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Center Column Archives
On August 24th, family and supporters of Raheim Brown Jr. once again gathered at Oakland Unified School District headquarters to demand that OUSD police officers Barhin Bhatt and Jonathan Bellusa, the officers responsible for the murder of Raheim Brown, be fired and charged with the killing. This time, though, the anger was even more intense as it was learned less than a week earlier that the superintendent and school board had not only ignored the repeated previous pleadings of community members, but had promoted Barhin Bhatt to interim chief of the school police upon the previous chief's sudden retirement when racist and threatening comments of his became public. On September 6th, James Williams, a former Oakland Housing Authority police officer, was appointed as the new interim chief to replace Bhatt.
No Justice No BART called for an action to be held on Thursday, September 8th, at the Powell Street Station in San Francisco. The plan announced was that if enough protesters were mobilized, in order to keep riders moving into and out of the station, BART would have to open the emergency exits and let folks ride for free, just as they have for other large events in the past. On September 8th, protesters gathered at Powell station, chanting and holding signs. No fare gates were ever blocked. Within a half hour, BART riot police kettled dozens of protesters and reporters. BART police handcuffed numerous journalists, requesting that SFPD confiscate their SFPD police press passes. Two Indybay journalists were arrested, along with over 22 protesters, and charged with violating Penal Code 369i, which deals with interfering with train operations.
It has been over a month since KB Home contractors unearthed the skeletal remains of a young Ohlone child at the Branciforte Creek construction site in Santa Cruz. On August 25th, 75 people marched in downtown Santa Cruz to the City Council meeting in an action organized by the Save the Knoll Coalition. One person maintained an indigenous chant throughout the march, many people carried signs and banners, and several distributed educational flyers.
Save the Knoll writes:
As few in Santa Cruz are currently aware, a developer has been in the process of destroying a beautiful wild area in Santa Cruz, locally known as "Market Street Field", which is also the location of a 6,000 year old Native American burial and village site. The project is a 32-unit residential subdivision called "Branciforte Creek - the Comfort of Green Living". A 2006 developer-commissioned archeological study states that despite disturbance from historic house and road construction, "SCR-276 is possibly one of the sites least impacted by existing urban development within the City of Santa Cruz."
The Bay Area is now the first place in the United States to have had its electronic communications deliberately disabled to preempt a political protest. On August 11th, BART cut power to the underground mobile phone antennas within their system for several hours, denying tens of thousands of evening commuters access to the Internet, telephone service, and even 911 calls. The protest BART claimed as the reason for disrupting mobile service never happened, but Anonymous called for online and offline protests in "remembrance [of] the blood that is on the hands of the BART police" and to "stand up for your rights and those of your fellow citizens." Both the myBART.org and BART Police Officers' Association websites have been hacked. On August 15th and 22nd, protests were held in San Francisco that shut down downtown BART stations during the evening commutes. Over 40 people were arrested on August 22nd. A third demonstration was called for August 29th and two were arrested. No stations were closed by BART but two people were arrested for speaking out inside of Embarcadero station.
On Wednesday, August 10th, family and supporters rallied at the Lake Merritt BART station before marching to Oakland Unified School District's headquarters to call for justice in the police murder of Raheim Brown Jr. Demonstrators packed the monthly board meeting to demand the immediate disbandment of the school police and the firing of officers Barhin Bhatt and Jonathan Bellusa, who shot Brown multiple times on January 22nd, later claiming he brandished a screw driver. The only civilian witness on the scene, Tamisha Stewart, says Bellusa and Bhatt murdered Brown after calling him racist epithets, that Brown was unarmed and not a threat to the police.
Protests took place over week in Manteca, Sacramento, and Stockton around incidents of police brutality and murder. On July 19th, family, friends, and community members marched on the Manteca City Council, demanding answers concerning the shooting death of Ernesto Duenez Jr. In Sacramento on July 20th, people rallied against Sacramento police who brutality beat one man while responding to a fight. On July 22nd in Stockton, family members, friends, and supporters demonstrated against the brutal shooting death of James Rivera in 2010. Protesters rallied outside of the Stockton Police Department HQ and then proceeded to march through downtown to the DA's office.