What is the risk of catching a virus when you are told continuously that your life doesn’t matter and can be stolen from you at any time? The risk in the minds of many Black and Brown people is worth it. Rightly so, we feel enough is enough and post this pandemic, we want a world worth fighting for. One where there is a semblance of justice. One where our lives actually do matter. It’s a conundrum because we want to live but, also, we want to live.
Oakland’s Black and Latinx residents are experiencing the largest brunt of COVID-19’s devastating effects. We are being infected and dying at higher rates than any other population. COVID-19 is a disease that attacks the lungs. Weakened lungs lead to more serious symptoms and more fatalities. Be clear that the Oakland Police Department will not consider that fact before spraying the crowd with tear gas which wreaks havoc on respiratory systems. Conversely, from the standpoint of many, it wasn’t COVID-19 that stopped George Floyd’s breath Monday night, it was the knee of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin—we are clear we need to protect lives on multiple levels.
To the organizers behind Friday’s 8pm demonstration, we ask that you consider the potential impact of setting fires. In all neighborhoods of Oakland, there are people with vulnerable conditions who have contracted, or are likely to contract, COVID-19 and whose lives hang in the balance. Even if they do not attend your rally, smoke from what you burn will travel and it will do harm.
We want people to be as safe as possible. Here are some suggestions for anyone thinking of attending tomorrow’s demonstration:
Bring extra masks and hand sanitizer for others at the protest that don’t have them.
Maintain 6 feet of social distancing at all times
Attend with a protest buddy. Stay together and have the National Lawyers Guild Legal Hotline 415.285.1011 written on your arm in case you are arrested. Let your buddy know who to contact if you are.
If you are taken to Santa Rita, document conditions there—we have reports of COVID spreading and sanitation supplies not being readily available. There have been more cases of COVID in Santa Rita than the whole city of Livermore. Be aware of the health implications of being arrested, both for you and your community.
If you are Black or Brown and are arrested, please let the National Lawyers Guild know when you call. The Anti Police-Terror Project has bail funds and will work through the night to get you home.
Breaking the Shelter In Place (SIP) order has serious legal implications—it can result in a misdemeanor, punishable by jail time or a large fine—in some cases $600 to $1000—that is selectively enforced. Know this and be aware of the consequences of being in the streets if you see cops writing tickets or closing in on you.
The Anti Police-Terror Project, led by impacted communities, will be holding actions this weekend that include mutual aid for Black and Brown people tomorrow night, a virtual vigil on Saturday afternoon, and a car caravan for #GeorgeFloyd and #BreonnaTaylor on Sunday at 2:00 pm. Please check the APTP FB page for details.
Additionally, Black Oakland youth have made a call out for a demonstration Monday at 4pm beginning at Oakland Tech, and on June 3rd, there is a 4pm demonstration planned at Mission High in San Francisco. Please share these suggestions with our young people and show up to provide mutual aid for them, as well.