It's been a week of protest over the failure of two grand juries to indict police officers in the killings of black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and the New York City borough of Staten Island. The media have focused on protesters who have swarmed freeways, blocked trains and vandalized businesses in San Francisco and the East Bay. A quieter but perhaps more powerful protest in Oakland last weekend targeted a Bay Area ritual: weekend brunch.
Last Saturday in the city's affluent Rockridge neighborhood, a few dozen young folks, mostly people of color, quietly walked into cafes and restaurants. After a short announcement, they began reading the names of African-Americans killed by police across the United States.
Dozens of names were recited: "Jamel Canney: 13 years old. Kenneth Harding: 19 years old. Raheem Brown: 20 years old" and so on. Each name was followed by the declaration, "Ashe." That's a word from West Africa's Yoruba language meaning roughly, "So it is."
The scene was repeated in restaurants and cafes up and down College Avenue, including Crepevine, the Claremont Diner and Zachary's Pizza.