“When we say Black Lives Matter, we’re saying that we need an agenda that puts our lives right up there with everyone else’s,” said Christopher Wilson, from Alliance San Diego, a group mobilizing for change in low-income communities and communities of color.

Wilson spoke at the Classified Conference on October 8, before attending the funeral for Alfredo Olango, a black man killed by police in nearby El Cajon.

“Don’t be offended by Black Lives Matter — what we’re saying is that we are important too. It’s not an exclusive statement,” he explained. “It does not say care about us and not anyone else. It says care about me like you care about others.”

Many classified employees spoke in support of Black Lives Matter. A Lawndale member in a family with both interracial marriages and police officers praised the movement, but asked for protection of the police too.

“How are we going to make it that police officers are not all bad? How is your organization going to work with police?”

Wilson responded, “Your question assumes I have to do something different than be myself. When I get pulled over, I just pray that I have the demeanor to not get killed. There is nothing I can do to live through that situation if that cop is having a bad day.”

Velma Butler, president of the Los Angeles College Staff Guild said, “I have African American police in my family. They are going through the same hell as everyone.”

Butler summed up the discussion: “Thank you for saying what so many of us have a hard time saying. This is a white problem, a black problem, an Asian problem, a Latino problem.”