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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Police State and Prisons | Racial Justice
Gone But Not Forgotten - Justice for Oscar Grant! Community Gathering: audio & photos
On January 1st, 2010, the first anniversary of the murder of Oscar Grant III by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, family members organized a vigil at the Fruitvale BART station where Oscar was shot and killed. Community activists, organized as the General Assembly for Justice for Oscar Grant, planned for a rally at the Fruitvale station to commence at the conclusion of the vigil and a cultural gathering for the evening at the Humanist Hall in Oakland. This is the third of three posts on anniversary events and includes full audio from the evening community gathering.
The gathering at the Humanist Hall was the event of the day that most incorporated youth and all spectrums of the community of Oakland residents interested in justice for Oscar Grant. There were no pre-conditions on what could or could not be said at the event.
In a disruptive move by the Oakland Police Department, several armed OPD officers with "Negotiator" labels on their backs entered the Humanist Hall before speakers and performers began. OPD walked through the venue and around the grounds out back. Everyone inside the crowded hall got incredibly edgy with their presence. OPD then agreed to stay across the street from the venue throughout the evening, apparently satisfied with their recon mission through the building and back yard.
Once the last of the OPD interruptions were done with, the show began. Organizer headcounts showed nearly 200 people present at one point, not counting those who came and went through the night. An alter to honor Oscar Grant was set up inside the hall. There was an exhibit of photos from early 2009 by Keba Konte, and there was live art by Desi, including the creation of two paintings of Oscar Grant during the event. The program included multi-faith representatives, performing artists, speakers, and a couple of videos shown on a big screen.
Tony Coleman MCd the event. Speakers and performers included Dr. Ramona Tasco - Faith Speaker; Rev. Humphreys - Faith Speaker; Boots - Rap (acapella); Min. Keith - Faith Speaker; Andrea - Song; Miss Jada Simone - Song; Salih Muhammad - Faith/Youth Speaker; David from Revolution Club - Speaker (held at juvenile hall after Oscar Grant rebellion till public protest got him released); Opi - Spoken Word, also with Revolution Club; Hannibal - Speaker, Oakland Assembly; Diamond and Silence the Violence - Rap (ensemble); Cat - Spoken Word; Diva - Song; Dee Allen - Spoken Word (UC8 arrestee); Dumpster - Spoken Word; Usual Suspects, project of the Paid Poets Society - Poetry; Black Azz - Comedy; J.R. - Speaker & Intro Mumia CD (still facing bogus felony charges from Oscar Grant rebellion); Mumia Abu Jamal, pre-recorded speaking about Oscar Grant case; Baby Jamaica - Rap; Kevin Cooper Letter - Read by Askari X's daughter, w/ Silence the Violence; Mistah F.A.B. - Showed Tribute Video; Be Real, Be Funny - Comedy; JACK - Speaker + Cephus; Selassie - Rap; B Janky of Trunk Boiz - Rap; Ise Lyfe - Spoken Word; Sherri - Poetry; Don Juan - Speaker, Oakland Assembly, host organization (which includes many individuals & organizations).
While it was a long road getting to the Humanist Hall community gathering, and some bitter feelings linger about obstacles thrown in the way of organizing efforts, the event itself was highly successful and organizers hope to host similar events and other actions for justice in the future.
Thanks to the good folks at the Humanist Hall for sticking up for the event despite pressure to not allow it to happen. Thanks to Uhuru Solidarity Oakland for providing the yummy vegan chili and cornbread. Personal thanks to Ray Jax for the very thorough notes on the evening line-up of speakers and performers.
January 7th: Public Meeting of the General Assembly for Justice for Oscar Grant
Continental Club, 1658 12th St., West Oakland (between Campbell & Willow)
January 8th: Oscar Grant murder trial begins in Los Angeles
January 12: Demand Strong Civilian Oversight at Assembly Hearing on BART Police Oversight
January 13th: Anniversary of Mehserle's Arrest Fundraiser for O100 Holly Works and JR
The song "Underdogs" was featured on the The Coup's 1998 "Steal This Album"...
This is for my folkers who got bills overdue
this is for my folkers, umm check 1-2
this is for my folkers never lived like a hog
me and you toe-to-toe, I got love for the underdog
I raise this glass for the ones who die meaningless...
Tristan Anderson was critically wounded in March by Israeli Defense Forces and remains hospitalized: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/03/13/18576814.php
Ise Lyfe is the founder of Scholorship Fund for artists, grades 6th-12th, to help them produce a wide variety of works against police brutality. Scholarship recipients are also eligible for other non-cash resources and support. For more, email workshop [at] teacher.com. Ise Lyfe has also set up a specific $4000 individual scholarship in the name of Oscar Grant III.
Gone But Not Forgotten - Justice for Oscar Grant! Family Vigil, Fruitvale BART: photos
Gone But Not Forgotten - Justice for Oscar Grant! Community Rally, Fruitvale BART: audio & photos