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1965 Demonstration against police brutality and lack of black policemen in Oakland


On September 25, 1965 a protest was held in the immediate neighborhood of Oakland Police Chief Edward Toothman.   The crowd of several hundred black and white demonstrators picketed with signs, songs and chants.  The Chief appeared and talked to some of those present, and a contingent of motorcycle police made its presence known, without engaging the crowd.  


The purpose of the protest was to call attention to the hiring practices of the Oakland Police Department (OPD) and to widespread incidents of police brutality.   Black people were being arrested in much larger proportion than whites, and police violence against blacks was a persistent experience of the black community. Among the demonstrators was a group of young black Oakland men organized by black community activist Mark Comfort.  The "Amboy Dukes" appeared with picket signs announcing "Oakland cops should live in Oakland," and "Burn, Baby, Burn."

The OPD had long been one of the most controversial urban law enforcement agencies in America, with a string of high-profile criminal and brutality allegations going back decades.  Partly in reaction to the brutal treatment of black Oaklanders by white police, the Black Panthers were formed in 1966, with the intention of "policing the police" and providing armed resistance when members of the community were attacked by police.


Demonstration on the street in front of the home of Oakland Chief of Police  Edward Toothman


A young lady singing at the demonstration, "blissed out" by the support shown for black Oakland residents.


Police Chief Toothman works at appearing to be in control.  

Teens demonstrate for cops that live in Oakland and look like the people in the community they serve.


It wasn't just about jobs.  It was about the notorious brutality of white Oakland cops towards black people. 


Some of the young Oakland men organized by Mark Comfort, community activist..


Mark Comfort and the Amboy Dukes.  Mark was a charismatic activist and a talented musician on the congas.


Popular, genial Comedian Dick Gregory showed up to lend his support.


Oakland motorcycle cops were called in.  They weren't needed, and weren't particularly provocative.  

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