“What do we want? Gun control! When do we want it? Now!”
“No justice, no peace. No racist police.”
Both of those chants are common refrains heard in countless protests across the country — the former at gatherings calling for stricter gun laws and the latter at rallies condemning police brutality. But a group of high school students organized a protest — called #NEVERAGAIN X #BLACKLIVESMATTER — aimed at connecting the two themes Saturday.
About 100 protesters marched through Oakland late that afternoon, chanting and waving signs with slogans that brought attention to both police shootings of unarmed black men and demands for stricter gun control.
Led by the Youth Power Collective, protesters marched onto the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard, where they sat silently for between five to 10 minutes, blocking traffic. They then marched west down Fifth, turned onto South Bouquet Street and marched east down Forbes Avenue before forming a standing circle at the intersection of Forbes and Bigelow.
High school student Nia Arrington led many of the chants, her voice cracking toward the end of the hour-long protest.
“If you think police are not part of gun violence, you are the problem,” she yelled into a megaphone. “Police violence is gun violence.”
Chelsea Calfo, 18, took part last month in a walkout at her high school, organized to protest lawmakers’ inaction on gun control after the shooting in Parkland, Florida. But she said the Black Lives Matter movement was excluded from the conversation in the walkout and in the Never Again movement, which was started by Parkland survivors.
Bridget Deasy, 18, also came to the protest to show support for people of color who feel excluded from the current gun control movement.
“All students of all colors and all races — we are fed up,” Deasy said.
The march was briefly interrupted by a man who said it was disruptive. Though he considered himself a “leftist” and said he was a Bernie Sanders donor, he thought the protest — which was preplanned and police-escorted — was interfering with working people.
Deasy said the protest brought more awareness to the work students are doing on these issues. She said “even the man who didn’t agree with us” now knows how they feel.
Many of the chants and signs called on people who agreed with the protest’s messages to be more active in calling for change.
“You can’t sit at home and watch CNN and cry about gun violence,” she said.