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Town Hall for Justice on Change of Venue Motion File by Mehserle, 9/19/09: audio
Minister Keith Muhammad notes that family members of Brownie Polk and Oscar Grant are in attendance. He says that Johannes Mehserle defense attorney Michael Rains' motion for a change of venue for Mehserle's murder trial is not the end to the community's right of free speech. Rains quotes the Town Hall in the motion as if that's a bad thing but the Town Hall was right in what was said. He notes that while Rains' says African Americans can't be fair jurors that African Americans are often more fair in many ways. In the motion, the influence of activists is often overstated and what they do does not intimidate activists. "They want us to continue to be slaves," Minister Keith says and he adds that Rains' wants blacks to tap dance. The recounting of Oakland history in the motion, from immigration to the Black Panthers, is irrelevant to Mehserle's trial. Rains argues that police can't get a fair trial in Oakland, but the Oakland Riders were acquitted twice (although one fled and never faced trial). Minister Keith notes the very small sample used in the survey the motion points to as evidence of bias in Alameda County, yet they polled just 400 people in a country of 1.5 million. Rains says African Americans can't be fair, but African Americans have not had fairness in court in 400 years. Minister Keith tells those in attendance to not be afraid to speak their minds, as Rains does not own their mouths. Addressing a factual error (deliberate or not) in Rains' motion, Minister Keith points out that the Oakland Police Department Chief stated publicly twice that the Nation of Islam was never a part of the Chauncey Bailey investigation, but Rains plays up fake fears of the Nation of Islam. He adds that proper education is the basis of a democracy, not emotion, and speaking about the public record is not a crime.
previous Town Hall on OPD Misdeeds, Orloff Resignation, Mehserle's Defense & more, 9/12/09: audio
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Olivet Institutional Missionary Baptist Church
807 27th Ave, Oakland
Yvette Felarca speaks about the upcoming change of venue hearing, calling for a demonstration at the court house on the first day. She says we have strength through numbers and organization. There should be no change of venue, because those from other counties do not represent us. She notes that the DA's office needed pressure to bring charges in the first place. She calls for the largest turnout possible when the hearing starts in October. Yvette objects to Rains basically saying in his change of venue motion that white suburbans have the right to determine when black men can be shot in Oakland. If we don't stand up, we lose, she says.
Minister Keith then speaks about Rains' racism.
Cephus Johnson declares that he is not afraid of a change of venue and he is not afraid to continue speaking out. He notes that it's not about him, but about his sister, Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant, and her wishes. Cephus says that he wants the community to keep doing what it's been doing. Rains is trying to silence us. He thanks activists, especially teachers who have been discussing the case with their students. Cephus announces an event at Rock Scissors Paper on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland on October 16th: The Human Face of Death Row.
Minister Keith Muhammad discusses the huge pain felt by families who suffer loss and says that the community supports them. It's not about the Nation of Islam or BAMN or others. He discusses still-missing five-year-old Hasanni Campbell and how OPD arrested his parents and lied about evidence of Hassani's presence in Oakland. Regarding the Mehserle trial, all eyes are on Oakland. Johannes Mehserle is guilty, and you can tell Rains to quote me saying it, Minister Keith says. He talks about how the Alameda Board of Supervisors held no public hearing on their appointment of a new District Attorney. He mentions a link at the Oakland Tribune website to coverage of the Town Halls for Justice. As for BART's recent failed attempt to pass its flawed police oversight plan, Minister Keith says it is better to say no to right than yes to wrong. He wonders who it was that leaked it to the corporate media that BART had rehired four of the officers on the platform when Oscar Grant was murdered. Minister Keith calls for people to attend and support JR Valrey at his trial the following Monday for false charges stemming from the Oscar Grant Rebellion on January 7th. He describes the injustice of the judge in the case previously calling JR wreckless for taking his case to trial rather than accepting a plea bargain. Minister Keith says fight, don't plea.