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East Bay | Police State and Prisons | Racial Justice

March of Stolen Lives Braves Massive Police Intimidation -- Enough Is Enough!
by Felix Barrett ( revolution.sfbureau [at] gmail.com )
Saturday Feb 7th, 2009 4:28 PM
You know they used to lynch us. Now they're just shooting us down. Just shooting us down like it’s the thing to do. And its not just here. It's everywhere."
-- Patrician Johnson, sister of Anita Gay, a grandmother shot in her home by the Berkeley Police

OAKLAND – On February 6, about 200 people gathered at the main intersection of the city to say: "Enough is Enough. No More Stolen Lives! We are all Oscar Grant!" They came to protest an epidemic of police brutality, with the murder of Oscar Grant only the latest example. As they gathered the crowd learned that Johannes Mehserle, the BART officer who was captured on video shooting Grant in the back, had been released on bail.
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The action was determined and strong in the face of, and defying the intimidation of, a huge show of force by the Oakland Police Department. The downtown plaza was completely surrounded by rows of heavily armed police and metal barricades. Anyone who came to the protest had to walk through metal barriers surrounding the plaza and through a gauntlet of menacing riot clad cops. It is an outrage that at the same time Mehserle was able to go free on bail, the victims of police brutality were not permitted to march down Broadway even on the sidewalk. Despite the intimidation, and efforts by the police to stop the protest, an angry and defiant march took to the streets.

The families and friends of people killed by police stood together, their combined presence was both a powerful statement and a reminder of the brutal reality of police murder. Rashidah Grinage, whose son AND husband had been killed in her home by Oakland police. Sonya Wahnee, the mother of Andrew Moppin, a 20-year-old Native American (Comanche/Klamath) stood side by side with Robin Glenn, the aunt of 27-year-old Jody Woodfox. Both young men were killed by the same Oakland cop. Danny Garcia, brother of Mark Garcia, Kathleen Espinosa, mother of Asa Sullivan, Mesha Irizarry, mother of Idriss Stelley, all killed by SFPD. Cora Lee Simmons, a relative of Acorn Peters, killed on the Round Valley Reservation in Northern California. Tara Batts, a close friend of Julio Diaz, shot in the back of his head outside a card club in Oakland. Statements in solidarity were read from other family members of victims of police terror from around the country.

Ara Jo, a cousin of Michael Chou who was killed in 2007 said, "I wish we had no need to be here. I wish we had no pain. I wish there was no need for us to mobilize and get here together and feel angry for something that we lost. But that's reality. That's our everyday life. We can't afford to be scared and not think about it, which I wish I could do but I can't. I wish we could just tell these cops to go away. But we can't. That's reality. It's in our face every day."

David Santos of the Bay Area Revolution Club, which called for the march and helped lead it, spoke to the need for revolution: “You have these fool in the media and elsewhere saying that the problem is these 'rowdy youth.' Well tell me this was it these who kidnapped millions of Africans and used them as slaves to build this nation's 'unmatched wealth'? Was it these 'thugs' who unleashed a wave of terror by KKK lynch mobs to rape, hang and burn alive Black people all while not even allowing them to drink out of the same water fountains as whites? Was it these 'hoodlums,' who, after granting formal rights to Blacks used the police to carry on this 'American tradition' of white supremacy and lynch mob terror? No it was not! All throughout this period, from slavery to the KKK, from lynch mobs to the police and prisons, there was a system that benefitted from everything I have just laid out."

The rally was ended and the march kicked off by a spoken word reading of the Revolution centerfold, America 2009.

Joining the family members at the protest were college students from UC Berkeley, people in suits who work in the downtown financial district, high school students from Berkeley High, Oakland Tech and School of the Arts. The Women’s Collective of the Day Labors Organization – spoke at the rally and brought a banner and contingent of immigrant women. A group of 40 Latino day laborers sent a solidarity message to the demonstration: "Jornaleros de San Francisco declaramos: Todos Somos Oscar Grant. Presente! Presente! Oscar Grant Esta Presente! (Day Laborers say: We are all Oscar Grant. Present! Present! Oscar Grant is Present!).

The plaza was lined with the “Wall of Stolen Lives” listing the names and ages of hundreds of people killed by the police. Larger than life pictures of people like Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Gary King, Anita Gay and others were held high for all to see the faces of some of those who were murdered by the police. The front page of Revolution newspaper was worn by one woman as others raised their copies up along the march.

When people tried to march down Broadway, Oakland’s main downtown street, they were blocked by police, even though there is no law against marching on the sidewalk! There was a tense standoff for about 15 minutes as brave organized and determined protesters stared down rows and rows of these cops demanding the right to march to represent for the thousands of lives stolen by the police.

Kathleen Espinosa, mother of SFPD murder victim Asa Sullivan described the scene, “I helped carry at times the banner of Stolen Lives (from The October 22nd Stolen Lives Project). If anyone stepped off the sidewalk, which was easy to do if the walk area got narrow, the whole group of people were pushed back onto the sidewalk by the police. Mind you, there were many women and some children in our group. Family members and others held the pictures of the victims of police killings high…This showed our rights to walk on Oakland city streets is not a right in Oakland when police are ordered to block peaceful people by blocking their way by force." Once again, proof that there is a whole system behind police brutality.

Relatives of victims of police murder are forced by the system to endure indescribable agony, and then the police and the City of Oakland – the imperialist state – attempts to prevent them from even voicing their outrage and grief for a few hours.

This sickening display of naked state violence – aimed at physically preventing people from joining the rally and march and intimidating and terrorizing those who did come -- came after a week of battles with the city to even get a sound and march permit – despite having no legal grounds for the denial – prompting protests from the ACLU and Amnesty International. This battle continued throughout the rally and right up to the moment the march left Frank Ogawa Plaza, with march organizers and their attorneys going toe to toe with the police and city officials.

The march was forced to take a side street to the police station. Helicopters circled overhead Cops in riot gear flanked the march so tightly people could not join in. Dozens of people many wearing stickers saying “Danger – Police in the Area” followed the march from the opposite side of the street wanting to join in but also considering what the police might do to them if they did. “Fuck it”, said one young woman. “I’m going anyway!”

People were not intimidated. Along the say, youth and others got right in the face of the riot clad cops holding up pictures of people who had been murdered by the cops or copies of Revolution with Oscar Grant’s picture on the cover Others held up cell phones – as a way of saying, "We're watching you." When the march passed by the Oakland jail, prisoners inside the jail could be seen crowding into the small windows to get a glimpse of the march and giving a clenched fist salute.

On that very evening, following the release of Mehserle, liberal Black Mayor Ron Dellums issued a statement: “In challenging violence, we must not engage in violence. In challenging injustice, let us not engage in unjust acts.” Meanwhile Dellums has giving his full support to the unbridled violence of the Oakland Police – from shooting down unarmed youth, beating an=d jailing people righteously protesting, attempting to intimidate people from even coming to the February 6 protest.

The slogan "The Whole Damn System Is Guilty!" resonated deeply with people on the march, who have seen the way the system has covered up for Oscar's murder, not even charged the other cops involved, let Mehserle go on bail, arrested over 100 people who have protested against the murder, and now they were trying to stop family members of those they had killed from taking to the streets.

When the protesters returned to the plaza police lines formed within the approved protest area. They targeted one protester but released him as people chanted “let him go!”

As the family of Andrew Moppin attempted to catch public transportation, a family member was grabbed by police who detained him with the excuse that they thought he looked like someone who had jumped on a police car in a previous protest. When they released him 10 minutes later they warned him not to protest again because they might mistake him for that same person. Yet more proof that this system’s response to the abuse it heaps on the masses is to heap more violence and threats of violence to prevent people from lifting their heads.

An organizer told Revolution that family members were tremendously inspired and strengthened through the protest, coming together and standing up in public, in the face of police. One family member said that this showed that we are not afraid. Another family member said that she thought being on the march was "therapeutic" and that she had come out of it changed and strong.

The rally ended with a speech by Clyde Young of the Revolutionary Communist Party who emphasized the importance of the powerful statement made that day and the need to continue to wage the fight against police brutality and the system behind it. These threats and intimidation will not stop this movement against police murder from growing.
§Sonya Wahnee and Robin Glenn
by Felix Barrett Saturday Feb 7th, 2009 4:29 PM
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Robin Glenn, aunt of "Jody" Mac Woodfox and Sonya Wahnee mother of Andrew Moppin. Jody and Andrew were killed by the same Oakland cop.

Sonya: "We are proud native people. Last year Andrew was killed, murdered, on a dark street, shot in the back eight times. We got to go on raising his two babies without their mother or their father. It's been hard for us. This is his sister. She wants to know why her brother was killed. Why was [the cop] put back to do it again?"

Robin: "We want to know why the officer was put back on the streets so my nephew was killed six months later by the same officer who killed her son? My nephew had three children. They want to know why too. Why aren't they going to be able to see their father? We want justice done TODAY. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!"
§Patricia Johnson and Kathleen Espinosa
by Felix Barrett Saturday Feb 7th, 2009 4:29 PM
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Patricia Johnson: the sister of Anita Gay killed in her house by the Berkeley police: "Hopefully no one else will be shot down like my sister. She had four kids. She just became a grandmother, but she'll never see that sweet little boy. Her kids have to go on without her. All of us are here because we feel each others pain and it’s a pain that never goes away. So we are saying: "enough is enough!" Matter of fact, it's been too much, too long for people in this city and other cities – the head people -- to just keep turning the other way. Looking the other way. Making up excuses. Making no one accountable for all these murders. Who do we turn to? What do we do? Where do we go? Who is going to stand up and say: "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!" It's really sad to say in this day and age this is going on. You know they used to lynch us. Now they're just shooting us down. Just shooting us down like it’s the thing to do. And its not just here. It's everywhere."

Kathleen Espinosa: "I am the mother of Asa Sullivan, killed June 6, 2006. Sixteen bullets. He had no weapon. No mother should have to stand here and tell you that their son was killed. It's time for the public to know what is going on. It's time for the records to be opened. I'm so glad that Oscar's incident was on tape. Thank god for video cameras. Why is there not any accountability? Why does the public not see what happens. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!"
§Tara
by Felix Barrett Saturday Feb 7th, 2009 4:29 PM
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Tara, close friend of Julio Diaz killed by Oakland Police, July 4, 2005: "I'm speaking for my friend Julio Diaz who was killed by the Oakland police in front of the Oaks Club on July 4, 2005. They tried to say he stole a car and they shot him in the back of the head. That was just an excuse, you know what I'm saying. They're always making excuses. I'm also here to represent for Oscar Grant and all the people who were killed by the fucking police. Fuck the police that's what I got to say. They're always killing our people. And then they say that Oscar Grant was drunk. Come on, that ain't no reason to take somebody's life! That's the same thing they said about my friend Julio. They shot him in the back of his head, execution style for no reason. FUCK THE POLICE!"
§Family Members Lead the March
by Felix Barrett Saturday Feb 7th, 2009 4:29 PM
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§Osacr Grant Presente #3
by Felix Barrett Saturday Feb 7th, 2009 4:29 PM
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§On the March#2
by Felix Barrett Saturday Feb 7th, 2009 4:29 PM
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§Oscar Grant Presente #2
by Felix Barrett Saturday Feb 7th, 2009 4:29 PM
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§On the March
by Felix Barrett Saturday Feb 7th, 2009 4:29 PM
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§Oscar Grant Presente
by Felix Barrett Saturday Feb 7th, 2009 4:29 PM
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§On the March 3
by Felix Barrett Saturday Feb 7th, 2009 4:29 PM
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§Lotsa Pigz
by Felix Barrett Saturday Feb 7th, 2009 4:29 PM
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§Confrontin Police Line 2
by Felix Barrett Saturday Feb 7th, 2009 4:29 PM
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§We Are All Oscar Grant
by Felix Barrett Saturday Feb 7th, 2009 4:29 PM
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Comments  (Hide Comments)

by ,
Saturday Feb 7th, 2009 6:27 PM
the police state doesent care,they reason that they got enuf bullets nd drugs to attack people.they are like the alcoholic ,addict that may have to hit bottyom or even die before they ''change''.heard that ord before.but you must question,''change into what?''
by O100
Saturday Feb 7th, 2009 6:29 PM
Stay up to date on how to support arrested demonstrator by going to supporttheoakland100.wordpress.com
by Living White Guy
Sunday Feb 8th, 2009 11:29 AM
Oscar Grant is a dead black guy. I'm a living white guy. I am pretty clearly not Oscar Grant.

The depressing thing about these marches is that there is real community outrage and interest in change, and it's being wasted. Cultish radical organizations are using this situation as a recruiting drive. Shouting in the streets feels good, but does little.

We could make a much bigger difference if we advocated for boring things like citizen's police review boards, and gun-mounted audio and video recorders to keep cops honest.
by rebellionbrewery.com
Sunday Feb 8th, 2009 2:33 PM
If you are a citizen of these United States, then yes you are Oscar grant. Who cares if he is black and you aren't unless you are suggesting blacks are not full citizens. Otherwise we are all in this together.

Video mounted cameras ain't gonna do shit. Review boards ain't gonna do shit just like Internal Affairs and District Attorneys don't do shit in these cases. As states in the 1st Ammendment of the Constitution it is the right of the people to peacably assemble to petition the government for redress of grievances. he founding forefathers understood that power corrupts and that we'd have to go through another revolution against tyranny.

Again I just want to say that Oscar Grant represents every man, woman, and child in this country in that our lives are considered to be forfeit by the government thugs who seem to forget that we pay their salaries and that the Constitution is on our side. We literally have the right to citizens arrest this Mehserle character and try him ourselves because the state has shown an inability to fairly arbiter the case from the very beginning. The people need to start realizing that the law is on their side and that it is the goons who are abusing and mis-interpreting the powers they have been granted. Review boards and video cameras is just more taxpayer money and redtape to distract from the main issue which is that the police are corrupt and blatantly abusing their power and committing brutal acts without fear of punishment.
by the system
Sunday Feb 8th, 2009 10:13 PM
Walking around calling cops pigs and screaming "fuck the system" will do nothing.

As a matter of fact, it helps perpetuate oppression when the people who oppose oppression make shrill and irrelevant noise.

Engage the system, work within it, and things change. They change slowly, but they change. The progress in America in the past 50 years from legal segregation to a black president is real progress. It was a long process, but the victories happened because of civil, non-violent, non-dickish protests which led to the system improving itself.

Look at the progress of Gay Americans over the past 25 years. This did not happen because of riots. It did not happen because of screaming in the street. It happened because gays insisted on being treated as human, and because they did so politely but tenaciously.

Rage divides. Outreach unites. The same can be done with cops. Talk to cops. Get to know one. They're people and they spend most of their time helping. There are bad ones too, but they're harder to weed out if we call all cops pigs and refuse to engage.

Write your city councilmember. Insist that cops get out of their cars, walk their beats, walk the same beats every day, and get to know the people they serve. The reason cops have become more prone to brutality in recent years is that they don't know the people and the people don't know them, so everyone gets distant and scared.

peace.
by Look at the Photos
Sunday Feb 8th, 2009 10:31 PM
The cops are ordered NOT to talk! The cops are licensed to carry weapons. I tend to not want to engage with a person who is carrying a lethal weapon! Gay people engaged in rioting. Stonewall was a rebellion. White nights in San Francisco after Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone were killed by Dan White was very violent. The people have a right to anger! What right to police have to kill when there is no provocation? Oscar Grant cannot defend himself. He died at the hands of the people you want us to talk to?! It's nice you care. There are many people who don't scream at cops. There are those who sit back and put down the victims. Puhleeze.
Oakland has one already. Has for like two decades. Oscar Grant was still killed (by BART PD). Thirty people were killed by OPD in last five years alone.

Please inform yourself before you come on here and act like you know what's going on.

Same goes for the gays-never-riot person. Ever heard of Stonewall? White nights?

Yeesh, people. C'mon. Change comes from many people doing many different things. Your sniping from positions of ignorance is not helpful.

by TheCarol Taylor r.N.
( littleblackbook [at] juno.com ) Tuesday Feb 10th, 2009 9:23 AM
Obviously, the individual who sez she/he's not 'Oscar Grant' and the one who sez 'police are people too' deserve our sympathies: they are blithely unaware that if THEY suddenly turned Black, they too would immediately understand the dangerous plight of folk who wear skins of observable melanin in this hostile-to-color country! Extant methods for routing out color-profiling within the racist/colorist police forces have not worked: the cops are STILL slaughtering Black and other color males AND females with impunity and without re-education about THEMSELVES. -The focus, as the writers mistakenly talk about, should NOT be on theVICTIMS of police brutality: it should be on the police themSELVES who've been bitterly, egregiously miseducated as to who they themSELVES are and have been ancestored from - Black Africans from Black Africa! How ignorant is it to run around slaughtering the relatives of yer own ancestors!? Blacks were their ANCESTORS, stoopid! Revise the miseducation, HEAL, America! - including all cops. Racismtest.org 'em all!
by Pablo
Wednesday Feb 11th, 2009 10:51 PM
Every time the masses make a righteous advance in their conscious fight against injustice, new hordes of critics seemingly crawl out of the woodwork, only to stand to the side moralizing and gesticulating, instead of JOINING the struggle or even offering anything concrete that addresses the contradiction at hand.
LOOK people, the cops don't need to be "understood" or "talked to." They need to be overthrown!! And that's not just rhetoric---they are the first line of defense, the armed enforcers of, an intolerable capitalist and white supremacist system. That is why they act the way they do.
I am so tired of all this propaganda about "good cops." Where are the good cops when the "bad" ones are caught blatantly brutalizing some young brother or sister? Silent behind the blue wall, if they want to keep their jobs. Even the "good" pigs enforce the laws of a pig-ish social system, laws which invariably criminalize the behavior of the poor and marginalized while upholding the existing (highly unequal) property relations. Under a capitalist economic and legal system like we have in the good ole' US of A, the real war criminals who knowingly murder millions of Iraqis and rob people of their life's savings get off scot-free, if they're not rewarded with government posts.
Cops haven't just suddenly begun killing innocent people because we all stopped getting to know them, or something ridiculous like that. One of the reasons people don't wish to befriend them is because they have ALWAYS behaved like an occupying army, as any serious look at the record or candid discussion with the residents of Oakland's ghettoes and barrios will show you.
Not only can MILITANT protest prove "therapeutic" for the hundreds of virtually ignored families of victims, as some family members attested to on the 6th. Not only is it the ONLY recourse we have to alter the direction of things, as the fact that Mehserle was the first cop to be even TRIED for murder in CA in so many years demonstrates. It can also be a powerful way of igniting a revolutionary movement and culture, especially if it's led with that intention and from that vantage point. Revolutionary political currents and full-on rebellion were indeed part of the picture for ALL of the movements against oppression that won some concessions (black lib, gay lib, etc) This is part of a proud peoples' history that the ruling class (yes, there is one of those in the U$A) AND some condescending moderates wish to rob us of.
Get a real dose of history and reality. Join these protests and then do your homework:
"The Oppression of Black People, the Crimes of This System, and the Revolution We Need"
http://www.revcom.us/a/144/BNQ-en.html
"The Struggle for Justice for Oscar Grant: Killer Cop Gets Bail, People Take to the Streets—"We Can’t Rely on this System for Justice"
http://www.revcom.us/a/155/OGrant_struggle-en.html