With protests in our community over the last few days, what’s heavy on my mind and heart is the pain people are feeling because another Black brother / sister had their life unjustly taken. People across the country are saying his name: George Floyd.
George was killed last Monday by the Minneapolis Police Department and it wasn’t until last Friday that one of the officers involved was arrested. People are protesting because they demand justice - that all four officers be arrested and charged. Until that happens we should expect more protests.
Black Lives Matter
As I look at protests here in Oakland and across the country, I see the Black community demanding the right to exist safely in their bodies, in their homes and on our streets, free from government, state-sanctioned, or police violence. The vast majority of our Black neighbors and allies are demonstrating peacefully.
Here in Oakland, many have focused on the vandalism and looting, and its impact on small businesses. That’s important; our small businesses have been suffering and employ many Oaklanders. In the district I represent, Chinatown shops have been vandalized and looted, and many businesses have already been suffering since the onset of the coronavirus because of racist claims, spread by Trump, meant to target the Chinese community. Business owners and seniors who live in Chinatown - just blocks from Police headquarters - are scared and feel neglected. I’m advocating for them as they look to the City for support. There’s clearly much more hard work ahead to equitably ensure safety across our city for everyone.
Working for Police Accountability
As Oaklanders and elected leaders, we have to look in the mirror as we reflect on this weekend’s protests. It is our responsibility to condemn systemic racism, including acts of police brutality, racial profiling, and the use of excessive and militarized force. How do we work towards police accountability? There are many already leading this work inside and outside City Hall. In Oakland, these are some of the important things we should focus on for the police accountability that the public is seeking:
- Full compliance with the Negotiated Settlement Agreement of 2003 to achieve constitutional policing,
- Hiring a permanent Police Chief to build relationships and trust with the community and lead this work effectively,
- Enabling the citizen’s Police Commission to do their oversight job with necessary resources including an Inspector General and Attorneys,
- Addressing the issues and recommendations in the Police Discipline Disparity Study, and
- Shifting OPD’s budget towards non-police solutions that invest in the fundamental needs of every community member, including mental health and other services, supportive housing for homeless folks; job training and placement for those unemployed and underemployed; and counselors and restorative justice programs for young people.
White Supremacy Takes Many Forms
And Is Everywhere Around Us
We must also address anti-blackness if we see it in ourselves, our institutions, or circles; have necessary conversations, reflection, and action to help create change; and move always with courage, empathy, and accountability in solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters. We see you, we love you and we support you. We send our love and solidarity to George Floyd's loved ones, friends and communities, and to the loved ones of Breonna Tayor, Steven Taylor, Aumaud Arbery and many others.
Police violence that disproportionately impacts our Black, Brown, Indigenous and API neighbors mirrors inequities in housing, employment, healthcare, and education. Our unjust systems need a lot of attention and fixing in order for healing to truly happen. And, as an Asian Pacific American, I acknowledge anti-blackness and historical tensions in our communities. I believe Afro-Asian solidarity and community building are critical to seeing the changes we need. By lifting up our Black brothers and sisters, all of us rise together.
Supporting Our Small Businesses
We love our small Black, Brown, Asian and women-owned businesses in Oakland. Here are some ways to give support and get help:
- Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce Foundation. OCCCF has long supported the Chinatown business community and residents. Send donations/checks to: Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce Foundation, 388 9th Street, Suite 290, Oakland CA 94607.
- Oakland Indie Alliance Repaid Fund. OIA stands in solidarity with those fighting for justice and police accountability. Many storefronts of its local independent businesses have been damaged, in a time when small businesses are already struggling to survive. Donate to support repairs: oaklandindiealliance.com/repair.
- The Mayor has asked any business owners affected by events to contact her office directly at (510) 238-3141. Staff are available to provide guidance and assistance in English, Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin.
The coronovirus pandemic has shown us how interconnected and precious our lives are. Let’s stay safe, love each other and protest peacefully as we fight for justice.