Riot cops still stand idly for the most part, awaiting orders. The armored carrier is still roving around slowly. A crowd has formed in a circle, and it appears they stand around one man in particular. He is a head taller than most people in the crowd, a Black man with white hair and a white beard. More and more people push their way toward him.
Mayor Dellums, Vietnam-era civil rights activist turned mayor, tired, stoic, old. His presence in the street results in the crowd growing again, to upward of 75 people. The number of police also swells. The crowd is now widely varied in age, race, and gender. The mayor stands amid a mounting media blitz, hunched over while someone speaks into his ear. They confer and move together, dragging the crowd along with each slow step. The mayor prepares to give a statement. After calculating his words, he alerts the presses.
Predictably he condemns the destruction; he asserts that this type of violence isn’t what we should be teaching our kids. He ignores the fact that it is largely kids who enacted the so-called violence.
“Earlier today, a representative from my office… blah blah blah BART investigation blah blah blah Martin Luther King, non violence blah blah blah people should be civil…”
Why we always gotta advocate peace when they killin us?
It’s been seven days and no charges were filed. Seven days!
What’s wrong with that, Mayor? You’ve been a congressman. You’ve been a lawmaker before. What’s wrong with the law right now? It’s not working for the people, man. You can sell that [be civil] stuff to people that really don’t know, but the intelligent people here really understand.
“Earlier today I did talk with the district attorney’s office.”
We were there, we were with the district attorney too.
“My sense of it is, the reason that people are out here, for whatever reason, right or wrong, people have lost confidence because they haven’t been communicated with. I said (to the DA) that I believe that we need to communicate and convey what this process is all about… Then I went to the police and I said I want you as the police department to investigate this homicide the same way you would investi- gate any other homicide. We gotta do what we can do—”
Police brutality is a problem all over this country, it’s not just here in Oakland!
There’s an attitude among police! There’s an attitude among government as it relates to people of color!
We were at the same meeting. The attitude of the DA was horrible! We have it on tape. He put his hands on his hips and he basically said it’s his decision, and he wasn’t gonna talk to no one
I mean people were nearly left in tears… You had Black men at the District Attorney meeting shocked!
What was impressive today was that the citizens realized for a change that they have the power to tell the government what to do… I witnessed today the citizens and the community coming together and telling the government that we need to talk to you, that we need answers to these questions.
The mayor hears these concerns and tries to come up with a response that isn’t a regurgitation of soundbites. Mean- while a riot police snatch squad on the next block chases yet another protester, seemingly at random, and suddenly the crowd is on alert. The police line stands poised.
Look! LOOK! Mayor, call them off!
We need help today! Not tomorrow!
My little cousin is looking out his window and watching peoples’ heads get crushed to the ground!
About 15 minutes ago, at the steps of the Oakland library… this big six-foot-five Latino man snatched her by her hair and hit her.
It was cop?
It was a cop that did it! And her crime was, she told this little kid to run! And when she did that, they grabbed her beautiful ponytail, slung her to the ground, and HIT HER SEVEN TIMES! This is evil! I been to Mississippi. THIS is Mississippi! I saw young people of all races, they were telling the police in a very positive way that they’re sick of it, and they’re taking their streets back! You got police running around—
Twenty deep in the armored vehicle, jumping off, just chasing kids. They [the police] are provoking this! I’m 40 years old, but everybody else out here, these are kids!
“I’ve asked the police to step back, the armored vehicle is gone. Lets remove these symbols of confrontation. This is what I’m asking: Let’s disperse.”
When they leave, we’ll leave. That’s what it should be about!
“I’m asking you to disperse.”
We’re not leaving until we find out who they took. They took three or four people!
“Let’s demonstrate how big we can be in this moment.”
Release all the protestors!
I got a question! Mr. Dellums. Excuse me.
“Please go home.”
Just ask your question
Why do you let your police officers kill Black people?
Applause and an amen.
The mayor fails to disperse us and begins to head back to- wards City Hall. A leisurely procession follows him back down 14th Street alongside a line of cars with smashed windshields. The fires have been extinguished.
A heated discussion is heard nearby about the car that went up in flames.
“You don’t know me! This is my community. I agree that we gotta organize and mobilize out here. But it’s gotta be directed. Why don’t they shut down the BART station one day during rush hour? That’ll get the attention of the people in Piedmont coming home from work. But this ain’t working!”
Fuck the car, someone DIED! Do you know the difference between a LIFE and a Lexus? Did you see the person get killed? He was lying down and they shot him in the back! A car is not the same as a human life. I’m sorry you don’t understand that. You’re lucky it was just a car! ONE CAR!
The procession stops near a BMW with its windshield kicked in. A familiar chant starts softly, but grows… no justice, no peace, NO…
City Hall. It sits back from the intersection of 14th and Broadway, separate from the street by a large square called Frank Ogawa Plaza. The mayor stands on the steps to ad- dress crowd, now numbering over 100, one last time. He repeats his lines on non-violence and homicide investiga- tion and is booed. As he turns to head inside, the crowd runs through Frank Ogawa Plaza.
Two onlookers stay put near the steps, and debrief.
Yo, dats da mayor?
I never new dat nigga wuz so white!
We erupt in laughter.