Photo: David Becker-WireImage / Contributed Photo, WireImage
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf was targeted by HBO’s Bill Maher on Friday night for his handling of a controversy over alleged knots found in Lake Merritt.
Schaaf announced that the city was working with the FBI on an investigation of hate crimes on the ropes, despite the fact that a black resident stated that he put the ropes in as exercise equipment months ago.
“Intentions don’t matter, these are extremely serious acts,” Schaaf said at a press conference. “They have no place in our city at any time, but especially this time.”
Maher played a clip of Victor Sengbe, the resident in question, saying: “Of the dozens and hundreds and thousands of people who have passed, no one thought he looked like a knot” before criticizing Schaaf.
“Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf was not going to let all of that fool her without the opportunity to point out her virtue,” he said. “Why is this white woman seeing racism where a black man is not? The mayor also said, ‘Intentions don’t matter’, but they do matter. And whites should stop trying to cancel other white people whose hearts are on the right place, but not exactly on the first try. “
The attack on Schaaf was part of a larger point Maher made about certain white people “culturally appropriating how angry they are at racism” and chasing away potential allies of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Liberalism should be about lifting people up, and you don’t do that by slapping people who are trying to say, ‘I’m on your side,'” he said. “I am concerned that the kind of tensions the ‘gotcha’ guardians are creating is going to make people afraid of mixing at all and pushing us into a kind of resegregation, where instead of just seeing a person and not a color, now we’re just seeing color. Maybe this is old school liberalism talking about, but I don’t think that’s the way to go. “
Eric Ting is a digital reporter for SFGATE. Email: [email protected] | Twitter: @_ ericting