Hundreds Gather in Oakland to Protest Police Brutality


Hundreds of May Day protesters descended upon Bay Area streets Friday, marching in a series of protests in San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland that remained peaceful through sundown.

Though historically May Day causes have been many, this year’s protest focused on the issue of the day, police brutality. As the Bay Area this week kept a watchful eye on Baltimore, where a top prosecutor filed charges against officers for the killing of an unarmed black man, Friday was a day for local residents to tell their stories of abuse at the hands of police.

Families of men killed locally by police — from Oscar Grant to Richmond’s Richard “Pedie” Perez III — warned the protests would continue until the police violence stops.

“These kinds of actions will continue to occur until we see a change,” said Wanda Johnson, the mother of Grant, who was shot and killed by a BART police officer in 2009.

Those families and members of the International Longshore Warehouse Union Local 10 led a march Friday morning from the Port of Oakland to Frank H. Ogawa Plaza at City Hall. By noon, about 500 demonstrators had gathered there, in a loud yet peaceful protest.

Police said there were no arrests, citations issued, or reports of criminal activity at the daytime rallies.

At 7 p.m., about 250 more people gathered at the plaza, eventually marching down Broadway toward Oakland police headquarters to let Baltimore protesters know they stand with them.

“Usually, we don’t like Baltimore, because we’re A’s fans. This solidarity is a big thing for us.” said an artist who gave his name as DJ Occupy; he had created a chalk drawing at the plaza calling for solidarity between the two cities.

As the group headed north on Telegraph, there were reports of some broken windows and sprayed graffiti. There were no reports of injuries or arrests.

At the earlier march from the Port to downtown, police accompanied a diverse group included some toddlers, some being carried by parents.

One of the marchers was West Oakland resident Maisha Davis, 29, a medical student at University of California, San Francisco, who is a member of the organization White Coats for Black Lives. “I’m here to support people for May Day,” she said. “Police brutality impacts us all.”

Some protesters held signs saying “Racism is the Disease,” “Black Lives Matter” and “Stop Police Brutality.” Many mulled around the lawn, chatting with friends and co-workers and eating sandwiches.

Labor leaders said they wanted better wages and working conditions for working-class people, and spoke about the unions’ role in organizing against police brutality locally and across the country.

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SOURCE: Mercury News, Natalie Neysa Alund

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