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Election Day in Downtown Oakland: Enthusiasm and Enterprise

4 November 2008 No Comment

Story by Angela Kilduff and photos by Casey Miner

Even before the polls closed on November 4, excitement – mixed with a bit of anxiety – permeated the streets of downtown Oakland.

Shanee Primus, 27, voted at the Oakland Public Library on 14th Street in the early afternoon. It was “great, fast, easy,” she said, adding, “I’m excited to see what happens.”

In front of Underground Treasures, Haneef Sabree’s sidewalk shop on 17th Street selling Barack Obama merchandise did a brisk business.

Obama t-shirts for sale at Haneef Sabree's shop. Photo by Casey Miner.

Obama t-shirts for sale at Haneef Sabree's shop.

Erica Black, 27, bought two shirts – one for herself and the other for her husband. Black stopped to shop on her lunch break before hurrying back to work. She said she voted at 8 a.m. and waited for about half an hour. “It’s the single most important day in U.S. history,” she said, adding, however, “There’s some anxiety.”

“Colored TV, sliced bread and a black president – crazy!” Pharis Pugh, 23, remarked after buying an Obama t-shirt. “It’s my girl’s,” he said. He had concerns that his vote wouldn’t count, but said he was still excited.

After selling Obama clothing and accessories for the past six months, Sabree said he had “no complaints” about business. His inventory included t-shirts, buttons, stickers, bag and necklaces. He said he played a part in the design of the merchandise. “I try to give people things that they haven’t ordinarily seen before.”

Over at the Oakland Democratic Headquarters on Broadway, Debbie Taylor, 51, said she knew his shop well.

Debbie Taylor spreads the word about Obama. Photo by Casey Miner.

Debbie Taylor spreads the word about Obama.

She stood along the sidewalk with about 10 other volunteers. They held signs and chanted campaign mantras like “Fired up? Ready to go!” When drivers honked or waved, everyone cheered. A passing 72R bus honked, and Taylor said, “We got a shout out from the bus driver. That’s pretty darn good.”

Robyn Douglass, 24, held a sign that read, “Vote No on Prop. 8.” She smiled and said, “I took the day off work.”

Sprits ran high throughout downtown Oakland, but at headquarters in particular. “Folks rolled in at 5 a.m. on the dot,” Taylor said. She knew – she’d been there bright and early.

Robyn Douglass and Ken Yuribo campaign against Prop. 8. Photo by Casey Miner.

Robyn Douglass and Ken Yuribo campaign against Prop. 8.

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