It is Rational: The Cat Brooks for Oakland Campaign Launch
Thank you, everyone, for being here
I am literally floored by the level of community support that has poured out.
A key question that many have rightfully asked since I announced is: should activists become politicians? The answer is no. We should not become politicians. Politicians make deals on the backs of the people. Politicians put profit over the people. Politicians lead without serving. Politicians forget the people and communities that put them in office. Politicians think they have all of the answers. Politicians manipulate scheme and lie. Politicians are unaccountable.
For a long time - and still some today - I had zero interest in electoral politics. I even started a campaign for school board once that I left pretty abruptly. I enjoy organizing at the grassroots level. I enjoy being in the streets. I enjoy working in the grit and the dirt with the people. And we’ve had many victories from the ground. There is a new conversation in Oakland about where our city dollars should go in terms of safety. We’ve forced OPD to change the way they operate in our communities around use of force. We forced the charging of the officers involved in the rape scandal. We’ve supported families dealing with the worst imaginable loss. We’ve clothed and fed hundreds of people. We’ve developed new models for responding to police violence. We’ve made the term “police terror” mainstream. And we’ve built a huge base that fights like hell for liberation.
And that work has to continue regardless of who is sitting in the mayor’s chair. But serious decisions about our lives are being made in City Hall and they are being made by people who don’t actually care about our lives.
That has resulted in the mess we have now: thousands unhoused, thousands displaced, rape scandals in the police department, massive development with no benefit for the people who live here, losing a seat on the only board that could bring us funds to deal with our horrid air quality, the city colluding with ICE on raids in West Oakland, fires that have killed and displaced our community members with little recovery support from the city. The list goes on and on.
So the question becomes should activists - in partnership with the people - become actors in the electoral arena and take back our city?
You all convinced me that the answer to that question is "Yes."
And that’s what this campaign is about. It’s about putting the people into the halls of power and collectively reimagining a new way of governance that is people-driven and people-centered.
- Imagine an Oakland where Community safety policies and practices are rooted in prevention rather than criminalization.
- Imagine an Oakland where the people determine the budget priorities and how city dollars flow.
- Imagine an Oakland that truly provides sanctuary for all bodies - Black bodies, undocumented bodies, queer bodies, Muslim bodies
- Imagine an Oakland where everyone has a home and a job and quality education and the ability to thrive.
- Imagine an Oakland where developers pay to develop rather than the people paying to be developed on
- Imagine an Oakland where elected officials actually work for the people and not their own agendas
- Imagine an Oakland where the most impacted among us set the policies that govern our lives
This doesn’t have to be in our imaginations. This can be the Oakland reality. We have always been the vanguard of the country. It is a natural progression for us to be the example of what a truly progressive and inclusive city looks like.
My mother taught to affirm my dreams. My granny taught me to claim it and receive it. This campaign is about claiming and receiving the Oakland we want to live in. But my granny also taught me that faith without works is dead.
That’s what the next six months have to be about - the work - the organizing.
We need you to attend the people’s assemblies across the city and help us shape this platform.
We need you to go with us to register unhoused people to vote.
We need you to knock on doors and make phone calls.
We need you to hold house parties and mixers.
We need you to spread the word on social media.
We need you to endorse and to donate.
We need you in the streets with us as we reclaim the town.
Imagine with us.
Organize with us.
Win with us.
There are those who say it can’t be done. That we are too radical to win
First of all - demanding that there are equitable opportunities for people to thrive is not radical - it is rational.
It is rational to think that everyone should have a home.
It is rational to think that teachers should be able to afford to live in the city they teach in.
It is rational to think that police should not rape children or shoot unarmed people.
It is rational to think that the city's budget should reflect an investment in our most impacted communities.
It is rational to think that the artists that make Oakland attractive to outsiders who flock here should actually be able to stay here
We are far from radical. We are rational. We are righteous.
Second of all - we are not existing inside of normal political dynamics. We are existing in radical times. Times where we have an administration at the federal level that has waged a literal war on the bodies of Black people, queer people, women, Muslim people, and undocumented people. America has unmasked itself and we are living with the brutal realities of white supremacy being hurled at us every moment of every day.
And here locally, we’ve got a city government that has waged war on those same bodies. But here, we have a mayor who at election time is engaging in a grand performance of pretend. Pretending to care about undocumented people. Pretending to care about unhoused people. Pretending to care about what actually makes Oakland Oakland - like artists and organizers and diversity. Pretending like she hasn’t spent the last four years pushing out, displacing, disregarding those exact same people.
I am more afraid of those who pretend than of those who put their agendas on the table without apology. Pretend breeds liberalism. Pretend gets faux progressives into office. Pretend gets us four years of exactly what we’ve gotten.
No more pretending. We are putting our agenda on the table without apology:
- Divest from police
- House the unhoused
- Protect our teachers
- Real sanctuary for all
- No development without community investments
- Keep artists in Oakland’s
- Public Land for Public Good
And an Oakland that is run by and for the people of Oakland.
That what this campaign is about. That is what we stand for. And with your support and help - that is exactly what we are going to do.