Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2016 in Emeryville, California, saw a protest of 3000 against gentrification and organized by the Anti-Police Terror Project, rallying on the sacred ground of Shellmound now known as the Bay Street Mall, the type of Bay Area location which organizers called the epitome of capitalism. King Day is not for sale, it’s for justice, said Cat Brooks, seen in the linked video. The rally links police terror to economic terror. Cat Brooks, the organizer, spoke in a voice raspy and hoarse from the preceding days of making this rally happen. Brooks spoke from the back of a rented truck and urged listeners to talk to the disenfranchised, specifically those at the Social Security or welfare offices, those on Section 8, one’s neighbors. Talk to those the media do not, she said. The group says the police are shock troops for gentrification, talk about that with those who are poor and pushed out of Oakland and San Francisco. Here is video: Anti Police Terror Project video.
Talk about how no jobs means violence. The march focused on reclamation of King’s radical legacy, #96hours, #ShutItDown. The group demands resignations and terminations of certain figures including two police chiefs and Mayor Libby Schaaf; the reallocation of city budgets to allow Black, Brown and other people of color to remain in Oakland and in San Francisco, sanctuary cities. The group also calls for the immediate end to epidemic violence and criminalization of transgenders or other sexual non-conforming people, especially those who are Black and Brown. King shut down lunch counters, we shut down BART stations, read the flyer.
The 3000 marchers sang out and chanted together while following the leaders in the yellow truck to Shellmound, circling through the Bay Street Mall. Shop clerks and delivery men and shoppers stopped on the sidewalk and shot pictures or video with cell phones. Ms. Brooks said police had told the organizers they would not be coming this way but Ms. Brooks said she had 3000 who mean otherwise. It was an orderly and upbeat march, with toddlers being pushed along in strollers and dogs parading at the ends of leashes. It looked like a good even mix of Black, White, Hispanic and some transgender, gay and lesbian. Police blocked off 40th Street at the overpass just before Ikea and the 880 ramps. Police blocked off the other end of Shellmound book-ending the protestors safely from traffic for the length of Bay Street Mall. The group arrived about 3:00 and was still going but with only a portion of the listeners remaining at 4:30 when commute hours had begun.
Mothers of two men killed by police spoke of their pain and rage. The mother of Alan Bufford, killed by Oakland Police on May 6, 2012, spoke of her anger at how several went to the police station and gave false witness accounts about her son, saying he shot at police. Sister Valdez of San Jose spoke of how her husband was shot by police at San Jose State, leaving her young son without his father.
Legal businesses have police to regulate and protect, said one speaker, while the poor and disenfranchised who conduct business to survive get put in jail. Disenfranchisement of Blacks and other minorities is behind a pipeline from school to jail, said another speaker. One protest sign read “poverty is passive violence”. Another speaker called for ghetto blasters, those who seek to shut down the systematic and institutionalized impoverishment.
For more information: Anti Police Terror Project