Hundreds gather in Oakland for 2nd time to protest Charlottesville tragedy

Ketki Samel/Staff

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Approximately 200 to 300 people gathered at Latham Square in Downtown Oakland about 3:30 p.m. Sunday to protest the white supremacist demonstration that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Friday and Saturday morning.

The rally, organized by the Anti Police-Terror Project and Community READY Corps, comes after a similar protest that took place Saturday evening that started in Latham Square about 7 p.m. and temporarily shut down eastbound traffic on Highway 580. Both Oakland rallies are a response to the Charlottesville, Virginia, demonstration, in which several dozen people holding tiki torches marched through the city protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

Cat Brooks, co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project, said the organization started coordinating the protest Saturday. She added that she was pleased “so far” with the turnout for the demonstration.

“We’ve been working on the issue of white supremacists coming to the Bay Area for quite some time,” Brooks said. “Of course we’re here to stand in solidarity with Charlottesville, but also … to let (white supremacists) know that they will be met with resistance in the Bay Area.”

At the rally, some demonstrators stood in the back of a pickup truck to address the crowd. In addition to speaking against the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, many speakers also took a stand against police brutality.

Pastor Ben McBride, one of the speakers at the protest, spoke about the country’s history of racism, stating that he believed the United States was “founded on a lie.”

“People keep talking about all these great Americans that this country is founded on. Talking about Thomas Jefferson who owned slaves, talking about George Washington who owned slaves,” McBride said. “What we are dealing with right now is the legacy of this country. It is a legacy of a country that has built itself upon the plunder and the destruction of Black bodies and native bodies.”

Oakland resident Wendy Belden, who also attended the rally, said she was shocked at how many people showed up to the white supremacy demonstration in Charlottesville.

“Over the course of my lifetime … I have very, very strong memories of the hopeful way forward for a sense that racial justice was on an upward and onward,” Belden said. “I realize that it’s just so unrecognizable a country that I live in right now.”

The crowd started to disperse about 5:20 p.m.

A vigil is also being held in Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland about 7 p.m. to show solidarity for those who were attacked in Charlottesville.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ sent an email to the campus community regarding the Charlottesville protests Monday about 3:34 p.m., in which she described how “horrified” she was by the demonstration. She extended her condolences to the family and friends of those who died in the protest.

“We must now come together to oppose what are dangerous threats to the values we hold dear as a democracy and as a nation,” Christ said in her email. “Our shared belief in reason, diversity, equity, and inclusion is what animates and supports our campus community and the University’s academic mission. Now, more than ever, those values are under assault; together we must rise to their defense.”

In her email, Christ also referenced the planning that is underway for “potentially controversial events on our campus this fall,” and emphasized the campus’s commitment to the First Amendment and community safety.

Contact Chantelle Lee and Malini Ramaiyer at [email protected].

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  • Professor S Freeman

    Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued a strong denunciation of the alt-right and the rally violence on Saturday, telling white nationalists there was “no place for you in America.” Democratic Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer sought to place the blame for the alt-right rally on President Trump.

    Both of these Democratic leaders were praised by the media for their response to the violence that unfolded. But, interestingly enough, few reporters are asking them about their responsibility in letting Charlottesville turn into a battlefield between political extremists.

    Law enforcement was on hand at the dueling demonstrations on Saturday, decked out in riot gear and looking prepared for the worst. Except they weren’t allowed to do their job. Police on the scene were reported to have been ordered to “not intervene until given command to do so,” according to the ACLU.

    When police were ordered to disperse the alt-right rally, that act directed the white nationalists into the ANTIFA demonstrators, leading to further street brawls. Police didn’t seem to try to get in between the two groups or suppress the fights.

    Does this sound familiar. It should: During the riot that shut down Milo Yiannopoulos’ planned speech at UC-Berkeley, ANTIFA were able to attack anyone they thought may be an attendee and wreak havoc on town stores. All thanks to a muted police presence.

    • lspanker

      One has to wonder whether Democrat leaders are incompetent or merely trying to provoke more violence, just like destroying Confederate monuments in Southern cities. It’s almost as if they want to increase racial and cultural conflict, not calm things down.

  • Dave Doleshal

    It occurs to me that by suppressing the “free speech” of these alt.right crazies, we may well be doing a disservice to ourselves – and to the the rest of the country. Instead of spending effort to prevent them from expressing themselves, perhaps it would be more productive to just let them do so? Every time Trump opens his mouth in public, or issues another of his famous “tweets,” he only further demonstrates that he really IS insane – and further undermines his own credibility. It seems to be the same with most of these alt-right folks.

    After witnessing the various recent “free speech rallies” held by these folks in several parts of the US, featuring the prominent display of NAZI flags, swastikas, KKK “uniforms,” racist emblems, and the chanting of NAZI slogans, I have to say I find this rather refreshing. Why would I – a card-carrying, and avowedly anti-fascist, anti-racist, progressive – say I find this “refreshing?” I say that because, after several decades of listening to these alt.right people PRETEND they are actually conservative “Christians,” Republicans, and couch all their hatred, bigotry, racism, and anti-democracy sentiments under the guise of being followers of Jesus, “true patriots,” and advocates for good ole fashion American values, as if all the want to do is to restore “traditional” freedom and American democracy, I find it refreshing to see these people stop lying about who they are and what they believe in – and just come right out and say what most of us have suspected all along: that they are really just followers of Hitler, NAZIs, and fascists. They are NOT in favor of “conserving” anything – but rather are solidly committed to the destruction of such democracy, equality, and freedom as already exists in America. It looks to me like these folks have historically been MUCH more effective while they were camouflaged as “conservatives,” “the religious right,” and right-wing republicans than they are being now – now that they flying their true colors. If they actually think they are more likely to win over the hearts and minds of Americans by doing these things, I say let them to try. Rather than force them continue to hide inside of Christian churches, the Republican party, and “family values” organizations, (whose values they have NEVER really shared), maybe it is better to have them OPENLY express their REAL opinions – and let them be revealed and recognized for what they actually are? Rather than have them be wolves in sheeps’ clothing, perhaps it is better to have them be WOLVES in wolves’ clothing?

    • lspanker

      Dave, you’re an idiot. Those of us who are genuine constitutional conservatives don’t associate with Nazi or KKK types and want nothing to do with their movement. Try dealing with facts for a change.

      • Dave Doleshal

        Why such venom? You seem to be agreeing with me. All I am saying is that these NAZI’s KKK’rs and such are not genuine conservatives, but merely have been pretending to be. Is not that what you just said yourself?

      • Albert Camusing


        You are defensive because your conservative “movement” is racist to the core, and you know it. William Buckley, Jr. made his bones by supporting American apartheid. Barry Goldwater laid the first bricks of the white racist Southern Strategy. Richard Nixon built his White House on that foundation. Reagan turned that foundation of white racism into an estate. The Republican Party has fought tooth and nail for decades to roll back, eviscerate, demolish every aspect of the landmark civil rights legislation of the 1960s.

        The current Republican Party has reinstated racist Jim Crow voter suppression laws to disenfranchise people of colour.

        The Right-wing propaganda universe––Fox, Brieitbart, Sinclair, The National Review, et al.–– promulgates white racism via grotesque xenophobic and white racist demagoguery. The Republican Party elected a white racist for its candidate, one who, upon winning the election, has peopled the highest positions of his administration with “movement” white racists: Sessions. Miller. Anton. Gorka. Bannon….

        You, ispanker, are a liar. I just proved it–– by reciting the facts that you seek to obfuscate, deny, and deflect. The American conservative “movement” has been racist from its inception. The entirety of the American conservative “movement” advances, condones, and supports white racism as a central tenet of belief and policy.

        Richard Spencer and his ilk are YOUR base.

        And you don’t get to lie to cover up this glaring, sickening, and ineluctable truth.

        • lspanker

          Thanks for the diatribe from the perspective of the party that brought us the KKK, minimum wage laws and unfettered illegal immigration that has resulted in mass unemployment among young black males, and goading black folks into trying to start a race war by spreading lies about the nature and frequency of police shootings. You Democrats don’t have any wonderful love of blacks folks. They are just votes to be used to advance your agenda, that’s all.