Martin Luther King Jr. Day inspires marches through East Bay

Martin Luther King Day marchers at Fruitvale Station in East Oakland.

Jesse Sutterley

Martin Luther King Day marchers at Fruitvale Station in East Oakland. More photos in the gallery below.

Jesse Sutterley, Staff member

Friday Jan. 16 was the beginning of the Martin Luther King 96 hours of action weekend with protests being held across the bay area and the United States. The weekend actions ended on Martin Luther King Jr. day, Monday January 19th as a large group massed in front of the Fruitvale BART station where Oscar Grant was shot and killed in 2009.

The protest began Monday morning at 5 a.m. in front of the Oakland Mayor’s home where protesters stood outside chanting “Wake up the Mayor.”

Around 11:00 in the morning, the group arrived at Fruitvale BART station where speeches were given from the back of a truck where a stage had been built.

Among the speakers was Wanda Johnson, the mother of Oscar Grant, a performance from hip hop artist Opium Sabbahfounders from Oakland’s Black Brunch chapter, and Cyndi Mitchell, mother of Mario Romero an African American man who was shot and killed by police in Vallejo California. Speeches were given until 1 o’clock when the march officially started.

“We are marching from 35th to 70th,” one of the organizers said over a bull horn. “The babies are leading the march!”

Protesters parted and let a group of children lead the march down to 37th Ave. before the truck pulled ahead of them playing Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech and King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech.

This march was much more organized than previous ones held around the Bay Area. Organizers had walkie talkies so that they could communicate with one another a few blocks away while other protesters directed traffic. The protest was completely peaceful as upwards of two thousand people marched in the streets chanting “It’s 2015 and I still have to protest (stuff).”

The march came to a peaceful conclusion near the Oakland Coliseum but not before the BART station was closed down across East Oakland.