It has been over one week since the death of Nia Wilson, an 18-year-old young woman from Oakland who was going home on Bart and was stabbed “prison-style” while trying to transfer trains with her sister.
There was a lot to digest last week. The week before, a bar called Make Westing on Telegraph posted on their facebook page that the notorious right-wing men’s group Proud Boys had contacted the bar intending to do a meet up there the Monday night this vigil happened.
Proud Boys is a right-wing group that started out supporting the Alt-Right movement, but by June of last year quickly disavowed the Alt-Right once they saw the potential violence that was being planned for the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally that happened August 12, 2017, and did in the death of Heather Heyer and many others hurt at the hands of white supremacist groups.
While Proud Boys boast a diverse roster of members that include Black, Brown, Asian, LGBTQ, etc., they are also known for rallying side by side with white nationalist groups like R.A.M. and Identity Europa. They are also known for going to rallies in what would be dubbed highly Liberal, anti-Trump leaning cities to agitate violence while documenting the fights so they can attract more eager fighters for their cause.
While Proud Boys, later on, denied contacting Make Westing bar, the damage on social media had been done by Monday night as it made its rounds all over social media throughout Oakland residents. A planned protest had already been set to take place in front of the bar to protect anyone who may be in the area.
Proud Boys did not make a comment about the bars posting and the planned protest until after Nia Wilson’s vigil happened which ended in front of Make Westing bar at the planned protest.
While Proud Boys claim they had nothing to do with the meetup, they are not reliable sources considering they also have spread rumors like the “Okay” hand sign being used to mean white power, as a joke.
While Make Westing’s bar post claims Proud Boys did indeed make plans for a meet-up, there is also not enough evidence to support they were planning the meetup other than their post.
The rumor of Proud Boys coming to host a meet up for their group in Oakland had already been circulated earlier in the week of Wilson’s death, which had heightened the communities conclusions even to assume the killer, who at the time had not been apprehended. A few accusations spread on social media that the killer was a Proud Boy or white supremacist.
The vigil march for Wilson was framed around the basis that black woman, and young black girls, need protection from threats reminiscent to the past when lynchings and Jim Crow were the rules of law.
Oaklander’s have plenty of reason to resonate with this threat. Over the last 3 months, there has been video after video of black people having the police called on them or harassed for doing normal everyday things in public spaces. From having police called on black men barbecuing at Lake Merritt while being harassedand told they don’t belong there to a homeless man’s being thrown in the lake at Lake Merritt by a white jogger, these instances have only unified Oakland while at the same time frustrated long-time residents who see gentrification as a constant threat to their ability to live peacefully in Oakland.
Last year there were numerous far right-wing rallies in neighboring Berkeley which many Oakland activists have been actively participating in to stop fascism from growing in the streets. Proud Boys have been active in all of the last years violent Berkeley rallies and have a significant part in organizing them while promoting them online.
During Wilson’s vigil as her friends and family started to talk on the bed of a pickup truck to the over 1000 attendees who marched down Telegraph Avenue from MacArthur Bart station, about 6 men walked across the street causing a disturbance. Many witnesses saw the men pointing at the truck shouting. One of the men allegedly pushed a man saying “Fuck Black Panthers” another allegedly tried to swing at him.
What followed was several of the white male agitators ran in two different directions while one was jumped by numerous people until he was rescued by police. The identity of the men is still unknown.
Following the coverage of Wilson’s death, local news channel KTVU owned by Fox affiliate had angered the community and Wilson’s family by showing her on a news broadcast with what looked like a gun being held to her ear but was actually a phone case.
Among organizers with Wilson’s family was Alena Museum of West Oakland who posted on their instagram the details for a march from their location in West Oakland to the KTVU studios at Jack London square to negotiate the families list of demands to correct news media’s portrayal of black victims.