Oakland Lifts City Curfew After Thousands Defied It Wednesday

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Thousands of demonstrators gather at Frank Ogawa Plaza protesting the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew from in Oakland on June 3. Nationwide curfews were set in major cities to stop the violence and looting in response to the George Floyd protests. Yesica Prado / San Francisco Public Press

UPDATE 6/4/2020 5:42 p.m. Updates first four paragraphs to reflect decision to rescind curfew, and revises throughout to eliminate repetitive information.

Oakland’s City Council ended the city’s contentious curfew order Thursday afternoon, Mayor Libby Schaaf announced in a tweet.

“Effective immediately, Oakland is lifting the curfew. We will continue to facilitate safe spaces for our residents to demonstrate and express themselves peacefully and passionately,” Schaaf wrote. “As a native Oaklander, I am proud of our city’s long tradition of fighting for social justice.”

The decision came hours after the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office rescinded its curfew order following days of demonstrations lasting well past the curfew.

Community organizers supporting the protests pushed for more change. They called for Schaaf to defund the police department and make concrete changes to show that she is working to combat racism in the police force.

“The state did not ‘allow’ us to protest, as Libby Schaaf is attempting to reframe it, now that she has seen what our coalition created,” said the nonprofit Anti Police-Terror Project in a statement.

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Protesters call to “Defund the Police” to stop police brutality and reinvest money back into the community at Frank Ogawa Plaza on June 3. In unity, the crowd chanted “Ain’t no power like the power of the People.” Yesica Prado / San Francisco Public Press

A coalition of 21 community organizations Wednesday called Oakland’s 8 p.m. curfew a racist policing measure and pressed for the mayor to lift it immediately and defund the police force.

The coalition said the Oakland Police Department used the curfew as an excuse to assault the crowd at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest Monday night with flashbang grenades and tear gas and arrest over 100 people. Arrestees included many young black protesters, as well as some homeless residents and essential workers who were not taking part in the protest. The coalition, led by the Anti Police-Terror Project, demanded that protesters be released and that charges against them be dropped.

“Curfew is a dangerous tool and precedent that serves to suppress the right to assemble and resist police brutality and white supremacy,” said Saabir Lockett, special projects coordinator of the East Bay Alliance For A Sustainable Economy, a member organization of the coalition. “This simply increases police power, and those targeted for breaking curfew will disproportionately be black people and folks of color.”

In addition to the call to release arrestees, the coalition listed six key demands as well as a catalog of concrete changes that can be made.

The coalition called for Oakland to end its curfew, which had been set to continue indefinitely, divest certain funds from the police department and reinvest in the community. The Oakland Police Department receives 44.59 percent of the city’s discretionary spending budget.

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Protesters build a memorial with flowers, candles, and art for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor outside the boarded-up doors of the Downtown Wine Merchants building in Oakland. Yesica Prado / San Francisco Public Press

The organizations also asked that Sheriff Greg Ahern be removed as director of Emergency Management so that he can no longer impose curfews. In addition, the group demanded Oakland Unified School District cancel its contract with the Oakland School Police Department. Other demands detailed exactly how the city should allocate funding toward supporting issues such as homelessness, health care and anti-racist policies.

“True public safety is not necessarily only about protecting property, but it’s making sure that folks have housing and education and food and jobs,” said Jessamyn Sabbag, executive director of Oakland Rising. “We want to see our city, our county, our school boards take concrete action to invest in those things.”

We will not submit to Trump’s ‘law and order’ state,” said Cat Brooks, Co-Founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project and a mayoral candidate who ran against Schaaf in 2018. “We will not go away until we defund the Oakland Police Department.”

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The Anti-Police Terror Project and thousands of people gather on the intersection of 14th and Broadway streets, protesting Oakland’s curfew on June 3. Community leaders spoke outside the 12th street Bart plaza on a pickup truck, calling for a change in the system. As night fell in the streets of Oakland, the crowds chanted, “What about the curfew? Fuck the curfew!” Yesica Prado / San Francisco Public Press