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Ahead of Trump’s Inauguration, Oakland’s Resistance Is Anything but Unified

Mayor Libby Schaaf calls herself part of the resistance. Black Lives Matter activist Cat Brooks calls her “an enemy of black and brown and marginalized people in the city of Oakland.” 

Scene from the protest in Oakland in the wee hours of November 9, after Donald Trump's victory. 

This Golden State is a podcast from veteran broadcast journalist Randy Shandobil. Click above to play.

San Francisco magazine and This Golden State podcast are collaborating on “The Resistance,” a portfolio devoted to the agitators, political leaders, and change agents who are fighting the incoming Trump administration on all fronts. San Francisco’s February issue will be devoted to the Resistance, with audio interviews conducted by veteran broadcast journalist Randy Shandobil, host of This Golden State. We’ll be posting Shandobil’s interviews online as they become available. 

If Trump’s
election was supposed to unite liberals against a common threat, well, it’s not always working out that way—especially in Oakland. In the latest episode of the This Golden State podcast, host Randy Shandobil interviews Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf and Anti-Police Terror Project cofounder Cat Brooks, who is also a Black Lives Matter organizer. On paper, the two agree on much: protecting Oakland’s immigrants, standing up for LGBTQ people, and finding justice for Oakland’s black and brown communities. But for Brooks, who has worked to recall Schaaf from office, the mayor has been “an enemy of black and brown and marginalized people in the city of Oakland” and “nothing but a friend to the police.”

Under the surface, some of their disagreements are fundamental: Schaaf has pledged to reform the scandal-plagued Oakland police department, declaring “I'm running a police department, not a frat house.” Brooks doesn’t believe that policing is an institution that can be reformed. “Policing was born out of slave patrols,” she says. “It’s not as if we were going along and the system was working well for black people or brown people and then all of a sudden something went awry and now we can somehow go back and fix it. Since its inception, police have been in an antagonistic position as it relates to people of color, and particularly black people in this country.”

So what does this mean for the Trump resistance? On the question of sticking together, Shandobil asks, “At some level you need to be allies, right?” To which Brooks responds: “She’s not an ally.”

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