Here in the Bay Area, a region we like to think is imbued with liberal and progressive values, there are reportedly some two dozen companies that are bidding on Trump’s border wall. This morning at 7:00 am, local activists kicked off a campaign to call out those companies who hope to tap into the billions of dollars earmarked for the Department of Homeland Security’s construction of the wall.
Asians4BlackLives, Bay Resistance, BASAT (Bay Area Solidarity Action Team), and others gathered in front of the home of Abbigail Brown, the owner and president of one of those companies, CPM Logistics. Outside her house in Oakland’s Montclair district, activists in hard hats and construction vests put up a mock cardboard wall covered with the message “No Hate, No Wall” and unfurled a banner, “Stop Trump’s Wall - No Profit from Hate.”
Part of the nearby intersection at Thornhill and Moraga, by Highway 13, was shut down by a human blockade holding signs and banners. Other protesters passed out flyers to morning commuters. “Don’t Let Your Neighbors Profit Off of Hate,” the flyers read, pointing out that Brown “lives here and wants to profit off the wall that will divide families and drive hatred in our communities.”
After two hours of lively chanting, singing, and drumming, a delegation knocked on Brown’s front door to ask her to rescind her intentions to bid on the wall. Brown came out to speak with them. She claimed there had been a misunderstanding, but she did agree to sign a pledge to not make a formal bid. It read:
“On behalf of CPM Logistics, I pledge that we will formally retract our bid to contract with the Department of Homeland Security for work on President Trump’s border wall project. We will not work on the wall in any capacity, will not seek contracts with DHS on this project and will not seek to consult or subcontract for other firms contacted directly by DHS on this project.
We share a commitment to a society where all human beings are treated with respect and dignity, regardless of race, religion or nationality. Therefore, we reject President Trump’s rhetoric and policies targeting immigrants, people of color, and Muslims. We will not use our company’s labor, expertise of resources in service of those policies. We will not bid or perform work on projects contributing to separation of families, hatred, discrimination or inhumane treatment of people of the basis of their race, religion or nationality.”
“We’re celebrating,” protest spokesman Peter Woiwode told the East Bay Times. “It’s rare to have people get the opportunity to do the right thing, and she did that. She did the right thing.”
Demonstrators then dispersed, vowing to call out other Bay Area companies in the weeks ahead. A website will be launched soon, according to one organizer, where the spotlight will be on companies nationwide who hope to profit off the wall. Further local protests are also in the works.
Grassroots efforts targeting these companies are no doubt bolstered by recent sanctions adopted by local city governments. Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco have all passed measures that ban companies that bid on the wall from contracting with each city. And California may become the first state to legislate statewide sanctions. Last month, the California State Senate approved SB30, a measure on its way to the Assembly, which would block the state from doing business with any contractor involved in building Trump’s proposed border wall.
For those wanting to support the campaign, follow #NoHateNoWall on Facebook and Twitter. Once the #NoHateNoWall website launches, SURJ will link to it here. By joining forces, we can send a powerful message to local companies that says we will not tolerate profiteering off of the xenophobic and racist policies represented by Trump’s border wall.