“We’re at a momentous point in history right now. We’ve been taught to look up to the Civil Rights Movement, for instance… The March on Washington, 200,000 people,” Riley told protestors at Oakland’s Oscar Grant Plaza, named after the 22-year-old black man who was shot and killed by a transit police officer on New Year’s Day 2009.
“We had, these past two weeks, millions of people in the street all over the country in every single city in the United States. In little towns with 10,000 people, 2,000 people are coming out. And right now we’re at a point where people are like, ‘Okay, how the fuck do we do this? What’s the next step?’ And a lot of that question is a question of power.”
Riley continued, “What is power? How does it work? What is our power? And that’s what today is answering. Our power comes from the fact that we create the wealth. Wealth is power. We have the ability to withhold that power. We have the ability to withhold our labor, and shut shit down.”
Riley and Davis spoke as part of a June 19th protest that aligned with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which enacted a planned work stoppage at the Port of Oakland in recognition of Juneteenth.
“Thank you for shutting down the ports today, on Juneteenth… the day when we renew our commitment to the struggle for freedom,” Davis, the former Black Panthers member, told protesters. Davis also dedicated their actions to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others “whose lives have been claimed by the structural violence of racism.”
Actor Danny Glover, who planned on attending the rally but ultimately canceled for health reasons, called in to relay a message to protesters. “Let’s use this power and get it done,” Glover said (via the East Bay Times). “It’s not going to be tomorrow. It’s not going to be next month. It’s going to be a long time.” Michael Brown Sr., the father of Michael Brown, also attended the rally.