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Town Hall on BART's Lobby of State Legislature for Their Police Oversight Plan, 8/22/09: audio
by dave id
Tuesday Aug 25th, 2009 10:55 PM
In the August 22nd Town Hall for Justice, the family of Hasanni Campbell spoke first. They pleaded for help in finding 5-year-old Hasanni who is currently missing. Reginald Lyles and Lynette Sweet spoke for most of the rest of the Town Hall regarding BART's recently approved plan for police oversight. They encouraged the community to pressure California Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and other legislators to amend the BART Act before the legislative session ends September 11th so that BART can implement its police oversight model. Tom Ammiano previously had introduced his own state bill, AB312, back in February, that he has currently indicated he intends to reassert in the legislature this coming January. Lynette Sweet announced a BART press conference for Monday, August 24th, intended to further pressure legislators to implement BART's police oversight plan, as well as BART's upcoming Board meeting on Thursday, August 27th, in which she encouraged community members to push for firings at BART related to the murder of Oscar Grant.
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(audio 1:41:39)


Min Keith introduces:

Family of five-year-old Hasanni Campbell from Fremont -- who was reported missing from the Rockridge district of Oakland on August 10th. They plead for help remembering and recovering Hasanni. There are vigils being held every Monday at 6:30pm at the Rockridge shoe store called "Shuz" until Hasanni is found. They are asking for more community support. They believe the police have incorrectly focused in directions other than actually finding Hasanni, and they believe that Hasanni being African American is a factor in the relatively little support the family has gotten. Those interested in helping can attend the vigils, hand out fliers, and contact Sherri Lyn Miller at (510) 276-9090 or Courtney Tascoe Burris at (510) 517-0785 for more information.

11:55, Minister Keith Muhammad
Minister Keith addresses progress being made in the cause of justice for Oscar Grant with the BART police review plan that includes citizens being involved in officer discipline and Johannes Mehserle being the first police officer charged with murder in the state of California. He discusses the release of the public version of the Meyers Nave report and BAMN's efforts to comb through the transcripts of Johannes Mehserle's preliminary hearing in his murder trial.

18:20 Lynette Sweet
Lynette Sweet, BART Board director, speaks about the new BART police oversight plan and their desire for the California legislature to modify the 1957 BART Act so that an auditor, civilians and the BART Board can have disciplinary authority over the BART Police Department which does not currently exist. She goes on to credit Tom Ammiano for putting forward AB312 in February, which would have mandated civilian oversight at BART, and then says that she thinks AB312 is the wrong solution for BART. AB312 called for the DA's in three counties BART serves to appoint an auditor. Lynette Sweet reports that Tom Ammiano is now chair of the Public Safety Board and plans to reintroduce AB312 on January 1st, 2010 rather than try to rush through BART's plan by Friday, September 11th when this legislative session ends. BART wants two changes in the BART Act regarding oversight authority rather than a new law that mandates a full police oversight model for BART. She says that Ammiano refused to meet with BART for them to lobby for their plan, then he agreed to a meeting if BART Directors Lynette Sweet and Tom Radulovich did not attend. She notes that Radulovich and herself have been strongest advocates for police oversight and are amongst the most knowledgable about the issue at BART. Supposedly PORAC (Peace Officers Research Association of California) now wants to help BART pass their plan because they are afraid that Ammiano's AB312 would open the door to the state legislature mandating civilian oversight for any and every police department in the state. PORAC has offered to help BART if BART guts their plan, especially parts regarding civilian oversight, but Sweet called that a "non-starter." She says, though, that BART might end up relying on PORAC help to overcome Ammiano's resistance to the BART plan. Two other BART directors will meet with Ammiano to see what can be done, and Sweet and other directors will also meet with California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) to build pressure from the top. Lynette Sweet announces press conference on Monday, August 24th, to pressure Ammiano to support BART's oversight plan.

32:18 Reginald Lyles
Reginald Lyles, consultant hired by BART after murder of Oscar Grant, lists highlights in his many-decade law enforcement career as well as having travelled to Sacramento with Huey Newton when he was 16 years old. He talks about the history and commonality of police oversight in California and contrasts that with the futile resistance of police advocacy groups like PORAC. He said proper oversight can help check the tendency to racially profile or overzealous use of weaponry. He recounts a conversation with BART police at some point recently when they called civilian oversight "evil." Reginald Lyles walks attendees through a hypothetical police issue that might be handled by BART's version of police oversight. He goes on to talk about the process of the subcommittee that created BART's police oversight plan. Five branches: prosecution of Johannes Mehserle for murder; civil suit by family and John Burris; Meyers Nave investigation will lead to employees leaving BART; NOBLE to assess police department, including its culture; and civilian oversight at BART. He calls for community pressure on California Assembleyperson Tom Ammiano and other members, especially those from East Bay, to pass civilian review. He says Tom Radulovich and Lynette Sweet were two solid votes for firing Chief Gee since January while other BART directors were squeamish about it, including Carole Ward Allen.

1:00:00
Lynette Sweet rejoins the conversation and notes that Joel Keller recently ended up voting for Gee to leave, not because he wanted to but because his constituents pressured him to do it. Finally, after the Meyers Nave report hit, the BART Board came up with five votes, a majority, to push Gee out. (It's unknown who the other two directors to vote against Gee.) Lynette Sweet notes that she and other directors have not seen the full Meyers Nave report supposedly due to Police Bill of Rights restrictions. Someone has leaked internal BART information to Tony Pirone that he is "about out the door" and so friends and family of his have been sending letters to BART asking that he not be fired. She says that Ammiano was meeting with two other Directors on Tuesday, August 25th, and that she and others would also be meeting with Assembly Speaker Karen Bass to try to get the changes to the BART Act that BART wants, and she notes that Karen Bass has the authority to force Ammiano to do it or to remove Ammiano from his chair of the Public Safety Committee if he keeps "playing games." Reportedly, Sandre Swanson from Oakland/Alameda/Piedmont is also on the committee and has shown interest in sponsoring the legislative changes BART wants. Nancy Skinner from Berkeley/Richmond and Tom Torlakson from Contra Costa are other East Bay members of the Assembly committee. One Town Hall attendee notes that State Senate representative Lonnie Hancock from Oakland and much of the East Bay should be contacted although she "often pretends she doesn't represent us." Lynette Sweet notes that Ammiano created AB312 on his own and didn't seek the co-sponsorship for it the only Black in the Assembly from Northern California (Swanson). Lynette Sweet says she will not allow Ammiano to "make his bones" in the Assembly on this bill because "that's all he's trying to do" -- it got killed, she says, and now he wants it back (although she fails to note that BART itself helped to "kill" AB312 back in April). A deacon encourages people to also contact Alameda Supervisor Keith Carson and Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks and ask them to call state legislators.

1:10:00 Minister Keith Muhammad
Minister Keith lists telephone numbers of elected officials to contact that BART recently emailed out to solicit lobbying support for their plan (see below). While the BART Board didn't have access to the full Meyers Nave report, Chief Gee did see it and resigned shortly thereafter (although Sweet seemed to report earlier that the Board voted to push him out and allow him to retire). Minister Keith makes a football analogy to explain why "quarterback" Chief Gee should have been fired because he came out right after the murder of Oscar Grant and said his officers had acted according to protocol, and now he says he is retiring because he disagrees with the Meyers Nave report rather than because it scolded his leadership. Minister Keith goes on to discuss Mehserle's preliminary hearing and how a reporter asked him if Minister Keith was going to have a press conference to announce about Tony Pirone yelling "bitch ass ni**er" at Oscar Grant moments before Mehserle shot him in the back, when that press person had been in the court room and failed to report about Tony Pirone's proven racism. He returns to the football analogy and says that "head coach" Dorothy Dugger should be fired as well now that Meyers Nave report is out, since she had been delaying accountability at BART pending the release of the report.

1:23:20
Lynette Sweet reveals that in closed session of a Board meeting, a consensus of directors did not think that the community was going to pay attention to what they did for more than one or two meetings. Lynette Sweet says that it is okay for community members to come to the BART Board meeting on Thursday, August 27th to say that more than Chief Gee needs to go. Minister Keith assures her that they will.

1:27:00
Yvette Felarca from BAMN stand and speaks about students from LA, Detroit, NY, and London being committed to fighting for justice for Oscar Grant and against police brutality and racism as a whole. They are sifting through the transcripts from the preliminary hearing for evidence to put the police on trial, to expose Pirone. Meyers Nave pulled their punches, she says.

Minister Keith continues with a discussion of Oakland's new Police Chief Anthony Batts having declared that he has an open heart and an open door for the community. Civilian oversight of police in Oakland is an ongoing process. The video of the murder of Brownie Polk has yet to be released, and if it exonerated officers most likely OPD would have released it by now.

1:34:30 Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson
Cephus Johnson says that we are in a war, and we have won some battles, and it goes on. We have to stand firm and believe in victory, the ultimate being a conviction of Johannes Mehserle. He thanks Lynette Sweet for her commitment to justice. Lynette Sweet then apologizes for BART and their police. Cephus Johnson encourages people to call legislators to get police oversight established.

Rev. Brown closes the Town Hall with a prayer.


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previous Town Hall for Justice for Oscar Grant, Oakland, 8/15/09: audio
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/08/24/18619057.php


Town Hall Meetings
Every Saturday 4pm - 6pm
Olivet Institutional Missionary Baptist Church
807 27th Ave, Oakland

Dear Community Member:

Your California State Representatives need to hear from you to encourage them to authorize BART to implement citizen oversight in 2009. The 2009 legislative session ends on September 11 and they need to know that you want them to act now and not in 2010!

The BART Board of Directors has partnered with the community since the January 1 shooting of Oscar Grant to examine the policies and procedures of its police department and create a model for citizens oversight.

Review the findings of the Meyer Nave Report - which was commissioned by the BART Board to provide an independent review of the activities of January 1, 2009 - at http://www.bart.gov/news/articles/2009/news20090818.aspx.

BART is a special district created by the state legislature and requires an amendment of the BART Act to create the citizen oversight model - which the community supports. The citizen oversight model adopted by the BART Board of Directors incorporates the community’s needs and the best elements of the various citizen oversight entities at police departments around the Bay Area. However, the model encompasses two major areas where legislative changes are required to meet its stated purpose.

The first area involves the creation of the position of independent police auditor. Because the auditor would report directly to the Board, the position requires an amendment to the BART Act. The second area requires amending the General Manager’s authority to provide a role for the auditor, citizen board and the BART Board in the discipline process for members of the police department.

In order for BART to adopt the community's model of citizen oversight of the BART Police Department, it is critical that your state representatives hear from you today. Tell your state representative to support legislative changes needed to move forward this year and not delay Citizen Oversight of the BART Police Department. I have attached a version of an e-mail that could be sent.

Key legislators to target message:

Assembly:
Ammiano: (Tara Mesick: 916 319-2059; FAX 916-319 2113)
Swanson (Larry Broussard 916-319-2016; FAX 916 319 2116)
Skinner (Frank Russo: 916 319-2014; FAX 916-319-2114)
Ma (Nick Hardeman: 916 319-2012; FAX 916-319-2112)
Hill (Nathan Solov: 916 319-2019: FAX 916- 319-2119)
Torrico (John Dohert 916 319-2020; Fax 916-2120)
Torlakson (Richard Zeigler: 916 319-2011; FAX:916 319-2111)
Buchanan (Michelle Henry: 916 319-2015: FAX 916 319-3115)
Hayashi (Cory Jasperson: 916 319-2018; FAX 916 319-2118)

Speaker Bass (Chief of Staff, Nolice Edwards 916-319-2047: FAX916 319 2147)

Senate:

Hancock (HANS HEMANN: 916- 651-4009; FAX 916-327-1997)
Leno (Bob Hartnagel: 916-651-4003; FAX 916-455-4722)
Yee (Adam Keigwin: 916-651-4008; FAX 916-327-2186)
DeSaulnier (Krista Pfefferkorn: 916-651-4007: FAX 916-445-2527)
Corbett (Peggy Collins: 916 651-4010; FAX 916 327-2433)
Simitian (Annette Poroni: 916 651-4011; FAX 916 323-4529)

President Pro Tempore Steinberg (In case of Steinberg, call can be made to Chief of Staff, Kathy Dresslar). 916-651-4006 fax 916-323-2263

Key legislators’ e-mail addresses:

senator.alquist [at] senate.ca.gov
senator.corbett [at] senate.ca.gov
senator.simitian [at] senate.ca.gov
senator.yee [at] senate.ca.gov
senator.desaulnier [at] senate.ca.gov
senator.leno [at] senate.ca.gov
senator.hancock [at] senate.ca.gov

assemblymember.coto [at] assembly.ca.gov
assemblymember.ammiano [at] assembly.ca.gov
assemblymember.buchanan [at] assembly.ca.gov
assemblymember.hill [at] assembly.ca.gov
assemblymember.beall [at] assembly.ca.gov
assemblymember.evans [at] assembly.ca.gov
assemblymember.hayashi [at] assembly.ca.gov
assemblymember.huffman [at] assembly.ca.gov
assemblymember.ma [at] assembly.ca.gov
assemblymember.ruskin [at] assembly.ca.gov
assemblymember.swanson [at] assembly.ca.gov
assemblymember.torrico [at] assembly.ca.gov
assemblymember.torlakson [at] assembly.ca.gov
assemblymember.skinner [at] assembly.ca.gov

Contact Roddrick Lee with BART Government and Community Relations with questions or concerns at 510 464-6235.

Thank you for your continued commitment to helping to keep BART safe and improving the BART Police Department.

Kerry Hamill
KHamill [at] bart.gov