Tag Archives: Oscar Grant Plaza

Oscar Grant Plaza

26 Oct

I’ve been reading about the #OccupyOakland protest and march last night. I was there, which makes it all the more interesting to see how it is being covered by the news. There’s a lot I want to say, but for now I just want to point out an interesting little tidbit in this article from RT.com:

For those of you who don’t know, the plaza in front of Oakland’s City Hall is called Frank Ogawa Plaza. Frank Ogawa was an Oaklander who was the first Japanese-American to be elected to a City Council seat in a major US city. He greatly improved Oakland’s trade relations with Japan, and was the main force behind the sister-city relationship between Oakland and Fukuoka, Japan.*

He was not an unarmed African-American man killed by police. That was Oscar Grant. See, the first day Occupy Oakland moved in to Ogawa Plaza, the occupation began referring to Frank Ogawa Plaza as Oscar Grant Plaza instead.  It’s been interesting to see how well its caught on. At first, blogs and news sources didn’t mention the name Oscar Grant Plaza without mentioning Frank Ogawa Plaza as well. Then it was “Oscar Grant Plaza.” Now more and more media use the name Oscar Grant Plaza with explanation. Now it seems news sources from outside the Bay Area have accepted the new name, leading to the amusing confusion above.

It is really cool to see such a clear example of making change just by pretending the change has happened. Too time consuming, bureaucratic and difficult to change the name of a public space? Don’t have elected officials that value the same people you do? Systematically excluded from the power networks of dominant society? Well, sometimes you don’t need them, you just need other people like you.

One of my favorite lines of TV dialog is from Angel:

We live as though the world is as it should be, to show it what it can be.*

I live in a world where that plaza is named in memory of Oscar Grant.

Given that I work on the plaza, I’m thinking about reprinting my business cards.