Skip to content
CityLab
Justice

In 1990s Oakland, Youth Voices Started A Movement

We Are Here, an exhibit at two museums in the Bay Area, documents candid 1990s’ conversations among Oakland youth and cops, and the activist work they ignited.
As part of Suzanne Lacy's 1990s Oakland Projects, kids and cops engage in candid conversations on a rooftop.
As part of Suzanne Lacy's 1990s Oakland Projects, kids and cops engage in candid conversations on a rooftop.Suzanne Lacy, Julio César Morales, and Unique Holland, Code 33: Emergency, Clear the Air!, 1997–99, from The Oakland Projects, 1991–2001; performance, October 7, 1999, City Center West Parking Garage, Oakland; Photo courtesy Suzanne Lacy Studio.

“I’m going to give you an example,” a police officer says. He’s sitting on a folding chair in uniform, surrounded by teens. “Decorated cop, 15 years in the force, kicking ass the whole 15 years.” The young man across from him bristles.

“I’m talking about a good cop,” the officer continues, cutting the teenager off. “He goes out there and makes a mistake like that, what do you think should happen to him?” The mistake he’s talking about is going out in the field and shooting someone like the kid across from him.