At the recent community dinner held by the Occupy San Pedro group a number of people got up to speak. There were two main themes that came out of the speakers. We are fighting for JUSTICE and we are concerned about our community, San Pedro. There were three who stood out in my mind.
One speaker was Sherry whose home is threatened, she said she usually sits back but is tired of seeing the banks win and knows that SHE has to DO something to help get justice. Her story is similar to many others, but with its own unique twists and turns. She has been fighting the banks for four years in what she says is a frustrating trial of incompetence, indifference and confusion on the part of the banks. Her situation has nothing to do with lack of income, it is simply a system gone wrong.
Then there was the young lady who ran the raffle. She had solicited raffle prizes from a number of local businesses. Shyly she announced what the prizes were and collected money. A recent graduate of San Pedro High, raised in the tradition of union and community activism, she is the face of young people who are standing up for what they believe in and getting involved.
Finally, I was impressed by Rachel, whose inspiration came from her grandfather, John Gualt, a former long term teacher at San Pedro High School. She talked about him helping start community gardens and that we each have the power to make change in our community.
So far, most Occupy San Pedro actions have targeted the banks. Why target the banks? They are the face of the monster in our community. They are too big to care about San Pedro and all the other communities like San Pedro who are suffering, but we can’t let them walk all over us without speaking up. There are real people, perhaps your neighbors, who are being hurt right now.
Bank of America has been one of the largest banks to profit off the real estate crisis, pay no taxes and receive a government bailout. I have to admit I have a personal gripe with them. Occupy San Pedro wants justice for those who are unfairly losing their homes and jobs due to the crisis created by the financial sector. Small businesses have been depleted, workers cut back, equity lost, homes callously auctioned off and all the while the banks are raising interest rates and fees.
The Occupy San Pedro group held a demonstration last Saturday, December 18 in front of the Bank of America on Western Avenue, the next meeting will be a general assembly this Tuesday, December 20 of those interested in helping plan actions. Anyone who shares these concerns is invited to participate. You can contact the group at firstname.lastname@example.org . If you wish to donate, you can make a tax deductable contribution to the Harry Bridges Institute and indicate Occupy San Pedro on the check.