Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Michael Franti, Malo and Bay Area Artists Denounce Hate @ Peace, Love and Understanding Concert


By Shelah Moody
On August 26, the Bay Area’s top concert organizers and musicians came together for a Peace, Love and Understanding concert at the Civic Center Plaza in response to planned rallies and gatherings of hate groups in San Francisco and Berkeley, CA.
Although they claim to be a free speech advocacy group, the right-wing Patriot Prayer organization has attracted neo-Nazis and white nationalist groups who latched onto their rhetoric and recently clashed with anti-racist, anti-fascist groups in Charlottesville, VA. Patriot Prayer’s leader, Joey Gibson, a Donald Trump supporter who has denied his group promotes racism or violence, planned a rally at Crissy Field in San Francisco, and then a press conference in Alamo Square. Both events were canceled due to safety concerns, and Patriot Prayer moved their “press conference” to Pacifica, CA.

     Michael Franti and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

On Aug. 25, the eve of the planned Patriot Prayer rally, San Francisco mayor Edwin  Lee, along with civic and community leaders such as London Breed and David Chiu, held a noontime Unite Against Hate Rally on the steps of City Hall and vehemently declared that SF was a city of compassion, tolerance, inclusion, and diversity. 

Civic Center Plaza was probably the safest place to be in San Francisco that scorching Saturday afternoon, as thousands of people peacefully gathered for an afternoon concert featuring the bluegrass band Brothers Comatose, R&B /funk band Malo and Michael Franti and Spearhead as well as poets, speakers, visual and street performers. Mayor Lee, who attended Peace, Love, and Understanding, greeted Franti with a hug backstage and celebrated the city’s victory in driving the “hate” out of San Francisco that day.

Harry Duncan and Mark Penne as volunteers.

“Audrey Joseph and I decided that we wanted to have a peace rally, and Nick Hellman wanted to, also,“ said Peace Love and Understanding producer Dawn Holliday. “Great minds got together, knowing that Audrey and I could produce it. I called three bands and they all said yes.”
Holliday, incidentally is the producer of one of San Francisco’s largest and most popular festivals, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, which was founded by venture capitalist Warren Hellman in 2001.
“The vibe here is fantastic,” Holiday said, backstage at Peace, Love and Understanding.  “I like large crowds of happy people. Everyone here is having a really good time. Since we scared the alt-right out of San Francisco, we are enjoying San Francisco for ourselves. 

“Fear and hate don’t exist in my world,” said Holliday. “I think that if you keep fear out of your heart and hate out of your heart, it spreads to other people. You just can’t be afraid. If you feel hate, you drive it to you, if you feel fear; you drive it to you. You can’t live in that state. You have to live in a more open place.”
For years, Holliday worked for famed San Francisco concert producer Bill Graham, who would have loved the Peace, Love, and Understanding event, Holiday said. 
“(Bill) probably would have had a bigger stage and fancier lights and stuff,” said Holliday. “But this is what you’ve got when you have an all-volunteer staff.”
Indeed, the Peace and Love Gathering was probably the safest place to be on Aug. 26. Sharpshooters were positioned on the rooftops of buildings near Civic Center Plaza, which was surrounded by a layer of police officers. There was no violence or injuries reported at the concert, and the only commotion this writer noticed were paramedics rushing to the aid of a woman with an injured toe. 
“We don’t have the luxury of fear, said Kate Kendell, Peace, Love and Understanding’s guest speaker and emcee, Kendall is executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco.
“Fear puts people in a fetal position, and that’s not going to help anybody,” said Kendell. “If you are not out there on the front lines doing what you can, you are complicit in the carnage, particularly in communities of color, immigrant communities, and Jewish communities. We have to all come together, especially folks with privilege, especially white folks, to say, no, that is not going to happen on our watch. We are not gonna be ruled by fear, we’re gonna be ruled by power and fierceness.”
Kendell said that the Peace, Love and Understanding Concert was Pulled together in five days. 
“There are folks who pretty much gave up their day jobs for a week to make this happen,” said Kendell. “Because we wanted to stand in that gap and say no, the Nazis aren’t coming to town without us having a response. Hopefully, this event will be a galvanizing moment for people to continue and to deepen that conversation that this country has never really had around racism and the structures that support white supremacy. Those structures have to be dismantled, and that’s never going to happen if we don’t confront our past and pledge that we want a different future. “ 
Fear and had did not stop Peace, Love and Understanding’s headliner, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Michael Franti, from strolling into the audience with his acoustic guitar and hugging and kissing fans and supporters.
From 1999-2013, Franti produced the free Power to the Peaceful Festival, which started out as an event to draw attention to the cause of imprisoned activist Mumia Abu Jamal,  at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. 
After the Peace, Love and Understanding concert, Mayor Lee sent an open letter to San Francisco City employees, thanking public safety agencies who worked tirelessly to keep the city safe including police officers, firefighters, EMS workers, 911 emergency dispatchers, and deputy sheriffs.
“This weekend, San Francisco stood together to reject hate and violence, “ said Mayor Lee. ‘Throughout our city, the themes of love and compassion were on full display. There were zero injuries related to the demonstrations on Saturday, despite the potential for violence that we have seen in other cities when similar protests have been held. This year, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. We proved this weekend that the legacy of that movement remains strong, half a century later.”

Friday, August 25, 2017

Reggae On The River 2017 Highlites To Be Featured On Streetwise Radio 420 Show

Assassin (aka)Agent Sasco) Rips it up at Reggae on The River 2017.
Check out the special with many artists and interviews on Big Splif420 Reggae Show Starting Monday, September 4th at 4 pm and 10 pm Pacific