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

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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].