Caravan stretches across Bay Bridge to fight for social justice in policing and healthcare

A caravan stretched across the Bay Bridge Saturday evening as protestors demanded an end to police violence and racism in healthcare.

The demonstration was put together by a coalition of groups, including many healthcare professionals, all fighting for the same thing, immediate action from elected officials to end police violence and racism in health care.

A crowd of more than 100 gathered in downtown Oakland in the parking lot of Grocery Outlet to fight for social justice in policing and healthcare.

Most of them were healthcare professionals of color.

A nurse, inspired by the death of George Floyd, shared the trauma she experienced New Year’s day 2018 during a traffic stop in Hayward.

“Before I knew, I was pulled over to the side of the street. I had like guns pointed to my head than I could ever imagine. I was thinking about my daughter. I was thinking about myself,” said Mawata Kamara.

Kamara says after 9 hours of being detained, she was let go because she hadn’t done anything wrong, but was never given an explanation as to why she was stopped. 

Healthcare workers say in their profession they are held to strict moral and ethical standards and question why the same does not appear to apply to police. 

“When a nurse does something wrong, the accountability that he or she is held up to is completely different for police officers,” said Kamara.

As the Caravan left Oakland, they carried their message across the Bay.

Demonstrators say the systemic racism they are fighting also applies to their profession.

A teaching nurse at Cal State East Bay says she’s seen the problem in textbooks, powerpoints presentations, and even lessons on dealing with patients in pain. 

“They say, if you have a patient who is black, don’t necessarily believe in what they say about their level of pain,” said Claire Valderama-Wallace.

Demonstrators say they want people of color to know they are being heard and that they have advocates.

Healthcare workers say the pandemic is shining light on some of the inequities, and that it’s no coincidence people of color are being hit hard by COVID-19.

“When we look at all these statistics across injury, across chronic disease, mental health, all these kinds of categories of health, folks who are black, really when we think about the inequities are suffering the most. And it’s not by accident, it’s by design,” said Wallace.

The caravan ended at Precita Park in Bernal Heights, very close to where off-duty security guard, Alex Nieto, was shot and killed by San Francisco police in 2014.

In 2016, a jury unanimously cleared all four officers in the case.

Organizer’s of the caravan say this is just the beginning of what they call a “summer of solidarity to protect Black lives and defend Black health.”