After a day of marches, public speeches and rallies, as night fell and the rain came down, demonstrators gathered once again in downtown Oakland to march in protest of Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Earlier in the day, a small group had gathered in front of the Ronald V. Dellums Federal building, and several marches and student gatherings had convened near Frank Ozawa Plaza, where people recited poetry and passed a microphone around to let people express their concerns about the new administration. Meanwhile, some 1,000 people marched down Market Street in San Francisco, and several thousand gathered to link arms along the length of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Luan Stauss, the owner of nearby Laurel Books, had been giving away copies of the Constitution to store patrons. Asked why someone might want a copy, she said “It seems as though many people don’t know what the Constitution says or aren’t aware of the rights it guarantees—perhaps people coming into office or those appointed to it.”
Around 6 pm, another wave of protesters began to arrive near the plaza. This time, some of them were wearing black and face masks, and Oakland Police Department officers were visible videotaping members of the crowd, but not taking any other actions. People first gathered to watch a group of Aztec dancers who had performed a ceremony earlier in the day in front of the federal building. Then a young man dressed all in black with his face mostly covered yelled, “Let’s quit standing around and do something!”
He grabbed a megaphone and began chanting. A crowd of about 400 to 500 people began to march south on Broadway, then turned onto 8th Street and began walking against traffic. Among the chants: “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “Racist, sexist, anti-gay! Donald Trump, go away!”
The crowd continued to loop around the downtown, carrying picket signs and a large banner that said “Make the guillotine red again.” Store owners could be spotted filming the crowd with their phones or shuttering their doors.
After coming back to Latham Square, the crowd paused to watch the Aztec dancers again, then headed down a sidewalk passageway back to Frank Ogawa Plaza, where they were surrounded by a heavy police presence, including officers on motorcycles and bikes and in vans. A police helicopter with a spotlight hovered overhead.
Around 7:30 pm, the crowd was beginning to move again, heading west on 14th Street, but was asked to return to the plaza by police officers, who kept announcing, “This is the Oakland Police Department. We are here to facilitate your march.”
After heading towards Broadway and then pulling back to the plaza, some protesters produced pink plastic squeaky pigs and honked them at officers clad in riot gear. The officers did not respond.
As of 7:45 pm, a police line surrounded the plaza, preventing protesters from being able to march in any direction. “We just want to march!” and “This is about Trump!” some of the protesters called to the officers. By this point, the crowd had shrunk to fewer than 100 people.
“Sixty cops for sixty people. What kind of math is this?” complained one protester as he stared at the police line.
By around 8 pm, about 30 protesters remained, outnumbered by police and members of the media. Two protesters began to chant “Don’t go home yet! It’s not over” as their colleagues continued to leave. “It’s only 8 o’clock,” one of them called after them.
Oakland North will be back on Saturday with coverage of the women’s march planned for downtown Oakland.