News for the East Bay's diverse, working-class majority.

Brought to you by the Democratic Socialists of America, East Bay chapter.

East Bay DSA

June 01, 2020

“I wanted to say, we feel you Minneapolis. Solidarity.” Our interview with the student organizers behind today’s mass protest.

By Ruwi Shaikh

Two students from Oakland Technical High School have organized a non-violent march to show their solidarity with George Floyd’s family and protest the systemic racism that continues to hurt the Black community in America. The march, which begins today at Oakland Tech at 4pm, is for everyone who is opposed to police violence against Black people. 

Akil, one of the organizers, explained the necessity of movement organizing: “For me, I organized it because I felt like Oakland had to say something. At the time nothing from Oakland came up. And I wanted to say, we feel you Minneapolis. That was the original feeling behind it. Solidarity. We stand with them. We feel them.”

“I’m glad we’re fighting back,” he continued. “That’s how I feel around it. Protests aren’t the final solution but it’s natural and at the base of getting what we want. A step in the right direction. 

“Attacking the idea of protests takes away from what we’re actually fighting for, it’s a method used to get people away from the problem at hand. The oppressor has never given us anything. They teach us that the American rebels in the revolutionary war were American heroes. So are we.”

On young people being radicalized, he said, “The role of young people is to get educated on and have a deep understanding of the system we live in. There is no one way to fight, but make sure that you are getting what you intend across.”

Akil wants other students to know that it doesn’t take special knowledge to fight for what’s right. “You don’t need to be a professional organizer and super organized to fight against police brutality,” he said. “Don’t let them tell you that, no matter which sides it’s coming from. It’s not some game of checkers and chess. Don’t let someone that doesn’t know your pain tell you how to fight.”

Akil’s co-organizer Xavier is already impressed with the community response to the upcoming march. “Akil and I never thought it would become this big,” he said. “We just wanted to give our community a platform to spread their voice. It has been tough organizing. It’s been 3-4 straight days of attending meetings, answering DMS, contacting news stations, answering emails, spreading guidelines, writing speeches, getting the agenda for the march itself. There are countless more things we had to do.”

He brings light to the chronic trauma and stress faced by many Black Americans at this moment, from losing sleep to being in a perpetual state of worry. “Being face to face with people who can and will end your life over something unreasonable makes me anxious,” he said. “It’s kept me up at night. I also want the safety of the crowd secured. It’s nerve-racking stuff but it has to be done. I’m just an actor and writer who wants to change the world through the arts. This protest should be an example that anyone can organize a protest…no matter the age. Much love to the people.”

The urgency of the moment isn’t lost on the youth. They are organizing, they are radicalizing, learning, relearning, and building. When young people learn the ropes of organizing, educate themselves on crucial issues in the society that continues to harm the marginalized – the system is threatened. The failed roots of this discriminatory racist system are showing, and they’re here to uproot it, build a new one on fairness and equality. And we are ready to fight alongside them. 

The student-lead George Floyd Solidarity March is today, June 1, at 4pm. Meet at Oakland Tech. Please wear a mask and gloves, maintain 6 feet of distance from others, and support from home if you’re at high risk for Covid-19 or live with someone who is. More info here.