Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was hijacked by Black Lives Matter in the Bay Area on Monday as members of the movement blocked traffic on the Bay Bridge in Emeryville, citing recent police shootings as they chained themselves to five cars and formed a line, backing commuters up for nearly 45 minutes.
“We have nothing to lose but our chains,” dissidents chanted, as they blocked off three lanes of traffic. According to a press release issued by the group, the protest coincided with a nationwide effort of “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.”
— BrownBlaze (@brownblaze) January 19, 2016
The press release was issued in the Berkeley Daily Planet, and indicated that the activist groups Black Seed and Black Queer Liberation Collective took responsibility for the protest.
The #ReclaimMLK protests even sparked a response from NSA informant Edward Snowden, who touted the cause on Twitter:
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 18, 2016
According to NBC Bay Area, three westbound lanes of the bridge reopened around 4:30 p.m., about 45 minutes after protesters shut down all lanes just east of Treasure Island. Traffic was backed up for miles.
— Occupy Oakland (@OccupyOakland) January 18, 2016
It is not uncommon for protesters with the Black Lives Matter movement to accompany their activity with a list of demands. Monday’s protest came along with a hefty list, which included the incorrect spelling of Mayor Libby Schaaf’s last name as “School.”
We are here to move towards an increase in the health and wellbeing of all Black people in Oakland & San Francisco. We stand in solidarity with APTP and demand:
- The immediate divestment of city funds for policing and investment in sustainable, affordable housing so Black, Brown and Indigenous people can remain in their hometowns of Oakland and San Francisco
- The resignation of Mayor Libby School
- The immediate termination of Chief Greg Suhr
- The immediate termination of Chief Sean Whent
- The immediate termination of the officers involved in the murders of Richard Perkins, Mario Woods, Yuvette Henderson, Amilcar Lopez, Alex Nieto, Demouriah Hogg, Richard Linyard, O’Shaine Evans
According to CBS San Francisco, approximately 45 protesters were arrested. An earlier protest on the Interstate 80 off-ramp in Emeryville also caused a closure Monday afternoon. Reports indicate that the off-ramp remained closed.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.