earlier Trump had refused to join Duke in the Reform Party.
Trump’s campaign for president escalated his practice of racist attacks. He may have been the last prominent American to promote the lie that Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. He has viciously and persistently attacked Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and continues to make building a border wall his priority, a demand that plays well to his right-wing support. He panders to prejudice against Muslim people and seeks to bar immigration from countries with Muslim majorities. In one of his most overtly racist statements he recently slandered Haiti and African nations as “shit hole” countries.
Richard Spencer and his fascist allies welcome Trump’s support and act accordingly. The KKK, Nazis, and their partners openly proclaim their intent to kill Jews, Blacks, Muslims, and people from Latin America. Dylann Roof acknowledged his racist inspiration for the massacre of nine African Americans in a Bible study class at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015. Fascists stabbed at least seven people, most African Americans, at a rally in Sacramento in June 2016.
Graphic: Electronic Village
On January 29, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette, a fan of Trump and of French rightist Marie Le Pen, killed six people and wounded 19 at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City. Oregon white supremacist Jeremy Christian stabbed to death two men who stood up against his anti-Muslim hate speech towards two young women on a Portland light rail train on May 29, 2017.
In Charlottesville on August 12, 2017, Nazi admirer and Vanguard America supporter James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into a crowd of peaceful anti-fascist demonstrators, murdering Heather Heyer and injuring 20 others. White supremacists applauded Fields’ action and threatened to disrupt the memorial for Ms. Heyer a few days later.
As Trump continues to unravel, his racist rants escalate. As his support diminishes, the far right remains his most loyal base. The history of the last several years makes it reasonable to predict that fascist violence will continue to grow.
The struggle to eliminate fascism as a political force in the United States will require a variety of strategies and tactics. The rise of fascism has an ideological or social basis in the tradition of “American Exceptionalism” and white supremacy. Its growth today also has a material basis in the declining incomes and opportunities for class mobility experienced by many sections of the white working class.
But complaints of exclusion, marginalization, and impoverishment made by whites attracted to fascist movements are not dissimilar from the complaints by people of color about their own conditions. Strategies for improving the living standards of all low income and working class people will impact the lives of many who are now attracted to Trump and his fascist allies, as demonstrated by the appeal of both Bernie Sanders and Trump in some working class communities during the 2016 election.
Successful struggles to increase the minimum wage and for full employment; for affordable housing; and for quality education and health care, including mental health and addiction treatment, will both advance the goals of the progressive movement and erode the attraction of the far right. We should not naively think we can transform the hard core fascists or their elite supporters, but a political movement that advances the interests of middle class, working class, and poor Americans can divide the fascist leadership from many potential supporters.
Mass protests on a variety of issues including women’s rights and gun control remain critical. Antifa (anti-fascist) activists have taken the lead in refusing to allow fascists to occupy public spaces in Boston, Berkeley and elsewhere. While everyone may not be willing or able to confront fascists in the streets, we should all respect antifa’s leadership.
The American left cannot treat the anti-fascist struggle as just one of a number of competing single-issue concerns. Fascism represents the most extreme element of the reactionary forces seeking to block people’s struggles for social, racial, political, and economic justice. None of these struggles can succeed unless people unite to eliminate the threat of fascism in the United States.
Trump has helped make the extreme right groups like the nazis and KKK feel emboldened to come out in the open as they did here in Charlottesville. | Steve Helber/AP
Dan Siegel is a civil rights attorney and activist based in Oakland, California. You may reach him at DanMSiegel@gmail.com.
March on the Chancellor, October 28, 2014. Photo by Fred Lonidier.
by Monty Kroopkin
member, Che Café Support Network
The UCSD administration sent the below email today, March 19, 2018, to all campus staff and students. It explains that
“This work is necessary to provide a fire protection system to the Che Café.”
True. In order to install the new system it is necessary to upgrade the water flow capacity to the building.
However, with the whole campus right now having the insidious notion brought up again that implies that a fire protection system is or was ever NECESSARY for the building, this is a ‘teachable’ moment. We can calmly explain to all we can reach, that the central theme of the administration’s 2013 – 2015 campaign to shut down and evict the Che Café Collective was a consciously fabricated lie. The theme was that an automatic fire suppression system retrofit was an absolutely necessary “fire and life safety” requirement to keep the building open. Our legal research proved that the state fire code did/does NOT mandate this expensive retrofit for the building. Our legal research is summed up in the little fact sheet released in 2014: Fire Code Facts
The true reason the building is getting the retrofit now is a lesson in the power of grassroots people’s resistance movements. Following a July 15, 2015 meeting between UCSD Chancellor Khosla and a delegation from Che Café Collective and Che Café Support Network, the chancellor agreed to call off the eviction order and to provide funds from his own discretionary funds to pay for the fire sprinkler system. We agreed to this (1) because the administration was no longer insisting that funds from student fees (the University Center Fee) would have to be used to pay for it and (2) we deemed it a good bargain to allow the administration to “save face” about their years of outright lying about the “requirement” for fire sprinklers in exchange for the administration calling off all their eviction efforts, and (3) we spared the administration from the embarrassment of TV cameras recording any incident with sheriff’s deputies dragging limp bodies of students out of the Che Café to finalize an eviction and spared our own people the prospect of any arrests. The Che Café had been occupied by students and supporters since March 24, 2015 in defiance of the eviction order. At the time of the July 15 meeting with the chancellor the occupation was already the longest protest sit-in in the entire history of the UC system.
We would never have won the Campaign to Save the Che Café without the Occupation of the Che and without the wide range of other actions of campus and community support during the years leading up to that sit-in. (For more about those other actions, see reporting in New Indicator at http://newindicator.org/?p=5 and http://newindicator.org/?p=216 and http://newindicator.org/?p=212 .
As we all go about our lives in the next few days, please take a moment to tell people you meet about this great victory of the power of popular organizing and resistance. Tell people how the Che Café Collective and all its supporters allowed the UCSD administration to do the right thing and SAVE FACE at the same time.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
On Behalf Of Capital Program Management
Sent: Monday, March 19, 2018 8:00 AM
To: All Academics Staff and Students at UC San Diego <email@example.com>
Subject: CONSTRUCTION ALERT – Scholars Drive South at Che Café
UC SAN DIEGO CAMPUS NOTICE University of California San Diego
OFFICE OF THE ASSOCIATE VICE CHANCELLOR
CAPITAL PROGRAM MANAGEMENT
March 19, 2018
ALL ACADEMICS, STAFF AND STUDENTS AT UC SAN DIEGO
SUBJECT: CONSTRUCTION ALERT – Scholars Drive South at Che Café
Ongoing renovation and improvement work to the Che Café will require construction of underground utilities within the Scholars Drive next to the Che Café entrance. This will impact traffic along Scholars Drive in this vicinity for the duration of the work beginning on Monday, March 19, 2018 through Sunday, April 1, 2018. During this time, only one lane will be open at any given time and flaggers will be positioned at each end of the construction to assist with traffic.
This work is necessary to provide a fire protection system to the Che Café.
Immediate Street Traffic, Bike Lane, and Pedestrian Impacts:
Scholars Drive will be limited to one lane during the construction. Detour signs and flaggers will direct traffic. The bicycle lanes and will also be affected by this closure. Please follow signage and allow extra time while traveling around the Scholar Drive area.
Please view area map at: http://rmp-public.ucsd.edu/fdc/Alerts/ScholarsLnbyCheCafemap_31618.pdf
Please direct questions to FM Project Management, Project Manager Aaron Cooley, firstname.lastname@example.org, 619-550-7136. We greatly appreciate your patience during these construction activities.
Eric C. Smith, PE
Associate Vice Chancellor
Capital Program Management
Like the Berlin Wall of Cold War days, the U.S.-Mexico border wall divides our communities.
On Tuesday, March 13, 2018, Donald Trump began his first visit to California as president. He briefly inspected the new prototypes for his proposed expanded border wall. He avoided all contact with the people who live here in the San Diego-Tijuana community, except for a rally at a military base where thousands of marines were forced to listen to him. Several other rallies and marches on Monday and Tuesday protested his policies and his presence here.
INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD (IWW) RETURNS TO SAN DIEGO
Graphic by Alexis Buss
The Industrial Workers of the World has (re)chartered a San Diego General Membership Branch. The IWW is a union for all workers, regardless of employment, status, race, or orientation, since 1905. From 1907 San Diego-Tijuana IWW members have been instrumental in the Mexican Revolution, the San Diego Free Speech Fight, and organizing in our region.
For the first time in several decades, the IWW, also known as “the Wobblies”, is organizing workers again in San Diego. The IWW’s General Executive Board has issued a new charter for a San Diego General Membership Branch (GMB). A “branch” is the IWW term for a union local.
“We are an international union with autonomous locals, independent of all political parties, with a bottom-up structure, by and for workers” says the new Branch Secretary, Preston Chipps. He continued, “The IWW was founded in 1905 and the first union in this country to welcome women and all races.” Chipps is an old hand in the labor movement in San Diego and is the retired chair of the San Diego State University (SDSU) Labor Council, the coalition of campus unions.
The IWW is a union for all workers, engaged in every aspect of human ‘industry’, whether currently employed or unemployed, retired, apprentice or student – all workers. IWW is run democratically by membership meetings, with unpaid officers elected annually and other volunteers. With members on five continents, only one union-wide elected officer, the General Secretary Treasurer, is paid. IWW is organized industrially rather than by trade, to create one big union. IWW pioneered industrial unionism two decades before the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (the CIO).
Consistent with the goals of the IWW, the San Diego Branch declared in its application for a charter that “It is our intent to organize the workers of the world as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the earth.
“We live in one of the world’s great urban communities, with an arbitrary and oppressive international border running right through the middle of it. We intend to do all we can to practice mutual aid and cooperation with fellow workers on the Tijuana side of our community.
“We will continue our ongoing activities to organize all workers in our area into One Big Union, engage in cultural and educational activities to raise awareness of our anti-authoritarian and revolutionary syndicalist traditions, and support worker struggle by any means at our disposal.”
A PROUD HISTORY IN SAN DIEGO
By 1907, just two years after our union’s founding, Wobblies were organizing in San Diego. By 1910, IWW Mixed Local 13, a predecessor of today’s General Membership Branch, was chartered. That August, Mexican immigrant IWWs struck at San Diego Consolidated |Gas and Electric (now SDG&E) and won higher wages and a union shop. The union shop at the utility didn’t survive long as, unfortunately, many of the members soon returned to Mexico to participate in the Revolution. Also in August 1910, sewer diggers went on strike. They were comprised of Mexican, Greek, and Italian immigrants, and American workers. The American workers were getting paid 25 cents/day more. The Mexicans were all IWW members and called the strike and were supported by most of the other workers. They won the strike, got their 25 cent/day raise and a closed union shop at the sewer company. That same month IWW members won a strike against the Barber Aspalt Company.
In 1911 Wobblies were instrumental in the Magonist Revolution in Mexicali and Tijuana. Many Wobblies participated in the Tijuana Commune, in which ordinary working people democratically ran the city. When another faction of the Mexican Revolution gained control of Baja California, Wobblies who were not citizens of Mexico were deported. Most of those deported were Americans and were promptly imprisoned for violation of the Neutrality Act.
The IWW is best known in San Diego for one of its boldest moments. From 1912-1913, Local 13 fought the bloody San Diego Free Speech Fight right on the streets of downtown. After the San Diego Common Council passed an ordinance restricting gatherings within 49 blocks of the center of San Diego, Local 13 sent out a call for IWW members everywhere to come to San Diego to engage in civil disobedience to fight for repeal of the ordinance, and the San Diego Free Speech Fight was born. Under the ordinance any group of 3 or more people was subject to arrest. The ordinance was aimed at union organizers who stood up on soapboxes on sidewalks and talked about why people should join the union. (Religious speakers similarly standing on soapboxes had never ‘earned’ an ordinance to stop them.)
As many as 5000 Wobblies, along with many others, answered the call from Local #13 to come to San Diego, stand up on a soapbox, violate the ordinance, get arrested and refuse bail to force the city treasury to pay for their ‘room and board’ in jail until the ordinance was repealed. The fire department turned fire hoses on the crowds and one free speech demonstrator died due to injuries inflicted upon him by police officers in San Diego.
The jail was filled to over-capacity. This new tactic of filling the jails, pioneered by IWW, was often used later and by other movements, including the Civil Rights Movements’ Freedom Riders during the 1960s. We won the San Diego Free Speech Fight. This, along with similar Free Speech Fights in other cities, was a major victory for the First Amendment right of all people to freely and peacefully assemble in public.
IWW tactical innovation won the 8 hour day for the workers in the timber industry of the Pacific Northwest nearly twenty years before it became federal law with the passing of the national Fair Labor Standards Act in the 1930s. IWW-organized lumber workers all left work early, after ‘only’ 8 hours because an organizer would blow a whistle when 8 hours were up. The next day the boss would fire everybody who left work ‘early’ and set about hiring a new crew. But then the new crew would do the same thing. Soon the bosses knew they could no longer find a crew that would work more than 8 hours nor would any crew accept any cut in pay to ‘make up’ for the shorter hours.
During the notorious Red Scare following World War I, 20 states enacted so-called “criminal syndicalism” laws, which made mere membership in the IWW a crime. California passed the California Criminal Syndicalism Act in 1919. Many IWW union members were arrested and sent to prison for no act other than admitting their membership in the union. The law remained in effect until it was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1969. This overt repression did reduce the membership numbers of the IWW for a long time. However, throughout these decades Wobblies persisted and continued union organizing and publishing the union’s newspaper, the Industrial Worker.
Some history books wrongly report that the IWW faded away in the U.S. after mass arrest of leaders in the 1920s. However, between the 1930s and the late 1940s the IWW remained a force in the labor movement in this country, organizing mine workers, auto workers, metal workers and many others. The IWW retained strongholds, especially in several seaports with its Marine Transport Workers division, well into the McCarthyite period of the 1950’s. Those strong locals, in a sense, are still with us, although they eventually voted to join either the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) or its West Coast counterpart, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).
As America recovered from the long nightmare of the 1950’s McCarthyism, Wobblies supported the birth of the “New Left” and participated in building national organizations such as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Here in San Diego, in 1970 first the street sellers and then the rest of the staff of the San Diego Street Journal newspaper organized as an IWW shop. With over 100 members, the branch was the largest in the US at the time, until the paper closed in 1972. From 1976 to 1979 the student-owned-and-operated Print Co-op at UCSD carried the IWW union “bug.” During this time a group of local musicians, the “Squalling Panther Fiddle Band” were IWW members, and used the IWW Recreational Workers Industrial Union (IU) 630 contract.
In 2012 the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council organized a commemoration program for the centennial of the IWW’s San Diego Free Speech Fight. Following the commemoration, a few local IWW members called a meeting and over a score of local union activists began holding monthly meetings and building a new San Diego branch.
During these past six years IWW members presented a 2012 teach-in (for Occupy San Diego) on the Haymarket Incident of 1886. We initiated a weekend long organizer training conference, open to all workers and conducted by the IWW’s Organizing Department, at the offices of American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 1931. We sponsored a ‘stop’ at the union hall of the San Diego Education Association (SDEA), for the “Joe Hill Roadshow”, a national concert tour observing the centennial of the murder of Joe Hill by the State of Utah. We participated in the planning of annual May Day rallies and concerts. We joined picket lines put up by other unions, every chance we got. In November 2016 we began working with a wide array of revolutionary organizations in San Diego to form the new coalition, Collective Resistance San Diego.
In 2017, once again, a San Diego IWW Branch has been chartered. Once again, that old Local 13 spirit lives. Labor historian Staughton Lynd has observed that “The IWW has always had an influence out of proportion to the size of its membership.” Today, with almost 90 percent of the workforce in this country not unionized, the IWW is again growing, promoting the solidarity of working people everywhere, and living our motto that “An Injury to One, Is an Injury to All!”
About Industrial Workers of the World San Diego GMB:
The San Diego IWW meets every 3rd Sunday of the month at 12:30 pm.
All workers are always welcome to attend as guests.
For more information contact us at email@example.com or call us at (619) 630-5537.
We maintain a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SDIWW
Learn more about the IWW at iww.org
New lease signed for Che Café, Groundwork Books, Food Co-op and General Store Co-op
On July 28, 2017 the UCSD administration signed the successor lease for the Che Café, Groundwork Books, Food Co-op, and General Store Co-op! The co-ops had all signed it during the prior week or so.
This ends the long fight of the Che Café Collective and supporters to reverse the June 13, 2014 termination of their lease and to defeat the administration’s lawsuit to evict the Che. It also ends the Boycott of Alumni Donations to UCSD. The boycott was initiated by the Che Café Support Network in 2015.
Here is some early press on the news:
Co-ops and UCSD joint press release http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressrelease/uc_san_diego_and_student_run_co_ops_sign_new_master_ space_agreement
San Diego Union-Tribune (PLEASE read Monty Kroopkin’s comment to the online article) http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/education/
The UCSD Guardian (PLEASE read Monty Kroopkin’s comment to the online article) http://ucsdguardian.org/2017/08/03/lease-renewed-for-che-cafe-khosla-to-pay-for-necessary- renovations/
The Reader (PLEASE read Monty Kroopkin’s comment to the online article ) https://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2017/aug/03/blurt-che-cafe-okay-stay/#
Alumni Boycott of UCSD Begins in Support of the C.H.E. Cafe
Donations to Stop Until Eviction Dropped and Lease Restored
LA JOLLA – The annual UCSD Alumni Weekend will be June 4 – 7 this year and features many events for alumni at the campus. They will be greeted with informational leaflets and sign-up sheets to join a boycott of alumni donations to the university.
On March 24 a court order for eviction went into effect, to push the C.H.E. Cafe Collective out of its home of 35 years, the C.H.E. Cafe. The Cafe’s appeal of the court order is still pending in the appellate court.
Rally to Protect the C.H.E. Cafe. March 24, 2015, 5 a.m.
Following a 5 a.m. Rally to Protect the C.H.E. Cafe attended by over a hundred people, an occupation of the building by students and other supporters was started on March 24. The occupation, or sit-in, has continued for over two months, in defiance of the eviction order.
Since the sit-in/occupation of the C.H.E. Cafe began, events and activity at the Cafe have multiplied. Events at the Cafe in recent weeks have included Student Film Nights, UCSD Triton Art, Earth Day Planting Party, Creative Dance Class, Paint the C.H.E. With Mario Torero, Co-op Prom, presentation on activist history at UCSD by Professor Emeritus Fred Lonidier, Meatless Mondays, an ongoing Queer Film Night, and events with the Roger’s Community Garden.
Paint the C.H.E. With Mario Torero event. April 16, 2015
The UCSD administration has shown no interest in calling off the eviction and Sheriff’s Deputies can arrive at any time to try to force people out of the building. With the summer break starting on June 13, the administration and the Sheriff’s Department may make their move to finalize the eviction once most students are gone. Although this timing tactic would reduce the size of the student body response, supporters are confident that the general community will turn out to protest.
For over a year the UCSD administration has attempted to shut the C.H.E. Cafe Collective out of its historic home using a variety of secretive bureaucratic maneuvers, manipulations, and blatant lies. More than a million dollars is the cost projection the UCSD administration has claimed to need to make the C.H.E. Cafe building “safe” to use. At the request of the C.H.E. Cafe Collective, a reputable licensed general contractor with experience in rehabilitating historic wood structures did a preliminary walk through recently and thought the building was in better shape than what he expected to find.
The UCSD administration’s claim that the building is “unsafe” because of a lack of automatic fire sprinklers has been thoroughly debunked. The administration has not explained why a lack of fire sprinklers suddenly became a concern after almost 50 years of use of the building by UCSD. The University’s commissioned 2010 report on the condition of the building states “addition of full fire suppression is not recommended at this time.” Research by alumni revealed that the UC Office of the President (UCOP) abides by the California Fire Code, which states that buildings such as the C.H.E. Cafe are exempt from any requirement to retrofit an automatic fire sprinkler system. Fire extinguishers and all other Fire Code requirements have always been maintained. Other than retrofitting sprinklers, the official UCSD administration assessments of repairs needed include a long list of items like replacement of all the plumbing pipes, despite the fact that no leaks have been found. This is how the cost estimates from the administration end up topping a million dollars.
COMMUNITY SUPPORT GROWING
The C.H.E. Cafe continues to be an invaluable “hands-on” laboratory for students and community members to learn the skills needed to run a vegetarian restaurant, concert/events venue and community center. It continues to be a shining light of the “diversity” that the University claims to promote.
During the past year, despite the protracted struggle over funding of building maintenance, termination of the lease, the eviction lawsuit and the appeal of that ruling, more than 100 shows and events were held at the Cafe.
Organizations and individuals publicly opposed to the eviction of the C.H.E. Cafe Collective from the CHE Cafe building include the University Council-American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, the UCSD Faculty Association, the University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE), United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2865 (UCSD teaching assistants and student employees), AFT Local 1931 (faculty and staff in the San Diego Community College and Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College Districts), KSDT Radio, UCSD Mecha, The General Store Co-op, Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Ed.D.(Executive Director, Interfaith Center for Worker Justice), Martin Eder (Interim Director, KNSJ Radio), UAW Local 5810 (Post Doctoral Researchers Union at UCSD) Alor Caleron (Director, San Diego Employee Rights Center), UCSD Co-ops and Collectives Alumni, and many others.
More than 14, 000 people have signed online petitions to tell the UCSD administration to stop the eviction of the C.H.E. Cafe Collective, to restore the lease and to fund basic building maintenance costs. The current petition, with 900 signatures, is at https://www.change.org/p/university-of-california-and-other-state-officials-public-statement-of-support-for-the-c-h-e-caf%C3%A9-and-the-c-h-e-caf%C3%A9-collective
ALUMNI ALARM GROWS LOUDER
Over this past year, hundreds of alumni have signed petitions and open letters of protest. Even a past president of the Alumni Association wrote a letter of protest. UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla has refused to meet with concerned alumni to discuss the eviction and building repairs dispute. Now, the C.H.E. Cafe Support Network has decided to call a boycott of alumni donations to pressure the UCSD administration in a language it understands: money.
Alumni have donated millions of dollars to UCSD. Thousands of alumni have eaten at or attended shows and meetings and events at the C.H.E. Cafe or enjoyed the low-cost services of one or more of the three other student coops. Hundreds of alumni have actually worked at the C.H.E. Cafe or at the other coops.
The boycott demands that Chancellor Khosla:
STOP THE EVICTION OF THE C.H.E. CAFE COLLECTIVE FROM THE C.H.E. CAFE FACILITY
RESTORE THE LEASE
RESTORE THE BASIC BUILDING MAINTENANCE FUNDS
STOP THE “BIG LIE” PUBLIC RELATIONS CAMPAIGN TO BRAND THE BUILDING “UNSAFE”
RENEW THE LONG TERM LEASE FOR ALL FOUR OF THE STUDENT COOPS
Organizers say the action at the Alumni Weekend events is only the public opening of the boycott. More information about the annual Alumni Weekend is available at the official UCSD website for
the event at http://www.alumni.ucsd.edu/s/1170/landing/index_rot.aspx?sid=1170&gid=1&pgid=6224
Alumni wanting to join the boycott are asked to call (858) 373-7018 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
See related article:
C.H.E. Cafe Makes SOHO “10 Most Endangered List” for 2015, San Diego Free Press, June 1, 2015
See more background on the fight to save the Che Cafe at http://newindicator.org/?p=5 .
What better way to celebrate our 50th anniversary?
Never heard of the New Indicator newspaper? Check out the “About Us” page.
We see that when UCSD has no New Indicator, the campus administrators run amok. They think they can get away with murder, because the UCSD Guardian won’t report it. That newspaper was actually started by the UCSD administration, not by students, and has seldom disappointed its Creator.
We have a lot of work to do.
We will start with reporting the truth about the UCSD administration’s campaign to shut down the Che Cafe.
Save the Che Cafe!
The UCSD administration is currently carrying out a long-term plan to kill the Che Cafe and the three other student coops on the campus. The three other coops are Groundwork Books, the General Store Coop, and the Food Coop. The coops have relied on a lease agreement with UCSD to protect their operations on the campus since 1993. That first lease was negotiated, with strong support of the student governments, after the last time the administration tried to evict the coops.
In the past few years, all four coops have been trying to negotiate a new lease and have been unable to get the administration to agree on terms. The current lease, the Master Space Agreement (MSA) was signed by all four coops and the administration in 2006 and is set to expire in 2016.
The most recent, January 2015 administration-generated report on the Che Cafe calls for razing the building to the ground! The report has not been widely publicized, unlike the administration’s press release in November promising there “are no plans to demolish the Che Cafe building.” The Che is more well-known than the other coops and has the most campus and community support. If the administration can kill the Che, it won’t have as much trouble killing the other coops.
March on the Chancellor, October 28, 2014. Photo by Fred Lonidier.
The administration got new support for its kill the coops campaign from the Associated Students (AS) and the Graduate Students Association (GSA) in the past few weeks. Both of these student government councils passed resolutions which will help provide political “cover” for the administration’s eviction of the Che Cafe Collective from the Che Cafe space they have had for 35 years. The resolutions are nearly identical. The AS adopted the GSA’s resolution with few changes. The resolutions call on the Che Cafe Collective to stop holding concerts and events in the Cafe for a year and a half. The resolutions go on to say it could become permanent after that, or the collective might be “allowed” back in its own space then.
The AS and the GSA offer no reason why the Che should not continue in its space as usual as it has for over 35 years. The resolutions read like something written by a UCSD administrator, and probably largely were. One high-ranking administrator who actually supports the Che Cafe has disclosed that Chancellor Pradeep Khosla “hates” the Che and wants it gone. The GSA consulted closely with the administration over the past several months, while telling the Che Cafe Collective that the GSA’s committee meetings were “closed”. (They seem to think the state Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act doesn’t apply to them.) The GSA and the AS both have refused to talk to the Che Cafe Collective about the written proposals submitted by the collective or about the collective’s position statement .
The administration has held off on serving the final 5-day notice to vacate, after winning an eviction lawsuit against the Che in October. The Che Cafe Collective immediately filed an appeal of that court ruling, and the ruling on the appeal is still pending. After 3 substantial protest demonstrations last Fall, including an occupation of Peterson Hall, and more than 14,000 petition signatures supporting the Che, and at least 10 or 20 newspaper articles and news broadcasts about the administration’s eviction campaign, the UCSD administration blinked.
We think the administration has waited in the hope of getting the AS and the GSA to take the blame, so that all the bad press and angry students won’t be blaming the UCSD administration for shutting down the Che. Now they are going to get what they want from the student governments. That is, unless UCSD students push back and stop their elected “representatives” from serving the administration instead of serving the students. Students can demand that the AS and GSA repeal these resolutions. Students can demand that the AS and GSA instead call on the administration to drop the eviction and restore the Che’s lease.
Members of the Che Cafe Support Network passed out an info sheet at the recent AS and GSA Council meetings. It is worth quoting, especially because the council members seem to be purposely ignoring it:
“Under both UC policy and the state Fire Code (which is adopted as UC policy), the CHE Cafe building is EXEMPT from any requirement for retrofits for automatic fire sprinklers. This means that the UCSD administration’s estimate that student fees must be used to pay over $300,000 for sprinklers is incorrect. This also means that the building is legally safe for occupancy (as it has always been) for 170 people in the assembly room (per Fire Marshal posted legal notice). In other words, the UCSD administration’s public posture since Spring of 2014 — that for fire “safety” the CHE Cafe Collective lease must be terminated, that the collective must be evicted, and that the building must not be used for concerts, events and meetings — has NO legal basis. None of the other maintenance/repairs work cited by the administration are any reason to shut down the Cafe, except during (perhaps) some of the actual construction work.”
The info sheet goes on to give the UC policy and state Fire Code links that prove there is no safety problem at the Che Cafe. Click here to see the info sheet.
In other words, THERE IS NO REASON TO SHUT DOWN THE CHE. The UCSD administration just LIED about it. The termination of the Che Cafe Collective’s lease was based on a lie. The lawsuit to evict the collective — after it refused to vacate the space when the lease was terminated — was based on a lie.
On top of the Big Lie about “safety”, the administration and its obedient tail-wagging puppies in the AS and GSA pretend that costs for ordinary maintenance of the Che building will be millions. The truth is that the cost projections they are using are for massive renovations (to make the building “like new”) — not for simple maintenance repairs.
Another canard being used to kill the Che is a supposed “lack of student support.” The Che Cafe put on over 100 concerts during the past year alone, and served inexpensive vegan food at all of them and the administration and the University Centers Advisory Board (UCAB) and the AS and GSA get away with saying the Cafe isn’t “serving the students”? The University Centers administration did a survey last year of student “priorities” about services at the 3 University Centers: the Che Cafe building, the Student Center and the Price Center. The student-majority UCAB pointed to the data that 78 % of students said the Che Cafe was a “low priority”. UCAB used that idea to cut funding for maintenance of the Che Cafe building out of the 2014-15 University Centers budget. The administration, UCAB, and the AS and GSA keep chanting like zombies “lack of student support”. How is it that none of these officials are talking about the 22% of the students (thousands of students) who thought the Che Cafe was a higher priority? How many other student organizations enjoy the support of 22%? When was the last time that 22% of the students bothered to vote in an AS or a GSA election?
Students, alumni, faculty, campus unions and community supporters of the Che Cafe, including a past president of the Alumni Association and even the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council (representing over 100 unions in our region) see through the administration’s Big Lie campaign. An Artists’ Boycott of UCSD in support of the Che Cafe has been started and is growing.
If the UCSD administration and the AS and GSA don’t want to let the Che Cafe enjoy its normal business, why should we let the administration, AS and GSA do “business as usual”? If they are going to continue to disrupt the Che Cafe, then why shouldn’t we disrupt all the AS and GSA meetings and all the administration events and conferences on the campus?
The Che Cafe building opened in 1966 as the first UCSD student center. It is a vital and living part of our history. We must save it!
Be creative and use your imagination and Fight Back!
NO SHUT DOWN OF CHE CAFE!
NOT ONE YEAR! NOT ONE DAY!
March on the Chancellor, October 28, 2014. Photo by Fred Lonidier.
CHE Cafe Response to AS/GSA Decisions, February 25, 2015.
Letter from UCSD Vice Chancellor Juan Gonzalez, March 3, 2015.
Alumni Boycott of UCSD Started, May 26, 2015.
C.H.E. Cafe Makes SOHO “10 Most Endangered List” for 2015, San Diego Free Press, June 1, 2015