Editor’s note: Mr. Kenzie Smith is the Oakland man who was harrassed by Jennifer Schulte just for barbecuing on Lakeshote Avenue, nest to Lake Merritt on April 30th, 2018. The resultant video made by his wife sparked a much-needed look and steps to stop at racism in Oakland and America today. Rebecca Kaplan is Oakland’s At-Large Councilmember and a guest blogger at Oakland News Now.
I am writing to recommend and nominate Mr. Kenzie Smith to the City of Oakland Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission (PRAC).
Kenzie Smith is a lifelong Oakland resident and the founder of DOPE ERA Magazine. He has a deep commitment to the Oakland community and a track record of public service and philanthropy. Kenzie Smith has a background in business and communications. Mr. Smith has demonstrated his commitment to positive, unifying strategies in response to divisiveness and prejudice, and a deep interest and personal experience with the importance of making sure that our rules and regulations for our parks are clear, fair, and ensuring that our public facilities are inclusive to all.
Recent incidents in our parks have reinforced the importance of undertaking review of our regulations, to ensure that our public facilities have clear and reasonable rules that are effectively communicated and which allow for the respectful use of our parks by everyone in our community. Incidents of racial profiling have called further attention to the importance of these issues. It is my hope, and I encourage that the PRAC can help, to forward an effort to evaluate and recommend changes to ensure that our parks and rec regulations are designed to avoid the kind of complexity and difficulty the can lead to conflict and selective enforcement, and that a public review and recommendations be conducted for changes to make sure our parks are effectively welcoming to all, including changes to regulations, and needs for facilities and infrastructure to support these goals.
I believe that appointing Mr. Kenzie Smith to the PRAC will help ensure that the needs of all Oaklanders are included in these discussions, and will help advance these important efforts.