Davey D is a legendary, pioneering hip-hop journalist and the founder of Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner. He has also lived in Oakland, California, for decades, chronicling the volatile social movements throughout the region. Here I interviewed him about why many in the Bay Area are greeting the arrival of the Super Bowl not with parties but protest.
Dave Zirin: How would you describe the mood in the Bay Area about the Super Bowl? What are you seeing?
Davey D: There’s a lot of anger and a lot of concern over two main things. First, the Super Bowl is coming at a time when massive amounts of people have been displaced. So, it’s added insult to injury to see this pageantry, all this money being spent, record amounts of police, elected officials falling all over themselves, while you have folks who gave this region its soul and its heart who can’t afford to live here anymore. Downtown Oakland used to be a place that a lot of people didn’t go to, then there were folks who are artists who said, “We’ll make this space our home.” So you they moved into a lot of those rundown buildings, fixed them up, made it a destination place, and now they’ve been replaced. You go to some of these places downtown and you’ll see a hamburger selling for $15 dollars!
The second thing that’s going on are all the police killings that have been taking place. The most egregious is the killing of Mario Woods, which happened in early December over in the Hunter’s Point area. Here’s a guy who was walking away from the police, he was surrounded by about 12 police officers who claim they felt their life was threatened. They shot him down in a hail of bullets. That comes on the heels of a number of killings. The other notable one was the killing of Alex Nieto which happened a year before. A security guard, who was on his way to work, had a Taser to his side, was in his neighborhood, Bernal Heights, and was eating a burrito. I believe it’s been reported that somebody saw him, didn’t recognize him, so we assume that’s a gentrifier, who called the police and said, “There’s an armed man.” They showed up, and—from a distance of 75 to 100 feet or yards away—shot him. Then of course the texting scandal which followed the Alex Nieto thing, which is that officers were caught sending racist and homophobic text messages, both on and off duty. There was a promise that they would be fired. That hasn’t happened.
Why protest the Super Bowl in connection with these issues?
I’m sure people would say, “Why don’t you petition your government officials, elect people to office, or follow a prescribed path to address your grievances?” And that has happened. People put Kamala Harris into office and Kamala Harris has disappeared. Diane Feinstein said she would do something. And she has disappeared. Ed Lee, the mayor, people were told he has a civil-rights background and he wouldn’t let these things happen on his watch. And he’s disappeared. And the list goes on and on. And when I say they disappeared, I mean they’ve very clearly chosen a side. They’ve chosen the side of the developers, they’ve chosen the side of the techno-archy, and they’ve chosen the side of the police unions. Even though their main support came from people in these respective communities being victimized. People have been going to City Hall and done everything that you’re supposed to do and that’s been ignored. So when that happens, you have to start hitting people where it hurts. You’ve got to let them know that this will not be business as usual. You will understand when you come to the Bay Area that your consciousness will be pierced, that this is not the tourist spot that’s all hunky dory, and that’s playing out.