My name is Anita Wills and I am a Writer, Author, and Activist living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am the Author of 4 books, Notes and Documents of Free Persons of Color (including the revised Edition), Pieces of the Quilt The Mosaic of An African American Family, and Black Minqua The Life and Times of Henry Green. I am also the mother of Four Adult Children, 3 sons and 1 daughter. My youngest son, Kerry Baxter Senior was wrongfully Convicted of 2nd Degree Murder in 2001, and is serving a 66 year to life sentence. One of my Activist Goals is to have this wrongful and Malicious conviction overturned. Until January 16, 2011, I was the Grandmother of 5 Grandchildren. On that date my oldest Grandson, Kerry Baxter Junior was shot and killed in East Oakland. He was shot in the back on a Sunday Evening and died in front of San Antonio Church. Since that time I have joined with other mothers of murdered Children, and formed the Inter Council For Mother’s of Murdered Children.
You might say that I began my activism in 1978 when I moved to Oakland and started documenting my family history. We lived in the Shadow of the Black Panther Movement, but it was still exciting. We had Sly and the Family Stone, black businesses up and down East 14th Street and a vibrant diverse community. It is when I went to Virginia and started looking through Colonial Records that the depth of America’s racism hit me. The way Natives were treated, the Classifications of people by race, and the denial that anyone except Europeans had a history. In 2004 I published Notes and Documents of Free Persons of Color, and he has gotten good reviews. I wanted something in writing to show that People of Color, Native and African American were a part of History.
As an Activists I have met many people, some like Angela Davis and Elaine Brown who are revered and rightly so. There are others out here some who participate out of the grief of a child (or family member), being murdered by the Police. That is the group that I most closely identify with and admire. Seeing the mothers and Grandmothers fighting for Justice for their Murdered loved one is heartbreaking. There is also a strong Prison Justice Movement here making changes that impact the lives of Inmates. The Bay Area is a hot bed of Activists and Organizations fighting against violence and oppression. As an Activist myself I am honored to have met or heard of some of the Organizations. This is a partial list of those who continue to fight for Justice, sometimes against great odds, in our Community.
Annie Paradise is an Activist living in San Francisco, and a member of The Center for Convivial Research and Autonomy (CCRA). Ms. Paradise is a Political Strategist, and a Prison Rights Advocate. She advises and supports many of the Organizations fighting against Police Violence and Oppression in the Bay Area.
The CCRA projects are aimed at demilitarizing communities and creating autonomous spaces for community regeneration. From Salinas to San Jose to San Francisco to Oakland to Stockton to Vallejo and beyond, we continue to witness incredible amounts of violence—both state violence and state manufactured violence—directed at our communities, in particular at communities of color. We see this across forms of militarized policing, incarceration, deportations, and surveillance that are specifically focused on Black and Latin Communities.
The CCRA’s approach to community safety is motivated by an urban Zapatismo—we see a collective dignity as central to how we understand and advance our struggles against capital, and we look to amplify and circulate moments of autonomy where we can live and dream together outside of capital. They work closely with families who have lost loved ones to state and state-manufactured violence and incarceration. Working with collectives like the Inter Council of Mothers for Murdered Children (ICCMC) we are able to collaboratively engage community safety projects with these struggles at the center. We are currently working with the ICMMC on a prolonged People’s Investigation into the questionable policing tactics that led to the wrongful conviction of Kerry Baxter in 2003 in Oakland.
LaMesha Irizzary Is the Founder and past Director of the Idriss Stelley Foundation (ISF), in San Francisco California. She has worked as the program director of La Casa De Las Madres, WOMAN, INC., and Hayward Emergency Shelters, and worked for 20 years with battered women. ISF is a nonprofit organization created through the settlement of Idriss Stelley vs. City &County and the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD). Idriss Stelley was her only child, and a 23 year old African American honor student when he was killed by (SFPD) at the SF Sony Metronome on June 13, 2001. He was shot 48 times by, 9 officers, as he stood alone in an empty theater. Idriss Stelley’s case is at the root of the 40-HR mandatory SFPD Mental Health Training, ratified in SF in March 2002, and of the SF Police reform, won by a substantial margin on the Nov. 2003 San Francisco Ballot.
Although she received a settlement San Francisco LaMesha has continued to support other families through Mental Health Counseling, Activism, and speaking out against Police Violence. She is a beloved and well known figure in the Bay Area, and gives voice to the voiceless. The Idriss Stelley Foundation (ISF), provides direct services for victims and survivors of law enforcement brutality in the Bay Area. The ISF also provides support to family and friends of loved ones killed by Law Enforcement. For Assistance Call Hotline (bilingual English/Spanish) 415-595-8251.