Solidarity Statement for Los Gatos Mayor Marico Sayoc

Ms. Laurel Prevetti
Town Manager
Town of Los Gatos
110 E. Main Street
Los Gatos, CA 95030

October 21, 2021

Ms. Prevetti,

The students, families, organizers, and Board of Directors of Leadership, Education, Activism and Dialogue (L.E.A.D) Filipino, a local nonprofit organization write to express our disappointment in the Town of Los Gatos’ chilling silence around the recent harassment and cyberbullying toward Mayor Marico Sayoc and her family. We submit this public inquiry request to understand what policies and protocols Los Gatos has instituted to ensure the safety and well-being of your elected officials. Please find our official letter attached to this message.

The recorded broadcasts from recent Town Council meetings, specifically the sessions from September 7, 2021 and October 5, 2021 reveal deeply troubling interactions. What we witnessed was Los Gatos’ reticence and tolerance of blatant disrespect and disregard for social decorum and basic human decency. As Mayor Sayoc was screamed at, as residents spoke out of turn – shouting from across the chamber, and the name-calling ensued, the silence from the Town staff and administration was haunting. At L.E.A.D Filipino, we work to increase our community’s civic participation at every level, with organizers that work as legislative staffers, on campaigns, and in policy advocacy, therefore we are no strangers to the public process. 

We know that when a community member exceeds their allowable public comment time, that their microphone is cut. We know that when disturbances are heightened, residents are escorted out of governmental chambers. We have witnessed members of the public speak out of turn, only to be quickly redirected by the administrative staff in attendance. We know that there are basic protocols in place to ensure that a minimum level of decency is observed – these guidelines are customary in local, county, and state governance. 

Which is why the complete silence – while Mayor Sayoc endured repeated missives, intimidation, and jeers – leaves us without words and many demands. These actions and disturbing displays, probe further inquiry and we want answers. We find your silence alarming, upsetting, and severely disappointing. During a time of increased attacks and violence toward Asian Americans, with Los Gatos having its own anti-Asian hate incident toward a Filipina in February, we are concerned for Mayor Sayoc and her family’s safety. Hatred, harassment, and cyberbullying has no place here, and as stewards of your municipality, we need your leadership right now. 

We stand with Mayor Sayoc and furthermore, stand for the safety and emotional well-being of her and her family. We write to you on behalf of our local organization, but united with several thousand Filipina/x/o American families, leaders, small business owners, and nonprofit organizations from across California and the country. Remaining accountable means calling out blatant hatred when it rears its ugly head, may we focus on the public policy issues at hand and thwart the usage of emotional violence the way we have seen recently. Confronting and combating hatred is greater than any one of us – it needs all of us. 

In addition to submitting this letter to you, we will also send copies of our letter to the California Commission on Asian Pacific Islander Americans, Asian Americans Advancing and National Federation of Filipino American Associations. 

We would like a written response to the following questions:

  1. What is the Town of Los Gatos’ policy on harassment of elected officials?
  2. Does this policy extend to family members of elected officials?
  3. Do you acknowledge that elected officials in Los Gatos have been subjected to bullying and harassment at public meetings during the pandemic?
  4. If so, what actions have you and your staff taken to prevent the bullying and harassment of elected officials?

L.E.A.D Filipino is a nonprofit organization that works to increase the civic participation, grassroots leadership, and direct action of Filipina/x/o Americans and broader community members. Since 2015, we have served hundreds of students and families regionally and statewide. 

We look forward to hearing from you.

Warm regards,

Dr. Angelica Cortez
Founder & Executive Director
L.E.A.D Filipino

Delano Manongs Park Fundraiser & Screening

L.E.A.D Filipino and the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) Santa Clara Valley Chapter, in partnership with the community-driven and volunteer-led Delano Manongs Park (DMP) Project Committee are hosting a community fundraiser and film screening this Saturday, October 23.

Join our Delano Manongs Park Fundraiser & Screening to enjoy Filipino food, meet community members, and hear exciting updates from the DMP Project Committee on the continued artistic development of San Jose’s Delano Manongs Park, including the various park-related initiatives that the Committee is fundraising for.

Saturday, October 23, 2021
4:00 – 7:00 PM (PST)

Camino Brewery Co.
718 S. 1 Street
San Jose, CA

Register here: bit.ly/dmpfilmscreening

Governor Newsom signs AB 490 into California law

On September 30, 2021 Governor Newsom signed AB 490, The Justice for Angelo Quinto Act of 2021 into California State Law bringing a seven-and-a-half month long journey to a close – accompanied by a collective sigh of relief.

While we will never accept the loss of loved ones and family members at the hands of law enforcement officers, the importance of supporting families through these processes of grief, mourning, resilience, and connecting with other families that have endured pain and suffering becomes invaluable. During these moments of reprieve and successes – at least in the context of legislative achievements – we reflect on the events that led us here. Angelo should rightfully and righteously still be with us, but he isn’t. In our attempts to reconcile our pain – his family’s suffering – with some manifestation of restitution or justice, AB 490’s signage into law is symbolically and materially important to communities that have fought for police reform for decades.

In late-February 2021, Assemblymember Mike Gipson approached Angelo’s family and the Justice for Angelo Quinto! Justice for All! Coalition through which L.E.A.D Filipino led the public policy working group, to ask for support in naming his bill “The Justice for Angelo Quinto Act of 2021”, which would later become AB 490. It’s important to note that Assemblymember Gipson tried to pass a similar bill last summer, at the height of the country’s racial reckoning, but it was ultimately unsuccessful in gathering the necessary votes to reach Governor Newsom’s desk.

Between February-September 2021, L.E.A.D Filipino’s civic engagement team of organizers in both San Jose and Los Angeles, led the advocacy strategy and plan within the statewide Justice for Angelo Quinto! Justice for All! Coalition and in partnership with the FIERCE Coalition.

These activities involved constant oversight of the State Legislative calendar and following AB 490 through the annals of every amendment, committee record, and daily file. In these efforts, we organized with the Justice for Angelo Quinto! Justice for All! Coalition to coordinate letter writing campaigns, testimonies at Assembly and Senate Committee hearings, and directly contact legislators that would be voting upon AB 490 in committee.

We would soon grow to affectionately call AB 490 “Angelo’s bill.” During periods of intensity throughout the summer, there were times that we believed Angelo’s bill wouldn’t advance out of critical committees due to deadlines or politics. Each time we persisted and gave it our collective might: we would send tranches of letters, ask Coalition members to make calls to legislative offices on their lunch, and post and re-share information on our social media sites.

To everyone that made a call, signed a petition or letter, maraming salamat sa lahat – thank you so much for your time and heart. We did this together, for Angelo and everyone that we’ve lost to police violence.

Read more about L.E.A.D Filipino’s involvement in passing AB 490, The Justice for Angelo Quinto Act:

AB 490 Awaits Governor Newsom’s Signature

Sept 13, 2021 | Governor Newsom has 30 days to sign AB 490 into California State Law

After nearly 8 months of consistent and enduring advocacy efforts our statewide community of FilAm organizers, advocates, educators, students and families breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Our relief is not rooted in finality, but an acknowledgement that we have reached a point in our state’s legislative process that not many do.

Getting AB 490 to the Governor’s desk is consequential to our shared efforts but more so, paramount to the larger fight for real and accountable police reform in a politically-splintering California. Governor Newsom has 30 days to sign Angelo’s bill.

Since February, we’ve coordinated direct advocacy efforts across our local, regional, and state networks to push AB 490, The Justice for Angelo Quinto Act of 2021 through California’s politically fraught legislative process. We uplifted this critical work in the name of seeking Justice for Angelo and all that we have lost to police violence – we did this work directly with Angelo’s family: Tita Cassandra, Tito Robert, Sister Bella, Brother Andre, Auntie Dianna, and the many individuals that have become our family throughout the past year.

These activities at times required immediate letter submissions, speaking with legislative staff, mid-day committee hearings and waiting in phone queues of hundreds of Californians, Justice for Angelo Quinto! Justice for All! Coalition meetings until the wee hours, rapid text messaging planning with the FIERCE Coalition, and more efforts that made all the difference along the way.

We learned critical lessons throughout this legislative cycle. When we needed partners to step up and help retool our strategy, they showed up and applied local pressure, made direct contact, and one-on-one phone calls to legislators and their staff. These various touch points and a coordinated approach to our statewide advocacy platform required all of our voices and it truly shaped the impact of getting AB 490 to the Governor’s desk. Here is a recap of important legislative actions that we were a part of throughout the 2021 legislative session:

TIMELINE OF COMMUNITY & LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS

February 2021: We sign onto the letter of 130+ FilAm organizations and nonprofit partners in denouncing the Antioch Police Department; the Justice for Angelo Quinto! Justice for All! Coalition is formed and establishes its membership.

March 2021: Angelo’s Birthday Memorial is held in Antioch, California; the virtual Filipinx Policy Symposium is held with guest speakers Attorney General Rob Bonta, Assemblymember Alex Lee, and many statewide community leaders to address Police Accountability and specifically call for the support of AB 490, The Justice for Angelo Quinto Act; AB 988, The Miles Hall Lifeline Act; and SB 2, Police Decertification.

April 2021: We produce the Filipinx Advocacy Day and bring a statewide assembly of 30 FilAm organizations to meet directly with state legislators to advocate for AB 490, SB 2, AB 988 and Ethnic Studies. Read about our policy platform and Advocacy Day here.

May 2021: We follow AB 490 through the Assembly Public Safety Committee and organize testimonies.

June 2021: We coordinate phone calls to the Assembly Appropriations Committee Members and send direct letters to the Chair to remove AB 490 from the Appropriations Suspense file; we gather 40+ speakers to testify during the Assembly Appropriations Committee to speak in support of Angelo’s bill.

The community supports the family’s End the Cover Up event at Antioch Police Department, marking six months without knowing Angelo’s official cause of death.

July 2021: We gather 100+ signatures in support of AB 490 as it enters the Senate and is first heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee. View the letter here.

August 2021: We organize a Southern California-focused call campaign directed toward Senator Portantino and urging him to advance AB 490 through the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Angelo’s family also announces their action of filing a Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit with counselor John Burris on August 9, 2021.

The Justice for Angelo Quinto! Justice for All! issues a statement denouncing the retirement of Jim Perkinson, the Antioch Police Officer that killed Angelo, statement here.

September 2021: On September 13th, AB 490, The Justice for Angelo Quinto Act is enrolled for Governor Newsom’s signature or veto.


We write this short piece to give credence and love to the grassroots partners and organizations that pushed Angelo’s bill through the legislative process.

Policy advocacy isn’t for the faint of heart and one that that resounded through our work was ensuring that Angelo’s family knew that they weren’t alone in their horrific tragedy, and that a community across California stood for – and with – them.

Thank you to everyone that we’ve had the privilege to work with throughout this legislative session. We’re learning each day and couldn’t find better kasamas to build and break barriers with!

Sulong!

LEAD Filipino

Libroration Book Club

When a few folks gather together to share knowledge, exchange ideas, hear opinions, heal, and create space an activation known as “The [Libro]ration Book Club” is born.

We’re so delighted to announce that through our 2021 AAP Cohort, we will be hosting virtual book discussions the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 6-8PM (PST) centered around books through The Libroration Book Club.

Broad themes that will be covered through facilitated sessions include, but are not limited to: FilAms in the diaspora, identity, confidence and self-esteem, socioeconomics, politics, culture, art and society.

2021 LIBRORATION BOOK CLUB DATES:

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021 from 6:00-8:00PM (PST)

Wednesday, November 17th, 2021 from 6:00-8:00PM (PST)

Wednesday, December 15th, 2021 from 6:00-8:00PM (PST)

SIGN UP FOR LIBRORATION BOOK CLUB HERE:


Congratulations to our 2021 AAP Cohort!

Congratulations to our 2021 AAP Cohort!

On Wednesday, September 1st, we celebrated the completion of our 2021 Awareness in Action Program (AAP) Cohort with our participants from across the Bay Area region, state, and country!

This past summer’s 2021 AAP brought a depth and level of closeness and openness that we haven’t otherwise experienced – and it’s something that we revere and honor. Together, our 2021 AAP shared personal stories and experiences around mental health, generational nuances within their families, and many even discovered aspects of their own immigration stories that they hadn’t previously known.

Our virtual Salamat at Paalam [Party] included sounds by DJ Chrstvn and a keynote speech on putting one’s awareness into action delivered by L.E.A.D Filipino Board Member, Meredith Curry.

A staple program in our organization, the Awareness in Action Program (AAP) is an interdisciplinary community-based program that encompasses Filipina/x/o identity, society, history, and culture. In weekly sessions, participants engage in large and small group discussions, hear from guest speakers, and develop a workshop around aspects of the program that speak to them the most.

AAP started in Eastside San Jose, during the summer of 2016 with 5 participants. The next summer we more than tripled our enrollment with 22 participants from local organizations, colleges and universities – where we would meet for weekly classes and organize Ethno-Exposure tours throughout the course of the program. Past AAP Exposure Tours included trips to South of Market (SoMA) Pilipinas, Little Manila in Stockton, Agbayani Village in Delano, and Historic Filipino Town in Los Angeles.

While COVID-19 threw a curveball at all of us – in more ways than one – we’re reminded that the pandemic also brought many gifts and privileges. Among those privileges is the connection and existence of technology that enabled us to continue our programming online.

In spite of the global shutdown, we launched our first-ever AAP last summer 2020. For the first time, we brought regular programs to statewide and national audiences.

A core principle of our AAP is to incite our participants to continue their civic engagement and public leadership within their localities and communities, whether this is through board or commission service, community organizing, or volunteering for an issue-based or candidate campaign.

We’re excited to stay in contact with our 2021 AAP Cohort and learn about the many feats and achievements that are coming each of their way!

Sulong!

Dr. Cortez to present “Filipinos first, Americans second: Ang Kuwento Ko, Ang Komunidad Ko, At Ang Ating Pamana!” via livestream with De La Salle University’s Filipino Studies Department

About Dr. Cortez’s presentation, “Filipinos first, Americans second: Our Story, Our Community & Our Legacy!”

From Dr. Cortez (to De La Salle University, Department of Filipino Studies):

Thank you so much for the opportunity. On Thursday, 8/26 (Wednesday, 8/25 in the U.S.) I will speak at De La Salle University in the Philippines – via livestream – with their Department of Filipino Studies. This is very special to me. My Grandfather was too a La Sallian!

My lecture is entitled “Filipinos first, Americans second: My Story, Our Community, and Our Legacy!” I will speak on the duality of being a FilAm: being Filipino in America and being American in the Philippines – and the cognitive and emotional dissonance that happens when attempting to reclaim our identity and heritage as Filipinos in the diaspora.

As FilAms we seek connections to our cultural identity through language, food, traditions, and community. We’re enriched by knowledge, activism, and service that advances FilAm wellbeing, protects our rights, and lifts our economic prosperity – but what happens when we visit our homeland? We’re viewed as Americans first, Filipinos second. And in America, we’re conjoined across and within other communities in a shared struggle for liberation, exploited for a profit and imported for our labor, and in America, we’re Filipino.

My piece, we’re Filipinos first, Americans second.

I will share about the hearts and minds of @lead_filipino and the larger San Jose/Santa Clara Valley FilAm community and the dope plans we have for our future.