With upwards of 400 people turning out on the steps of LA City Hall, the Bus Riders Union and a regional coalition of allies kicked off our campaign calling on President Obama to enforce civil rights by restoring one million bus service hours slashed by LA Metro. A crowd with more than 30 organizations from across the city present heard speeches from BRU leaders Barbara Lott-Holland, Eric Mann, Rosa Miranda, and Julio Henriquez and poetry from Mark Anthony Johnson. General Dogon from Los Angeles Community Action Network and Betsy Estudillo from the D.R.E.A.M. Team LA spoke about how their own civil and human rights struggles -- for homeless living on Skid Row and for undocumented immigrant young people -- connect to the BRU's now-national struggle for the civil rights of Black, Latino, and Asian Pacific Islander transit riders.
You can also check out our slideshow of the event.
Eric Mann, Strategy Center Director:"This fight to restore one million hours of bus service that the MTA cut is a major civil rights struggle that is part of a larger battle over the future of the city. We call on President Obama to side with us. This is a battle between a civil rights, environmental justice, sustainable urban plan, with green jobs and working people of color at the center on the one side, or a rail-centered corporatist gentrifying plan that will leave the city as a hollow shell with uncompleted rail lines, decimated bus service, massive bond debt, working people dispersed and disposable, and autos, smog, air toxics, and greenhouse gases running rampant. The future of the city is in our hands, and we plan to win."
Barbara Lott-Holland, Bus Riders Union co-chair, spoke in opposition to MTA's plan to extend the Measure R tax: "Don't be fooled. Measure R is not a transit plan; its a racist rail welfare plan. Measure R has been a civil rights disaster for working class Black and Latino bus riders from the beginning. We opposed it when it was first placed on the ballot with 35% of funding to expand freeways with severe environmental, health and social consequences. Measure R was sold to public as a protection of bus service. Instead we have seen the most drastic cuts in service in the history of the MTA."
Next steps: Stay tuned for a national e-organizing blitz to the White House and the Obama Administration next week. And mark your calendar for our Campaign Strategy Meeting Saturday, August 18.
Thanks for your solidarity to all of our allies and supporters!
Endorsers of the "Mr. President, Enforce, Restore, Expand Our Civil Rights" Campaign to date:
ACUSLA - Association of Communities United of South Los Angeles
CADRE - Community Asset Development Re-Defining Education
CHIRLA - Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
C.L.E.A.N. Carwash Campaign
Coalition for Educational Justice
Comité Pro-Democracia de Mexico
Communities for a Better Environment
D.R.E.A.M. Team Los Angeles
Committee of Ex-Bracero Workers
East Los Angeles Community Corporation
Inner City Struggle
Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance
Los Angeles Community Action Network
Restaurant Opportunities Center-Los Angeles
SEIU United Service Workers West
Union de Vecinos
Youth Justice Coalition