OAKLAND -- A small group of anti-abortion activists warmed up their chops in downtown Oakland Friday ahead of a larger event Saturday in San Francisco with the message that too many black women are getting abortions and men should get involved to bring the numbers down.
The 7th Issues4Life Foundation annual rally at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza drew about 60 supporters and two or three dissenters who briefly argued with the group during the rally.
The event is held ahead of the Walk for Life West Coast scheduled for 12:30 p.m. at Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco on Saturday.
At Friday's event, all the speakers talking about the evils of abortion were men.
"This year, I wanted to give Oakland a chance to see black, anti-abortion pastors step up in support of women and children," said Walter Hoye, founder of Issues4Life based in Union City.
Hoye claimed Friday that the black community carries the burden of a disproportionate share of abortions in the United States.
"We're about 14 percent of the population at the most but we account for 30 to 35 percent of all the abortions in our country," Hoye said. "I'm hoping we can take ownership of the alarming rate at which we abort our children."
Amy Zehring, of San Francisco, was on her lunch break in downtown Oakland Friday and heard the speeches by the pastors. She said she felt compelled to yell out her resistance to the anti-abortion group.
"I feel like this is one-sided misinformation here, and if they are going to have this public forum, I want to have a voice for choice," Zehring said. "Women should have the right to choose."
During the rally, Pastor Bruce Rivers, of Los Banos, called on men in the audience to raise their hands if they were "fugitive" fathers of aborted children but never "confessed" to it. Two men rose their hands and came up to the stage to be congratulated for coming forward.
"Two of my babies were killed in abortion clinics in Monterey," Rivers said afterward as he lectured a couple of teenage girls who had come to the rally to voice their opposition to the anti-abortion message. He added he was thankful his natural mother gave him up for adoption rather than choosing to abort.
After the rally, the group marched up Broadway on the sidewalk, around downtown for a while and back to Frank H. Ogawa Plaza without incident.
Contact reporter Doug Oakley at 925-234-1699 or follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.