Thursday, April 3, 2008

Outreach Sunday at the Temescal Farmers Market

On Sunday, March 30th, members of the Campaign to Defeat Patrick McCullough spent four hours speaking to shoppers at the farmers market in the DMV parking lot on Claremont, giving them a different perspective on "crime" and poverty in Oakland. 

Patrick McCullough is running in District 1, which covers areas of North Oakland, for the city council seat. His claim to fame is when in 2005 he shot 15 year old Melvin McHenry in the back and was upheld by the city and white residents for his courage in standing up to "crime."

Shortly after we arrived and set up our table, McCullough himself arrived and set up right next to us. He was visibly panicked by our presence and immediately got on the phone and summoned his "security coordinator" Kevin Thomas.  An hour or so later, several North Americans showed up who are McCullough friends and supporters. McCullough and Thomas opportunistically played on the fears of the mostly white Temescal and Rockridge residents' fears of armed robberies, muggings and perceived lack of police protection. Because of our presence, McCullough was forced to address his shooting of Melvin McHenry and did so by slandering the African teenager. We also overheard him slandering Jose Luis Buenrostro Gonzalez, the 15 year Mexican high school student shot and killed by Oakland police offers on March 19th, calling him a "gang banger."

McCullough was definitely put on the defensive. We were able to get the word out to even people not wanting to stop by saying, "We are from the Campaign to Defeat Patrick McCullough who is running in this district for city council. He shot a black teenager three years ago and has been the point person for gentrifying the historically black neighborhood of Bushrod Park. We don't want that on our city council! "

Many people were interested in hearing our perspective that peace and unity in Oakland can only come through social justice and economic development. Many people were also concerned about the police murders. They didn't buy the police and media versions of the killings and wanted to have a deeper understanding of what was going on. Most people did not seem to be aware of the fact that one fifth of Oakland's households live on less than $15,000 a year. 

People thanked us for the information and were reminded of what McCullough did. One woman told us, "That guy is running? Oh no, I won't be voting for him!"

McCullough kept referring to us saying, "I'm the bogeyman that they are talking about." His camp acted extremely unprofessional towards us. One North American from their camp was taking pictures of us and said "we were going to be sued for slander."  Another guy who later was hugging McCullough told me to "go to hell."  The outreach was effective in pushing them back and showing the people the illegitimacy of his candidacy!!

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