Community members representing several cultural activist organizations held a vigil, procession and cultural rally in downtown Oakland Monday evening, defending the Black Friday 14 who are facing prosecution for shutting down the West Oakland BART station last year and commemorating Black resistance in the Bay Area.
The groups led a drum procession to the front of the Sears building at 20th Street and Broadway, shutting down one lane of traffic to perform an Azteca Danza ceremony and to build an altar dedicated to those Black lives that have been taken by state violence.
Protesters also plastered the side of the Sears building with artwork depicting the skyrocketing rate of displacement in Oakland and the connection between tech companies and gentrification.
Signs on the Sears building read “1,000+ Evictions per Month,” “O’Malley Drop the Charges” and “Uber Outta Oakland.”
The Sears building has been sold to tech giant Uber, which will bring 2,000 to 3,000 employees to Oakland’s downtown.
The groups that organized Monday’s action included Mujeres Unidas y Activas, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Asians for Black Lives, Xicana Moratorium Coalition, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, as well as other cultural organizations that together comprise the Third World Resistance for Black Power coalition.
“As members of the Third World community, we know about state violence as it’s happened in Ayotzinapa and along the (U.S.-Mexico) border,” said Sagnicthe Salazar, an organizer of the action and member of Xicana Moratorium Coalition.
“The U.S. police forces and military that are responsible for the murder of one Black person every 28 hours collaborate intimately with governments throughout the world to exchange repressive tactics,” said Salazar.
“We know that development in Oakland has not happened for us and that when companies like Google and Uber (move here), there will be an increase in the militarization of the police,” said Salazar.
This week also marked the one-year anniversary of the shooting of Tamir Rice, 12, in Cleveland, Ohio and the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson who shot and killed Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, Missouri last year.
According to the organizers’ press release, the vigil was meant to highlight how gentrification, poverty, lack of healthcare, housing and education are tied to state violence against Black communities.
The vigil also linked “solidarity with Black Lives Matter to the struggle of Third World communities in the U.S. and abroad,” according to the press release.
Omar Ali of Arab Resource and Organizing Center said he was in solidarity with Black Lives Matter because of the connection that the militarization of the police has with the militarized war on terror that Arabs and Muslims are facing abroad and in the U.S.
“We’ve learned how white supremacy constantly tries to separate our communities, through borders and through the media,” said Karina Muniz of Mujeres Unidas y Activas at the rally.
“But we can’t have immigration reform without racial justice. We can’t guarantee our own liberation until we end the war on Black lives,” said Muniz. “Us Latinas are here to defend Black lives.”