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East Point Peace Academy Paints 14th Street

Oakland's 14th Street was speckled with people and awash with bright swatches of paint. 

It was all part of the East Point Peace Academy’s fifth day of gathering in front of Oakland City Hall. The organization's members painted traditional Native American art and a street wide message: Choose Democracy.

Founder Kazu Haga says the focus of this event is the national election. He wants to build a community to help uphold the democratic process.

It's not even necessarily about one candidate over the other, even though a lot of our communities are clearly leaning one way. It's about protecting the integrity of the democratic process. There's a lot of anxiety and concern around the possibility of an undemocratic power grab by the current administration.

He’s been concerned with the Trump administration’s comments on the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, as well as the fake ballot drop-off boxes that were popping up in Southern California. The goal of the event is to push everyone to vote, and a public art project is a great way to boost turnout.

I think art is a great way to bring people together who may not consider themselves activists and who may not go to a protest or direct action. If we're doing a direct action for the purpose of painting a beautiful mural, that may bring more people out.

The organization partnered with other community groups to host the event. And the blockade was strong-armed by 1000 Grandmothers, the climate crisis organization.

The East Point Peace Academy plans to keep building partnerships and promoting civic engagement after the election, no matter the results.

David Exumé (he/him/his) is a 2020-2021 Audio Academy Fellow. His reporting interests include music history, immigration, community organizing, and urban planning. He's previously worked at KCRW in Santa Monica and WPRB in Princeton.