SAN FRANCISCO/OAKLAND (KCBS)— Protests were held around the country Tuesday as part of a national day of action calling for a stop to police killings of unarmed minorities. In the Bay Area, massive rallies were held in Oakland and San Francisco to demonstrate against police brutality.
A couple hundred people gathered outside San Francisco City Hall to demand that the city promote racial equality and then briefly interrupted Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting with protest chants.
Meanwhile in Oakland, about 100 people rallied outside City Hall before moving inside where they spread their message and held ‘Black Lives Matter’ signs.
Protesters gathered at noon with San Francisco Supervisors John Avalos and David Campos as well as numerous community leaders to highlight solutions to the growing economic gap in the city.
Protesters chanted “Mayor Lee can’t you see, inequality is killing me,” held signs that read “Black And Brown Lives Matter” and listed the names of dozens of black individuals who were killed by police so far in 2015.
The most-recent high profile case of an officer shooting and killing an unarmed black man was documented by a bystander just 10 days ago in South Carolina. Walter Scott was shot by a police officer, Michael Slager, during a traffic stop for a broken tail light. The officer can be seen shooting Scott in the back several times, killing him as he ran. He then appears on the video to drop his Taser next to Scott’s body. Slager has since been charged with Scott’s shooting death.
Many of the San Francisco protesters said they were disappointed with how the city has handled racist and homophobic text messages sent between San Francisco police officers.
They maintained that officers under investigation for involvement in such activities should be placed on unpaid, not paid, administrative leave and supported independent investigations into the matter.
Avalos aired his frustration with what he said is growing inequality and racial profiling in America and what he called “the lip service” paid to the cause.
He said the city is dealing with racial profiling and racial discrimination.
Avalos said that black individuals in the Bayview District are under constant surveillance and racially profiled, but said if you’re white and “If you’re out there partying in Dolores Park, nothing happens.”
Supervisor Campos said the city has the fastest growing inequality of any city in the country and that if San Francisco were a country, it “would be up there with Rwanda,” in terms of inequality.
“We have had enough,” Campos said.
Protesters then briefly shut down the supervisors’ 2 p.m. weekly meeting, chanting “no justice, no peace, no racist police.”
Protesters targeted Supervisor Malia Cohen, who represents the Bayview, and board president London Breed, who represents the Western Addition neighborhood, chanting “Shame on you” at the two black, female supervisors.
Shortly after the meeting was set to begin, Breed announced that the Board of Supervisors meeting was adjourned until further notice.
Some protesters said they were appalled that Breed left the chambers after declaring the meeting adjourned instead of listening to their concerns.
Amos Brown, San Francisco branch president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was in the crowd and said, “I know that business as usual has been interrupted, but there comes a time when we the oppressed must rise up.”
He said the racist cops need to be fired and encouraged the dozens of people in attendance to go to the San Francisco Police Commission’s meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.
Protesters then went into the atrium of City Hall and continued protesting despite a heavy presence of sheriff’s deputies wearing riot gear. The Board of Supervisors meeting later resumed around 2:45 p.m.
Also in San Francisco, a group of six protesters were arrested on the western span of the Bay Bridge around 4:00 p.m. The protesters, who appeared to be blocking the eastbound lanes, were arrested.
In Oakland, the call to action was described by the organizers with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network as a day to shut down business as usual across the country. One of the protest organizers said to the crowd that business as usual in this country means every 28 hours a black person is killed by police.
Several of the rally’s speakers were students at Oakland high schools.
After about an hour at the corner of 14th and Broadway, the group moved inside City Hall where a ‘Black Lives Matter’ banner was unfurled with 12 police standing by.
D’Andre Teeter with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network of the Bay Area said the action was planned in February to keep the momentum and message of last year’s Ferguson protests going.
“We’re calling on people’s moralities to say that this has to stop. We don’t care how you do it, but you gotta stop killing our people, particularly black and brown people,” Teeter said.
Later in the afternoon, the demonstrators stormed the freeway and got on northbound Interstate 880 at the Jackson Street on ramp. CHP responded ahead of the evening commute after traffic was momentarily disrupted. Police seemed to gain the upper hand and a CHP spokesman said no arrests had been made, but traffic was still backed up as a result.
Similar actions were held in the city’s Mission District and in Oakland, Berkeley and San Jose. According to Teeter, 33 cities across the country took part in the demonstrations.
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