USA

Man with gun disrupts MLK Jr. caravan in Alameda

In celebration of “the radical legacy” left behind by Martin Luther King Jr., a mass car caravan organized by the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP) set out to travel from the Port of Oakland to the home of Alameda District Attorney Nancy O’Malley while calling for restorative justice and the reinvestment of the Oakland Police Department budget into community resources.

As the group rolled through Alameda neighborhoods, they encountered a sight all-too-familiar to the 1960s civil rights leader they intended to honor: an apparently white man, brandishing a rifle-like gun, telling them to go home.

It was enough to disrupt the caravan at least temporarily. After organizers from Community Ready Corps spoke with the man, they signaled for the hundreds-car long caravan to shift course and avoid the street the gun-brandishing man had been stalking.

It is unclear if the man lived in the area and there is no indication the man discharged the weapon. Requests for comment by SFGate have gone unanswered by the Alameda Police Department and the district attorney’s office.

Undeterred by the armed counter-protester, Brooks and the caravan concluded their demonstration at DA O’Malley’s house just as they had planned.

“We got there. It was a victory,” APTP founder Cat Brooks told SFGATE in a phone conversation. “Security, which was ready, they let us know there was a man carrying a rifle, and it was our responsibility to get everyone out there safely, and that’s what we did.”

Today’s events, she added, exemplified the power of a community-focused safety initiatives that activists have been calling for in the Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police activist movements.

“It’s the perfect example of ‘we take care of us,’” Brooks said. "As we talk about and build non-911 responses to community crises, the first thing critics want to talk about is the one- to two-percent [of violent incidents requiring intervention], maybe more now that white conservative and white supremacist forces want to have their end of the conversation with weapons. That’s what happened today. And community-trusted security were able to deal with the would-be assailant, and because they had the trust of community, they were able to effectively and efficiently get everyone to safety.”

Even in the face of white resistance, Brooks insists on claiming victory from the day’s demonstration.

“We consider today a win. This is a beginning not an end. This is a continuum of the demands for justice for Oscar Grant. And Nancy can expect to see more of us until she does the right thing,” Brooks said.

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