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Remembering the many killed, during National Day Against Police Brutality

Across the street from Oscar Grant III Way, a sea of candles lit up the Fruitvale BART Station on Friday evening. Families from across the Bay Area placed these candles in front of an Oscar Grant mural to mark National Day Against Police Brutality. Every Oct. 22, families and community members across the country remember and honor people who were killed by police officers. The event was started in 1996 by the October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression…

UPDATE: Kaiser Permanente meets with striking engineers and mediators

As the strike of stationary and biomedical engineers stretched into a 36th day, the union and employer Kaiser Permanente engaged in mediation Friday that ended without an agreement. The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 39 told members around 5:30 p.m. that the session had ended with little headway made. While the sides agreed to continue with the federal mediator, a new session has not yet been scheduled. A day earlier, outside Kaiser Permanente headquarters in Oakland, striking hospital employees…

Planners move to restrict new housing in Oakland hills fire zone

Thirty years ago, 25 people were killed trying to escape the Oakland Tunnel Fire, which swiftly engulfed neighborhoods in the hills.  Since then, many residents have rebuilt in those neighborhoods, which remain under higher risk of fire.  In the next few months, the Oakland City Council will consider a proposal put forth by the Planning Commission that some worry doesn’t go far enough in restricting development in the hills, where narrow, winding roads still pose challenges as escape routes.  The…

‘This danger is one spark, one gust of wind, away.’ 30 years after tragic fire, Oakland better prepared but more at risk

When Sheila Davies Sumner stepped out of her house in the Oakland Hills on the morning of Oct. 20,1991, she had a sinister feeling. It was seasonally hot but there was nothing unusual about this Sunday morning, except for a blast of dry wind.  She put her Siamese cat, Algebra, in the garden, then left for work.  Oaklanders later would recall the gusts from Mount Diablo, some 30 miles to the northeast, the Diablo wind. On that day, 65 mph…

Event uses fun and games to address two community threats: violence and COVID-19

Pastor Cheryl Ward has been working with young children for many years and recently added teens to her ministry. So it seemed fitting for her to bring youth and their families together on Sunday for an event meant to confront two threats: violence and COVID-19. At Liberation Park on Sunday, she and the Black Cultural Zone organized “United Against Violence and COVID-19 in Oakland,” an event that she hopes is the first of four.  “Kids are always saying that they…

“Justice for Jonathan!” Rally calls for FBI to name agent, release video of Cortez shooting

Tension, anger and grief filled the air Saturday afternoon in downtown Oakland, as dozens of people rallied to demand answers in the FBI’s killing last month of a 31-year-old Oakland man. “Justice for Jonathan!” people shouted, as they marched with spray-painted posters from Oscar Grant Plaza to the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse a few blocks away. Jonathan Cortez was buying a Gatorade and some snacks from a corner store in Fruitvale on Sept. 13 when a…

Reparations task force gets to work closing gaps for Black students in Oakland schools

Black mothers are leading calls for change and reparations in the Oakland Unified School District.  Pecolia Manigo Awobodu, a mother of three in Oakland public schools, said she’s watched her children experience disparities when trying to access resources at school. And she’s heard countless similar stories from other Black mothers in the district.  “I have experienced the pain and the joy of raising Black children in Oakland schools,” said Manigo Awobodu. “I am grounded in that experience in real ways.”…

‘It’s just a sweet, magical little event’: Autumn Lights Festival unites artists and gardeners

This year’s Autumn Lights Festival brings together over 300 artists and 70 illuminated light displays ranging from carved-out gourds to a steampunk-esque snail car fully equipped with pyrotechnics.  The festival, which is celebrating its 10th year, opened to a sell-out crowd Thursday at The Gardens at Lake Merritt. Aside from art, it also gives space to local food vendors and live musicians. Director and founder of the festival, Tora Rocha, said the garden gives local artists an opportunity to show their work…

Oakland police lieutenant on leave along with police chief wife, amid criminal allegations

Oakland Police Lt. Lee French and his wife, Richmond Police Chief Bisa French, are on leave and under investigation, after a domestic violence restraining order was filed against them by a relative who claims they pinned her down and threatened her boyfriend and his family. The Oakland Police Department Thursday confirmed that Lee French was put on leave and said an internal investigation is underway into “criminal allegations.” In court documents, 18-year-old relative accused the Frenches of attacking her and…