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Oakland PD brutally arrests Minister of Information JR at Oscar Grant protest

January 9, 2009

Tell Mayor Dellums, DA Orloff and Congresswoman Lee to drop charges against all the protesters

by Mary Ratcliff

In November, the Side Show Radio crew – Minister of Information JR, Black Azz, Trikki and Boss Lady – hosted their monthly show on KPFA on the last Friday of the month. Shady Nate, also in the photo, was one of the featured guests. – Photo: Minister of Information JR
In November, the Side Show Radio crew – Minister of Information JR, Black Azz, Trikki and Boss Lady – hosted their monthly show on KPFA on the last Friday of the month. Shady Nate, also in the photo, was one of the featured guests. – Photo: Minister of Information JR
Of the dozens of professional journalists covering the rebellion Wednesday protesting the police who executed young Oscar Grant and the authorities who condone it with their silence, it’s probably safe to assume that only one was fully at home on the streets of East Oakland. And he was the only journalist arrested and jailed and one of only three protesters charged with a felony.

JR Valrey, minister of information for the Prisoners of Conscience Committee headed by Fred Hampton Jr., producer of Block Report Radio heard on KPFA and KPOO locally and other stations across the country, and associate editor of the San Francisco Bay View – raised in East Oakland, where dozens call him cousin – was brutally tackled and arrested by Oakland police for doing his job: interviewing protesters and photographing the demonstration. He was groundlessly charged with felony arson.

Oakland police repeatedly blocked protesters’ progress as they marched from a 3 p.m. rally Wednesday at the Fruitvale BART station where Oscar Grant had been executed by BART police to downtown Oakland. – Photo: M, IndyBay
Oakland police repeatedly blocked protesters’ progress as they marched from a 3 p.m. rally Wednesday at the Fruitvale BART station where Oscar Grant had been executed by BART police to downtown Oakland. – Photo: M, IndyBay
“The police went after him,” said prominent Oakland attorney Walter Riley, describing JR’s arrest on KPFA News on Friday after he was arraigned. “They went after him and tackled him and took him down. I think that JR looks too much like the average young Black man.”

“JR was out there as a reporter,” Riley said, explaining that he “had his camera with him. His camera was confiscated.”

Readers are urged to call for the trumped up charges against JR Valrey and all the arrested protesters to be dropped immediately. Call, mail, fax or email:

• Mayor Ron Dellums, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, 3rd Floor, Oakland, CA 94612, (510) 238-3141, fax (510) 238-4731, officeofthemayor@oaklandnet.com

• District Attorney Tom Orloff, 1225 Fallon Street, Room 900, Oakland, CA 94612, (510) 272-6222, fax (510) 271-5157, cci@acgov.org

• Congresswoman Barbara Lee, 1301 Clay Street, Suite 1000-N, Oakland, CA 94612, (510) 763-0370, fax (510) 763-6538, for email, go to http://lee.house.gov/?sectionid=128&sectiontree=18,128.

Remind them that it is Johannes Mehserle who, though sworn to protect and serve, used his service pistol to execute young Oscar Grant as he lay face down on the BART platform, restrained by two other police officers, by shooting Oscar point blank in the back. He’s the one who needs to be charged. The charges against JR and the other protesters need to be dropped.

Arrests of protesters by the Oakland PD were unnecessarily violent and, in this case, bloody. – Photo: M, IndyBay
Arrests of protesters by the Oakland PD were unnecessarily violent and, in this case, bloody. – Photo: M, IndyBay
Like Mumia Abu-Jamal, who, before he was framed for killing a cop, was beloved on the streets of Philly as the “voice of the voiceless,” Minister of Information JR is the best known journalist in the Bay Area for his frontline coverage of the police war against the Black community. Bay View readers will remember countless stories he has written about young Black men brutalized, terrorized and murdered by police – stories ignored by other media.

Wednesday, just hours before JR was arrested, his Block Report interview with Donald Wiggins, a cousin of Oscar Grant, was broadcast on KPFA’s Hard Knock Radio. Listen on KPFA.org, beginning 19 minutes into the show. As always, the interview reveals facts and perspectives never voiced to mainstream journalists, who are not trusted by the Black community because, unlike JR, they don’t come from the Black community.

“He lay there for about 30 to 45 minutes,” said Oscar’s cousin, describing the immediate aftermath of the shooting. “So it was really inevitable for him not to be revived at the hospital.” “They let him stay on the platform of the BART for 30 to 45 minutes,” said JR. “Yes,” responded Oscar’s cousin, “while they tried to confiscate phones and video and every other thing to cover it up.”

“If we can reform the White House,” Donald Wiggins asked, “why can’t we reform the police force?” Listen to more of Minister of Information JR’s gripping interviews on his website, www.BlockReportRadio.com.

No reform was evident Wednesday when police in riot gear repeatedly blocked the progress of protesters marching from a 3 p.m. rally at the Fruitvale BART station, where Oscar Grant had been executed, to downtown Oakland. The thousand or more marchers were, JR reported, an almost equal number of Blacks, Latinos, Asians and whites. In a phone call that evening, he said he’d never seen such solidarity. “Everybody’s got everybody’s back,” he said.

As usual, the police set themselves up as the enemy. Many if not all of the 105 arrests they made were brutal. Their arrest of JR was no exception. They tackled him and threw him to the pavement, injuring his leg. He’d probably have been more badly hurt if two attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild hadn’t happened to be right there witnessing his arrest.

Speaking from the courthouse following the protesters’ arraignments, Rose Braz of Critical Resistance told KPFA News: “We’re seeing people who were beat up by the police, have black eyes and bruises and swollen limbs. We’re also hearing from folks who are not getting their cell phones back, who say the police have all the images downloaded from their cell phones.”

“I spoke with Mayor Dellums personally. He said it would be treated like any other homicide,” said George Ciccariello-Maher, a Berkeley Ph.D. candidate in political theory who attended the demonstration Wednesday, in a KPFA News interview with reporter Josh Wolfe. “But now we know that those were just words because as he was saying that, the officer was still sitting at home free, whereas with any other homicide, he would have been taken into custody until his trial date was set. So we already know that the mayor is still not responding in a way that’s commensurate with what’s going on. And that lack of response is what created this situation in the first place, … is what created this rage.”

JR adds that it’s the consensus on the streets that all the police on the Fruitvale BART platform at 2 a.m. New Year’s are responsible, at least as accomplices, in taking the life of Oscar Grant. All of them should be charged and tried. He also urges readers to hold the BART board and Mayor Dellums to their promises to compensate businesses for damage inflicted on their property Wednesday.

What you can do:

• Show your support for Minister of Information JR at his next court date Friday, Jan. 16, 9 a.m., in Department 112 of the Wiley M. Manuel Courthouse, 661 Washington St. in downtown Oakland.

• Come and bring your friends to the “Town Bizness” Townhall Meeting Against Police Terrorism, where the streets and the community will come together to discuss Oscar Grant’s execution and make plans to win justice. Hosted by POCC Minister of Information JR and Marcel Diallo, it will be held at the legendary Black Black Dot Cafe, 1195 Pine St. in West Oakland, on Friday, Jan. 23, at 6 p.m.

• 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, 4917 Third St., San Francisco CA 94124.

• Watch for new developments at www.BlockReportRadio.com and www.SFBayView.com and listen to Hard Knock Radio at 4 p.m. weekdays and to Flashpoints at 5 p.m. weekdays, both on KPFA 94.1FM.

Bay View editor Mary Ratcliff can be reached at editor@sfbayview.com of (415) 671-0789.

11 thoughts on “Oakland PD brutally arrests Minister of Information JR at Oscar Grant protest

  1. Mary Ratcliff

    No lawyer yet. So while we push for the charges – against JR and all the protesters – to be dropped, any suggestions of a lawyer who would take the case for free, at least until we can raise a legal defense fund, would be greatly appreciated.

    Mary Ratcliff, editor
    SF Bay View
    (415) 671-0789

    Reply
  2. Wallace

    It is wonderful that an unofficial version of this crime is available to the public. It is also great that the people are seeking justice from elected officials. I’m very interested in how Mayor Dellums is going to handle this offense against the community. He was always well respected by the downtrodden during the struggles of the 60′s.

    Wallace-Mexico City

    Reply
  3. Sadiku

    Confiscating personal property, cell phones and cameras, without due process of law is illegal. This is a violation of the first amendment. The Bill Of Rights are being blatantly trampled and this should not be happenng without a full fledged response. How can the people stand for this nonsense? This s vociferously anti-American. The very word “American” equates with “Freedom of Assembly,” “Freedom of Speech,” and “Freedom of The Press” with a redress of grievances. This is dangerous to an unprecedented level, especially in these trying economic times. The People will not stand for their rights to be trampled upon.

    Reply
  4. Patrick Sullivan

    Who was this man Oscar Grant?

    Was he involved in any ‘Protest activity?’

    Was there any insurance on him?

    Was he one ‘of the Brightest?’

    Merely looking at how he was slain as if he were a mad dog in the streets, seems to indicate that this was a well planned professional contract murder for hire operation.

    These sorts of atrocities are one of the reasons that there is a legal device called the Grand jury.

    Put the ‘Austrian assassin’ in front of one.

    Reply
  5. kevin muhammad

    If u look at the movie Righteous Kill we get an indication of the mindset of these officers. I say Mr. Johannes should be arrested and charged with first degree murder, and the other officers with aiding and abbetting this heineous crime. This is slaughter in the name of police work. And the sad part about it is its happeing all over the country. Until we also get upset by the trigger man being black and rallying in the streets, then substantive change can happe. To JR this exposure will increase you effectiveness.

    Reply
  6. carlo

    wait, whoa…Patrick Sullivan, youre saying it was a professional murder for hire? Yo doog, thats hella deep. Like professional hit men ALWAYS shoot somebody in front of hundreds of witnesses, erybody know dat. word. they always look surprised after they do it to. fa real. Professional murder like they did Chauncey Bailey or Chris Rodriguez(kid paralyzed from a SHOT TO THE BACK) or Shaniece Davis (shot with an AK while in her house asleep out here in East O) Yeee, you hecka smart.

    Reply
  7. Patrick Sullivan

    You got it right Carlo, the Pentagon under the instructions of the terrorist agents operating out of the Royal Sheeny bank of England are running full blown Death squad operations here in America. They have been all along.

    Their big plan is to launch a nuclear holocaust upon the human race to prevent us from taking them into custody and installing them into a humane institutional setting.

    As the people awaken to what the reality is, our nuclear war fighting elite may begin to turn them selves in to legitimate authorities so that we may provide ‘protective custody’ and prevent them from falling into the hands of the ‘Living Dead.’

    What do you think about that Carlo? They have already pulled the nuclear trigger on us many times over the decades. You can watch the movie the “Night of the Living Dead,” on the web for free. It has a few clues about some of the realities of our times.

    You can read a book I wrote for free, here:

    http://www.lulu.com/content/4049293

    It explains a little of what our “Master” class has been up to and why they have been building so many nuclear weapons to kill us with and underground shelters that they can hide in while they burn us all up on the surface of the planet.

    They have no intentions of sitting in front of Grand juries and answering a few questions.

    They are not joking with us; the plan was and still is, to kill us all in an all out nuclear holocaust.

    By keeping the mass in fear they continue to commit such outrageous, in our face crimes, as the killing of Oscar Grant.

    .

    Reply
  8. Patrick Sullivan

    Chris: You are either an employee of our contract murder for hire crowd out blogging fraud and deception, or you are a straight up stupid asswhole

    Reply

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