*** Please spread far and wide ***
just been announced that the BART police officer, Johannes Mehserle, who stood
over 22-year-old Oscar Grant, as he lay face down on a BART platform at 2 a.m.
New Year’s with dozens of other passengers watching and, thankfully, recording
with their cell phones, and shot him point blank in the back, has been arrested
It took nearly two weeks to charge the killer of Oscar Grant, unarmed father of a 4-year-old daughter, but the 105 protesters arrested last Wednesday, Jan. 7, during the rebellion that lit up Oakland with the rage of young people demanding an end to police terrorism and officials’ silence and complicity were charged immediately. Of the three or four charged with felonies that night, the only journalist was our own Minister of Information JR, accused of felony arson. The charge is bogus: He lit no fire; he was there with his community, photographing and reporting on their righteous fury. The police, who know him well as their most outspoken critic, confiscated his camera.
He’s out of jail now, and this is his story, just posted at www.sfbayview.com and www.blockreportradio.com. Get involved - JR’s story will tell you how, and more events are listed in the Bay View’s online calendar - and check sfbayview.com for several other stories and videos on the execution of Oscar Grant; more (on this and countless other topics) are being posted daily. If you like them, digg ‘em or use one of the other icons at the end of the story to tell the world; and join the conversation in the comments section.
During the first Wednesday of 2009, downtown Oakland was physically rocked by the justified fury that the rebellions brought out in response to the police killing of 22-year-old unarmed Black male Oscar Grant, who was fatally shot at the Fruitvale BART station while he was face down, being restrained by two officers, in front of dozens of witnesses New Year’s morning.
For me, that day of protesting started at the Fruitvale BART station with a peaceful rally that was organized by members of the Bay Area’s activist community. Speakers included Crea Gomez, a community non-profit advocate, local rappers like Zion of Zion I and Mistah FAB, as well as concerned community members like myself who were appalled at the police murder. I was there as a member of the Black community demanding justice for the police murder of Oscar Grant, as well as I was in attendance as a journalist on assignment.
I arrived a little bit after the protest started, I witnessed at least 200-300
people who were demanding justice for Oscar Grant’s family at the BART station.
BART had shut down the station so that it would slow the pace of protesters who
could have used the BART to get to the rally but had to rely on
One of the things that struck me
most about this rally was the fact that it was so many people who were moved to
children, a racial cross-section of
seemed to me that people have to see police atrocities on television to believe
that they happen in the Black community, when young Black males in the Bay Area
and all over the country know from experience that the police have a legal
license to kill you, severely beat you or frame you with no repercussions. An
example of this is the Oscar Grant case, where he was unarmed and shot point
blank, while being restrained by two officers and surrounded by at least three
more, yet no one was charged with murder, manslaughter or as an accessory to
murder. After a few hours, this demonstration ended peacefully, with the
remaining protesters marching to downtown
I left and went and hung out with
some of my friends that were at the Fruitvale BART protest. About an hour
later, I got a call telling me that I needed to cover what was going on in the
streets of downtown. When I got there, I saw dozens of police in a huge circle
on 14th and Broadway, occupying the intersection in front of City Hall. The
On one block, the militant activists were shouting slogans face to face with police. Behind them, a few bands broken up into racial groups were smashing car windshields and storefronts on 14th, using their feet and their skateboards. Many of the white protesters, who had their faces covered up, were involved in setting cars on fire. I was photographing this historic time, where the people’s patience ran short on city officials, including the mayor, who refused to indict any of the officers involved.
Since this day, I have seen many reports talking about white invaders taking over the rebellion, which is b.s. Yes, they played a part, but so did everyone else. They didn’t take over anything, and the Black, Brown and Asian youth involved were taking leadership from themselves, not the white people.
the peaceful though spirited rally at the Fruitvale BART station on Wednesday,
Jan. 7, protesters marched downtown, where they were met by walls of police in
riot gear, sparking a rebellion that forced the powers that be to recognize the
rage stirred up by the New Year’s execution of Oscar Grant and official
I’ve also heard some criticisms of the rebels, because of the fact that they tore up innocent people’s property. But the reality is that the peaceful protest outside of Fruitvale BART as well as the meeting of ministers, reverends and local politicians that took place that morning demanding an explanation from the D.A. did not put the mayor, police and city officials on notice nor did those actions have the energy behind them to make the police execution of Oscar Grant a national story.
The rebellion did. As a matter of fact, during the rebellion, Mayor Dellums had a secret meeting with many of these suit-types, then proceeded to walk through the rebellion like Black Jesus, with about 50 primarily Black people in suits following him across Broadway to City Hall, where he held a press conference. Needless to say, the protesters he was talking to demanded that he indict all of the officers involved, but the mayor clouded the issue with words like “respect” and “civility” while the city was burning and being trashed in the backdrop due to his negligence in dealing with a police force that has a notorious history of terrorism in the Black community - as if it had not been police who shot an unarmed Black man, Oscar Grant, a week prior.
“This guy was walking with a group of friends about a half block past McDonald’s on 14th when police targeted just him and chased him in a circle back around the McDonald’s. He then ran across the street and once he saw there were cops running at him from both sides, he just stopped and stood there. Cops pushed him down and immediately began tasering him as he lay there not resisting. They may have tasered him for close to a full minute. Since when did using tasers become a standard part of handcuffing someone?” writes the photographer. – Photo: David Id, IndyBay
the mayor was booed and run off from his press conference, Round 2 of the
rebellion began, claiming Broadway and 17th. This was at about The
I was arrested in front of the
After I was arrested and in the paddy wagon, I heard a dispatcher say that the police needed to confiscate all cameras and camera phones from arrestees, which they did, so that they could use this info as evidence in different cases. To add to their reasoning, they also wanted to cover up and slow down the amount of information that could be posted, broadcast and published that was live from the street rebellion in Oakland, where protesters were being routinely roughed up and beaten by the Oakland police, while the mayor, who was on the scene, refused to act in this case, as well as in the case of Oscar Grant. A week later, I still don’t have my camera, which I use daily to bring in an income to support myself and feed my family.
When I got locked up, the
solidarity was amazing. Blacks, Latinos, Asians and whites were in
Now the truth of the matter is that most people arrested were cited out, but the felony charges were saved for Blacks and Latinos. Me and the brotha were the only ones on our bus to Santa Rita who had to put on the “Yellows,” which represent violent inmates, while the rest of the people on the bus with us put on “Blues,” which designate a prisoner as general population.
Behind enemy lines, the inmates at
Santa Rita put their fists in the air, smiled, cheered and gave us dap when we
told them that we were being held captive because we were in the streets during
the rebellion. Mexicans were congratulating Blacks, Blacks were congratulating
whites, Norteńos (a
When it is all said and done, I’m
The rebellion was just the beginning of a longer political education class in Amerikkkan politics and how it fails to meet the needs of its Black and Brown low income dwellers. I will continue to cover how the cops who were involved in the shooting of Oscar Grant are handled by the city, how the protesters who caught charges in the rebellion are handled, as well as see how the police are handled after they were brutally beating people up, framing people at the rebellion and stealing their cameras and telephones without warrants to build cases against people.
The arrested protesters’ next
hearing is this Friday, Jan. 16, ,
in Department 112 of the Wiley M. Manuel Courthouse,
You could hear from the family of
Oscar Grant and from protesters, community leaders and artists at the “Town
Bizness Townhall Meeting - Against Police Terrorism” on Friday, Jan. 23, at the
legendary Black Dot Café,
Thanks to the generous support of Black Repertory Group Theater producer Sean Vaughn Scott, the matinee performance of Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” on Saturday, Feb. 7, will benefit my legal defense fund and Block Report Radio. Doors will open at for a talk by Prisoners of Conscience Committee Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., and the play will follow.
Demand that the police involved in the execution of Oscar Grant be charged and that the trumped up charges against JR Valrey and all the other arrested protesters be dropped immediately. Call, mail, fax or email:
• Mayor Ron Dellums,
1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, 3rd Floor,
• District Attorney Tom
• Congresswoman Barbara Lee,
Also, all who can are urged to
offer your financial support to Minister of Information JR for his legal
defense and to replace his camera by donating online at www.SFBayView.com. You can also donate by
credit card by calling the Bay View at (415) 671-0789 or you can mail your
donation to SF Bay View,
Other Bay View stories about the execution of Oscar Grant:
Oscar Grant, young father and peacemaker, executed by BART police
Did BART cop who killed Oscar Grant mistake gun for Taser?
Oscar Grant execution by BART cop: Clear, close video view from platform
New Year’s resolution: Stop shooting young Black men
Oakland PD brutally arrests Minister of Information JR at Oscar Grant protest
Oakland’s not for burning?
Wanda’s Picks updated Jan. 13 includes commentary on Oscar Grant, plus Wanda’s visit with women prisoners and many other topics. Check the videos section of sfbayview.com too. And consider signing BAMN’s Justice for Oscar Grant! petition at http://www.bamn.com/oscargrantpetition.asp.
And don’t miss these stories about the almost simultaneous police murder of Adolph Grimes in New Orleans:
New Orleans mobilizes against police murder of Adolph Grimes
Condemn the New Orleans police murder of Adolph Grimes III
This new year, so pregnant with promise, has already delivered way too many atrocities. The genocidal attack on
Willy Pete vs. slingshots
Obama camp ‘prepared to talk to Hamas’
The Gaza bloodbath
The great debate: Hamas vs. the U.S. Senate
Protesters condemn Israeli invasion of Gaza
Finally, some very good news from the wonderful doctor who restored my sight:
“In the spirit of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and in support of the ‘new America’ vision of President Barack Obama, we are opening our office for free eyecare and examinations on Monday, Jan. 19, 2009, from 9am-5pm. Please call now to reserve a space. A. Sydney Williams MD, 45 Castro #318, San Francisco, CA 94114, (415) 431-9555.” Please spread the word.
Mary Ratcliff, firstname.lastname@example.org
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