Activists shut down Oakland economic summit


About 60 housing activists shut down the Oakland Chamber of Commerce 2016 Economic Summit Friday morning.

Protesters locked their arms in PVC pipes to prevent attendees from entering the Kaiser Center Auditorium at 300 Lakeside Drive for the planned summit, scheduled to start at 7:30 a.m.

By 9 a.m., Friday’s event had been postponed. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf was scheduled to speak this morning.

The protesters were demanding that the mayor declare a housing state of emergency.

Spokeswoman for the protesters Carroll Fife said 25 percent of Oakland’s population has been displaced in the last decade and each day landlords evict an average of 33 households in Oakland.

But the mayor is looking for a long-term solution to an immediate problem, Fife said.

The protest was a success, Fife added:

“Now we just hope the mayor declares this state of emergency.”

President and CEO of the Oakland African-American Chamber of Commerce Cheryl Perry-League, who was at the summit to learn about the direction of the Oakland economy, said the housing crisis in Oakland has to be addressed.

But she said that it’s something to be addressed in a partnership between housing activists, business groups and city officials. She argued that the Chamber of Commerce is not against the affected groups.

Perry-League suggested discovering the way one group affects the other and then developing a strategy to address the problem.

She said the young protesters will need a job or may want to start a business, and said her vision is to see the two sides come together.

The summit was meant to explore the reasons investors and businesses are choosing Oakland as a place to invest and do business.

Protesters held signs that read, “Our housing crisis is not your profit opportunity.”

Fife said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf needs to connect with communities being affected by the housing crisis, especially the black community. That’s what the problem boils down to, Fife said.

Officials with either the mayor’s office or the Oakland Chamber of Commerce did not immediately comment on the protest. Police at 9:40 a.m. said officers had not reported any arrests.

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