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Summary: Rally in Support of Oscar Grant Arrestees and for Justice
The harder they come, the harder they fall....
On Friday, November 19th, a coalition of groups and individuals held a press conference and rally outside Oakland District Attorney Nancy O'Malley's office.
Those participating demanded that DA O'Malley drop all charges pending against protesters who took to the street, on July 8th of this year and again on November 5th, to demonstrate their outrage at a system that condones lynchings under color of law.
Another demand was that the DA appeal the decision of LA Judge Robert Perry to toss out a jury's finding that former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle intentionally discharged his firearm when he fatally shot Oscar Grant on January 1, 2009.
Participants and speakers included several people arrested on November 5th, as well as representatives of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), Jack Heyman of the ILWU Local 10, members of the the recently formed Oscar Grant Committee Against Police Brutality & State Repression, and members of the New Year's Movement, the Oakland 100 Support Committee, the Oakland General Assembly, OneFam, Advance the Struggle, and BAMN.
Speakers denounced the "false flag operation" (as one man aptly described it) undertaken by the OPD on the night of the November 5th—undertaken to obscure the truth of what really went down, which included the entrapment and unconstitutional arrest of over 150 peaceful demonstrators attempting to march to Fruitvale BART, the use of excessive force or beatings by officers, the illegal seizure of arrestees' DNA, and the withholding of medical treatment and food to prisoners in custody.
They pointed out that, contrary to press statements issued by OPD Chief Anthony Batts and subsequently repeated as gospel by major media outlets, demonstrators/marchers were entrapped en route to Fruitvale, confronted with an overwhelming display of military machinery and force, and given no opportunity to disperse.
Speakers also denounced Batts's misrepresentations on November 5th—which even the OPD has since discredited— that an officer had his gun taken from him by a demonstrators, while another was hit and wounded by [a protestor in] a car.*
Finally, Batts and the OPD were called out for pretending that they were prepared to escort a march to De Fremery Park in West Oakland following the sentencing announcement. Prior to November 5th, representatives of the OPD had stated to community organizers that no march to De Fremery Park was going to take place. Moreover, on the eve of November 5th, they installed a mobile wall on 17th Street to prevent any such march.
To paraphrase the remarks of one young person arrested on November 5th, none of us should be surprised by egregious police conduct when we live in a society in which the police can get away with murder. That said, the overall message expressed by participants at yesterday's press conference and rally is that folks will continue to stand up and organize against violence perpetrated by the police, and won't be deterred by repressive tactics from so doing.
* As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle on November 9, 2010 (http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-11-09/bay-area/24822417_1_protests-end-bart-officer-johannes-mehserle-oscar-grant):
"Police Chief Anthony Batts declared the protest an unlawful assembly on the grounds that a 29-year-old woman had ripped a holster and gun from an officer's belt. But Thomason said Monday that although the officer had 'felt a tug on his right side, on his duty belt,' there was 'no independent evidence' that the protester was responsible.
"The gun and holster ended up on the ground, where another officer retrieved them, Thomason said. The woman, whose name wasn't released, was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest and trespassing.
"The only other major incident involved an Oakland officer who was accidentally struck and injured by a patrol car. He suffered a knee injury but is expected to recover, Thomason said."