OAKLAND -- About 500 people gathered Thursday afternoon in downtown Oakland for a moment of silence for victims of police brutality and to remember Michael Brown, the teen whose fatal shooting by police has rocked a suburb of St. Louis.
The group gathered in Oakland fell silent at 4:20 p.m. for about 10 minutes, many with their heads bowed and clutching a small lit white candle. The quiet was broken as dozens of people began raising their hands and chanting "Hands up, don't shoot," a refrain used by protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, as they stood before police dressed in riot gear.
Signs at the rally called for justice for Michael Brown and for Oscar Grant III, who was shot and killed by a BART police officer in 2009, and Alan Blueford, shot and killed by an Oakland police officer in 2012.
Blueford's mother, Jeralynn, told the crowd that Brown's killing had reopened emotional wounds she suffered when her son was killed.
"This is not 'Protect and serve,' this is 'Shoot to kill,' and I can't get my Alan back," Blueford said. "But I can stand up and say, 'I'm not taking anymore.'
"(Michael Brown's) life mattered. I'm Mike Brown. I am Alan Blueford. You can't shoot these kids down with their hands up. ... None of these people deserved that."
The National Moment of Silence for Victims of Police Brutality, organized online, listed 90 vigils across the country that would participate with a moment of silence and solidarity.
The event at Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza was mirrored across the bay at San Francisco Civic Center and in cities across the country, including Chicago, Philadelphia and New York.
"There have been so many incidents," said Kristen Hanley Cardozo, who drove to Oakland from Albany with her children to attend the gathering. "We felt it was so important to be here."
Berkeley resident Maya Wagoner said she came to support Brown and his family.
"He was a person," said Wagoner, 22. "And I wanted to be with people who are also upset about this. To know someone can be shot down on the street for being black is frightening. Something needs to be done."