Bay Area Activists Protest Racial, Economic Inequality in Days Leading up to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

In the days leading up to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, social justice advocates made their voices heard across the Bay Area.

About 100 protesters attended a Sunday rally at the San Francisco International Airport, where "police terror and gentrification" were the focal point of the meeting, according to a group Facebook post.

At the airport gathering, activists came together to march peacefully while holding a large sign that was emblazoned with "Welcome to Oakland" in red lettering.

During that occupation and another one held at the Oakland International Airport on Saturday, organizers read out the names of people shot and killed by Bay Area police officers.

"It is crucial that we continue to raise the realities of Amerikkka — particularly on a weekend when this country likes to pretend we live in a post-racial society," organizers wrote in a statement.

Also on Saturday, fast food workers and allies from Black Lives Matter at Work held a speakout at a McDonald’s in Oakland. Organizers said four people were arrested, and the fast food joint was shut down for about 2 hours.

One of the arrestees included Dan Siegel, a lawyer who was at the protest as a legal observer. The three others, whose names have not been made public, were activists. All were cited and released, police said.

More than 250 people joined the protest, where attendees blocked driveways and chanted against racial discrimination and social inequality as part of "Reclaim Martin Luther King Weekend."

Activists interspersed their calls and chants with broadcasts of Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches about economic injustice.

The protesters also called for the reinstatement of Carlton Inman, 51, a six-year-veteran of McDonald’s who was taken off the work schedule "without reason" a few weeks ago, according to the protesters.

Inman said he faced rampant racial discrimination during his tenure at McDonalds, exacerbating the hardships of low wages and unpredictable schedules.

"I was born and raised in Georgia, but I have experienced more racist discrimination working in the Bay Area fast food industry than anywhere," Inman said.

Organizers of the protest also urged Oakland leaders to expand funding for Measure FF -- the city's minimum wage law – and enforce strict no-tolerance policies for companies who retaliate against workers who speak out.

"We need the city of Oakland to have our back," said Chris Higgenbotham, an activist and former McDonald's worker. "Instead of wasting our budget on the Oakland Police Department, let’s fund programs that bring wealth into the impoverished, displaced and over-policed Black community."

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