Tag Archives: Oakland

Reclaim MLK 2019: The People’s March


Oakland’s Anti Police-Terror Project has been organizing Martin Luther King Day events in Oakland for several years now. This year, their Reclaim MLK Day event featured both a march and a “day of action,” which included not only speeches and small-group assemblies, but also a “village” of anti-racist progressive projects.  I was there not just because I believe in APTP and support them, but also as a representative of Public Bank East Bay, where I do most of my current political work.

Here is the group’s list of demands:

  • Justice for ALL victims of police terror and their families
  • Housing as a human right: truly affordable housing for all in need, immediate shelter for our unhoused neighbors, and public land for public good.
  • A just economy that works for everyone, puts people over profits, provides living wage jobs with dignity for all, requires corporations to pay their fair share to do business in our cities, and ensures that any development benefits the community.
  • Community-based public safety: Invest in prevention, not criminalization; make all police use of force transparent and accountable.
  • Quality education for all: Fair pay for teachers. No cuts, no closures, no more charters.
  • Real sanctuary for all: Abolish ICE, end criminalization of our most marginalized, and guarantee the safety of all queer, Black, Brown and Indigenous communities.
  • Environmental justice: clean, air, water, and safe food supplies for all.
  • Indigenous sovereignty and respect for sacred sites.

It’s a community and a set of goals I’m proud to be connected with.

Marching in Oakland, 2018


Debbie says:

On Saturday, I went to the Women’s March in Oakland. Last year, Laurie and I featured a post by my friend Kerry Ellis, who marched for the first time in her life (and volunteered for the roughly 1000th time).  This year, Kerry encouraged me to volunteer as well.

I’m not a photographer, and I’m usually too caught up in what I’m actually seeing to take pictures of it, so most of these are crowdsourced pictures from Pro Bono Photo (and one from a friend).

Last year’s Oakland march drew around 100,000 people. This year, the estimates were for 30,000, but the final count was around 70,000. In most places in the country, the crowd counts were like this one, smaller but still very substantial (the photo above, from the end of the march, gives you some idea of what I mean by “substantial”).

My friend M and I volunteered at the rally, by the stage. The stage organizer and MC, herself a wheelchair user, told us that they had set a goal of 100% women of color speakers and performers, because that way they knew they could succeed in having about 70% WoC, which is about how it wound up–an awesome strategy.

The speakers were powerful, and often very radical, the performances stunning.  Homeless people and the previously incarcerated were featured, and not much was mainstream. A group of middle-school-age hip hop dancers wowed the crowd. The mood was very mellow: angry but also forward-looking; very aware of the situation we’re in, and also feeling the energy in the marchers. I saw absolutely no incidents of crowd friction or trouble.

Because last year’s crowds had led to a lot of gridlock and a lot of frustrating waiting, this year the organizers very intelligently put the speeches first, in a huge space, and the march set off while the speeches were still going on: accommodating both those who wanted to listen and those who wanted to move. When M and I joined the march near the very end, it was moving slowly but steadily.

At the far end of the march, Oakland City Hall, the organizers had arranged what they called “Call to Action Alley” where various groups had set up tables and were offering options for people who want to begin or add to their political engagement.

It was an Oakland crowd: diverse on every conceivable axis. I saw an age range of at least 80 years, skin colors all over the map of the world, gender presentation variations galore, signs on every topic from voting activism to DACA to gentrification to trashing our current golfer-in-chief. Among all the important messages near us on the march was a very makeshift sign that just said “Eric seems dumb.”

I’m reasonably active in Oakland politics, and I know a lot of people: from my activist work, from the days when I owned a bookstore, and from just living here for the last 40+ years. Last year, I didn’t run into a single human being I knew except the friend I came with. This year, I saw a couple of other people I’d arranged or planned to see at the beginning, and at the very end I saw and hugged a City Council member I’ve picked up garbage with.

Being a well-connected person in a crowd of 60,000 people and not knowing any of them was oddly reassuring. When you’re in the political fight of your life, knowing that you’re not alone is essential.


Photo credits: Mary Martin DeShaw (top), Deb Hoag (middle two), and Marcia Crump (bottom).