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Malik Rahim To Run Housing Project – Again

Now for some innocent merriment from our old friend the pretend Moslem Rastafarian, former Black Panther and real-life felony ex-con (armed robbery) drug lord racist thug Malik Rahim (born Don Guyton).

This piece was scribed by a longtime female admirer of Rahim’s, who edits a giveaway called the San Francisco Bay View (which says it is "the National Black Newspaper of the Year"):

Common Ground Collective

Grassroots group launches development project

by CC Campbell-Rock

As the City of New Orleans braces for another rough hurricane season, Common Ground Collective, the first grassroots, all-volunteer relief organization swings into high gear on its latest survival project — the development of a 350-unit housing complex.

“We just gained site control of a 350 unit apartment complex called The Woodlands,” said Malik Rahim, principal organizer and co-founder of Common Ground.

The Collective’s goal is to “build a self-sustaining community where the economic resources turn over at least two times in the development,” Rahim told the San Francisco Bay View newspaper.

Rahim spoke to the Bay View from Washington while on a multi-city speaking tour. He will be in the Bay Area this week to receive a coveted award from [Medea Benjamin’s] Global Exchange.

Rahim is one of three “change makers” who will be honored at Global Exchange’s Sixth Annual Human Rights Awards, Thursday, June 1, 6-10 p.m., at the Gift Center Pavilion, located at 888 Brannan St. in San Francisco.

Also being honored are “Peace Mom” Cindy Sheehan, who has galvanized the peace movement, and historian Eduardo Galeano, who has been the “conscience of the Left” in Latin America for decades.

Since its founding on Sept. 5, 2005, just days after Katrina, Common Ground Collective has launched several emergency relief programs, including three health clinics, house-gutting, a tool-lending library, a women’s center, bioremediation and wetland restoration, prison support, legal support, and both an after-school tutorial and summer program for youth.

The organization’s bioremediation program is based in uptown New Orleans. There are several raft builders who are working on rafts for evacuees. There is a computer lab, a communications center that offers free phone services to those who need to make calls, a victims’ defense legal program, and a facility in Houma, Louisiana, that can accommodate 1.500 people during a hurricane.

In addition, Common Ground has built alliances with other relief and community organizations, developed a network of over 700 volunteers, secured over 150 bikes for area residents and volunteers and produced a promotional video called “Solidarity Not Charity.”

However, the Woodlands development plan is the Collective’s most ambitious recovery project to date. Rahim said the group will rent out 250 units, and the remaining apartments will be used for social programs.

Four units will be used to treat substance and drug abusers. One unit will house the development’s tenant association and five others will be used for the kids and community programs. Twenty-five units will be used for economic development.

“We’re taking 25 units off of the rent rolls for economic development, for retail projects such as a food store, clothing and shoe stores, a pharmacy, restaurant and others,” Rahim explained. “We’re going to use solar energy and bio-diesel generators,” he added…

“It is our goal, besides collecting rent, to build a community based upon supportive housing,” Rahim said. To that end, 100 units will be used for supportive housing and another 25 for the Collective’s Emergency Preparedness program.

“The development also has the tallest buildings in Algiers, some as high as six floors. It’s high enough to withstand a major hurricane,” added Rahim. “Right now, FEMA and the City can’t handle a tropical storm,” but the Woodlands adds extra protection, said the community organizer and former Black Panther. The buildings are constructed of concrete, and each unit can house at least 10 hurricane evacuees.

A Community Center will also stand on the site “to show what people can accomplish when they get together,” he continued. The center is a joint venture project involving Cajuns, Native Americans and African Americans, based upon the seafood industry.

In addition, the development will house a community newspaper, community radio station and a recording studio for aspiring musicians. Two women’s centers are planned for homeless women and women fleeing domestic abuse.

“Our intent is that you cannot solve the drugs and violence problems in the city without employment. Right now, New Orleans is gripped in a drug war. The best deterrent to crime is employment based on a living wage,” said Rahim.

To launch the project, Common Ground will begin with a construction trades training program. “We’re planning on training 20 people at a time. There is so much work to do, but what prevents us from taking advantage of this type of employment are skills.”

The training program will offer classroom and on-the-job training, money management, parenting, anger management and the importance of civic responsibility. At least 100 residents will be training in the construction trades initially.

To ensure the program’s success, the Collective is seeking progressive partners and entrepreneurs and Black progressive contractors interested in rebuilding New Orleans.

“We need volunteers, people to come down, not just to gut homes, but to help establish programs. We need professionals in the areas of drug abuse and substance abuse. We need doctors, lawyers, engineers, health care professionals and grief counselors. We need money and contractors, but, most of all, we need educators and students to be role models for our children,” Rahim declared.

He said Common Ground has sent letters to members of Congress asking for the establishment of a neutral monitoring committee to oversee how anticipated federal funds will be spent…

The community activist said that in spite of all the work Common Ground Collective has done without government assistance or funding, they have not been able to get reimbursed for the health care they have provided, nor has the group been offered any help or recognition from the City of New Orleans.

“They say no one has done what we have done, but they refuse to even meet with us about our first responder pla n,” Rahim said of the Nagin administration.

“We’ve cleaned every storm drain in Algiers, and we’re in the process of cleaning all the storm drains in the Ninth Ward,” all at no cost to city government. “They won’t even compensate us $22 per person for the health care we provide,” he said of the federal and state government.

Ninety-five percent of the group’s budget is spent on direct services. No one receives a salary at Common Ground Collective, but it costs about $71,000 per month to run the operation.

“We had 2,800 volunteers for Spring Break. We had to prepare 56,000 meals,” explained Rahim, who added that the organization buys the boots, goggles and protective clothing needed to clean up the storm ravaged homes in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast. “We feed anyone who is hungry.”

Now that Common Ground has met its mission of providing short term relief for victims of hurricane disasters in the New Orleans area, it is ratcheting up to meet its long term support goals of rebuilding the communities affected and “giving them hope by working with them, providing for their immediate needs and emphasizing people working together to rebuild their lives in sustainable ways.”

It’s easy to underestimate the amazing work of Malik Rahim without pictures.

Behold the "Common Ground Clinic" at the height of its noble mission, treating the victims of Katrina:

Behold their fabled tool lending library:

Behold their mobile clinic, which undoubtedly saved countless lives:

 

And behold the man himself, with one of his life-saving packages of toothbrush and toothpaste (actually assembled by school children who had nothing whatsoever to do with Common Ground):

Finally, behold our bravo as he calculates how he will dispense the government supplies he and his pals pilfered. (Note the label on the box at this elbow.):

From the back pages of the San Francisco Examiner:

Ex-cons take over S.F. tenant group

Leslie Goldberg
Tuesday, February 21, 1995

SAN FRANCISCO — Two ex-convicts have assumed control of a tenants organization at the Bernal Dwellings project, prompting fearful calls to police from residents and from officials of San Francisco’s Housing Authority.

The men are Malik Rahim, 47, a convicted armed robber, and Jeffrey Branner, 34, who police say was the enforcer for the Branner family crack cocaine ring that once controlled the housing project.

Housing Authority commissioners and staff say Rahim and Branner’s rise to power was encouraged by Felipe Floresca during his nine-month tenure as Housing Authority executive director, before he was forced to resign this month.

Rahim and Branner, in return, backed Floresca as he sought to retain his job, meeting with Mayor Jordan’s chief of staff, Jim Wunderman, to express their support, offering at one public meeting to "clean up" the commission for Floresca and urging him to "cut their (commissioners’) throats."

Police, including Chief Tony Ribera, say the situation at Bernal Dwellings is a top priority for the department.

While crime is down, overall, Ribera said, "there are areas of The City where crime is at intolerable levels.

"Bernal is one of those areas. I think it has to do with gangsters who have intimidated decent citizens to the point where we’re not getting the support we need for our enforcement programs. Witnesses are afraid to come forward."

Police Commander Richard Holder, in charge of special operations, said he had received more than 100 complaints about Rahim and Branner from Bernal residents and Housing Authority officials in the last nine months.

"People say they have been threatened. They are afraid," Holder said. "Sometimes I can’t sleep at night thinking of some of the stories people have told me."

Branner’s family dominated the cocaine and heroin trade in city housing projects in the 1980s, earning $7 million a year selling drugs out of apartments after forcing legitimate tenants out, police say.

When the gang was broken up in 1986, Jeffrey Branner served five years for selling cocaine. He faces trial on new cocaine sales charges next month.

"Jeff Branner was part of a crack cocaine ring that controlled Bernal for over a decade," said Holder. "As a result of this department’s work, most of those involved are in federal prison, but Jeff is out there again."

"We have a working drug case against him," Holder said.

"He is not a resident. He has no right to be there. We have people calling in tears, saying what kind of credibility do you have when you’re dealing with him as if he were a regular citizen?"

Rahim, also known as Donald Guyton and Donald Thomas, was convicted of armed robbery in Los Angeles and served five years in the 1970s and 1980s.

He was one of several charged in New Orleans with attempted murder of a police officer after a Black Panther shootout with police. The charges against all were dismissed…

Housing Authority staff and some commissioners say Rahim and Branner are trying to block the Hope VI project, a $50 million federal grant to demolish and rebuild Bernal Dwellings and the Plaza East development.

Rahim spoke for 30 minutes at the Feb. 9 meeting, calling Hope VI a plan to drive black people from San Francisco. He also vowed to stop the project if Meskunas and some staffers were not fired…

"They’ve [Rahim and Branner] intimidated staff, and they’ve intimidated residents," said Carmen Rosales, housing’s director of programs and grants.

Meskunas said residents of Bernal Dwellings wouldn’t go to Housing Authority meetings because they had been intimidated.

"When you have decent people who are too afraid to attend, the commission needs to do something," she said.

After the Feb. 9 meeting, some staffers said they were afraid to leave the building at 440 Turk St. because Rahim and Branner and some supporters were on the sidewalk, talking and laughing.

Police escorted them out a side door to their cars.

"Even that did not seem like enough," said a woman staffer who asked that her name not be used. "I wanted to be driven home."

The woman has worked with public housing residents for six years, she said, and "I’ve never been afraid before." …

Residents and housing staff are afraid to talk publicly about Branner and Rahim, and Commander Holder refused to give specific examples of intimidation complaints the police had received.

"This is a very sensitive area," Holder said.

Branner and Rahim denied trying to intimidate anyone…

At Floresca’s suggestion, Housing Authority staffer Jim Williams said, Branner and Rahim have formed a moving company, called Invest, to cash in on about $700,000 in federal funds that would be set aside to move residents as part of Hope VI.

"We’ve had residents complain that they’ve been asked to give $100 to Rahim and Branner’s moving company," said Lt. Jake Stasko of the SFPD’s housing task force. "The impression was, "Give us the money, or else!’ For that, they’ve been told they’re going to get jobs around public housing."

Rahim and Branner said that, while they had once been criminals, they now were law-abiding, dedicated to bettering the lives of The City’s public housing tenants.

Branner denied any residents had been pressured into investing in the moving company and said, "If they want their money back, they can come get it. It’s still sitting here. We haven’t touched it."

Rahim said he’d returned to work in public housing, in part, because, "These young kids around here need a good role model."

Police arrested both Branner and Rahim this month for relatively minor offenses involving a boarded up apartment Floresca let them use for tenant organizing.

Branner was arrested Feb. 2 for trespass as police and fire inspectors were shutting the apartment for fire code violations, and he allegedly refused to leave.

Rahim was arrested for burglary Feb. 5, when officers said he had broken into the boarded-up apartment…

"If, in five years, people are still suffering, living in these awful projects, it will be Jeff and Malik’s fault," he said…

I wonder if anyone in the New Orleans government has the literacy skills to read this newspaper article and figure out that giving Malik Rahim another housing project might not be a good idea.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, June 3rd, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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