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"As an Oaklander, protesting is part of our heritage," Trevor Parham, owner of Oakstop said. "It's part of our legacy. So, in many ways we expect protests to happen. Another element that has arisen with that, is we've also learned that some people have seen the opportunity in that." Oakstop is a co-working and cultural collaboration space downtown. The business was damaged during the looting in Oakland the last weekend in May.
"If anyone is from Oakland or is out there campaigning for black rights, they wouldn't touch Oakstop," Parham said. "They wouldn't touch a business like our's that has done so much for this community." Parham continued, "There's a layered effect here. It's not just the damages of chaos and looting. It's looking back up the chain historically that black owned businesses are already facing challenges and economic injustices- and are already marginalized. You take that and combine it with the effects of the pandemic."
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It's a tough situation, but in this case, there's a good person working behind the scenes.
Elisse Douglass also lives in Oakland. She set up a Gofundme with an initial goal of $5,000 to help the damaged black owned businesses. "We can fix windows first and then just keep going from there."
In just five days, Douglass raised more than $75,000 with the help of other community members. Her new goal is $100,000. "This is an easy way to help people out on the ground so not just this current crisis of damage and protests, but the larger crisis of COVID-19," Douglass said. "(When it's) over we can help these businesses thrive. That's kind of one of the key ways we fight economic injustice in general."
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Oakstop is just one of many businesses benefiting from the money. The funds send the message that their struggles are being seen and heard, at least by some.
Due to the large showing of support, Douglass is now offering money to support local nonprofits in Oakland helping to achieve racial justice. You can find more information here.
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