About the Club

                                             FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                October 24, 2019 

Just as the John George Democratic Club was preparing to honor Wilson Riles, Jr. for his lifetime of work for social justice, the City of Oakland stepped in to dramatize the point.  Wilson’s arrest on October 17 was wrong on at least four levels:

  1.     Wilson and his wife, Native American activist Pat St. Onge, have a sweat lodge in their back yard, which is part of an indigenous cultural practice.  The Oakland Planning Commission approved this use. For some reason the zoning office didn’t get the message and insisted that the sweat lodge was a non-conforming use. 
  2.     When Wilson went to the zoning office to explain the situation, they didn’t want to hear it.  This led a frustrated Wilson to raise his voice in protest. The zoning office then called the police for a transgression that was quickly dubbed “complaining while black”.
  3.     Riles said in an interview that as he was leaving the city office on Thursday morning, police officers confronted him, threw him to the ground and handcuffed him without giving any indication that they intended to arrest him.
  4.     When Wilson arranged for his bail at 3 pm that afternoon at Santa Rita, they informed him that they had up to 8 hours to process the paperwork. They released him at about 10:58 pm, just because they could.

Wilson Riles, Jr, served on the Oakland City Council from 1979 to 1992.  He was known as the “Conscience of the Council” for always defending the rights of the poor and underrepresented. 

Wilson served as co-chair of the John George Democratic club from 1992 to 1997.  The Club works to keep the ideals of John George alive. John was the first African American member of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, and was a tireless fighter for social justice—from South Africa to East Oakland.  Wilson worked as an aide to John George, who passed away in 1988. The Club was founded in 1989 and is celebrating its 30th Anniversary on Saturday, October 26, at Everett & Jones in Oakland, from noon – 2PM.  In addition to Wilson, the Club will be honoring Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who will be giving the keynote address.

For more information, call 510-436-7682




The John George Democratic Club is based in Oakland/Berkeley, California, USA and was founded in 1989. Our goal is to keep the progressive spirit of John George alive. John was the first African-American elected to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. For over 30 years John George worked tirelessly to improve the plight of people of all races and cultures, seeking peace and justice from West Oakland to South Africa. The Club was founded shortly after he died.

john george

Club Goals:

  • Promote and perpetuate the ideals espoused by John George
  • Build an ongoing electoral vehicle for both progressive candidates and issues in the East Bay.
  • Work within the Democratic Party to influence its policy regarding the concerns and rights of those who have been historically disenfranchised.
  • Provide a forum to stimulate interest in governmental affairs and other issues of interest to the membership.
In 1978, John George was the first African American elected to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.  He served for over 10 years as the voice of conscience on the Board, emerging as the leading proponent of the health care, welfare, and workers’ rights of all County citizens. He was an early activist in the struggle for civil rights and affirmative action.  He was also a long-time leader in the local Anti-Apartheid movement.  The John George Democratic Club was founded in his memory and in an effort to keep his voice and vision alive in the Democratic Party.



Co-chairs – Sandra J. Johnson and Walter Riley

Recorder/Newsletter Editor – Jack Lucero Fleck

Treasurer – Phyllis White Ayanruoh

Parliamentarian – Robert Raich


Political Action – Paul Cobb

Program & Ed. – Laurie Soman

Membership – Sandra J. Johnson

Please let us know if you would like to join us on the steering committee!

John George Democratic Club * P.O. Box 18802* Oakland, CA * US * 94619 

Email:  jgdc@igc.org   FPPC# 1300471

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   Join us for the Club’s 30th Anniversary:

“Passing the Torch: Democracy is a Constant Struggle”

  John George 7th Biennial Social Justice Awards

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Noon – 2 PM

Everett & Jones BBQ–2nd & Broadway–Oakland


  • Congresswoman Barbara Lee, 
  • Wilson Riles, Jr.
  • Vukani Mawethu
  • Daniel Phoenix
  • Youth vs. Apocalypse

For more information, please click here and/or call Jack Lucero Fleck at 510-436-7682

Refreshments Served



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