Melting guns to plant trees: Reclaiming MLK Day

Laney Tower
Feb 5, 2019 · 3 min read

Local non-profit ‘Lead to Life’ melt guns in front of city hall in a symbolic act of defiance.

By Michelle Snider.

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Attendees for a “People’s March” carry banners through downtown Oakland for the fifth annual “Reclaiming Martin Luther King’s Image” event hosted by Anti-Police Terror Project, a group that consoles families who have lost loved ones by police violence. Photo by Michelle Snider

Hundreds of people gathered at Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza Jan. 21 for an all-day gathering of activist organizations to “Reimagine” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

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President of Oakland Education Association (OEA) Keith Brown spoke to a crowd awaiting “The People’s March” on the current issues with public education and teacher strikes that are happening across the nation. Photo by Michelle Snider

The fifth annual celebration was organized by the Anti-Police Terror Project of Oakland. The events started at sunrise with a Black Panther-inspired “People’s Breakfast” and continued with family-friendly activities throughout the day.

By noon, attendees and various activist groups prepared to march with Cat Brooks in “The People’s March.” The program continued with activities and a live concert, featuring such artists as Gina Madrid, until 5 p.m.

Following the concert, Lead to Life, an organization that melts guns and forms them into more useful metal pieces, performed a string of rituals and ceremonies meant to symbolize an end to gun violence.

In the past, the group re-cast the melted guns into shovels. The guns symbolize death, but the shovels symbolize planting and life.

The guns melted at the 2019 ceremony will be poured into constant molds that mirror the constellations in the sky on the night Oscar Grant was killed.

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Performers open the Guns to Shovels ceremony dancing with shovels forged from guns. The event, hosted by Lead to Life, was part of a project to turn objects of violence into tools to plant trees. Photo by Saskia Hatvany.
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Photo by Saskia Hatvany.
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Photo by Saskia Hatvany.
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Photo by Saskia Hatvany.
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Marcos Odara dances alongside Tulani Masai to a contemporary blend of Brazilian music by Black Afoxé, a Bay Area-based band. The ceremony was filled with live music, dancing, and spiritual ceremonies. Photo by Saskia Hatvany.
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A handgun is melted by a metal worker in front of the eager crowd gathered at Oakland City Hall to honor the lives lost to gun violence. Photo by Saskia Hatvany.
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Photo by Saskia Hatvany.
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Tulani Masai dances in front of the furnace that would be used to melt guns. Photo by Saskia Hatvany.
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Photo by Saskia Hatvany.
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A metal worker pours the first of many stars arranged in the constellation that was in the sky on the night of Oscar Grant’s murder. Photo by Saskia Hatvany.

Laney Tower

News from the Peralta District

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