Demonstrators gather in Brentwood in response to noosed effigy

Michael%2C+an+active+protester+in+events+across+the+Bay+Area%2C+questions+a+BPD+officer+helping+hold+a+perimeter+in+front+of+Eric+Harvey%E2%80%99s+home+as+to+why+BPD+is+protecting+Harvey%2C+rather+than+the+community+in+Brentwood%2C+Calif.%2C+on+Nov.+6%2C+2020.+%28Joel+Umanzor%2C+Jr.+%2F+Golden+Gate+Xpress%29+

Joel Umanzor Jr.

Michael, an active protester in events across the Bay Area, questions a BPD officer helping hold a perimeter in front of Eric Harvey’s home as to why BPD is protecting Harvey, rather than the community in Brentwood, Calif., on Nov. 6, 2020. (Joel Umanzor, Jr. / Golden Gate Xpress)

As the country awaited for the presidential results of this past week, high emotions were on display in light of a close race between President-elect Joe Biden and President Donald Trump.

In Brentwood, California, part of this emotional intensity stemmed from a resident hanging a hooded effigy off of his home with a noose. According to Brentwood residents, the effigy is offensive to Black and Brown community members and represents a history of violence against them. 

A coalition of organizations, including Antioch Solidarity and East Bay Resistance, organized an event in which approximately 125 individuals marched from City Park in Downtown Brentwood to the Brentwood Police Department on Friday, and subsequently to the home of Eric Harvey, the Brentwood resident responsible for decorating his home with the effigy. The goal of the march was to speak against racism and police brutality in Brentwood in response to Harvey’s actions. 

Harvey, whose home is covered in political support for sitting President Donald Trump, has been the subject of local ire since hanging an effigy of Joe Biden from his second-story home on Nov. 5. On the Biden dummy was a sign that read, “Sleepy Joe (Cheater).”

Shagoofa Kahn, an organizer with Antioch Solidarity, said that events like the one involving Harvey have been commonplace for people of color to witness in cities of East Contra Costa County.

“I was really, really hoping for people to come out here, especially in the city of Brentwood, because a lot of the time a lot of racist acts that have happened have been swept under the carpet and no one really knew anything about it,” Khan said. “And there are a lot of racist folks out here who are not held accountable for what they do and their actions, especially when it is racist hate acts.”

According to a Facebook Live that Harvey held on Thursday, which has since gone private, the effigy was a Halloween decoration that BPD later contacted him about, sharing that the image of his house on the street of Craig Court had gone viral. He also said that he was visited by BPD officials, who advised him to remove the effigy from his home.

Kahn said that various neighbors came up to her at the event and thanked her for bringing attention to Harvey’s actions, many of whom deemed them as excessive, even for his history.

“There were neighbors who came out and cheered us on saying, ‘Thank you, we don’t ever have this,’” Kahn said. “And in comparison to what that man did in having that mannequin being hung from his neck — supposedly it was Joe Biden with a very small name tag that said his name — people have said that this man has done these types of acts every single year … This is very, very common for the city of Brentwood.”

This isn’t Harvey’s first time receiving negative local press. The Brentwood resident was the subject of scrutiny when he displayed a Confederate flag in front of his home, to which residents described as a “hoopla.”

At the march, participants were approached by various law enforcement agencies who had established a perimeter around Harvey’s residence to ensure the safety of his property.

Kevin Almazan, member of the Brown Berets, a Chicano movement organization that was established in the 1960s, said that while he was satisfied with the level of participation at the march, the number of people in attendance would have been greater if Trump had secured re-election.

“To be honest, if Trump would have won again, the protest would have been twice as bigger and twice as louder,” Almazan said. “Because Biden won, a lot of people are a little more content – a little bit, because a lot of people don’t feel that it is not about the president. It’s about oppression, so if they don’t sense that, the group will be scarce.”

Almazan said that creating a dialogue about race through this march is a particularly important conversation to the suburban community of Brentwood.

“That’s what we want,” he said. “We want to ask, ‘Hey did you know that your neighbor just hung a noose?’”

Demonstrators gather at the corner of 2nd and Oak streets for a march against racism and police brutality. (Joel Umanzor, Jr. / Golden Gate Xpress) (Joel Umanzor Jr.)

For Jasmine Allam, who grew up in Antioch and currently lives in Brentwood, there was a desire to march on the streets long before Harvey’s act.

“I think what it was that, this is the unfortunate truth, is that Brentwood is majority white,” Allam said. “Now imagine living as a POC – you’re intimidated, you know what cover they have and how much they are willing to invest in silencing your voice. So I think that’s what happened here. We’ve been shut down by white supremacy in Brentwood so effectively it prevented us from finally awakening from this suppression.”

According to the 2018 American Community Survey, Brentwood’s roughly 60,000-resident population is 71.1% white, compared to the city’s 10.7% Black population. 

Allam said Friday that despite Biden’s anticipated win, a Biden presidency will not the problems disenfranchised groups often face.

“I think that it has been well communicated in the community that Biden’s victory in the election is not going to solve all of our problems,” Allam said. “There is no other year that has pointed out so effortlessly the flaws in our current [political] system.”