Culture Wars/Current Controversies

In The Birthplace Of Black Panthers, Black Leaders Battle Anti-Police Activists

Oakland is the site of an emerging normie coalition for public safety

No city has played a larger role in creating the Black Lives Matter movement than Oakland, California. In 1966, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale created the Black Panther Party For Self Defense there. In the 1990s, progressive CNN commentator Van Jones built his police and criminal justice reform organization in Oakland. In 2009, the killing of Oscar Grant by a BART transit officer resulted in anti-police protests so intense that 80 were arrested. And in 2012, after the killing of Trayvon Martin, Oakland activist Alicia Garza wrote “Black Lives Matter” on Facebook, and a movement was born.

In 2020, in response to the killing of George Floyd, Oakland was one of the major flashpoints of the national wave of protests against police violence. The city’s downtown was engulfed in riots. Arsonists started over 100 fires. Hundreds of stores were looted, particularly in Chinatown. Oakland’s city council, following the demands of Black Lives Matter activists, voted to cut $18 million from the Mayor’s proposed police budget, slash the number of future police academies from six to four, and put a hiring freeze on 50 vacant positions.

But today, some of the most prominent and respected black community leaders in Oakland, including the NAACP, church ministers, violence prevention advocates, and a former City Council member, are criticizing the Mayor and anti-police groups at public rallies and in interviews. The protests have attracted support from the city’s Asian leaders, too, despite the fact that the mayor, Sheng Thao, is the child of Hmong immigrants. Oakland, a city of 441,000 people across the Bay from San Francisco, is 22% black, 27% Latino, 16% Asian, and 29% white.


Leave a Reply