Hundreds march in Oakland against police brutality

Byby Cornell Barnard and David Louie KGO logo
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Hundreds march in Oakland against police brutality
Oscar Grant's mother spoke in the midst of a crowd of protesters who were marching against the recent officer-involved shooting in Ferguson.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A group of about 300 marchers gathered in Oakland Wednesday night to protest police brutality. The night was peaceful, despite a tense standoff with police.

They moved down Broadway to protest police brutality and the recent shooting of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri.

"People have to be accountable and you can't just kill people in the street like dogs," said one protester.

The crowd started moving down Broadway towards I-880, but they were met at 7th Street by a blockade of police in riot gear. The march was stopped, leaving many demonstrators angry.

"This is the kind of stuff that makes protests go the wrong way. The people don't get violent, the police get violent," protester Cat Brooks said.

One protester held up a mirror and said to an officer in riot gear, "Look at yourself, please. Think about what you're doing."

The standoff with police ended when protesters turned around. Around 6:30 p.m. the protesters headed back to City Hall with police on bicycles not far behind.

The mother of Oscar Grant, an unarmed man shot by a BART police officer in 2009, spoke to the crowd saying Ferguson has left her shattered.

"When Ferguson went down, my heart just sank again. Another senseless killing and another cover-up scheme again trying to demonize the young man," Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson, said.

Minutes later, the crowd was on the move again through the streets and police followed, controlling traffic to keep the group safe.

"We didn't make any arrests, no citations, no one was hurt," said Oakland police spokesperson Johnna Watson.

The group later returned to City Hall, vowing more protests in the future.

Bay Area residents protest violence in Ferguson

Bay Area residents and local clergy are calling for solidarity with people in Missouri after a police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

A group is planning to march against police violence in Oakland Wednesday night. And earlier in the day, religious leaders from around the region gathered in San Jose to speak out against the violence in Ferguson.

The Bay Area may be 1,800 miles away, but officer-involved shootings happen here, too. One of them involved Oscar Grant in 2009. Grant's uncle went to Ferguson, where he walked with protesters and talked with Brown's family.

"We stand with our friends in Ferguson, and we stand with young people of color and families here in this Valley and say hands up, we all belong," said Michael-Ray Mathews with Most Holy Trinity Church.

This was one of 40 gatherings across the U.S. by religious leaders to stand in solidarity with the people of Ferguson. Their congregations are Jewish, Unitarian, Methodist and Catholic. They represent the diversity of Silicon Valley, and they share the pain of a community divided in Missouri over the shooting death of Michael Brown.

"Race is merely a social construct," said First Unitarian Church of San Jose Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones. "There is only, how many races, people? One race -- the human race! And we all belong."

As the wheels of justice move slowly in Ferguson, this interfaith group is planning a large rally next Wednesday at San Jose City Hall.

"We're sick and tired of being sick and tired of this happening," said Rev. Jeff Moore, President of the Silicon Valley-San Jose NAACP. "We're tired of it, and it's time we hold the elected politicians accountable to it. If they're not going to force change or make change, we the people must make change."

Among those there -- Cephus Johnson, Oscar Grant's uncle. Grant was shot by a BART police officer five years ago. He just returned from Ferguson after spending a week protesting and meeting with the family of Michael Brown.

Their common experiences allowed Johnson to offer counsel to the Brown family, especially Michael Brown Sr.

"He's angry, he's hurt," Johnson said. "Like, I shared with him, I understand the anger. I understand the hurt. But this is the part where we have to stay prayerful and continue to stay on course and really utilize our spiritual eyes in ourselves and believe in that the system is going to work."