Letters for the week of February 18-24, 2004 

Chris Thompson: "yellow journalist." Roosevelt Mosby: "pain in the ass." Beto Lopez: "Mooncricket." Will Harper: "scummy" agendaist.

"SMAAC in the Face of Oaksterdam," City of Warts, 1/28

Pot clubs were the bad guys
Chris Thompson's piece, along with an extortionistic cartoon of SMAAC's executive director, Roosevelt Mosby, literally shaking down the cannabis community, makes it clear that the Express is more interested in sensationalistic yellow journalism and shallow storytelling than investigative journalism that thoroughly interviews all sides and tracks the path of an issue from its birth.

Mr. Thompson's article states that three "prominent medical cannabis activists" claim Mr. Mosby is trying to extort dollars from the cannabis community in order to move SMAAC's Youth Center away from Oaksterdam.

What is not crystallized in the piece is the fact that we've attempted to resolve this issue with City Hall and the cannabis community for over fifteen months. Finally, out of sheer frustration and our mandate to provide a safe, drug-free environment for our youth participants and staff, in August 2003 we decided to bring our plight to the attention of the entire Bay Area.

Since then, we have engaged in a campaign through meetings, letters to the government, LGBT, and cannabis communities, as well as press releases, press conferences, and other attempts to get the community to notice, assist, and urge City Hall to regulate Oaksterdam, so our youth will be safe. In November, it became clear that this process would take another year, so as SMAAC's board of directors we decided that our best option was to relocate.

Once this decision was made, Angel Raich, Jeff Jones, and Clare Lewis, along with other cannabis community representatives, repeatedly asked us, "What do you need?" and we repeatedly said, "Money to move." They asked us for a budget and we produced one.

However, two months ago it was cannabis community representatives, including Ms. Raich and Mr. Jones, and not SMAAC staff who offered to provide moving assistance money in exchange for SMAAC canceling a press conference that was already planned. In fact, SMAAC was told that the cannabis community would stand side by side with SMAAC before the press if SMAAC canceled or otherwise "revised" the press conference to suit cannabis community needs.

Two weeks ago, more cannabis representatives, including Ms. Lewis, asked us again to stop our advocacy by ceasing conversations with the White House -- a dialogue that had already begun. Ms. Lewis requested a "peace week" to give her more time to raise moving-assistance money. She argued that the dispensaries would be more inclined to donate money to help us move if we ceased our advocacy. Despite our better judgment, we agreed to a "peace week," but it only confirmed what we already knew to be true: The dispensaries are only interested in helping SMAAC move if we do nothing to help bring awareness to our plight. Well, we've waited since November 2002, and we are still waiting.

Quoting Mr. Mosby's voicemail without the above context was irresponsible journalism; it portrayed him as a common hoodlum demanding money from the medical marijuana trade. It is the dispensaries that are, in fact, the extortionists by offering fiscal help only if SMAAC shuts its mouth -- something we repeatedly refused to do -- and revoking offers when we continue to bring attention to our situation.

Mr. Thompson did get one thing right in quoting Mr. Mosby about the ugliness of this situation -- and his distorted piece has only added to the grotesqueness of it all.
Keith Thompson, president; Donté King, treasurer; Maurice Bryant, board secretary; Olivia Guss-Davis, participant parent representative; Ernest Larkins, Michael K. Lee, SMAAC board of directors

A danger to Oakland?
Let me get to the point: Roosevelt Mosby is a danger to Oakland. I'd like to illuminate why he has gotten as far as he has with the Oaksterdam debacle and within the world of HIV funding:

1. Folks in the HIV world have long dismissed "Rosie" as a clown, a gasbag, and a pain in the ass. It is a mistake to dismiss him. This is precisely why he has not been ferreted out.

2. Roosevelt routinely plays the race card -- because it works. He has accused the Alameda Office of AIDS, various Latino and Asian community advocates, the County Board of Supervisors, the medical marijuana advocates, the City of Oakland, and even other black advocates of being racist, homophobic, antiblack, or not black enough when they've questioned his past bids for empire.

3. He is schooled in the Anita Bryant/Children's Crusade school of social manipulation. He knows that anything done "in the name of the children" will garner a knee-jerk emotional response, enough to create a window of inviolability to work his poison.

4. Roosevelt is a fame-whore. Oaksterdam appeals to him because he knows it's a media-friendly issue. He is after column inches.

5. He cannot be met with logic and negotiation. His behavior, to any casual student of psychology, bespeaks a histrionic and egomaniacal personality.

6. He has little support within the black, gay, or youth communities. Yet he regularly conflated his cause with those of people of color, gays, and youths everywhere, designating himself their spokesmodel. He taps into a white liberal guilt that we have not, as a society, done enough to uplift minorities -- decision makers comply because they've been battered to believe that if they deny Roosevelt, they're denying all blacks, gays, and youths.


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