Last Saturday, members of the Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC) joined with Oakland City Councilmember Carroll Fife, who organized a broad-based community demonstration of support for the Asian residents that have recently suffered violent attacks since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the country.
Besides the name-calling and other overt and subtle racism that have arisen with the encouragement of former Pres. Donald Trump, at least 20 attacks and robberies have occurred in Oakland’s Chinatown since the New Year, mostly targeting women and elders.
To support Oakland’s Asian businesses and residents, Fife and ICAC organized a caravan demonstration of support of about 50 vehicles. They started in DeFremery Park and wended their way up 14th street and over Webster street to the heart of Chinatown at Ninth street where they were greeted informally by about 25 business owners who showered the demonstrators with tea and snacks.
District 2 representative and City Council President spoke from the back of a pick-up truck where she was briefly joined by Fife.
The caravan then continued, passing Laney College and then up International boulevard to China Hill by San Antonio Park, traveling through a section of Oakland’s Little Saigon.
Although this is the only event of its kind planned at this time, ICAC President Rev. Ken Chambers said he hoped that a more formal meeting between the Asian and Black communities can be arranged in the future.
“I am very appreciative of the community efforts and leadership of Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato-Bas, Councilmember Carroll Fife and the Black Housing Union promoting unity, solidarity and peace in the streets of Oakland,” said Chambers who is pastor of West Side Missionary Baptist Church.
“I am saddened by the tragic events that happened in Oakland Chinatown, yet very happy for the leadership of Councilmember Carroll Fife in organizing last Saturday’s caravan of solitary throughout the Oakland communities,” said Rev. Thomas Harris, pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church and a founding member of ICAC.
Michelle Chambers, director of the FAITHS Program of the San Francisco Foundation, said she would send an announcement of the demonstration of support for Oakland Asian residents to other faith-based institutions in the five Bay Area counties that are members of the FAITHS program to encourage expanded support for the Asian population in the Bay Area.