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Marin Protesters Seek Renaming Of Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Over His Role In Slave Trade

LARKSPUR (CBS SF) – On Wednesday, a group of protesters rallied in Larkspur in support of the removal of the Sir Francis Drake sculpture in the city and also advocated for the renaming of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard that extends throughout Marin County.

The protest was organized by the Tam Equity Campaign, a Marin-based nonprofit advocating for the removal of the statue and renaming of the road because it was named after Sir Francis Drake, a widely known slave trader.

According to Robbie Powelson, the founder of Tam Equity Campaign and a Corte Madera native, this is just one step toward anti-racism that Marin County must take.

Sir Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake. (Library of Congress)

Powelson sees the removal of racist symbolism going hand in hand with the reallocation of county funding, in efforts to defund law enforcement agencies in Marin County and redirect that money toward other local health services.

"We wanted to be talking about 'how do we bring down the racist symbolism in Marin' and 'how do we defund and reinvest the police budgets in the countywide services, particularly mobile behavioral crisis intervention teams, which are alternatives to police services," Powelson said.

While Powelson feels that the renaming and removal is vital, he reiterates that activism cannot stop there.

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Performative activism, when activism is more for show than to actually work to create change, is highly problematic in affluent white areas. Powelson stressed the need to focus on where local funding is being directed toward.

"We can have all the symbolic change we want, but if we're not changing the dollar in the sense of how segregated and inequitable communities set policies and set budgets, then we're just performing. We have to make some new changes with how we do business, because it's not business as usual anymore," Powelson said.

Powelson and the Tam Equity Campaign focuses their activism on the wealthiest and most segregated areas of Marin County, such as Larkspur, where they protested Wednesday.

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"My personal goal is trying to advocate for change in the most exclusive cities in Marin. There's some more diverse parts, but Larkspur, where we had the protest, is one of the most affluent and segregated places in the country," Powelson said.

In the extremely affluent and white areas of Marin, Powelson feels that power should be driven away from local council members, and instead given to a lower level of the community who can advocate for low-income services.

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"Exclusive communities have to invest in the county health services. We have to see changing in how housing is built and more affordable housing. I believe that in high-income communities, local control needs to be taken away from equitable City Councils. Players with high levels of equity should have a corresponding lower level of autonomy in deciding their housing zoning and the barriers that they use to create segregation," Powelson said.

Despite some backlash received from locals, the Tam Equity Campaign plans to continue protesting until change is made, and the removal and renaming occurs, according to Powelson.

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