At the Oakland City Council meeting Tuesday night, the council voted to assist the development of worker cooperatives and voted unanimously to support the 100 Cameras campaign, which encourages the public to film police activity.
Much of the meeting time was spent hearing public comments from a handful of activists from the civil rights coalition By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), who criticized the Oakland Police Department (OPD) for the number of officer-involved shootings of African American men in the city.
“The Oakland police have been conducting a racist killing spree of black men over the course of this summer,” said BAMN member Yvette Felarca, who alleged that racism on the force has increased since Mayor Libby Schaaf took office.
“We hold the mayor and city council responsible for the murders that have occurred,” said Tania Kappner, another member of BAMN.
Activists took the podium and blamed the OPD for the deaths of five African American men over the summer: Nathaniel Wilks, Demouria Hogg, Antonio Clements and Yonas Alehegne, who were all shot by police officers, and 23-year-old Richard Linyard, who died after running away from police and was found wedged between two buildings. Linyard’s family believes the police caused his death. Facing public demands for more information about these deaths, on August 19, the department allowed media and family members to see footage related to the Wilks and Linyard cases that was shot by body cams worn by police officers.
Wilks’ girlfriend, Chemika Hollis, said she has relied on the public to understand what happened to Wilks. “I have to come here and do the police’s job,” Hollis said to the council. “You are showing me what you want to show me.”
Rebecca Kaplan, councilmember at large, said racial profiling is unacceptable. “Those issues are not to be taken less seriously than they deserve, although I understand they’re not on the agenda tonight,” she said.
The council then voted to support the 100 Cameras campaign, previously known as the Do Shoot campaign. The campaign, put together by 100 Black Men of the Bay Area, a group that helps young African American men, urges the public to record police actions on their cell phones when someone is pulled over.
“We have seen that a video tape allows sometimes for justice,” said Councilmember Desley Brooks (District 6.) Brooks said the campaign reaffirms citizens’ right to record what they witness. “The more the community is aware of their rights, the more empowered they are,” Brooks said.
Speaking Wednesday, Frank Tucker, the president of the group, said the city will help fund advertisements, workshops and resources the group needs to spread the message.
The council also adopted a resolution in support of the development of worker cooperatives in Oakland. The city’s Business Assistance Center will now promote cooperatives as a model and provide information to the community about how to start a cooperative.
Adrionna Fike Mandela, owner of the Mandela Foods Cooperative, was one of the many co-op owners and workers present in support of the resolution. Mandela said cooperatives create dignity in the workplace and offer cheap, high quality products. For example, she said, there has been an increase in low-income people frequenting her store instead of 99 Cents Only Stores. “They love how it feels to be” in Mandela Foods, she said.
“We’re creating an environment with our community that feels more beautiful to work with everyday,” she continued.
The council also voted 6-1 to authorize a development deal with Strada LLC. The developer plans to construct an apartment complex and hotel on the 1.25 acres of land on the corner of Clay and 11th Street, which is currently a parking structure. The land was sold to the developer by the city for $6.45 million.
Members from the hospitality workers’ union Unite Here 2850 voiced their support for the development, saying Strada LLC has good labor practices.
The next city council meeting will be held on September 15.