Each May 1, Oakland has a history of hosting monumental, annual May Day protests that have been led by organizations such as Oakland Sin Fronteras and Mujeres Unidas y Activas.
However, this year, Oakland's May Day immigrant rights protest is primarily being planned by Occupy Oakland organizers. The Coalition for Dignity and Resistance/Decolonize Oakland is in charge of the march, which will begin at the Fruitvale BART station. Occupy Oakland also has planned a series of rallies at the plaza throughout the day. Meanwhile, the city cancelled its original reservation of Frank Ogawa Plaza on May 1.
Karen Boyd, assistant to the City Administrator, said the Dignity and Resistance Marchers requested permits for Frank Ogawa Plaza and have planned activities from 5 to 7 p.m. She said the city had originally reserved the plaza for that day as part of the week-long festivities celebrating Oakland’s 160th anniversary. However, it recently decided that May 1 events would be held inside City Hall. Boyd explained that a movie in the council chamber and a series of speeches are planned.
“That day makes sense to do indoors,” she said. Boyd denied that the change in plans was due to the events planned by Occupy Oakland. Meanwhile, the Oakland City Council moved its May 1 meeting to 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 30.
The city looks forward to working with the Coalition for Dignity and Resistance, said Boyd.
“We’re expecting a nice, peaceful day and we are anticipating that people will be respectful,” she said. Organizers have been in close communication with the Oakland Police Department. Boyd said the city is working with them to “facilitate traffic flow and minimize traffic impacts.”
Marcel Paret, an organizer with the Coalition for Dignity and Resistance, said there are many different organizations involved in May Day protest including Occupy San Francisco, Service Employees International Union and the Alameda Labor Council. Oakland Sin Fronteras will play a key role in the march as well, he said.
The May Day march is slated to begin at the Fruitvale BART station at 3 p.m. and will wind through the city arriving at San Antonio Park and thereafter, downtown. Paret could not confirm whether they would be using the Frank Ogawa Plaza for their evening activities. However, he agreed that the coalition did have a permit for the plaza.
Occupy Oakland’s website details its May Day activities will include occupying the Golden Gate Bridge at 6 a.m., a rally at 14th and Broadway at noon, autonomous actions and then a convergence “downtown” to meet the Dignity and Resistance march at 7 p.m.
When asked about Occupy Oakland potentially overshadowing immigrant rights organizations on May Day, Paret said they are merely “building on the tradition of May Day marches in the past.”
“We’re building common struggles and fighting for the world that we wanna live in,” Paret said.