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Port of Oakland Board President speaks out for social justice

[ June 22, 2020   //   ]

Port of Oakland Board President Ces Butner recently denounced social injustice as West Coast dockworkers prepared to protest racism. The Port must stand up for what’s right, President Butner declared in an online video interview distributed to employees and the public.

“There’s no question that we stand behind the Black Lives Matter movement,” said the 8-year-veteran of the Port’s Board of Port Commissioners. “We want this country to live up to what it’s supposed to be.”

The President’s comments coincided with demonstrations planned on June 19 at 29 seaports in California, Oregon and Washington. Dockworkers say they’ll protest the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a black man, by Minneapolis police. Oakland longshore workers have indicated they plan to assemble at the Port, then march downtown. The protest coincides with Juneteenth, a day commemorating the abolition of slavery in the U.S.

The Port issued a statement June 6 supporting the movement for social and racial justice. President Butner, a prominent African American business leader, endorsed the action, but called for more. “I’m proud the Port has a statement on this issue,” he said in the video. “Now we have to follow that up with our actions. We must ask: are we making everything equal?”

President Butner updated the Port’s status during his 9-minute video interview conducted via Zoom. He said the Port is maintaining full operations despite the coronavirus pandemic. He added that the pandemic’s drag on global economic activity has significantly reduced Port revenue.

The Board President directed his most forceful comments at the social unrest roiling communities worldwide. “As a black man in America, I’ve experienced almost everything being talked about,” said President Butner. “As Commissioners, we will demand that the Port seek social justice.”

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