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East Bay | Labor & Workers | Police State and Prisons | Racial Justice

Oakland Rally Says: Justice For Oscar Grant! Jail Killer Cops!
by Chris Kinder ( cstephenkinder [at] aol.com )
Saturday Oct 23rd, 2010 9:33 PM
With Bay Area Ports Shut down, Longshore Workers and Oakland Community Rally to Say: Justice for Oscar Grant! Jail Killer Cops!
With Bay Area Ports Shut Down --

Longshore Workers & Oakland Community Rally To Say:

JUSTICE FOR OSCAR GRANT! JAIL KILLER COPS!

by Chris Kinder

23 October 2010 -- Oakland was fired up today, and longshore workers led the way, as close to 1500 people came out in a drizzling rain in Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza, in front of City Hall. After almost 2 years of rage among Oakland's primarily black working class community over the unprovoked police murder of Oscar Grant, the rebellion continues, and shows no signs of abating.

Today the longshore workers of Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), together with their sister locals and supporting friends in the union movement, shut down all the ports of the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area in support of Justice for Oscar Grant! Maximum Sentence for Johannes Mehserle! Local 10 executive board member Jack Heyman said, "The killings of black youth by the police have got to stop, now!"

Mehserle, the ex-BART cop who in 2009 shot Oscar Grant to death while he lay face down on a BART platform, faces sentencing in LA on November 5th. Since the maximum sentence for the absurdly light conviction of involuntary manslaughter (with gun enhancement) is 14 years in state prison, several speakers pointed out that this wasn't enough. While some speakers said that any conviction of a white cop killing a black youth was a victory, and focused on calling on the judge, John Perry, to give the maximum sentence, jailing Mehserle and throwing away the key seemed to be the general sentiment.

As longshore workers came out for Oscar Grant, they remembered that workers shot down by police is nothing new for them. During the 1934 West Coast maritime strike--a pivotal labor struggle in the US--several strikers were shot and killed by police, including two in San Francisco. As Clarence Thomas, a Local 10 spokesman put it, longshore workers honored the memory of the two martyred strikers by moving the struggle forward. "This was the beginning of the ILWU," he said. The workers' answer to this police murder was the San Francisco General Strike. Similarly, the Oscar Grant movement has gone forward to create actions such as that held today.

The family of Oscar Grant was strongly represented today, as Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson spoke to introduce Jack Bryson, the father of a close friend of Oscar's, jack Bryson Jr, who was with Oscar on the Fruitvale Station platform when he died. Unassuming and modest to a fault, Jack Bryson was critical to getting the rebellion around Oscar Grant's murder going in the beginning. Though he deserves much credit, his first words today were to credit the ILWU and other supporters who have come out for Oscar. The rally crowd was also introduced to Oscar's now 6-year old daughter Taisha, who, with tear in eye, gave her greetings over the microphone.

Speakers at the rally, which dwindled a bit toward the end as the rain intensified, included a wide array of union and community leaders, including the president of Local 34, the clerks union of the ILWU; an out-of-town ILWU delegation; as well as support from BART workers, from SEIU 1021 (which represents some port workers who also walked off the job today), and from the OEA, the Oakland teachers union. Solidarity messages were also reported from French dock workers, and from the British parliament. Embroiled as they are in defense against cut backs and class size increases, Oakland teachers have been strong supporters of Oakland's black community, and of victims of the criminal justice system such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Oscar Grant.

It was interesting that none of these speakers called for supporting the Democrats in the upcoming elections, or even mentioned that there were elections. I attribute this partly to the discrediting of Oakland Democratic Mayor Ron Dellums in the course of the Oscar Grant rebellion, in which he exposed himself as more interested in getting the protesters to calm down and go away, than he was in doing something about a blatant police murder of an unarmed man on his watch. Democratic Party politicians were generally nowhere to be seen today, which is not surprising, since they have nothing to offer. The Oscar Grant rebellion has polarized Oakland, with the generally Democratic establishment on one side, and the politically unrepresented black and working class youth on the other.

Also speaking today were community-based supporters such as Cristina Gutierrez of Barrio Unida, Gloria La Riva of the Party of Liberation and Socialism (now running for Congress), and Raymond Nat Turner of Upsurge, and John Burris, the attorney for Oscar Gant's family; as well as former Black Panther leaders Bobby Seale and Elaine Brown, among others.

WHAT'S NEXT? On November 5th, Mehserele gets sentenced in court in LA. If you can't get to LA, come to downtown Oakland. 2 PM Live Art, and 4 PM program, at 14th and Broadway for "A Day To Honor Oscar Grant," sponsored by the General Assembly, ONYX, ANSWER, and others. Contact Cat at 510 703-1500 for more info.

AND: November 9th, 2010: MUMIA ABU-JAMAL has what is probably his final hearing, Third Circuit Court, Philadelphia. Get there if you can, but if you"ll be in the Bay Area...

DEMONSTRATE, November 9th 2010: Mumia Is Innocent! Free Mumia! End the Racist Dearth Penalty! 12 Noon, 14th and Broadway, Oakland. More info, call 510 7632347.

(Chris Kinder is an Oakland resident, a socialist, and the coordinator of the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal)

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Taxpayer
Sunday Oct 24th, 2010 5:40 AM
As stated above: "jailing Mehserle and throwing away the key seemed to be the general sentiment." NOT WITH MY TAX DOLLARS! AND NOT IN THE NAME OF JUSTICE, THE WORKINGCLASS, REVOLUTION, ETC. You cannot claim to be for abolishing prisons and the death penalty, replacing it with rehabilitiation for some and not others. Why does no one call for deporting this thug to his native Germany?

As to the politics of the ILWU, they are a Democratic Party mouthpiece, regardless of who was invited to this rally. Here is their support for anti-labor Obama at:
http://www.ilwu.org/political/index.cfm
Let us remember who Obama refuses to free Mumia Abu-Jamal on the basis of the obvious civil rights violations, he has committed heinous war crimes, attacked the civil liberties of Leonard Peltier and Lynn Stewart and carried out anti-labor actions in regard to destroying the public schools, supporting cutting auto workers wages in half, proudly defending the slaughter of the Palestinians and the humanitarian workers on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla by supporting Israel while the ILWU had a work shutdown about that, refusing to support a moratorium on foreclosures despite the fact that the banks are admittedly illegally foreclosing and much more.

Jails do not solve the problem of police brutality. Organizing labor for a general strike to get rid of capitalism does.

Some of us have seen this show too many times, namely all kinds of rhetoric for the cameras, most of which does not make sense, such as promoting jails for life for some and not others instead of viable solutions, and when the event passes, it is back to business as usual. Glad I missed this scene, and I plan to miss as many scenes as possible. I do vote however. Hopefully, all the adults in that crowd voted Peace & Freedom or Green, as I did, and Yes on 19 and 25, voting by mail. Somehow, I doubt it and if they vote on election day, I doubt they will vote for any Peace & Freedom or Green Party candidates.
by Oaklandish
Sunday Oct 24th, 2010 7:14 AM
I wasn't there today, but a friend was an organizer and said that a disappointing 350 to 500 showed up. You give the figure of 1500. Are you counting the cops?

I guess the rain couldn't prevented more people, but even the photos, video, and mainstream news footage made it look like just several hundred attended. What are you basing your account on?
by cp
Sunday Oct 24th, 2010 1:59 PM
Why is 500 disappointing? That is a pretty huge rally for a nonnational issue.
by Chris Kinder
Sunday Oct 24th, 2010 2:59 PM
Of course none of us like the idea of locking anyone up for life, and I am against both the death penalty and life without the possibility of Parole. But this case is a little, no a lot, different. Mehserle is not just a thug, he was part of an armed gang of thugs and killers whose job is to be an occupation army in the black community. He got away with cold-blooded murder in the name of the law--which represents the rule of the capitalist class. He's not just on the other side of the class line, he's part of the enforcers of class and racist repression.

In the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks weren't for the death penalty either. But they were for the red terror when necessary, as in the civil war conditions that followed the Revolution. (Stalin's murders, gulag etc are not included here--that was part of a political counterrevolution that installed the rule of the bureaucrats).

As to the ILWU being a mouthpiece for the Democratic Party, yes the leadership is that. That policy is opposed from within by those who think we need a revolutionary workers party to represent our true interests, instead of picking between the twin evils of both capitalist parties. However, I was referring to the speakers at the rally, and how the rally represents the experiences on the ground in the Oakland rebellion around Oscar Grant.

As to the numbers, I asked several people, and we all agreed that it was way over a thousand at the peak of the rally. How could you say 350 to 500? If you're talking about very close to the end of the rally, when the drizzle had become more of a downpour, then yes, there were possibly just 350 to 500 people left.

-- Chris Kinder
by Taxpayer
Sunday Oct 24th, 2010 4:53 PM
If we are the alternative, then we have to provide alternative solutions. Mehserle is easy; he can be deported to Germany. This cop is a mentally ill thug, is not getting any therapy in prison and I am not paying for punishment, terrorism, hate. This occupation army exists because there is no labor organizing. If he were rich, we could also take his wealth. He is clearly not rich, but is clearly mentally ill. IN ADDITION, the demand to abolish the police as well as prisons and the death penalty must be made, with no exceptions. At the very least, the BART police must be abolished. These thugs are armed with guns and tasers apparently to be used in the close confines of the BART stations and on BART trains. This is insanity. And please, do not bring "Red Terror" into this; this is not the Bolshevik Revolution; this is the stinking, backward USA where no labor organizing takes place but instead the labor unions give millions of dollars to the Democrats. We cannot wait anymore for change. Now is the time to get off the dime.

As to numbers, it is good if 500 or 1,000 showed up. The real action was the shutdown of the ports which does affect the profits of the capitalist class.
by Wolf
Thursday Oct 28th, 2010 8:51 AM
Mehserle is the SON of German immigrants ,He was born in the good old USA . Besides just as calling for the death penality for uniformed murderers but not for ordinary killers appears as too much of a hyprocritical contradiction so does calling for deporting someone to their parents native country .
Obviously putting the murderer of Oscar Grant in prison for whatever number of years isn't the answer .
But within the limits of our current social/political reality we have to demand the Max sentence for him .
Make no mistake it would be a real victory one that the cops and their friends would despise .
Re the numbers remember that the rally lasted four hours . So many people came and went .And since just about every business in the immediate area closed down that day very few if any shoppers just walking by were included in the estimated turnout .
by Taxpayer
Friday Oct 29th, 2010 8:42 AM
The civil lawsuit gave the "justice," of about $1 million, so Grant's daughter has a nice nest egg. The next task is to abolish the BART police. We are not getting anywhere with the jail system as there is no rehabilitation. One wonders why Mehserle's parents would go from a far more advanced country like Germany, which has had socialized medicine for 127 years to the backward USA, which is 49th in healthcare due to the private insurance system. I guess they must be stupid.