MECA’s staff, board, and supporters would like to celebrate community activist and MECA board member, Osha Neumann, for his important contributions not only to our organization, but to the community as a whole. For more than two decades, Osha has provided leadership and unwavering commitment to MECA’s work. Neumann’s activism began in the 1960s, but since joining the East Bay Community Law Center in 2003, he has worked to defend the civil rights of political protestors, victims of police misconduct, and those enduring homelessness. He also serves as chairperson of the Community Defense Inc., which promotes legal education for marginalized communities. His important work was recently acknowledged by the City of Berkeley and the National Lawyer’s Guild.
On April 23, 2019, the City of Berkeley celebrated Neumann’s contributions by proclaiming it Osha Neumann Day. He gave the following speech:
“I appreciate the honor and more than the honor itself, I appreciate that you gave it to me despite all the years I’ve spent yelling at you about whatever I thought you were doing that was outrageous and unacceptable.
I don’t know what your process is, but that no one jumped up and down and said you’ve got to be kidding, I hope is an indication that we all realize that whatever our differences we are fighting on common ground.
I know you know that no amount of honors will reduce the vehemence with which I will at times protest.
And so, with your permission I would like to consider this proclamation a down payment on what I would consider the real honor:
The real honor would be:
- If you rescinded the ordinance which, will require everyone living RV, except those who manage to get permits, to wake up and move onto Berkeley from 2 AM to 5 PM.
- If you rescinded enforcement of the ordinance that limits homeless people and their possessions to 3 ft.² of sidewalk everywhere in Berkeley. Except where they are allowed to have any stuff at all.
- If you oppose building on People’s Park
- If you wholeheartedly endorse boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel
- If, in every instance, as you decide the matters that come before you, you exercise an option for the poor, doing all in your power to keep this city from getting whiter and wealthier and less diverse.
In advance, I thank you for your efforts in this direction.”