If you’re on San Pablo Avenue this morning, look around — Occupy Richmond may be marching by.
About a dozen protesters representing Occupy Richmond gathered Wednesday morning on the corner of San Pablo Ave. and Macdonald Ave., before marching down San Pablo toward Oakland City Hall. (photo by: Maggie Beidelman)
About a dozen protesters — including Mayor Gayle McLaughlin — turned out Wednesday morning to join a day of action called by protesters at Occupy Oakland. The Richmond group plans to march almost 10 miles down San Pablo Avenue to join protesters gathering in Oakland’s Frank Ogawa plaza — or, as protesters have christened it, Oscar Grant square — at noon.
“We’re small in size but we’re large in heart,” Eduardo Martinez told the group. Many of those who turned out, including Martinez, are members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, which helped elect McLaughlin and City Council members Jeff Ritterman and Jovanka Beckles.
The dozen protesters — and five reporters — gathered at 8 a.m. in a stiff wind and under a rising sun, on the corner of San Pablo and Macdonald Avenues, where a Bank of America sits next to a Chevron gas station facing a Chase Bank — and San Pablo Avenue offers a straight shot south to Oakland. Passing drivers honked their support.
“In Richmond you have two entities most representative of the 1 percent,” said protester Juan Reardon. “You have the banks, and you have Chevron. The rest of us are the 99 percent.”
McLaughlin did not express much sympathy for her fellow progressive, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who has found herself in a predicament after first ordering police to evict Occupy Oakland protesters camped out in front of City Hall, and then allowing those protesters to return.
“Elected officials have to decide which side of the controversy they’re on,” McLaughlin said.
Asked what she’d do if people start camping out in Richmond’s Civic Center, the Mayor paused, noting that she hadn’t heard of any such plans. But if they do, she said, “I would support that. I would be standing with them.”
At about 8:30, the band of protesters set off down San Pablo, carrying signs and banners.
Warwick Young, who moved to Richmond 18 months ago from El Cerrito, said he came out because “I don’t see things getting any better. I see a lot of houses in foreclosure, and I don’t hear any solutions. I’m fed up.”
As they walked down San Pablo, a woman entering an office building called out, “Good morning! I wish I was with you!”
“Well, come on!” said protester Mike Parker. “It’s a general strike!”
McLaughlin said she would walk a mile or two with the protesters. The rest said they were going all the way.