Lake Merritt

On the 27th of September, the Oakland Police Department received a call about a small group of Black and Latino drummers. The same resident by name of Sean McDonald took it upon himself to verbally assault the drummers and approached drummer Theo Williams in attempt to grab his wrists and forcefully take away his drumsticks. However, when police showed up they were in favor of the white resident and accused the drummers of assault that led to more officers to arrive at the “scene.” The group did not find a resolution until one in the morning, which resulted in several drummers received multiple citations which sparked a social media debate on issues surrounding police brutality, gentrification and racial profiling.
Theo Williams, founder of Caribelinq, a group of local artists that set up events in Oakland organized in response to the injustices faced that night to address them during a City Council meeting held on Tuesday September 29th. People of the community gathered outside of City Hall in support of Williams’ and began a drum circle in response to the injustices faced by policing of harmless cultural activities in order to reclaim the spaces that embrace cultural diversity and harmony that is now being profiled and criminalized. Discussions around the criminalization of people of color occupying the park has encouraged activism towards higher rent costs and city ordinances that prohibit musical instruments in the Lake Merritt area, among these transgressions faced as a result of Oakland’s process of gentrification and the expulsion of brown and black bodies.

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Kelly Ortiz, “Lake Merritt,” Street Stories: Oakland, accessed March 20, 2018,
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