The Ella Baker Center hosted a mutual aid event and livestream concert for Night Out for Safety and Liberation (NOSL) – an annual community-focused event held in cities across the country since 2013. NOSL began as an alternative to the more police-centric National Night Out, which highlights police-community partnerships as the pathway to community safety.
Because of safety concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers changed the format of the event this year. Instead of gathering at a park for a festival, community members attended a socially distanced mutual aid event in the parking lot of Restore Oakland in the Fruitvale District and a virtual concert on zoom in the evening.
“I saw the line of people outside the parking lot and wondered what was happening,” said Doris Estrada, a Fruitvale community member who attended the mutual aid event. “I was able to pick up school supplies for my kids, masks to keep us safe from the coronavirus, and some pupusas. It was a beautiful event.”
“This is what safety looks like for us; people coming together to help each other out,” said Jose Bernal, Organizing Manager for the Ella Baker Center. “We had to change up the format from previous years to make sure everyone stayed safe during the pandemic, but the inspiration is still the same. Safety is about opportunities and resources, not cops and jails.”
Free resources shared at the mutual aid event included:
- N-95 masks and surgical masks
- Voter registration information (in partnership with Headcount)
- Legal aid (Bay area Legal Aid and Centro Legal de La Raza)
- School supplies donated by the Unity Council
- Healing and wellness products
- Bike repair
- Hot pupusas
The livestream NOSL concert in the evening featured a land acknowledgement by Ohlone/Chumash artist and educator Kanyon Sayers-Roods and performances by Oakland-based singers Jasmine Fuego and Kymi, poet TJ Sykes and visual artist Sylvester “Slick” Guard. Over 25 other NOSL events were held in New York, Minneapolis, Portland and other cities across the country.
“This is our seventh year doing Night Out for Safety and Liberation and it’s never been quite like this,” said Zachary Norris, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center. “NOSL started after the killing of Trayvon Martin by Goerge Zimmerman, a self-proclaimed neighborhood watch captain. We started as a handful of people gathering in a park who wanted to rethink what safety means beyond policing. It’s powerful to see how we are still coming together, how NOSL is still growing as people across the country call attention to what real community safety looks like.”