PIEDMONT (KPIX 5) — In perhaps a sign that the tide is turning, Piedmont joined the ranks of small, white suburban communities across the Bay Area and the U.S. now standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement Wednesday night.
Earlier this week, a protest over George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minnesota police was held in San Ramon, while another protest was planned for Friday in Pleasanton; both East Bay communities where African Americans make up about 0.3 percent of the population.
“I think it’s important how many disparate communities are showing up,” said protester Amy Kimmel. “Smaller communities, predominantly white communities. I think it’s really telling and I am trying to gain a little hope from it.”
Kimmel was part of the few hundred who lined the streets around Oakland and Highland Avenue, flanked by the estates that dot Piedmont’s tony neighborhood.
Sarah Karlinsky, a Piedmont resident for the past two years, reflected on why it was important to assemble.
“People who are white and wealthy hold privilege and there is work we need to do as people with privilege to dismantle racism,” said Kalinsky. “It is not Oakland’s job to protest all the racism in the world. This is the job of communities like Piedmont and communities everywhere all across the country.”
Resident Amy Griffith said it’s time a community so silent on the issue of race amplifies its voice. She and her family have lived in Piedmont for three generations.
“I especially feel I have a responsibility because things have not changed. And [I have witnessed] the acceptance of only rich, white people for decades,” said Griffith. “There is a multi-generation long problem in this city … especially because we are surrounded by Oakland. We are the donut hole of Oakland.”
Fairuz Abdullah was born in Oakland and raised in the East Bay. Now raising her seven-year-old in Piedmont, she says she has been very direct with her daughter about the death of George Floyd and systemic racism.
“She is a person of color. She is going to experience racism in her life,” said Abdullah. “She needs to know how to be prepared for that. She needs to know how to stand up for all people of color.”
Piedmont’s first black police chief, Jeremy Bowers, marched alongside the protestors, chanting George Floyd’s name.
“I have a lot of mixed emotions being out here today, but I have incredible pride in this community,” said Bowers. “I hope this type of energy continues and has some staying power because this is what is going to be needed to really promote long term change.”
With the crowd behind him switching their chant to “Black lives matter,” Bowers touched on the violence also seen against members of the police force.
“Just pray for all of our safety and welfare. We need to continue moving together as a country.”