African American churches in West Oakland are responding to a neighbor’s complaints to police that worshipers at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church are being too loud.
Elder Ron Rosson, a minister at Pleasant Grove, said he has received complaints about the noise from the city and that he is not apologizing.
“We make a joyful noise is what the Bible says,” said Elder Rosson.
Post publisher Paul Cobb spoke about the complaints that Pleasant Grove has been receiving at last week’s City Council meeting, reminding council members that jubilant worshipping and celebration are a vital part of the Black church experience and must not be suppressed.
“Black churches matter. We will not allow gentrifiers to come into our community and tell us how to worship God,” said Cobb.
“People are in pain over the negative economic housing juggernaut. It is white arrogance to presume that we should be your hush harbor,” said Cobb. “The gentrifiers ought to be good neighbors and sing, shout and glorify God together.”
The Post will be organizing outdoor worship services to broadcast the sweet sounds and is inviting housing rights activists, concerned Oakland residents and those who are involved in the Black Lives Matter movement to join him and the Post in attending churches that receive complaints about their loud worshiping.
“We are calling for church in the streets. We need to bring God into the streets of Oakland,” said Cobb. “We will have gospel concerts in the streets and we will have jubilee. And we will invite all these gentrifiers to join us and if they want to be good neighbors.”
Pastor Anthony Jenkins of Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church in West Oakland says his church has not received any formal complaints but stresses that the community needs to hear the message of the church.
“We’re continuing to do what we have been doing, that is getting God’s message and His music beyond the walls of our church,” he said.
On Wednesday Oct. 14, the Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition will be hosting a public community meeting to address the effects of displacement on Oakland’s diverse cultures and to discuss community solutions to deal with city and police response to newcomers’ complaints.
The meeting will be held at the Asian Cultural Center located at 388 9th St. #290 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Oakland residents are seeking to organize in the wake of an incident at Lake Merritt last week when a white man assaulted a group of Black and Latino drummers from the SambaFunk! Funkquarians and then called the police on them for playing too loudly.
As a result, the drummers were detained by police for several hours while the man was allowed to walk away from the scene. One of the drummers eventually pressed charges against the man for assault.
Earlier this week, Facebook was full of photos of signs at Lake Merritt with a list of rules, including one that prohibits “musical instrument without permit.” The signs angered embattled longtime residents, who have enjoyed expressing themselves by the lake for years.
According to Councilmember Abel Guillen, in whose district the incident with the drummers occurred, the signs are between five to 11 years old and were mistakenly not removed after city regulations were revised.
“Bottom line, there is no prohibition against music while the parks are open “dawn until dusk,” including the unamplified drumming that has been the subject of recent conversations. A permit is required for amplified sound,” said Guillen in a press release.
On Thursday, a number of community members reported seeing the park signs being removed from around the lake following the confusion.