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Black Lives Matter Protest at Alameda City Hall Today

About two-dozen people chanted and raised signs at City Hall today. (Action Alameda News)

About two-dozen people chanted and raised signs at City Hall today. (Action Alameda News)

Emotions rose and turned into a couple of heated exchanges today at Alameda City Hall during a protest intended to show solidarity with the nationwide anti-police brutality movement. It was an all-white crowd.

About two-dozen protesters assembled in front of City Hall this afternoon, chanting “Black Lives Matter” and holding signs with a similar message.

But they also chanted “All Lives Matter” and held corresponding signs, seemingly unaware that the message has been used by some to diminish the anti-police brutality movement.

When Sé Sullivan, a Caucasian person who identifies as genderqueer, arrived on the scene, he Sé pointed this out to protest organizers, and arguments ensued.

Sullivan was accused of shouting down other protesters and taking over.

He Sé told Action Alameda News that the problem with the “All Lives Matter” assertion was that it re-centers the issue on whiteness.

“I’m not going to join them,” he Sé said, regarding a planned march down Park Street sidewalks.

Graphic circulating on Facebook in response to the All Lives Matter assertion.

Graphic circulating on Facebook in response to the All Lives Matter assertion.

Michelle Blair, an organizer of the event, said, “I organized what I hope is going to be a peaceful rally, to spread awareness that there needs to be change in the justice system so that people are tried differently, and that as far as we’ve come, we still have a long way to go for people to be looked at equally. It’s really about equality.”

Of the “All Lives Matter” issue, she said, “I didn’t use it with the intent to diminish the movement, I meant we’re all in this…I’m kind of liking this chant, Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter.”

She subsequently led most of the crowd down Santa Clara Avenue to Park Street to Encinal Avenue.

Over the course of an hour, Action Alameda News could identify only Caucasians as members of the rally.

Shortly after the 2pm start time, three African-American men and one African-American woman, carrying pieces of a drum kit, approached the southwest corner of Oak Street and Santa Clara.

Asked about the protest, they said it was “amazing” but that they hadn’t heard of it, and that they were waiting for a bus.

None would give their name for the record.

10 comments to Black Lives Matter Protest at Alameda City Hall Today

  • Stephen Hutchison

    You are missing the point, its not just blacks its everyone! The problem is police accountability, misconduct including murder is investigated by the prosecution machine that the police are the teeth of! Read the APD misconduct review procedure, its done by Police!!

    By those who are in charge of the cop on the street! Whose version are they going to back? Without video forget it.The napster exec killed by a cop emailing? White, the man in Salt lake city whose dog was murdered on an illegal search, WHITE, the list goes on and on.

    Common decency is a trait sorely lacking in todays breed of LEOs…They all want to be soldier of fortune commandos but get paid fat overtime and retirement…Check the Alameda payrolls and see for yourself what these guys make!

  • Michelle Blair

    As the organizer of yesterday’s rally at Alameda City Hall, I much prefer the article that “The Alamedan” ran this morning, “Alamedans Protest Police Killings”: http://thealamedan.org/news/alamedans-protest-police-killings.

    The reporter, Michele Ellson, spent time talking with me, with others in the crowd (including Se Sullivan), and walked down Park Street and back with us, staying for the full arc of the event. In doing so, she witnessed the immense support we received from the people in our town – yes, mostly white – and the support of the African-Americans who joined us later in the rally, some of them carrying “Black Live Matter” signs, some carrying “All Lives Mattered” signs.

    It is correct that an unfortunately racist faction of Americans are using the “All Lives Matter” slogan to deflect focus from justice for African-Americans. Obviously, that was not our attention. We used the slogan, along with “Black Lives Matter,” to be inclusive: focus on “blacks” outright in one sign; and focus on “all” in another, because, if the racist argument is everything’s-fair-and-equal-there’s-no-prejudice, then writing “all” puts a spin on the racist take. Get it? I would have been happy to clarify our reasoning for including the potentially-offensive slogan, but I was too busy trying to defuse someone’s needless anger. You can see a similar and powerful sign by the SEIU, stating the same: http://www.seiu.org/assets_c/2014/11/Ferguson-FP-share-thumb-580×580-8130.jpg

    I was disappointed that the writer of this article in Alameda Action News chose to focus on the single small disruption that occurred as a result of this semantic argument, rather than on the spirit of the rally – to spread awareness, to stand in solidarity with everyone who is protesting across this country, and to urge justice for “all” – a spirit that I feel was achieved.

    Michelle Blair
    Alameda resident

  • Michelle – you may have been doing yourself and your group a disservice… at least one local Black Lives Matter organizer interpreted your event as one intended to deflect from the cause of the movement. He was an organizer of the Christmas Tree disruption protest, and his invitation described Alameda as a place “with a history of racial discrimination by the police department, in housing, and the school system.” (I took pains to explain to him via Twitter that was not your intent.) See his tweet below:

    https://twitter.com/Rasheed_Shabazz/status/544274704010608641

    And, as it happens, I – we, in fact, my son and daughter were with me – marched with the group down Park Street to Encinal and the gas station. You didn’t see us because we were at the back of the march. On the march back, I observed a Caucasian woman in a Park Street store front raising her fist in the ‘black power’ sign – she chanted “Black Lives Matter” but as best I could tell, she refused to chant “All Lives Matter”

    And I did include in the story your explanation of the All Lives Matter slogan.

    There is great irony that a group of white people – however well-intentioned – would persist in using the slogan even after being told of the problems with it, and that you would continue to insist on the righteousness of your use of the term. Do you intend to be telling the black movement what’s best for them?

    You may have noticed that other groups – I saw a picture on Facebook yesterday – have expressed their solidarity with signs saying “[our ethnic group] showing solidarity – #BlackLivesMatter”

    Here is some history of the #BlackLivesMatter slogan, which includes an explanation of why All Lives Matter is problematic
    http://blacklivesmatter.com/a-herstory-of-the-blacklivesmatter-movement/

  • Michelle Blair

    Thank you for clarifying this for me, David. I hope that those who felt that our intentions were not in solidarity will forgive me. I hope you know that I don’t “intend to be telling the black movement what’s best for them.” I also appreciate your telling the tweeter of my intentions. Fortunately, I didn’t offend those African-American who were indeed at the rally at the end. I will cease from using “All Lives Matter” further in order not to create such misinterpretation and ill feelings. That is utterly not my message. I humbly apologize.

    Michelle.

  • These are complicated issues that are very difficult to talk about for most people.

  • SH

    David,

    You say “..one local Black Lives Matter organizer interpreted your event as one intended to deflect from the cause of the movement.” Using the speech of one person to represent his race (or his movement) in any significant way is a nice way of looking at things.

    You say “I observed a Caucasian woman in a Park Street store front raising her fist in the ‘black power’ sign – she chanted “Black Lives Matter” but as best I could tell, she refused to chant “All Lives Matter.” – I’ll consider this a lesson as to how white people ought to behave when dealing with human rights issues.

    You’ve given us as quote as to the racism behind the statement with which I agree – I’m going to use that quote, and not any one of a dozen reputable counter-quotes pointing out that using the enemy’s sword against him is a good tactic, when I want to argue this chapter of racial politics.

    My daughter, who is lesbian and African-American, tells me that I should not presume to speak for her or to quote her as representative lesbians, African-Americans, or women. She doesn’t understand that for us liberal white people, speaking for others is embedded in our DNA.

    Thanks – keep up the good work.

  • Karen

    There was a black man who was on the southwest corner of Santa Clara and Oak who crossed the street and started leading the group in a chant “black lives matter, all lives matter.” Ii is my opinion that he was influential in the decision to keep that chant. Personally, I do believe it did deflect from the original point of the rally.

  • Are you referring to the African-American man who got everyone to line up on the curb and pulled out his camera to film them?

    I was afraid that his intent in filming was to show the world that Alameda has a bunch of racist white crackers chanting “all lives matter”…

  • SH, whose comment I previously approved, even though I couldn’t confirm a real name in keeping with our comment policy, just submitted another comment, nasty and sarcastic.

    Readers may view his/her previous comment in that light, with a new perspective.

    P.S. It’s clear that SH doesn’t have anything constructive to offer, but just wants to be (anonymously) nasty for nasty’s sake.

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