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Oakland Response to Mehserle Verdict - Community Gathering: photos (1 of 3)
The Oakland General Assembly for Justice for Oscar Grant called for a community gathering in the intersection at 14th and Broadway at 6pm on the day of the Mehserle verdict. It was publicly announced in late May, before the trial even started. No permits were sought nor granted. It was simply declared that it was happening, and word spread. The event was to be an opportunity for people to gather to express themselves regardless of the outcome of the trial, with an emphasis on allowing young people to speak their minds unfiltered. Despite the efforts of city leaders and local non-profits to scare people away from the community gathering and to counter-organize with their own last-minute events, perhaps 1500 or more people gathered in the streets downtown after the verdict. On July 8th, 2010, there was much sadness and anger, yet it was a beautiful thing for so many people to come together to hear and be heard on the injustice of the Involuntary Manslaughter conviction of Johannes Mehserle.
[Four photos stitched together depict the view from the community gathering stage just after 6pm. Click to see larger version.]
As a crass incentive to avoid the 14th and Broadway assembly, cash payments from the city were doled out by NGOs to those who showed up or brought others with them to the various NGO events. No matter, as even Oakland Councilmembers were seen in the street at the community speak-out rather than at their own event on the steps of City Hall on the other side of Frank Ogawa Plaza. Likewise, Youth Uprising, amongst the NGOs sponsoring city-approved "healing centers" intended to dilute any potential angst by spreading it across the city, couldn't avoid attending the community gathering themselves. And this was the closest the community event came to being co-opted or compromised from being a 100% authentic, grassroots speak-out held on its own terms -- that Youth Uprising obviously sent a number of young people to speak at the community gathering to parrot the official line that "violence is not justice" as they had done in their ham-handed PSA that offensively equated the murder of Oscar Grant with property destruction. (They weren't very covert about their presence, several having brought with them a grip of glossy Youth Uprising "Violence is not justice" handbills.) Nevertheless, even Youth Uprising's small contingent of young people were graciously allowed to take the microphone along with dozens of others, none of whom were censored.
Video of all of the speakers can be found at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/07/08/18653052.php, courtesy of Bill Carpenter.
Police are blocking people from leaving Broadway down 13th Street in this photo.
Less than two dozen people were present an hour into the city-approved event.
Press Conference Regarding City Attempt to Preempt Day of Verdict Community Gathering, 7/6/10: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/07/10/18653478.php
Community gathering was scheduled by the Oakland General Assembly to run from 6-8pm.
Oakland-native comedian and TV star Mark Curry (in blue at edge of stairs) played MC to the city-approved event. Earlier he had come over to the people's stage at 14th and Broadway to speak.
In the brief time around when this photo was taken, no calls for justice were heard, or even a mention of Oscar Grant or Johannes Mehserle. People who said it was their birthday were lined up, taking turns to do a silly dance for the crowd. Note the metal barrier around the steps.