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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Indymedia | Police State and Prisons | Racial Justice
The Smothering of the Oscar Grant Movement
Yesterday evening, there was a rally in downtown Oakland calling for justice for Oscar Grant III, the 22 year old unarmed Black man who was being restrained by two BART police officers when he was shot in the back at point blank range, on New Years morning, in front of dozens of witnesses who caught it on camera (see blockreportradio.com to see footage).
The rally was called by members of a newly formed organization called C.A.P.E. (The Coalition Against Police Executions), which organized itself in response to the murder of Oscar Grant III. The question that I have about the name is do people have to be executed by the police for this coalition to look into their case; because some are just terrorized and not killed? Would the police terrorism suffered by Nadra Foster at KPFA Radio station in August, who was unarmed and slammed to the ground, kicked between the legs, kicked in the head, and restrained in a type of strait-jacket by the Berkeley police for allegedly making a personal call from an institution that she had volunteered at for over 10 years, qualify for attention? What about the case of Antoine “Soda Pop” Goff and John Tennision who were framed for a murder that they did not commit by the former San Francisco Chief of Police Earl Sanders and his former partner Napoleon Hendrix, and ended up doing 13 years, would C.A.P.E. take this up? Or what about the case of unarmed 15 year old Laronte Studdesville, who was shot in the back by Oakland police in 2007, although he lived and this can not be considered an execution, would this be important enough for C.A.P.E. to take up?
The rally started on the steps of City Hall, in downtown Oakland, which is the exact location where a week earlier, a rebellion against police terrorism broke out, with 105 people being arrested mostly on trumped up charges, camera's and cell phones were confiscated by the Oakland police, and thousands of dollars in property was damaged in response to the inaction of city officials and BART officials responsible for investigating the murder of Oscar Grant..
This rally seemed to be more of a prayer vigil slash Kum-by-yah festival, starting off with prayers and shouting on the mic every few minutes that “ we need to be peaceful”. I started to wonder if the organizers saw the same footage that I saw, because “we” did not shoot Oscar Grant, police officers in uniform did. How can anybody ask for peace before they ask for justice? That gave me a weird feeling when the event first started.
The event came to a climax, at city hall, when the organizers let the mayor, Ron Dellums' criminal ass speak. Less than 24 hours before this rally/vigil/festival sheriffs in Nevada allegedly arrested the trigger pulling officer for murder. The problem is the camera shows 4 other officers aiding Johannes Mehserle, the pig who pulled the trigger. Why have not they been arrested? If I was caught on tape killing anybody, me and everybody who was with me at the moment would have been arrested whether or not they knew what I was going to do or not. Why did the C.A.P.E. organizers let the Mayor speak, as if he was some kind of hero or something? Consequently, the mayor was questioned by the people during his speech about why the other 4 cops involved are not under arrest. He ignored the questions and continued to try and look like Dr. King when he spoke.
Pissed off and frustrated with unprincipled behavior, I asked the stage manager, the local singer Jennifer Johns, why was the mayor speaking at a protest at city hall. If we were not protesting the mayor at city hall, who were we protesting? I then asked if the protesters who were arrested in the rebellion a week earlier, would have a chance to speak to get support for our upcoming trials. Johns told me, “you should have come to the meeting”. I told her that I was at the doctor and meeting with potential lawyers at the times of these meetings. Her arrogant attitude personified the class contradictions that were evident between the organizers of this rally, and the young people who risked their freedom to rebel in the streets; let me remind you that it was the rebellion and threat of another one that got the cop arrested.
To add insult to injury, Oakland pimp rapper Too Short was allowed to speak, who has never been a part of a community struggle to my knowledge, but the people who were out in the streets during the rebellion, risking their freedom at the moment, and jail time in the future including those who did not commit any crimes but were peacefully protesting; we were not given a chance to speak on the mic, our cases were not talked about, and C.A.P.E. co-founder Dereca Blackmon's promise to collect donations for our defense did not happen at any time, according to what I saw and heard.
My personal highlight from the day, was Minister Keith Muhammad of the Nation of Islam, calling for the resignation or recall of DA Orloff, who hesitantly arrested one of the cops, and still has not arrested the other 4 that were directly involved in the incident that costed the 22 year old father, Oscar Grant his life. This was the only strong demand that I heard come from the stage at the “rally”/kum-by-yah fest.
The Bay Area is fortunate enough to not be plagued with Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson types, who run to the bedsides of victims to hijack community struggles then water them down. We have to maintain that legacy and not allow no one to lead us that does not have a principled track record of struggle, in this arena. This is too dire of a situation to let some rookies, and that's with me giving them the benefit of the doubt, take the lead, while they learn what going head up against the system is about. In my opinion, they need to humble themselves to find out what the community really wants, including those who rebelled in the streets. Who is C.A.P.E. really saving, the system or the people?