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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Police State and Prisons | Racial Justice
Justice for Oscar Grant Event Faces Venue Change Order, RPS Gallery, Oakland, 10/16/09: audio and video
Throughout the month of October, the Rock Paper Scissors Collective is hosting an art exhibit presented by the Campaign to End the Death Penalty featuring the works of Kevin Cooper, James P. Anderson and Eddie Vargas, all condemned by the state of California to death row or life sentence at San Quentin prison. Several related events have been held this month at the RPS Gallery on Telegraph Avenue, including an evening looking back at the case of state-executed Stan Tookie Williams and another, "Live from Death Row," with Kevin Cooper telephoning in to the gallery. A Justice for Oscar Grant event was held on October 16th. Family members and other advocates spoke, a group of activists performed a capella, and two short movies were screened for a standing-room only crowd of supporters.
Pictured above: Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson
The same day that the RPS event was to take place, scheduled months in advance, Superior Court Judge Jacobson ruled that Johannes Mehserle's trial would be moved outside of Alameda County, so much of the evening was focused on that disappointing news. While many fretted that the trial would be moved to a less diverse, more racially biased and police-friendly county -- thereby giving Mehserle an unfair advantage in his murder trial -- there was still a strong feeling of hope that justice would yet be served for the murder of Oscar Grant III, and perhaps the venue change would be an opportunity for local activists to reach out to those fighting police brutality in another part of the state.
Speakers, performers, and screenings included: Cephus Johnson, Oscar Grant's uncle; Jack Bryson, father of two of Oscar Grant's friends who were with him when he was murdered; Lita Gomez, sister of Sophina Mesa, fiance of Oscar Grant; Barbara Becnel, activist and friend to Stan Tookie Williams; JR Valrey, of Block Report Radio and the SF BayView newspaper, currently still facing bogus felony charges related to the Oscar Grant rebellion of January 7th; a speaker from Art for a Democratic Society; performers from Silence the Violence/Urban Peace Movement; an Oscar Grant Tribute movie; and a new short film by JR Valrey, called Operation Small Axe, that focuses on the occupation of Oakland's communities of color by militarized police through the stories of Oscar Grant and Lovelle Mixon.
...otherwise they would not have been within a mile of this event.
Oscar Grant video was shown before audio recording begins
Can be viewed at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/07/21/18611878.php
Kevin Cooper and James Anderson wrote statements in support of justice for Oscar Grant to be read at the event