Melting guns to plant trees: Reclaiming MLK Day

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

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.

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.