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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Police State and Prisons | Racial Justice
Town Hall for Justice for Oscar Grant, Oakland, 8/29/09: audio
Marsha Polk, Brownie Polk's sister, is in attendance. Minister Keith speaks to how well regarded Brownie Polk was in the community versus the irrational fear so many police officers have of African American men. He discusses what is known about the Oakland police shooting of Brownie Polk and that OPD has a video of it that they have not released to the public.
Minister Keith discusses the unfortunate (for justice) recent events surrounding BART's police oversight plan. He talks about BART's misleading press conference and BART's legislative lobbying efforts with Assemblymember Sandre Swanson for AB16. He talks about the BART Board meeting three days later where community members objected to BART's inaction regarding accountability and it was learned that the legislation BART was pushing was actually a severely weakened version of police oversight whereby the final say in police discipline would remain with the General Manager (who to date has done nothing to hold BART police accountable for their actions on January 1st). He discusses how in April BART effectively stopped AB312, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano's attempt to establish police oversight at BART. Minister Keith also talks about how BART issued orders for all of its employees to never discuss the Oscar Grant case.
Minister Keith discusses the importance of forces for justice remaining unified as there is still a long struggle yet to go.
Gordon Humphreys opens this week's Town Hall with a prayer and introduces Minister Keith Muhammad:
previous Town Hall on BART's Lobby of State Legislature for Their Police Oversight Plan, 8/22/09: audio
Town Hall Meetings
Every Saturday 4pm - 6pm
Olivet Institutional Missionary Baptist Church
807 27th Ave, Oakland
Francisco Da Costa, writer and environmental activist, speaks to the ins and outs of effective community lobbying for legislation based on his many related experiences.
Wilson Riles, former Oakland City Councilmember, speaks about the recent court order to reduce the prison population in California and what is being done to accomplish or resist the order. The serious overcrowding of prisons has been ruled to be cruel and unusual punishment and reducing that population is not only humane but would save California billions of dollars. He talks about PORAC (also fighting against civilian oversight at BART), prison guard unions, and prison construction interests fighting against reducing the number of prisoners. Wilson Riles says that Californians United for a Responsible Budget are fighting for a sizable prisoner release. Minister Keith adds info about the Terminator Tour which offers walk-throughs in communities to reveal the very real and devastating effects of recently enacted and proposed state budgets cuts. He also talks about the dangerous situation in prisons created by overcrowding.
Gregory speaks about federal Housing and Urban Development and Oakland city planning that has lead to the loss of affordable housing for low income residents in Oakland. Part of this included provisions that denied services and housing to those who have criminal records. This relates to the last issue discussed of prisoner released as it is important that prisoners are released with proper resources allocated for successfully re-assimilating back into their communities.
Dr. Ramona Tascoe, Allen Temple Baptist Church, discusses the case of missing five-year-old Hasanni Campbell, whose foster mother spoke at the previous Town Hall. Ramona Tascoe says that while police arrest and detain Hasanni's foster parents (since released due to insufficient evidence) as their role in the disappearance remains in question, the most important thing to keep in mind is that Hasanni is still missing and weekly vigils will continue until Hasanni is accounted for.
Gordon Humphreys, Olivet Baptist Church, closes out the Town Hall by asking questions about the prison reduction plan, where the potential moving of California prisoners to Michigan rather than actually releasing them is discussed.
Gordon Humphreys raises a concern about clergy often being woefully uninformed about issues such as the prisoner debate and therefore then doing their congregations, who are effected by such police decisions, a great disservice.