A caravan of cars, trucks, bikes and marchers traveled from the Mission to San Francisco City Hall late Monday to call for more resources for a Latinx community of essential frontline workers that has been devastated by the coronavirus.

Latinx residents represent half of the city’s 11,195 cases, and yet only  9 percent of the tests the city has administered.

“They’ve known that this has been a problem,” said Jon Jacobo, a member of the Latino Task Force. “The community has tried to play nice for a very long time, but the frustration reached a boiling point after our August testing where we saw again 11 percent [positive test rate] for Latinos.”

The caravan of essential workers met at 16th and Capp streets just before 4 p.m., where at least a dozen cars parked in single file.  

Organizers expressed gratitude to Mayor London Breed for the  $28.5 million she announced that would be dedicated to helping the Latinx community. But many asked why it took so long — and why only $28.5 million.

Experts have also been confused by the city’s failure to test and spend more in the Latinx community and the southeast neighborhoods that are home to many people of color, including those who are essential workers — and have been disproportionately hit by the virus. The $28 million includes $3 million for testing, but that compares to a testing budget of some $62 million, according to the Department of Public Health. 

“It is just the frustrating reality that exists, that our community is neglected and not respected unless we put all of our efforts into organizing and demonstrating very publicly that we’re tired of it,” Jacobo said. “I have a daily call with the Department of Public Health, and every day we have to beat these issues up. There’s been weeks where we’ve told them, either tomorrow morning we’re either going to do tests, or we’re going to do a protest.”

Guillermina Castellanos, founder of the Women’s Collective, also addressed the demonstrators before the caravan left for Civic Center and acknowledged the mayor’s announcement. 

“The losses we as a community have seen are not $28 million, it’s millions upon millions more,” Castellanos said. 

After a few chants of “Aquí estamos, y no nos vamos” (We’re here and we’re not going anywhere), and “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido” (the people, united, will never be defeated), the group set on its way. 

Many of the participants in the protest were immigrants who had lost their jobs because of the pandemic. 

Delfina Martinez used to clean offices until she lost her job in March, and has not worked since. Martinez said her landlord continues to demand rent, despite her lack of income. 

Martinez said her landlord even went so far as to call the police, lying to them that she had drugs and guns in her apartment. Police investigated, but found nothing. 

“Every time I leave the door, I don’t know if he’s going to be there to threaten me or insult me,” Martinez said.

Oscar Interian used to work two jobs in restaurants, totaling about 70 hours per week. However, he lost both jobs when restaurants shut down. He has now returned to work, but only works about 20 hours a week, nowhere near enough to support himself, he said. 

While Interian’s landlord has agreed to let him pay his missed rent back at a later date, the tenant said he has no idea how to pay it back without a significant boost in hours.  

“This pandemic left undocumented people with bills, without work, and we can’t receive federal help — but we pay taxes,” Interian said. 

Eventually the protest of essential workers and others arrived in front of City Hall. More than a dozen cars stretched down Polk Street, from Grove Street nearly to McAllister Street. A crowd of about 70 gathered at Civic Center Plaza.

Protesters held a moment of silence to honor those who had died of Covid-19. 

Ysabel Duron, a board member for the Mission Economic Development Agency and founder of Latino Cancer Institute, called on participants to mourn the dead, but also celebrate their lives by taking action.

Duron also called on the city to invest more resources in the communities with highest need, specifically to community-based organizations who “already have boots on the ground and know where it’s needed.”

 

We go to these demonstrations even if you can’t or won’t. Support our work: Keep local news alive.

 

Photo by Kerim Harmanci.

 

Photo by Kerim Harmanci.

 

Photo by Kerim Harmanci.

 

Photo by Kerim Harmanci.

 

Photo by Kerim Harmanci.

 

Photo by Kerim Harmanci.

 

Photo by Kerim Harmanci.

 

Photo by Kerim Harmanci.

 

Photo by Kerim Harmanci.

 

Photo by Kerim Harmanci.

 

Photo by Kerim Harmanci.

 

Photo by Kerim Harmanci.

 

Photo by Kerim Harmanci.

Juan Carlos Lara

Juan Carlos Lara covers business and development in the Mission. Juan Carlos, a San Francisco State alum, is as much a photographer as he is a writer and previously worked as the campus news editor at...

Join the Conversation

No comments

  1. The mayor ignores the Mission and Latinx prevalence for months into the pandemic, and the nonprofity types are cool with that and don’t make waves.

    The mayor throws $28m at the the Mission to address Latinx prevalence and the nonprofity types marshal a dozen vehicles for a caravan to City Hall. (That’s community organizing right there, mobilizing slightly more people than all of the YIMBY.)

    Could the difference between supine acquiescence and protest be because Breed is not throwing those dollars at their nonprofits and they demand to be fed?

    Could this be the logical continuation of the selling out of the Mission by the affordable housing and social services nonprofits who depend on fees and “community benefits” for their lifeblood?

    What do any of these people on the LTF, who are there because they’re associated themselves with a city grant or contract receiving agency, know of public health and epidemiology and how to advocate for marginalized communities on that?

    1. Marcos —

      Your premise is mistaken. The Task Force members have agitated for months, and done so on the record. We’ve written multiple stories about it; they’ve threatened to publicly protest going back to before summer.

      Best,

      JE

      1. “they’ve threatened to publicly protest going back to before summer. ”

        Hi Joe,

        And here we are coming up on October, summer receding into the rear view mirror.

        Just as The Mission saw 0 affordable projects until recently in the years after the disastrous 2008 luxury condo upzoning supported by the nonprofiteers, “The Community” has been likewise compromised in its ability to distinguish playing nice for their private, corporate interests from advancing the interests of residents of the neighborhood during a pandemic.

        The nonprofits continue to get paid while LatinX continue to get infected with sars-cov-19. For all of his juice, Calle24, TODCO, BIC, Jacobo sure can’t marshal any of that to lower the rate of infections amongst Latin@s.

        Seven months into the pandemic and the time for excuses is over, just like decades into the housing crisis, the time for advocate accountability is NOW.

        And we’re not going to see any kind of direct action, real organizing, activism that threatens to sully the peace and stability pact amongs “partners” with base antagonism, just performances of weakness and subservience to their paymasters, as we saw with this anemic protest.

          1. Joe, I only have one previous discriminatory pandemic to evaluate this by. ACTIP would never have tolerated such detachment from officials. Jean Harris was Britt’s aids back then and every time she tried to pull one over o n us we’d skewer her.

            That’s what it took to get results. Arriving in SF in 89 from ATX as a campus radical fresh with a BA, I was struck by the prevalence of nonprofits in ACTUP and the conservative influence there brought with.

            Would that the nonprofits acted up meaningfully to get the goods for our neighbors who remain at highest risk. Like we did.

            It is not like you to abandon your journalistic position and make excuses for the poor choices of those who you cover. My decades of observation and access inform my conclusions. Everything we’ve seen confirms that the interests of paid staffers dominate the interests of residents when it comes time for the city to fund these programs.

            This story confirms that the agencies privileged their interests as circumstances for Latinx deteriorated until it became so clear that they could no longer plausibly remain silent.

            My bet is that the $28.5m would go to agencies not affiliated with the progressive junior partners to the peace and stability pact. so they had to act to defend their territory.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *