Thousands of Black Lives Matter Activists Shut Down Oakland Freeway, Vandalize Police Headquarters 

Activists promise additional protests despite police killings in Dallas.

click to enlarge img_2741.jpg
At first, only a few dozen protesters stuck their necks out in front of oncoming cars, waving at drivers to stop. Some braver souls zigzagged through lanes, running and yelling in the face of honking commuters. This opened the floodgates, and soon more than 1,000 Black Lives Matters activists overtook both directions of traffic on Interstate 880 in Oakland on Thursday night. The freeway was shut down completely by 8:30 p.m. — and would remain closed for more than five hours.

As the sun fell in the sky, the protesters chanted while headlights extended into the distance. Some activists tagged graffiti on barriers and the lanes, others sat with their friends and family and chanted. A few activists set off fireworks. Others rode skateboards or played instruments.

"This is a great, great moment to be a part of history," said protester Charles Stewart while standing in the middle of the highway. He came to Oakland from Stockton to be "in solidarity" with the activists.

Video of the protesters:
Their mission was to rally against the police killings of two Black men earlier in the week, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, as part of dozens of major protests across the country. 

But many people who the Express spoke with on the freeway were at first unaware of what the rest of the nation was talking about: the killing of multiple law-enforcement officers in Dallas during a similar protest that night.

Earlier in the evening in Oakland, thousands rallied peacefully at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza out front of City Hall. A group of pastors and activist leaders fired up the crowd.

"No one wants to be here. We had other things to do. But it's time," Pastor B.K. Woodson told the audience. "It's time to take our rights. It's time to shut this city down."
click to enlarge Activists overtake Interstate 880.
  • Activists overtake Interstate 880.
Oakland police estimate that 2,000 people marched through downtown. "I have a father, and a brother and a daughter, and what's going through my mind is that I'm in fear for them every single day. I'm not afraid for him to be in Oakland, I'm afraid for his drive home. ... I'm afraid for his life," said La Rae of Vacaville, while marching on Broadway.

Jeffie Freeman of Oakland said she felt sadness, fear and anxiety when she learned of Castile's death. "I feel like I'm going to be the next target, because of the color of my skin," she said. "And all my brothers and sisters, my cousins and my family, are going to be the next target. And this shit needs to stop. ... Something needs to happen."

She says she refuses to watch the Castile video because it desensitizes the rest of America to the Black community.
click to enlarge Activists stood on the median and chanted "Hands up, don't shoot."
  • Activists stood on the median and chanted "Hands up, don't shoot."
Some activists told the Express that California Highway Patrol often block freeway onramps during large protests, but last night activists freely walked onto Interstate 880.

As drivers sat in their cars, they soon learned about the shooting of law-enforcement officers in Dallas during a Black Lives Matter protest in that city. But most commuters told the Express that they weren't nervous about the protest on 880, which they referred to as calm.

"I'm not sure what the right answer to all of this is, but I agree that something has to be done. And if that means closing the highway — well, I'd appreciate if I was already home," said Kim Fellows-Peak of Alameda.

Franklin Green of Oakland remained stuck in his car for more than four hours. "I think the protest is all right, but killing somebody else, especially police, they didn't do nothing, they're just doing their job," he said.

Gabriel Pina of Pittsburg was stuck on the freeway with his sister, who was headed to the airport for a flight to Las Vega
click to enlarge Protesters converge on Oakland police headquarters last night.
  • Protesters converge on Oakland police headquarters last night.
s. "It sucks that we missed the plane, but this is a bigger cause," he told the Express.

The numbers thinned out after a few hours, and CHP finally began herding protesters off of the freeway just before midnight

During the night's events, Oakland police headquarters was heavily vandalized with multiple anti-cop graffiti tags (including a long penis extending across the building's facade), a broken window, and buckets of red paint splashed on the entrance.

A police spokesperson confirmed at least one arrest but did not yet comment on additional arrests from the freeway incidents.

Protesters announced a plan on social media to shut down another East Bay freeway, Interstate 80, this weekend.

Look for additional coverage in next week's Express.

click to enlarge cm0hxujumaawcn6.jpg


Comments (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments will be removed.

Readers also liked…

Latest in News

  • OPD Cop Caught Making Apparent False Statements After Injury Crash

    An Oakland police officer claimed he 'stopped fully' before smashing into a motorcyclist and even lectured the person he hurt. But a nearby surveillance camera contradicts his account.
    • Nov 7, 2018
  • Guns Versus Birds at the Point

    Environmentalists and Alameda residents are upset that the sheriff’s office held an Urban Shield military-like training exercise at a nature preserve and bird refuge.
    • Oct 31, 2018
  • Alameda Officials Help Mayor Hide Missing Cash

    Alameda's interim city manager and city attorney say emails among top officials discussing Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer's refusal to pay back $100 must be kept secret.
    • Oct 31, 2018
  • More »

Author Archives

Most Popular Stories

  • The Problems With Bioplastics

    People mistakenly try to recycle them, thereby contaminating the waste stream. Plus, they're not really compostable.
  • The East Bay's Tow Hustle

    Towing companies are taking cars illegally, and it's costing people. One of the worst offenders is PPI Towing of Oakland.
  • Towing for Dollars in Alameda

    Since 2013, more than 1,400 vehicles have been towed from one West End apartment complex by one company: PPI Towing.
  • Pro-Tenant and Pro-Housing

    East Bay voters made it clear that they favor candidates who advocate not only for more renter protections and more homeless services, but also, more housing.
  • OPD Cop Caught Making Apparent False Statements After Injury Crash

    An Oakland police officer claimed he 'stopped fully' before smashing into a motorcyclist and even lectured the person he hurt. But a nearby surveillance camera contradicts his account.

Special Reports

Fall Arts 2018

Our Picks for the Best Events of the Fall Arts Season

The Queer & Trans Issue 2018

Stories about creating safe spaces in the Queer and Trans community.

© 2018 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation