Wednesday News Roundup
INCARCERATED WOMEN CELEBRATE MOTHER’S DAY WITH LIVE MUSICAL PERFORMANCE, ALBUM RECORDING
Female inmates incarcerated at San Francisco County Jail No. 2 celebrated Mother’s Day early today with a live musical performance and live album recording by a Bay Area singer-songwriter and advocate for incarcerated women.
The incarcerated women, many of whom said they were mothers, watched and listened to a performance by Oakland resident Naima Shalhoub, 33, and her band at the jailhouse today.
Shalhoub’s performance comes exactly one year since she started facilitating music sessions with a group of women in the jails. Many of the women at the performance sang and danced along to her songs as she performed.
Many of her lyrics, such as “San Francisco jail doors opened and we walked right out” and “coming back home” resonated with the incarcerated women and moved them to cheer and clap.
Shalhoub, who has a master’s degree in postcolonial and cultural anthropology and is a self-described community organizer, said her decision to teach women inside the jail stemmed from a desire “to not just understand statistically” but understand women’s relationship to incarceration on a personal level.
San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said in a statement today, “Naima sings from her heart for the poor, the incarcerated and the oppressed.”
The women in the audience were dressed in orange jail clothes and sat in chairs in front of Shalhoub and her band, which consisted of a stand-up bass player, a pianist, and a drummer, as well as a musician who played the oud, tabla and guitar interchangeably.
The songs performed by Shalhoub today make up her debut album, Borderlands, which she expects to release on iTunes this summer.
Shalhoub, who is a Lebanese-American, shows off her Arab roots with references to the bulldozing of olive trees by the Israel Defense Forces and vocals that she said are partially inspired by the famous Lebanese singer Fairuz.
Inmate and San Francisco resident Tameika Smith, who is also 33 years old, participated in an open mic session held following Shalhoub’s performance today and read two of her 150 poems.
Smith said she has been in jail for 28 days today, but that this is her 92nd time in jail since she was 18 years old.
When asked what has led her to return to jail so many times, she said it “has to do with self worth and drug abuse.”
Smith said she’s been using drugs, including crack, since she was 18 and that all of her arrests relate back to her addiction.
While in jail Smith’s three children, ages 12, 11, and 2, are with various family members and growing up without their mother, she said.
“I don’t blame anyone but me,” Smith said.
She said she has been hearing Shalhoub sing for the past year and that is helps her not feel hopeless about her situation.
“Recidivism,” Smith said, “can be stopped.”
She said she is currently working on the eighth chapter of her autobiography, working towards obtaining her high school diploma and attending meetings to help her overcome her addiction.
Shalhoub has told the women in jail No. 2 that she plans to give half of any and all profits from her debut album to re-entry programs that will help support incarcerated women.
After having spoken with incarcerated women during classes about where they think the money should go, she said it’s clear it needs to go toward getting recidivism numbers down.
“What I heard the most is that there are re-entry programs that support them” by helping them gain access to housing and jobs.
Shalhoub said she is trying to better understand how these incarcerated women feel in order to better support them.
BERKELEY: REPORTS 26 PERCENT REDUCTION IN WATER USE
The City of Berkeley slashed water use last year by 26 percent, city officials announced Tuesday.
The water use was reduced by scaling back irrigation, fixing leaks and using more efficient water fixtures, officials said.
The city is recommending similar actions for businesses and residents, and officials said the reduced water usage not only helps Berkeley comply with California Governor Jerry Brown’s water reduction mandates, but it also puts Berkeley in a better position to have sustainable water use in the long-term.
City officials said Berkeley will be taking other steps to comply with the 20 percent water reduction edict imposed by the East Bay Municipal Utility District.
These steps include no longer watering medians and reducing landscape watering to two days a week.
The city is also minimizing vehicle washing, exploring the use of reclaimed water for irrigation and street cleaning and researching options for converting landscapes to more drought-tolerant ground cover, officials said.
Water use throughout Berkeley has declined by 15 percent since 2000, but water consumption in the city increased by seven percent between 2010 and 2013, officials said.
Officials said the increase in usage was largely driven by private residents, who commonly increase watering during early drought years to make up for a lack of rain.
City officials have formed a multi-department drought-response working group to identify additional water-saving opportunities and to regularly report on municipal water trends.
Residents are encouraged to report any leaks on city property by calling 311.
‘REPORTED DEFORMITY’ ON BART TRACKS CAUSING MAJOR DELAYS INTO, OUT OF SF
BART crews are inspecting a “reported deformity” on a San Francisco trackway and are running only one train line past the Montgomery station this morning, a BART spokeswoman said.
The problem was discovered shortly after 9:30 a.m. on the westbound trackway between the Civic Center and 16th Street Mission BART stations, BART officials said.
BART trains are single-tracking through all downtown San Francisco stations and trains traveling from the East Bay to the city are limited, according to BART.
Only San Francisco International Airport-bound trains are running past Montgomery station in San Francisco, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said.
Trains that normally run from Fremont to Daly City are stopping at the MacArthur station in Oakland, trains from Dublin to Daly City are turning around at Montgomery, and no trains are running directly from Richmond to San Francisco, Trost said.
Passengers on any of those trains will have to off-board at those stations and continue on an airport-bound train, according to Trost.
San Francisco Municipal Railway and Alameda-Contra Costa Transit are honoring BART tickets today. BART riders are being encouraged to seek alternate methods of transportation.
OAKLAND: REPUTED GANG MEMBER CHARGED WITH MURDERING TWO MEN IN JANUARY
A reputed Oakland gang member has been charged with two counts of murder and the special circumstance of committing multiple murders in connection with a shooting in West Oakland in January that left two men dead, according to court documents.
Carlton Broussard fled Oakland after Marcus Sims, 29, and Donald Ward, 22, were shot in the area of 10th and Willow streets at about 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 20 but he was arrested in Middleburg, Fla., on March 21, according to a probable cause statement by Oakland police Officer Robert Rosin.
Witnesses identified Broussard as one of two suspects who shot and killed Sims and Ward, Rosin wrote.
The second gunman in the case is still being sought by police.
Rosin said that when Broussard was interviewed the day after he was arrested he confessed to shooting one of the victims, but Rosin didn’t specify which one.
In addition to the two murder counts and the multiple murder allegation, Broussard is charged with being an ex-felon in possession of a gun as well as second-degree robbery for an incident on Jan. 25.
The robbery charge contains an enhancement clause alleging that Broussard participated in the crime to benefit a criminal street gang.
Damontae Warfield, 22, of Oakland is also charged with second-degree robbery and a gang enhancement for the Jan. 25 incident.
In addition, Warfield, who was arrested in San Francisco on April 19, is charged with unlawful firearm activity and another gang enhancement for the Jan. 25 incident.
Prosecutors allege that Broussard has prior convictions for possession of a controlled substance with a firearm in January 2010, possession of a firearm by a felon in March 2006 and possession of drugs for sale in August 2005.
Broussard, who is being held without bail, and Warfield, who is being held in lieu of $290,000 bail, are scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court on Monday to enter pleas.
(News Roundup ViaVia Bay City News)