The Oakland Police Department (OPD) extended an invitation to followers of the Black Lives Matter movement to participate in a barbecue to start a constructive dialogue between the two groups. However, the police were met with flat-out rejection by a spokesperson who referred to law enforcement as “pigs.”
“A BBQ is definitely not going to stop this blockade,” Karissa Lewis, a self-described “radical black farmer from East Oakland,” told local Fox affiliate KTVU. “And as a radical-black farmer from East Oakland, I eat pigs, I don’t eat with them,” she said.
According to KTVU, Lewis used the “mic-check call and response technique,” which was popularized at many of the Occupy protests, in order to rally support for her response from fellow protesters, who also rejected the offer. KTVU notes that “many of the activists, at least at this one protest, seemed to be in agreement with her about the offer.”
The OPD reportedly borrowed the idea for the BBQ from a similar one that had taken place in Wichita, Kansas following the murders of police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Dallas, Texas.
Officer Aaron Moses, who was born and raised in Wichita and who attended the relationship-building BBQ, told CNN “I’ll never know what it’s like to grow up in a minority community. But I can try my hardest to serve them the best I can.”
A video of him dancing during a cookout with the group of Black Lives Matter activists went viral, prompting him to say “if I need to dance a little goofy and do the cha-cha slide to help people see that I’m a real person and that I do care and that I trust you, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
Meanwhile, Oakland Police have reportedly said that despite the protesters’ response, their offer remains open and that they are still willing to hold the BBQ at one of several locations.