OAKLAND (CBS SF) — An Oakland city official was handcuffed over weekend after joining about 200 people marching against an ordinance banning protests on city streets after dark.
“I was scared,” said Oakland Planning Commissioner Jahmese Myres. “For myself and for the rest of the residents that I was with.”
Myres was handing out surgical masks to fellow demonstrators Saturday night to protect against them against pepper spray when police announced they were going to clear the streets. She says she retreated to a sidewalk, but was still put in handcuffs.
“I was grabbed by several officers,” she said. “They left the line that they were holding to reach out to me and grabbed me and pulled me down to the ground.”
The City of Oakland is cracking down on street protesters, which has triggered this new round of demonstrations. Mayor Libby Schaaf says they’re enforcing an existing ordinance that keeps protesters out of the middle of streets at night — a policy that has brought out protesters over the past two nights. Over the weekend, at least nine people were arrested and 66 people were cited and released.
The mayor called Commissioner Myres yesterday and told her she doesn’t want to see her city get trashed.
“It’s not a new policy,” Schaff said. “We are making better utilization of our existing policy. You could say it is a new ‘approach.'”
Myres said understands the mayor’s concern for vandalism and businesses having to shut down temporarily.
“But the reason we are marching the streets is to highlight the larger issues that are about people,” Myres said. “Folks are concerned about the loss of lives of Black folks nationally and locally, and if that shuts down a business for a couple of days, or ends up in broken windows, there’s important issues we need to continue to raise.”
When KPIX asked her if it’s appropriate for a city official to be out there in the streets participating in a demonstration, Myres stood behind her decision.
“Sure, well, I’m a planning commissioner, but before I was a planning commissioner, and as I continue to be, I am a resident of this city,” she said. “I am a neighbor to this community and part of being a good resident and a good neighbor is to stand in solidarity with those who are speaking out against injustice.”