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Town Hall for Justice on Racial Profiling, OPD, BART, Justice Department, 7/18/09: audio
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Minister Keith Muhammad notes that as of this Town Hall for Justice for Oscar Grant, not a singly policing policy has changed in California, except that maybe police officers might be a little more wary of using force in "routine traffic stops" for fear of a video camera documenting their actions. He then goes on to discuss early known details of the Oakland police killing of Parnell Smith on July 15th and police officers like BART officer Tony Pirone having a sense of ownership of city streets or BART trains rather than a sense of accountability to the public. What they end up doing is protecting property rights rather than people. Police in urban areas fail in their primary mission -- for instance, ninety percent of Oakland's murders go unsolved. Laws like three strikes have proven ineffective in their stated goals but effective in discriminating against lower income people of color. A fear of police results from racial profiling and discriminatory laws. On BART on January 1st, it was a white citizen who initially called for law enforcement and described an incident between black males when other witnesses reported that those in the dispute were of various races. From there, known police fear of black males kicked in and Marysol Domenici claimed to have felt that she was going to have to shoot someone that morning. He also describes how BART police stole high-quality video footage of the murder of Oscar Grant from a passenger New Year's Day on the false promise that they would merely copy it and return it to the passenger. Minister Keith Muhammad reports about early efforts to reach out to the federal Justice Department in order to start looking into racial profiling in local police forces as well as to provide a potential back-up should the trial of Johannes Mehserle be moved to a majority white county where he is acquitted as happened with the accused officers who beat Rodney King in Los Angeles. Additionally, community distrust in Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff prosecuting an effective case against Mehserle being a motivation for seeking his recall is discussed. The Town Hall for Justice is seeking reports from victims of police racial profiling and abuse in order to build a case to present to the Justice Department. Towards the end of the audio here, Professor Brown from Merritt Community College makes a point about history being a tool for activists today. Reverend Zachary Kerry stresses the important of small businesses and nationalized health care in reaching economic self-reliance and changing the prison-industrial complex, closing the Town Hall with a prayer.

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