It wasn’t exactly a restaging of the historic civil rights march across a bridge in Selma, Alabama, but Black Lives Matter-affiliated protesters in northern California managed to shut down a portion of the Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland over the holiday weekend. Dozens of activists blocked traffic Monday afternoon as part of a nationwide effort to highlight the radicalism of civil icon Martin Luther King, Jr., the Guardian reported.
“Today is the day when we reclaim MLK’s radical legacy,” April Thomas, who chained herself between stopped cars on the Bay Bridge, said during the planned protest. “I’m out here for Tamir Rice, Rekia Boyd, for my mother, myself, for Harriet Tubman,” she said.
— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) January 19, 2016
Thomas got to the bridge in a caravan of cars that slowed to a stop on the five-lane westbound span of the bridge, shortly after 3:30 p.m. local time Monday. Caravan passengers then exited the cars, passed chains through their windows and locked themselves to both sides of the bridge, according to the Guardian. Other protesters gathered around them, chanting, singing and unfurling a banner that read, “Black health matters.”
“I love black people, and all people,” Zach Norris, another one of the protesters, said during the protest. “We consistently see black folk are criminalized and killed when they have mental health issues. We’re here to say healthcare not warfare.”
— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) January 18, 2016
— ABC7 News (@abc7newsBayArea) January 19, 2016
Organizers said they shut down the bridge “to demand investment in the wellbeing of black people,” according to a statement. During the King holiday week, activists groups around the country sought to highlight the black freedom fighter’s economic justice message.
“Reclaim MLK,” an aspect of the Black Lives Matter social justice movement, calls for people of color to confront revisionist interpretations of King. Some activists have said conservatives often whitewash and water down King’s life to make his message sound more comforting than it was intended to be.
Protesters at the bridge in the San Francisco upset some honking commuters, some who existed their cars to confront demonstrators. Officers from the California Highway Patrol arrived soon after the demonstrators were in place and cut their chain links around 4:15 p.m. local time. About 24 people were arrested, according to protest organizers.