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.
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.