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Town Hall on Anniversary Vigil, Mehserle Trial, and Gang Injunctions in Oakland, 1/9/10: audio
In this week's Town Hall for Justice for Oscar Grant, Minister Keith Muhammad reflects on the one-year anniversary vigil held January 1st, the first hearing in Los Angeles in the trial of Johannes Mehserle, BART police oversight, and the gang injunctions that the city of Oakland is looking to implement early this year.
Minister Keith Muhammad says that the January 1st vigil in remembrence of Oscar Grant was a success. OPD and BART did not want the vigil to happen and they had a larger presence than supporters. One day before the vigil BART denied staging and sound system for family, offering only a power plug which was insufficient. Desley Brooks found stage company. The Nation of Islam served to protect those in attendence, not protrol them. Police checkpoints were set up around the Humanist Hall event. Ten guards were required by OPD for Humanist Hall makes no sense for size of Hall, unless just to frustrate organizers.
Minister Keith then reports that the January 8th hearing in L.A. lasted about 45 minutes. Fifty to sixty people demanded justice outside the court house earlin in the morning. Metal detectors to enter building and on floor of trial. Families each got six seats, defense and prosecution. There was a lottery to get in, not first come first served as in Alameda. 20-25 sears for public in small court room -- some handed over tickets to be sure all family etc could get in. Rains seemed astounded Oakland followed the trial to LA pl.us large LA crowd. Mehserle found same thing he found here -- calls and banners for justice. Rita WIlliams of KTVU argued for cameras in court room. She said Johannes Mehserle always shown in jail jumpsuit and not fair to him. Judge disagreed. Judge said cameras intimidate witnesses and lawyers. We will have to inform ourselves through Town halls etc. Gag order to continue, but Rains already violated that in Alameda. Judge called Rains out on newspaper reports, quoting him, but never punished him. New Judge Perry seems stricter.
February 19th -- Rains to try to get Alameda prosecutors off the case; and Rains to appeal for bail reduction for Mehserle.
Trial in May -- no need to waste time with who shot Oscar Grant, only intent in question, so judge asked how many days defense and prosecution needed -- each said about 8-10 days. So trial does not have to be pushed out as far as thought and can proceed in mid-May.
Johntue Caldwell, one of Oscar Grant's friends from the Fruitvale platform when he was murdered, has filed a new suit for $5 million against BART, Gee, and Mehserle. BART's response was "thugs" not cooperative and that led to shooting and Johntue has a criminal record. If a record means you can't be heard, why not the U.S. with its criminal record.
Tuesday (1/12/09) following this Town Hall an Assembly hearing on BART police oversight, Swanson's AB1586 and Ammiano's AB312 to be discussed. Swanson's bill is stripped-down, toothless version of one BART created and removed civilian power to discipline officers.
Mehserle's attorney Rains is also defending OPD Mixon officers from discipline. New report released but individuals not named due to Police Bill of Rights. Some OPD command staff to be demoted or disciplined over the incident that left Mixon and 4 officers dead. Captain Kozicki retired early knowing the report was coming.
So, we don't just want oversight, we want effective oversight. Contact legislators on committee and in Assembly, letters and calls, to support strong oversight. PORAC said any discipline by civilians or elected officials is unacceptable to them. BART directors unanimously approved stronger version but it was made weaker. "We want civilian oversight review with disciplinary power."
New OPD Chief Batts targeting drugs, guns, and gangs. Oakland now considering gang injunction despite no large gang presence link in other cities like L.A. Gang injunction is a lawsuit by a city targeting people for things like talking on cell phones or being at the same place at the same time. Once you are alleged to be a gang member on the word of police without evidence, you are stuck with that label. Federal funds flow to police who claim to be fighting gangs. 1997 -- People ex rel Gallo v Carlos Acuna -- challenge to gang injunctions as violation of First Amendment rights to free assembly. Supreme Court of California upheld injunctions. Minister Keith reads the dissenting opinion about denying black and brown youth access to neighborhoods. In Chicago, the US Supreme Court upheld injunctions (the ACLU is challenging that). Hyphey defined as gang member, so we should never be quick to define youth as gangs, but should work to help educate. Tattoos about cities and neighborhoods should not be reason to label people as gang members. Ex-gang members have to go to court to disprove something that was never proven in the first place. Gang injunctions are a new way to profile like racial profiling (hair, tattoos, etc as justification to pull people over to inquire.) Police weapon-check, search, and use parole questions as excuse to initiate contact now without gang injunctions. Don't let fear lead to government to take away our rights. We need to dialogue with city officials about gang injunctions issues. State Assemblymember Ammiano has spoken against gang injunctions.
Three strikes and gang injunctions haven't reduced violent crime but make things worse when education, resources, and re-entry programs are not offered.
previous Town Hall for Justice for Oscar Grant, Oakland, 12/19/09: audio
[No Town Hall on December 26th or January 2nd.]
Town Hall Meetings
Every Saturday 4pm - 6pm
Olivet Institutional Missionary Baptist Church
807 27th Ave, Oakland