East Bay
East Bay
Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature

Raheim Brown Supporters Protest Barhin Bhatt as Chief at OUSD Meeting, 8/24/11: audio & photos

by dave id
On August 24th, family and supporters of Raheim Brown Jr. once again gathered at Oakland Unified School district headquarters to demand that OUSD police officers Barhin Bhatt and Jonathan Bellusa, the officers responsible for the murder of Raheim Brown, be fired and charged with the killing. This time, though, the anger was even more intense as it was learned less than a week earlier that the tone-deaf and callous superintendent and school board had not only ignored the repeated previous pleadings of community members, but had promoted Barhin Bhatt (Raheim's shooter) to interim chief of the school police upon the previous chief's sudden retirement when racist and threatening comments of his became public. [Audio in three parts below]
[Pictured above: Civil rights attorney Anne Weills speaks to the corporate media during a press conference held before the OUSD school board meeting.]

On August 4th, the following allegations were lodged in complaints filed by fellow officers against OUSD police chief Peter Sarna. Apparently, while driving back from an event at Sequoyah Country Club in Oakland with three other officers, chief Sarna began to rant. Sarna turned to an African American officer, who lives in Orinda, and said that he had no right to live in Orinda because he was a "n----r" and that “he should be hung in the town square” and that “he was the last n----r that he would ever hire.” The story became public on August 15th, and by August 17th Sarna submitted a letter announcing his immediate retirement.

On the same day that it became clear that Sarna was out, it was learned that Barhin Bhatt had been promoted to replace him as interim chief of OUSD police. The decision by OUSD superintendent Tony Smith, with the backing of the board, to appoint Bhatt outraged community members, especially considering that it had barely been a week since dozens of protesters had last rallied at the OUSD administration building calling for firing and charging Barhin Bhatt and Jonathan Bellusa for the murder of Raheim Brown. The move was perceived as a huge slap in the face to Raheim Brown's family, as well as supporters who have been fighting for justice since Raheim Brown was murdered on January 22nd, 2011. It is beyond comprehension how Oakland students could possibly be expected to have any faith in a police force rocked by an ugly racism scandal at the very top followed by the same man who put seven bullets into an unarmed Raheim Brown being appointed to lead the department.

After receiving the fury of community members at the school board meeting on August 24th, it appears that the board has finally listened to protesters on this one point if nothing else. Reports are that the board is reconsidering the decision to appoint Bhatt and that a replacement interim chief is being sought. If Bhatt remains chief, the superintendent and board could very well find themselves facing escalating protests beyond just community members speaking out at and disrupting the next board meeting on September 7th.

August 24th Announcement: Say NO to Murderers in our Schools

Justice for Raheim Brown Jr Demanded at OUSD Board Meeting, 8/10/11
§Audio of Press Conference before OUSD board meeting
by dave id
Listen now:
Copy the code below to embed this audio into a web page:
(audio 13:16)

Unfortunately, about first ten minutes of press conference missing. Audio here picks up with Anne Weills statement in progress.
§George Holland, Pres of Oakland NAACP
by dave id
The NAACP was present em masse that day to address other shortcomings of the OUSD, but joined in solidarity with Justice for Raheim Brown supporters.
Listen now:
Copy the code below to embed this audio into a web page:
(audio 5:37)
§Full audio of speakers at school board meeting
by dave id
Listen now:
Copy the code below to embed this audio into a web page:
(audio 1:02:38)

Includes NAACP speakers and a few others on OUSD deficiencies unrelated to Raheim Brown, but most speakers present to object to promotion of Barhin Bhatt as interim chief. OEA teachers' union members lent their support and sternly questioned the choice of Bhatt as chief.
§Anne Weills
by dave id
§Lori Davis
by dave id
§Jasmine “Jazz” Hudson
by dave id
Public comment ends with supporters disrupting the meeting by chanting "Justice for Raheim Brown" as they exit the board room.
Add Your Comments

Comments (Hide Comments)
take a look at these elitist suits and their designation as "The governing board:"

they are so far out of the community connection and reality that they look like most of the other boards of directors anywhere and everywhere. Just a bunch of elitists going to tell the poor and enslaved people how to behave.

to put bhatt into this position is to rub buckets full of pain into the family, friends and community. these people on this Governing Board are making themselves the enemy of harmony and peace in the community.

Bellusa was effectively ousted from the OPD in a wake of lawsuits stemming from his use of brutality. He was subsequently hired by the school district and, for a time, served as the chief of the OUSD's police force. Roughly six months prior to complaining to the OUSD about his fellow racist, Sarna, Bellusa was complicit with Bhatts in the murder of Raheim Brown.

How much more apparent can the OUSD make its contempt for Oakland's youngsters and for human rights?

New OUSD police chief takes over amidst controversy
By: Ryan Phillips | September 7, 2011 – 1:00 pm

The third Chief of Police for the Oakland Unified School District in two months started his first day on the job Tuesday.

Lieutenant James Williams, a police officer for 17 years, primarily with the Oakland Housing Authority, was named interim chief on September 2, replacing Sgt. Barhin Bhatt. Bhatt, in turn, had replaced OUSD police chief Pete Sarna, who stepped down from his position on August 17, after another officer filed a complaint against him alleging that he used racial epithets to refer to an African American school police officer.

The hunt for Sarna’s replacement has been controversial. The Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant has protested Bhatt’s presence at Oakland schools at “seven or eight” school board meetings this year, according to coalition member Cat Brooks. Bhatt was involved in the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Raheim Brown in January at a dance outside Skyline High School. On January 22, Bhatt and Sgt. Jonathan Bellusa were patrolling the area around Skyline when they approached an allegedly stolen car, in which Brown was seated. According to police, Brown stabbed Bellusa with a screwdriver and was then shot multiple times by Bhatt and killed.

Troy Flint, spokesman for the school district, said Bhatt was a “stop-gap” chief who did an admirable job in a tough situation, but was never intended to be more than a short-term replacement while the district sought applicants for a permanent police chief. Flint said it was not surprising that Bhatt’s appointment was protested, since Brown’s family members and supporters have been protesting at school board meetings since March, asking both that Bhatt be fired and that a wider investigation be conducted into Brown’s death. The coalition intends to protest at tonight’s meeting as well, Brooks said, and every two weeks after that. “The initial call was for Bhatt and Bellusa to be terminated for the murder of Raheim Brown,” Brooks said. “That still stands.”

Flint said external pressure did not have an effect on school board administrators selecting Bhatt, or Williams to succeed him, because Bhatt was the most high ranking officer in the department after Sarna left and was expected to hold the chief job only on a temporary basis. “We appointed Bhatt because that’s what the protocols suggested that we do,” Flint said, “even though we knew it wouldn’t be a popular decision in some circles.”

Williams is also an interim police chief, but Flint said Williams is expected to hold the job for at least a couple months while a search for a permanent replacement is conducted. As the OUSD chief of police, Williams will be responsible for overseeing 16 officers and 79 school security officers, who are responsible for policing OUSD’s 170 sites, including 101 school and 30 charter schools, which serve about 46,000 students.

Flint said the broad range of skills Williams acquired at the Oakland Housing Authority, where he worked as a community police officer, drug elimination officer and fraud investigator, as well as his experience working with a police force that is more unconventional than a typical city police department, helped make him the choice for the job. “He knows Oakland well and is regarded as a man of high integrity,” Flint said.
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


$55.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network