SF supervisors vote to add Italian American Heritage Day to Indigenous People's Day

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) After changing what was once known as Columbus Day to Indigenous 
People's Day earlier this year, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors today approved adding another name to that day.

In addition to Indigenous People's Day, the second Monday of October will also be known in the city as Italian American Heritage Day.

The board voted at their Jan. 23 meeting to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day. During that meeting, however, Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Norman Yee indicated that they wanted to come up with a way to honor not only the Indigenous community but also the Italian American community.

The ordinance to add Italian American Heritage Day, sponsored by supervisors Peskin, Yee, London Breed, Malia Cohen, Catherine Stefani and Ahsha Safai, was passed with a 10-1 vote with Supervisor Hillary Ronen voting no.

Also at today' meeting, Ronen introduced a motion calling for an independent investigation into the detainment at San Francisco International Airport last week of a human rights activist visiting from the Philippines.

Jerome Aladdin Aba, who arrived at SFO on April 17, was denied entry, detained at the airport and tortured for more than 24 hours before being sent back to his home county, according to activists.

According to Ronen, Aba was denied legal counsel, interrogated for hours and ordered to strip naked. She's calling for an independent investigation into his alleged "inhumane treatment."

In addition, supervisors sat through a lengthy hearing regarding a motion to disapprove a proposed condo conversion of an apartment building that a 100-year-old woman was displaced from shortly before she died last year.

The building in question is where Iris Canada once lived, an African-American centenarian who had fought being displaced from the home where she had lived in since 1962.

In 2005, after property owners Peter Owens, Stephen Owens and Carolyne Radishe bought the building at 668-678 Page St. and enacted Ellis Act evictions on most units, Canada was able to negotiate a lifetime estate allowing her to remain.

A judge in 2016, however, revoked the lifetime estate after the owners provided evidence that Iris was not living in the building, claiming that she lived with family members in Oakland allowing the unit to fall into disrepair.

Despite objections by housing activists and Canada's family, she was removed from the home on Feb. 10, 2017 and died the following month.

The motion in front of supervisors today was whether to approve a decision by the Department of Public Works to disapprove an application from the building's tenants for a proposed Tentative Parcel Map to convert the three-story, six-unit building into residential condominiums.

"This profit motive over humanity that's become like a monster in our prospective housing market in SF is stark in this case," Ronen said.

"As far as I'm concerned, you can call it eviction or displacement, she was removed from her home," Breed said. "What happened to Iris was not compassionate and is not acceptable in our city," Breed said.

Ultimately, supervisors voted to 10-1 in favor of motion, approving Public Works' decision to deny the conversion.

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