Oakland, Calif., Sept. 15 — Led by the dockworkers union, members of Oakland’s Black community are organizing to stop a baseball stadium project from further gentrifying the city and pushing longtime Black residents out.
“The Black community is under siege,” International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 past secretary Derrick Muhammad told a recent meeting of the East Oakland Stadium Alliance, “by forces that would like to relocate the Oakland Athletics from the existing Coliseum ballpark in East Oakland to Howard Terminal in rapidly gentrifying West Oakland – and drive us out.
“This is emanating from City Hall, from real estate developers, from the Fisher family that owns the Gap clothing chain … and from a police department that’s working in tandem to drive Black people out.”
Speaking at the Acts Full Gospel Church, Muhammad asked, “Why are they building a light rail down East 14th Street in East Oakland? Did any of you ask for that? Don’t forget it was 50 years ago when they destroyed our thriving West Oakland Black community — pushing us out so they could build BART stations, railroad tracks, and a huge postal facility smack dab in the middle of our neighborhood — followed by loss of factory jobs, the introduction of crack cocaine, and a wrecking ball for our homes, music clubs and mom-and-pop stores.
“Now they are promising 6,000 permanent jobs at a new ballpark, hoping to convince a marginalized, oppressed community to support their project,” said Muhammad. “Ask yourself: How does 81 home games produce 6,000 jobs?
“This is a land grab by the rich. This is the de-industrialization of another major urban center, like they did to Detroit. They even want to grab Howard Terminal, which is part of the working port of Oakland.”
Danny Glover, actor and activist, whose postal worker family also experienced being pushed out of housing by greedy developers in the San Francisco Bay Area, told the church gathering: “We’ve seen too much. We know too much.
“There was a time when Oakland was 50 percent Black. Now more and more people are living in tent cities. Renters are being forced out. The carpetbaggers are coming in, and schools are being privatized,” Glover said.
“We don’t need more playgrounds for the rich. Black people are not expendable. We’ve got to fight. We have to take our stand and defeat these maneuvers by the rich to steal the people’s land.”
Clarence Thomas, retired dock worker and past secretary treasurer of ILWU Local 10, emphasized that while the Oakland power brokers are “busy dreaming up their stadium switch idea,” it is “not a done deal.”
He said an earlier plan to relocate the ballpark near Laney College in downtown Oakland “met with such fierce community opposition it had to be abandoned.”
“Why can’t the A’s ballpark stay exactly where it is – at the Oakland Coliseum in East Oakland, on their 120 acres located conveniently right next door to a BART transit station?” Thomas asked.