East Bay activists staged an early morning demonstration at the home of newly inaugurated Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf today to wake her up before dawn, saying that if they can't breathe she can't dream.
At 5 a.m. organizers were equipped with banners, a large LED sign and a projector, which were both powered by a small generator. The sign said “DREAM,” and the projector was used to depict Martin Luther King Jr. with a series of quotes on the mayor's home.
“Anyone who looked out their window would've seen the ten-foot word DREAM,” said Xan West, an organizer and Oakland native.
Photos posted to Twitter also show a number of chalk outlines drawn in the shape of dead bodies on the street, like a crime scene.
Schaaf did not come out to meet the protestors, although a man said to be her husband spoke with them briefly. He reportedly asked demonstrators to have some sympathy for the neighbors.
“We feel like if (Schaaf) was really to honor the true legacy of Martin Luther King, she would have come outside to speak with us,” West said.
“It's a violation of who he was for (Schaaf) to go to events on Martin Luther King Day and try to tell a story of (him) that she doesn't really enact in her policies,” West added.
West also said that in the modern-day retelling of Martin Luther King's story, he's a victim of identity theft in some ways, and that organizers wanted to engage in the kind of direct action that would honor his legacy.
The demonstrators' national demands include the de-escalation of police forces and an equal distribution of resources. Here in Oakland, they'd like to see funds reallocated towards schools, libraries, infrastructure and economic development in their communities rather than “blank checks for law enforcement” as a way of solving serious social issues.
As a personal example West shared a story about receiving a $372 ticket for jaywalking in her neighborhood, where there are no crosswalks. She called that an expensive example of unequal distribution of resources and selective penalization.
Police responded to this morning's demonstration, but no arrests were made. They later described the protest as peaceful.
Mayor Schaaf's office could not be reached for comment Monday morning due to the national holiday celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.