Police forced a peaceful march that was organized by Black women off the streets of Oakland last evening in an unusual show of force that heralds the first enforcement of a nighttime prohibition on street demonstrations. Last night’s protest was part of a national day of action called #SayHerName focusing on police violence against women and transgender people.
The rally began just before sunset in Frank Ogawa Plaza where about 200–300 people had gathered. After several speeches and recitations of poetry, the protesters announced their intention to march to the Oakland Police Administration Building seven blocks away. Demonstrators had not yet stepped off the sidewalk and into the intersection of 14th Street and Broadway when OPD addressed the crowd through an amplified sound system, stating that the march was “unpermitted.” As demonstrators walked into the street, police immediately ordered them back onto the sidewalk, citing California Vehicle Code Section 2800, which makes it an arrestable offense to not comply with orders of a police officer.
“The fact is we were threatened with arrest for marching,” said Cat Brooks, one of the facilitators of the protest. “This was a Black women’s and children’s rally saying to the police, please stop killing us, and our woman mayor organized the harshest response we’ve seen yet.”