Oakland greets the New Year with two protests
on January 1, 2014
Oakland rang in the New Year with a pair of protests; one organized by Occupy Oakland and the other by the Oscar Grant Foundation.
On New Year’s Eve, members of Occupy Oakland gathered downtown at Frank Ogawa Plaza at 9:30 p.m. to march towards the North County Jail. The protest was put together to “bring the noise to inmates” and was promoted with flyers that read, “bring friends, noisemakers, and fireworks.” A crowd of about 100 was met with a strong showing by Oakland Police. A little over 60 officers looked over the crowd and helped direct traffic once the group started to make its way towards the jail.
The second protest, organized by the Oscar Grant Foundation, was a vigil to commemorate the 5th year anniversary of Grant’s death. The vigil was held from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on New Year’s Day at Fruitvale, the location where Grant was killed by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle on New Year’s Day 2009. The event was led by Grant’s uncle, Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, who has become a staple in local social justice protests.
Chants of “We are all Oscar,” rang outside the BART station as musicians, clergymen, family, poets and activists spoke out about police brutality, the necessity for worker solidarity, and social justice.
“We as working people, we as people who are oppressed, we have a common enemy,” said Clarence Thomas of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 to the crowd of about 80. In October 2010, ILWU Local 10 shut down all Bay Area ports in solidarity with the Oscar Grant family’s call for justice. Thomas asked for solidarity with workers and members of the Occupy movement.
The event was family friendly, with both activists and children holding up signs that read, “Without struggle there is no justice” and “Stop police brutality.” Some attendees brought balloon to release in memory of loved ones lost to violence.
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