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Historical Context

Adriana Camarena is a lawyer, writer, and community activist that organizes around anti-police brutality issues in the Latinx community in San Francisco. In 2016, she accompanied the family of Luis Gongora Pat, an unhoused Mayan Indigenous man who was killed. They sought justice and promoted alternative responses to policing unhoused populations. In March of 2020, COVID-19 reached U.S. Camarena joined the Auntie Sewing Squad in May. On May 25, police suffocated George Floyd in Minnesota and in response, protests emerged nationwide. By August 19, California Governor Gavin Newsom reported that the state was battling 367 known fires. On August 26, Camarena worked with Jose Gongora Pat and Carlos Poot Pat to pack a U-Haul to deliver 34,560 fl. oz of bottled water to Petaluma People’s Resource Center for farmworkers who were evacuated due to the wildfires. They also delivered hundreds of masks and two pallets of bottled water to farmworkers in Healdsburg.


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Transcript Excerpt

(30:13-32:25) I researched patterns and I created a little simple how-to manual for El Tecolote that goes online if somebody wanted to make their own mask with things that you might find at home. And then my friend Rebecca Solnit, who is also an Auntie, I don’t know if you know about her but she's actually one of the first people who published one of my stories, and she said, “Do you know about the Auntie Sewing Squad?” And I said, “No, what is that?” She's like, I'm going to put you in the group and you can check it out. And so soon I was like, oh wait, they're making masks. Before that, what had happened after I did that, I realized soon enough that our undocumented people were going to get no support. So there was one fund that was working that actually came out of the wildfires in Sonoma called UndocuFund SF. And so I would trade (with) people. I would say, if you tell me that you've made a donation to UndocuFund SF, I will give you a mask. So I started trading masks for that and that's when my friend told me about the Auntie Sewing Squad. So I started making masks. I would make a few batches of masks. I don't have the productivity of other Aunties, which I think is insane. It's amazing, insane, like a thousand masks, I’m like, que es eso? But anyways, I would just do little batches here and there for providing masks. Then the Black Lives Matter and George Floyd crisis erupted and so I kind of pivoted back into that role of support for my communities. But then the wildfires came up and then I ended up doing a run precisely with the family of Luis Gongora Pat. We made a run with I think it was like two tons of water, it was insane, and 500 masks up to two different communities in Healdsburg on behalf of the Auntie Sewing Squad, Healdsburg and Petaluma I think.

Discussion Questions

In what ways did Camarena utilize her mask-making skills? Which communities would likely not receive support in times of crises and why? How did Camarena’s activism around anti-police brutality intersect with the Auntie Sewing Squad’s mutual aid?

Adriana Camarena Makes a Supply Run to the Wildfires in Healdsburg and Petaluma During Covid-19