The past few days have been full of grief and anger at the police brutality and injustices that continue to plague our communities. The Unity Council demands justice for Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.
While these deaths are at the forefront of public consciousness, they represent only the latest in a long line of injustice and acts of brutality that are manifestations of systemic racism and the racist economic system that has prevented low-income communities of color, like Fruitvale, from receiving equitable access to investments in our streets, businesses, homeowners, schools and parks.
We stand with the thousands of nonviolent protesters that have turned out over the past few days to demand an end to racist systems and to make clear that Black Lives Matter. Protesters of every background and identity have hit the streets to demand change, demand accountability by our elected officials and police, and to call attention to the impact of racist laws and economic policies on our people.
We understand protest. 55 years ago, our organization grew from protest, and from activists demanding change. We know that big systemic change is possible – and the tireless push by activists and demonstrators is essential for making it happen.
And while we are proud of Fruitvale’s role as a site for activism and public protest, Fruitvale residents and business owners are still in a fight for their lives with Covid-19. African American and Latinx communities are the hardest hit by Covid-19 in terms of health and economic outcomes. Fruitvale, the densest and most diverse neighborhood in Oakland, is now the epicenter of Covid-19 in Alameda County. Our Fruitvale neighbors need the basics right now – food, money, access to healthcare. The Unity Council has not let up since the Covid-19 shelter in place order began to meet these needs and protect our community. Tomorrow morning, on the very spot where there is a planned demonstration tonight, we will be serving community members food and distributing groceries. Soon, this very site will become a testing site by La Clinica de la Raza. This site is surrounded by small businesses locally owned by women, immigrants, and African American, Latinx, Asian, Arab, indigenous people. The residents that live on E. 12th, International, and Fruitvale are as diverse as the Bay Area.
Now is a time for action, and for us to lift up the voices of our Black brothers and sisters. We believe this can happen while also respecting Fruitvale neighbors and businesses. Let’s stay aware of the health risks of protest. Let’s keep our social distance, wear our masks, and if we feel sick, stay home. We can also show solidarity for our fellow community members by preventing the spread of this disease.
– Chris Iglesias, CEO