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Center Column Archives
On November 5th, 2010, hundreds of demonstrators protested the light sentence given to Johannes Mehserle for killing Oscar Grant. Marchers took to the streets and headed toward the Fruitvale BART station, but Oakland police had other plans. One hundred and fifty demonstrators were detained and arrested, forced to spend up to twenty-four hours in police custody under inhumane conditions. In a class action settlement reached by the National Lawyers Guild, the city has not only acknowledged that the arrests were illegal but has agreed to pay $1.025 million and abide by a revised crowd control policy.
The family, friends, co-workers, and congregation of Amos G. Smith gathered in Union City on April 13 for a candlelight vigil to honor the 26-year-old man who was shot and killed on March 2 by officers with the Union City Police Department. Yolanda Smith, Amos' mother, stood with a sign that read "Union City Police Dept. Murders." She said that officers with the Union City Police Department told her very little about what had occurred that night, only that her son pointed a gun at them and that the two officers involved wound up shooting him eight times in the back of the head.
On March 23, the San Jose Black Berets por la Justicia organized a walk through the city of San Jose, in unity and prayer for the love of the community. The walk began at Lincoln High School, site of the first Barrios Unidos conference, with a sunrise ceremony.
Supporters of the Idle No More movement participated in a round dance during the final day of the Azteca Mexica New Year Ceremony and Celebration on March 17 at Emma Prusch Park in San Jose. "We have been using these round dances to call attention to our Earth, and to call for fighting the corporations, fighting our government, and to protect this Earth as Indigenous people," Lakota Harden said to the group before the round dance began.
Interrupting the normalization of anti-Islamic rhetoric and actions, Bay Area Art Queers Unleashing Power (BAAQUP) and Street Cred continue to alter the latest anti-Islamic ads posted by Pamela Geller's "American Freedom Defense Initiative" on San Francisco MUNI buses. In these remakes, Geller acknowledges that her struggle (jihad) is overcoming her virulent Islamophobia and racism. Geller's original ad was modified to read: "I'm Pamela Geller and I spread Islamophobia. I don't know why, but it's a struggle for me not to."
Last year on May Day, a boisterous but mostly peaceful demonstration promoted by Occupy Oakland and other groups, was attacked by an OPD assault force. In the ensuing confusion, Oakland police targeted several individuals. Like so many arrested during actions of civil disobedience and protest, the district attorney has stacked charges on top of the initial ones, and failed to notify the accused of his arraignments. On March 19th, the Oakland Police Department sent ten officers to Prince’s home to make good on their warrant. Prince was being held at Santa Rita jail on $25,000 bail, but all charges were dropped except for one on March 21 and supporters were able to pay the bond for his release.
On February 12, Berkeley Police murdered Kayla Moore. Kayla Moore lived with "mental illness" and has been described by friends and family as a Transgender person who "passed as a woman." One month later and the Berkeley Police still have not released information as to the cause of Kayla's death, leaving most questions unanswered. On March 12, while police and corporate media were largely silent about the death, a nighttime march was held to call attention to the lack of accountability for the in-custody murder in Berkeley.