Yesterday (January 18) all lanes of the Bay Bridge going into San Francisco were blocked by #BlackLivesMatter protesters just east of Treasure Island, according to California State Troopers.
At 4pm, California activism group Black Seed, a Black and Queer liberation group, announced they’d taken the Bay Bridge and claimed responsibility for the protest. The group took this stand to show support for those who’ve been killed in recent police shootings. As many know, 2015 was one filled with senseless violence toward African-Americans by police departments nationwide (a year where injustice was captured on film, specifically). Many of the case decisions following these incidents went unjustly prosecuted, causing much civil unrest from coast to coast.
California has not seen much protest this past year in regard to these issues so Monday’s events came with some surprise.
“We are here to move toward an increase in health and well-being of all Black people in Oakland and San Francisco,” read part of the official written statement released by protesters. They were demanding the divestment of city funds in policing, investment in affordable housing, and the resignation of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff, the termination of San Francisco Chief of Police Sean Whent and several officers involved in recent shootings.
In their official release, the group stated:
“For the second year in a row, the Anti-Police Terror Project (APTP) put out a call for 96 Hours of Direct Action to reclaim Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s radical legacy and take a stand against anti-Black racism and terrorism. In a courageous display of solidarity and spirit of MLK, Black Seed, a black queer liberation collective, has shut down the Bay Bridge as a show of resistance to the system the continues to oppress Black, Queer, Brown, Indigenous, and other marginalized people throughout the Bay Area.”
At about 4:30pm, protesters cleared from the three lane highway and traffic began to flow again. Delays on the road however persisted for miles over the next couple of hours. Twenty-five protesters were arrested and several more were seen handcuffed across the side of the road, awaiting to be picked up by authorities. All 25 were placed in San Francisco County Jail and charged with misdemeanor counts of false imprisonment, creating a public nuisance and obstructing free passage.
California Highway patrol was aware of the group’s intentions prior to the protest and had officers stationed to prevent it (but obviously were not able to). Officer Vu Williams is quoted as saying: “They were able to get up on the bridge and they were able to control these lanes.”