Oakland cafe owner keeps it in perspective

On Saturday night, the window of Oakland’s Awaken Cafe got smashed after protests erupted in response to George Zimmerman’s acquittal.

“We had a show going on. It was startling, but the band kept playing,” says cafe owner Cortt Dunlap. Since it’s located along the perimeter of Frank Ogawa Plaza, renamed Oscar Grant Plaza when Occupy Oakland’s tent city materialized there in the fall of 2011, the vandalism threw Awaken into the spotlight.

“I just noticed people, journalists, passers-by, stopping and snapping pictures of my window,” Dunlap said. “So I thought, I’m just going to put something in the broken window that kind of changes the conversation a little bit.”

He spent a few minutes printing up a sign to inform onlookers that the window would soon be fixed. But “When will the US Justice System?” The message asked. Or “archaic gun control laws?” He also threw in some stats (gleaned from Wikipedia) on racial disparity in rates of conviction and incarceration. It wasn’t long before his message started making the rounds on Twitter.

Dunlap says he wasn’t exactly glued to the news about Zimmerman’s trial, but nevertheless he has a strong opinion about the death of Trayvon Martin. “If Trayvon had been white like me,” he said, “this wouldn’t have happened.”

Pick up a copy of this week’s Guardian for editorials by San Francisco Sups. London Breed and Malia Cohen on the Trayvon Martin tragedy, and stay tuned for our post on yesterday’s rally and candlelight vigil at San Francisco City Hall, where African American leaders gathered to issue a call to action.

Pub date July 17, 2013