Letters for the week of June 23-29, 2004 

Thoughts about the El Cerrito mural, Boots Riley sets the record straight, victims of traffic court compare notes, and more on anti-Semitism at Cal.

Page 2 of 5

Thought about it 2
In Eric K. Arnold's article, I was misquoted and paraphrased in a way that may be misunderstood. The article says, "Boots revealed that the night was originally booked as a simple Coup performance - groups including MoveOn.org had jumped on the bandwagon, much to his displeasure." As far as I know, I have nothing against this organization in particular, know very little about them, and did not know until reading this article that they were involved in the event. What I was referring to was the fact that many of these hip-hop-the-vote-type groups use the Coup's image - knowingly without my knowledge - to put forward a political agenda, disregarding whatever political ideas or agenda I may have as unimportant or at best merely circumstantial (One example: Bands Against Bush advertised the Coup as headlining a concert that they had never spoken to me about, positing me as some "anybody but Bush" guy, who thinks the Democrats will pull the troops out). So, my problem was not that those organizations had jumped on the bandwagon, but how they jumped on the bandwagon without asking my permission.

The article also states that I'm "against voting." I went through pains to make clear to Mr. Arnold that I supported voting on things like propositions (I was involved in the campaign against Prop. 21) and initiatives, but felt that campaigns around electing politicians worked against creating and mobilizing a politically active and aware community base which could make real material reforms. But it is easier to say "Vote, dammit!" if the other side is simply saying "Don't vote."

After a quote where I alluded to the civil rights movement, and large uprisings and direct actions of the ‘50s and ‘60s as being cases where more progressive legislation and policy were enacted not from voting, but from politicians and the ruling class being scared into compromise, I was quoted as saying, "So that's what I've done." Maybe the music in the club was too loud and something I said sounded like that, maybe it was taken out of context from a longer sentence, but I didn't say that - and it makes me sound arrogant and out of touch with reality. Much like the Photoshopped big-headed caricature of me on your cover might have sounded.

Thank you in advance for printing my corrections.
Boots Riley, Oakland

Riley's attitudes toward voting and the Coup's involvement in get-out-the-vote activities were indeed misrepresented by changes made during the editing process.

"Adding Insult to Injury," Cityside 5/26

At least I'm not alone
I received a moving violation from the OPD two months ago, and am having similar problems in trying to get it entered into the system so that I can resolve it. I have not been arrested or jailed yet, but I cannot get anyone from the city of Oakland to bother to look for it (I have not received a courtesy notice, nor has it even been entered into the system). I was told by the Oakland Traffic Division that it was my responsibility to call to follow up on the citation at least every two weeks for a minimum of one year. If I never receive a courtesy notice, I was told that that was not their (Oakland's) problem. I was further told that if I stopped calling (i.e., gave up), and no courtesy notice was ever issued, I would be penalized to the full extent of the law if and when the citation is entered. Aides to the mayor could care less. It's good to know that I am not the only one.
Karin Seritis, Oakland

Insult to injury, indeed
The Hayward courthouse is a far greater disaster than Berkeley. Here, a citizen must arrive at 7:30 a.m. to try to be one of sixty people allowed to do business with the court that day, in spite of the fact that about three hundred people have been instructed to appear. The citizen is thusly coerced into just paying the fine and forgetting any hope of a hearing, or returning at an earlier and more inconvenient hour to try the lottery again. A simple citation might take twelve or eighteen hours out of your life, and meanwhile the legal machinery continues to add severe penalties for noncompliance. When the court fails to serve the citizens, it has failed: period.

Amuse yourself by trying to complain about this situation to the chief clerk, or presiding judge, or administrator; or call your state assemblyman or -woman, or senator, but don't hold your breath waiting for a prompt reply, because there won't be one. If you have ever been badly served yourself, I urge you to take a minute to call, e-mail, or write ALL of your representatives and the court administrator. Not likely to change anything, but you'll feel better.
Mike Lee, San Leandro


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