Public 'BBQing While Black' event held at Oakland's Lake Merritt

OAKLAND, Calif. -- A public "BBQing While Black" event is taking place at Oakland's Lake Merritt Sunday, one of many responses to an incident in which police were called on African Americans barbecuing at the lake earlier this month.

The event began at 11 a.m., with music, food and speakers at Lake Merritt at the Cleveland Cascade, a large ornamental stairway at Lakeshore Avenue.

"It's a celebration. We are not going to fight hate with hate. We are inviting the general public," said Jhamel Robinson, who worked with Logan Cortez, the organizer of the event.

"The event is for blacks and our allies. It's an opportunity for people of all ages and races to come together as a community," Robinson said.

Those who wish to attend are encouraged to bring prepared food or a propane grill, Robinson said. DJ Twelvz, DJ Shell Heart, DJ Slowpoke and DJ Red Corvette will be spinning at the event, he said.

The event is one of many responses to an incident when police were called to respond to African Americans having a barbecue by Lake Merritt earlier this month. A video of the woman who made the call went viral.

Barbecues have long been popular at the lake. There are some restrictions regarding the type of fuel to be used, and the call to police involved the use of charcoal versus propane fuel.

Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan Tuesday issued a statement about the incident. She noted, "Recently, throughout the nation, there have been a variety of incidents which received media attention, in which African Americans have been subjected to police intervention while engaged in everyday activities."

Kaplan was referring to incidents that made national news including one when the police were called to respond because two African American men were waiting for a colleague at a Starbucks. The men were not engaged in criminal activity.

"Recently, this took place in Oakland, when police were called to respond to African Americans having a BBQ by Lake Merritt," Kaplan said in her statement.

"It is important to ensure that we provide a community that is welcoming to all people, and that we build a shared understanding that allows for the respectful use of our shared public space," Kaplan said.
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