Saturday, November 06, 2010

Oscar Grant Verdict Responses in Oakland

It took me most of the day to get out of East Oakland, so I arrived at the rally as it concluded, the citizens assembled marching down 14th Street towards Lake Merritt, breaking parked car windows as they shouted "No Justice No Peace . . ." fists raised, signs held up as police blocked Webster, Harrison, Franklin--the cross streets. One women was very upset that her vehicle's windshield was shattered. There was no need for the destruction of property. She said, she didn't have car insurance.

But people were angry. Perhaps a fund could be set up to compensate individuals like this woman.

I walked up to 14th and Broadway where more police were gathered in riot gear; many with high powered arsenal stood on all corners: blocking the BART elevator entrance where in front two musicians Marcus on drums and another man on sax, playing a powerful homage to the tragedy witnessed in California courts that afternoon.

Other police stood in front of Walgreens and they kept shifting as a unit, marching to various corners and then standing. Many police had cameras and took photos and video footage of the people assembled. I ran into Eesuu on his bike and we talked before my daughter and I walked down to Joyce Gordon Gallery for a reception.

After I left the Michael Platt and Carol Beane reception headed towards Berkeley on Telegraph, I asked a patron to walk me to my car on 13th Street and Alice, because the idea of walking past all the police assembled, rifled and in riot gear, was unnerving. It was like a scary Halloween flick, but those guns held real bullets.

So he walked to my car with me and as we walked, Martin spoke about the state's systematic targeting of black men and their removal from their families, and work he is doing to unravel this phenomena. He spoke about the many black men he counsels who would love to be with their children and how they played into the net that keeps them outside that structure. Black children are taken from their parents easily and placed in foster care, adopted out, and with Oscar Grant, killed with impunity-- the one responsible not unnamed or unidentified.

Eesuu called it a public lynching.

Driving down Telegraph on 17th Street there was a beautiful mural of Oscar with wings, Saint Oscar, the drawing taking up the entire wall, then across the street is a painting of Grant with his daughter and family. The humanizing aspect of the work and the outrage about his demise and the judicial systems support of this murder is not going away.

People were and are angry with the president, with the mayor and with the government over the injustice. Two years. It is as if the judge gave Mehserle as little time as he was permitted. People used as mules, for nonviolent crimes--often a first offense get more time.

There are so many women wasting away in prison for defending their lives against violent partners who have spent 15, 20, 30 years behind bars, while Mehserle, who was not threatened by Oscar Grant kills this young black man and walks. What does this say to all the other youth, especially those criminalized by the Alameda country DA Russo's Gang Injunction, now in Oakland's Fruitvale District?

In a press release received the following morning, Saturday, November 6, 2010, the Oakland Police Department "reports that 152 arrests were made with a majority arrested under California Penal Code Section 408. Of the 152 people arrested, 145 were adults and 7 were juveniles. More than one-third of those arrested reside outside of Oakland and included residents of Berkeley, Hayward, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and other California cities.

"The arrests came as the peaceful and organized protest ended and a small number of people marched into the streets and acted out in a riotous and violent manner including damaging private property and throwing rocks, bottles and missiles at law enforcement officers."

Members of the Mutual Aid Project, Nov. 5, 2010. Shot by Wanda Sabir


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