OAKLAND (KPIX) — A protest was held in Oakland Sunday specifically to give people a chance to express their demands for social justice in a non-confrontational setting.
The protest was a family affair, held in the most non-threatening of locations — just outside Children’s Fairyland at Lake Merritt.
Nine-year old Siula Hendrickson-Sperry was there for personal reasons.
“I have a black sister and she’s scared of going outside right now so I want everybody to be able to go outside,” she said.
John Fike, who organized the protest, said he wanted a safe way to speak out.
“We want to express our anger,” Fike told KPIX, “but we want to express our anger in a peaceful way, in a family-friendly way. I learned about 11 years ago not to go to protests at night because there’s an element that is very unsafe.”
Fike was talking about the Occupy protests. That movement also started with widespread support and with protests attended by families but it soon devolved into nighttime rage, violence and lawlessness. Soon everyday people stopped attending and the movement collapsed.
While most at Sunday’s rally in Oakland did not condone the looting from the past few nights, it was hard to find anyone who would speak against those who participated in it.
“It’s hard to judge resistance. People are resisting, you know?” said Oakland resident Leslie Gray. “And I don’t think it’s about judging that because, if it stopped happening, we wouldn’t be here.”
San Francisco mayor London Breed spoke Sunday about how unsettling it was to watch video of the looting the night before.
“I was extremely upset,” the mayor said, “because, unfortunately, with some of the vandals, they thought this was a game. They thought this was funny and this is not funny.”
Fike thinks it’s important to keep focused on the issue at hand.
“We are in the biggest battle we’ve had since the Civil War for the soul of this country,” he said. “People need to be seen and be heard and express themselves.”
As for looting? “Uh, nobody here is breaking into stores,” he said. “So, we’re the majority.”