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Politics makes strange bedfellows

July 3, 2010

by Minister of Information JR

Oakland police practice brutal crowd suppression techniques on June 18 in preparation for what they call “Operation Verdict.” Watch the full video below. – Video: ABC7
There is an old proverb that politics makes strange bedfellows. Last year, on Jan. 7, 2009, a rebellion broke out on the streets of Oakland in response to local government not addressing the videotaped police murder of 22-year-old Black man, Oscar Grant. The day after a coalition calling itself CAPE, the Coalition Against Police Executions, took center stage and became the media’s sweethearts after the first day of rebellions.

Its main spokeswoman was Dereca Blackman, the former executive director of Leadership Excellence, who has since stopped organizing on the issue and disbanded the group in the spring of 2009, according to their Facebook page, which is still in operation.

CAPE turned out to be the pseudo-activist arm of the Dellums regime in Oakland, behind the cloak of avaricious non-profit leaders like Blackmon. One of the demands to help prevent police terrorism in Oakland that Dereca seemed to talk about in every interview was a healing center in which people could get counseling. How does that prevent police terrorism? Don’t people get counseling after a traumatic incident? We are still in the midst of one of the biggest cover-ups in Oakland police history.

Another bullshit statement that was promoted by Blackmon and the non-profit sector involved in the Oscar Grant movement was that “the rebellions were caused by outsiders.” When I was covering the Jan. 7 rebellion in downtown Oakland for and the SF Bay View, I was arrested on a bogus charge of arson, which the DA moved to dismiss 13 months later.

When I was in the streets and when I was in jail, I met many of the rebels. Most of them were from Oakland. And most of them were Black and Brown, with a few Asians and whites sprinkled in.

Why was that lie propagated? I believe that it was put out so that the people in Oakland and in the world would be given the impression that the rebellions didn’t have popular support, because the reality is that although a number of Black people have been killed in high profile cases elsewhere, including Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Kathryn Johnston, and Michael Walker, to name a few, none of those cities went up in smoke like Oakland, California.

Fast forward to 2010. I recently was made aware of an email that Nicole Lee of the Urban Peace Movement, formerly of the Ella Baker Center, sent out to her non-profit allies. Here it is in total:

“Dear Friends and Allies – (Please Forward Widely – Please Forgive Duplicates)

“As many of you know, the trial of the officer who killed Oscar Grant is currently underway in LA. The prosecution has rested their case, and the defense (Mehserle’s attorney) is currently making their case. The trial has moved much faster then many had anticipated, and folks speculate that a verdict may come down in the very near future (possibly as soon as next week).

“If a ‘not guilty’ verdict comes down (which is a significant possibility) it will inspire widespread outrage, and many, including myself, are concerned about the potential consequences of that outrage. 

As someone who is BOTH committed to social justice and an end to police brutality AND a peaceful and thriving Oakland, I wanted to suggest some ways for us to proceed:

“1) Organizations, CBO’s, and Public Agencies should be thinking of ways to create organized events or avenues for young people and community members to express their frustrations with the system in constructive and peaceful ways. If people have no outlets then it may be easier for folks to be pulled toward more destructive impulses.

“2) We need to begin ‘innoculating’ (sic) our bases and the community at-large so that when the verdict comes down, people are prepared for it, and so that the ‘outside agitators’ who were active during the initial Oscar Grant protests are not able to incite the crowd so easily.

“To be clear, our main concern is the safety and well-being of Oakland’s young people. We do not want to see them get taken to jail or hurt as a result of violent or destructive behavior brought on or encouraged by ‘extreme-fringe’ groups coming into Oakland from the outside.

“Below are some suggested talking-points to begin engaging community members. (scroll down) Please forward the talking-points widely amongst the staff and leaders of your organizations so we can get the message out far and wide.

“I have been in preliminary conversation with some of our partners an allies up to this point including the Ella Baker Center, Youth UpRising, Oakland Rising, BWOPA, The Mayor’s Office and the City of Oakland regarding these suggestions. Let’s continue to be in dialog and hold each other close in the challenging days ahead.

“In Peace and Solidarity,

Nicole Lee / Urban Peace Movement

“Talking Points: (General Audience)

“There is no question about it violence & brutality are wrong – whether at the hands of community members or at the hands of the police. While many of us are outraged, we must find a way to move forward in peace.

“* OAKLAND IS OUR HOME, and we want all Oaklanders to think carefully about how to respond, even in the face of our own anger and outrage.

“* There are peaceful and constructive ways for us to demonstrate our frustration with the system, but beware of outside ‘agitators’ many of whom don’t live in Oakland, who will try to insight the crowd to violence. They won’t be there for you if YOU end up getting taken in by the police, and they don’t have to live in the aftermath, they can just go back to their neighborhoods, far away from Oakland.

“* This is a city with a rich history and a sense of pride from the East to the North to the West, and we don’t back down when times get tough.

“Talking Points: (Youth Audience)

“* There’s no question – Police Brutality is wrong.

“* We are all angry, but the question is what do we do with our anger? Do we use it constructively to make changes like the Martin and Malcolm did, or do we use it to destroy each other and our community?

“* There are constructive ways to have your voice heard – join a speak-out or make music to express yourself.

“* Beware of ‘outside agitators’ who are not from Oakland and who will try to incite violence. Oakland is OUR HOME, but it’s not theirs, and so they don’t care if we mess our city up. And, they won’t be there for you if YOU get caught-up by the police.

“* Let’s not let these agitators make a bad situation worse.

“* Instead, let’s hold our heads high and throw up our fists in solidarity like Huey did!!”

What is really funny about this is that Lee is acting as if the streets listen to the non-profit and government leaders. If that were the case, the Oscar Grant justice movement would not have secured an indictment in the case of Mehserle, because there would not have been any rebellions to put the “or else” into our demands.

And another funny thing is how with her language she is trying to make people think that Black human rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Huey P. Newton would have taken her approach of working with the government against the people. Instead of evoking our freedom fighters, she should have evoked Jim Jones and J. Edgar Hoover, who were especially good at hypnotizing masses of people to serve the interests of the elite, who are preparing and telling us through the media that they have police and National Guard on standby, who are going to beat the hell out of anybody who voices opposition on the day of the verdict.

“Know your enemies, know your friends; that’s the politic.” – dead prez

Email POCC Minister of Information JR, Bay View associate editor, at and visit

17 thoughts on “Politics makes strange bedfellows

  1. Idriss' Mom

    a year and a half ago, I sibmitted an article to the SF Bay View,
    Bitter tears, and the assassination of Oscar Grant.

    Brother Jr, thank you fgor reminde=ing us how NGOs can at times turn out as part of the proiblem, and not as aprt of the solution !

  2. usper

    Why were you in jail, and where do you derive the power/authority of "minister of information" – sounds like you're making this up as you go along. If you were were in jail, it was probably for a pretty good reason – it's so hard to to hold legitimate criminals in custody these days (and race has nothing to do with it) – therefore, you're probably guilty. Bring your arguments…

    By the way, "minister of information" (please note the lack of capitalization of "Minister", and therefore much contempt) brings to mind that of Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda for the NAZI party, murderer of +6,000,000. Again, bring it. You're a poseur/poser at best.

  3. mhk

    On this date,
    2010, on the 4th of U Lie…

    '……America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America! "I will not equivocate, I will not excuse"; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, shall not confess to be right and just….'
    — excerpted from 'What, to the Slave Is the 4th of July, ~ A History of the Struggle for Black Independence,'
    by Frederick Douglass at Rochester, New York 1852
    'Tell me something
    what you think would happen if
    everytime they kill a black boy
    then we kill a cop
    everytime they kill a black man
    then we kill a cop

    you think the accident rate would lower subsequently?
    —Excerpted from 'Poem About Police Violence,' by June Jordan

    I am a photojournalist. I was in the streets documenting the first 4 Oakland rebellions against the assassins who stole the life of Ancestor-Warrior Oscar Grant III. Outsiders? What outsiders? Unless of course, Ms. Lee & Ms. Blackmon are referring to the agent provocateurs hired by the police to go among the people and attempt to entrap us into doing patently stupid things – so as to criminalize the outrage of the world's people; in an all out effort to give their handlers of the goon squads (and the corporate media) fuel to report lies concerning 'the wanton destruction of Oakland' by outside 'element's.' Then maybe the useless mayor could convince idiot voters to beef up his small army of police. These police are armed with the latest in state of the art killing weaponry. That's what they're trying to do… kill someone. It's not enough that their brutish ignorance has already murdered many someones. It is not enough that they want carte blanche to continue to do so.

    They now want us to continue to participate in our own oppression by NOT taxing their asses to the fullest if they don't get it right in this landmark case of a killer cop on trial for taking the life of an AFRIKAN Man. If Johannes Mehserle had killed a white male, he'd already be strapped to the electric chair, or receiving the lethal injection, or inhaling hydrogen cyanide.

    But Ancestor-Warrior Oscar Grant III was an AFRIKAN Man. His executioner is white. The powers that be do not appreciate the fact that the populace has risen up.

    Their lies haven't worked. Their provocateurs cannot stop us. We have experienced their threats and their killing machines. The people of Oakland have brought into existence a new consciousness. It is awake. It is aware and to paraphrase James Baldwin: It is unprecedented. We know what is happening. We must act.

    Were we to do nothing, we would be worse than the murderers hired in our name.

    If we know, then we must fight for your life as though it were our own—which it is—and render impassable with our bodies the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night. War Without Terms, m

  4. trublak

    hey @ mhk….I appreciate your sentiment, and if they let Mehserle off with anything less than 2nd degree murder, that is, the intentional drawing and firing of his gun deliberately in a way that was not planned or premeditated, then I am going to burn some shit. This time, however, I would like to see us take it to the rich white mutherfuckas that are insulated from uprising and unrest EVERY TIME IT HAPPENS. They sit back and watch while we burn our own city, and they dont give a fuck. Oakland only happens to be the target of the riot because the shooting happened to occur at a bart stop in Oakland. Mehserle was from Napa or some fuckin place, and Oscar lived in Hayward. Why should we give the OPD overtime and deplete the general fund that pays for libraries, Parks and Rec, after school programs etc for Oaklanders? That's tactically ineffectual, in my opinion.

    What I propose is this: instead of meeting downtown oakland in front of Oakland City Hall, we meet at Lakeshore and Mandana, which is still in Oakland, but right on the border of Piedmont, the richest zip code in the Bay Area. We march up Mandana blvd into Piedmont and for once, FOR GODDAMN ONCE! we make the rich feel the unrest and vulnerability and anger that the ghetto feels EVERY FUCKING DAY!!! When they see an angry mob outside their mansions, they'll stop thinkin it doesnt affect them.

      1. trublak

        the money for the general fund comes from tax on real estate transfers, revenues from a variety of sources, etc, but none from Piedmont. They separated themselves from the rest of Oakland a long time ago.

        Perhaps the rich are no more or less responsible than the owners of the businesses in downtown Oakland who got thier windows smashed, but on these forums it sounds like folks believe they had to smash and burn stuff to get Mehserle arrested and tried. Not saying I agree or disagree with that logic, except that IF we are going to get disorderly, why not take it to the hills FOR ONCE? Seems a good use for riot energy. I've never been able to understand the logic of burning one's own poor community, as during Rodney King riots. The rich have the funds to rebuild, but not so in the flats and International Blvd. Plus, a good portion of the decision makers live in those tony environs, thinking they are insulated from social unrest. Let them feel it, if only once.

    1. vitriolic

      I think ur article is RIGHT ON! I have problem with wording on Piedmont. don't call us MOBS vs using ACTIVISTS FOR JUSTICE outside thieir mansions, try to educate them and get involved in what is good for oakland will be good for piedmont, if these elitists would get involved and understand what oakland goes thru on a daily basis! The oustiders u speak about are generally the police or police agnet provacateurs. Louis Tackwood was one of these provacteurs, when he realized the fbi was going to assasinate him, because he knew too much: He called a hasty press conference to reveal what was going to happen to him. He then became a black panther. Ran into a black panther from i believe was Minn. He was well aware of Tackwood debacle; i've yet to find out if louis tackwood is still alive. He has a great deal of info on agent provacateurs and what the fbi/cia do to provacateurs when they feel their use is up and they have tooo much info. Tackwood described thse murders/assasins of agent provacateurs. I have the quickly put together copy of book called the GLASS HOUSE TAPES, which details tackwood and agent provacateurs! Oakland Police-do they live in Oakland?

  5. Selina

    Everyone keeps talking about when the poor riots their burning their own city. A city that was never ours to begin with most of the tax dollars, for example, I'm from Cleveland, OH most of the tax dollars here go to help the rich suburbs like Beachwood, PepperPike very incomely well off.

    Therefore the rich who benefit off of the blood from the inner cities when you burn down the cities you burn down most of those business operated by those who don't even live in the area, they are the ones leaching off the residents who live in the city and don't even give back to the community. You can't say most of the business are Black own if they exist their small in number. Therefore those benefiting from innercity tax dollars will loose

    1. White And Right Wing

      Actually, you're completely wrong.

      Here's what will happen if the kind of violence you're inciting in Oakland takes place:

      *High-quality, low cost grocery stores will close up shop, to be replaced by low quality, high-cost alternatives, such as more small Mom and pop liquor stores;

      *Employers seeking a place to do business will find the cost of security too high, and will find too many employees are unwilling to work in Oakland, resulting in a loss of jobs;

      *Property values in neighborhoods where rioting takes place will decline, damaging the balance sheets of black homeowners and pushing them towards foreclosure;

      If Oakland burns, the people who live in Oakland lose. End of story.

      As for me? I'm right and right wing. That means I hope Oakland does well. However comments like yours make me think that I'm smart not to bet that it does.

      Prove me wrong.

      In short, it's

      1. Selina

        Your list below already exist in many innercities in the U.S. and there hasn't been a riot in cities like NYC, Cleve., Detroit. The property values have gone down b/c of home foreclosures. And in cities that I just mentioned the only businesses in those areas before the first riots occured in 1960's were just liquire stores and small over priced "discount" stores no like big chane store not until recently.
        But not to give an excuse for rioting because that will only increase police brutality

        1. White And Far Right

          I disagree, obviously. There have been riots in NYC, Cleveland, and Detroit. I assert that these riots have led to fewer jobs, fewer businesses providing goods and services, and have damaged property values. All of this is Google-able. Feel free to disagree, of course.

          But let me be very obvious about my real point here: burn down Oakland and a lot of people in Oakland will suffer, blacks, whites, Latinos, et cetera.

          Those of us with views such as my own, however, do not make bets in that community. Get it?

          1. Selina

            Ok white flight of residents and businesses during the late 60's Early 70's that's only because you had more blacks moving into the cities not necessarily because of rioting.
            Even if there are riots in the cities local gov't will declare marshall containing the looters and rioters, the police and mercenaries like Blackwater or Xe will protected the business sector like they did in Katrina or rather New Orleans

  6. Erin

    JR, you said, "CAPE turned out to be the pseudo-activist arm of the Dellums regime…One of the demands to help prevent police terrorism in Oakland that Dereca seemed to talk about in every interview was a healing center in which people could get counseling. How does that prevent police terrorism?"

    1. Key words, "One of the demands…" There were four demands Dereca Blackmon and CAPE were asking for including the immediate arrest, indictment, and prosecution of Mehserle for murder and a public review of BART history, police policy, strategy, and philosophy to assess whether (A). BART police are really needed and (B). If needed, whether or not they need guns. Sound like a Dellums cover-up to you? I don't think so.

    2. If you don't think that the youth of Oakland need counseling for the trauma they have experienced at the hands of the Oakland police and other systems of oppression, you are living in a different city than I live in.

    Asking for healing centers is a way to be RESPONSIVE and not just REACTIONARY. Why wait for another community tragedy to demand that Oakland respond to the needs of its young people? I don't disagree with everything you wrote, but I believe you got a big part of this all wrong.


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