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My nephew is killed by Oakland police

December 22, 2010

by Wanda Sabir

Aba – his full name Obataiye Edwards – only 19, was murdered on Dec. 20 by Oakland police. “Obataiye – Oba means ‘king,’ Taiye means ‘of the world’ – and that’s what he was, beautiful, a king,” his mother, Octavia Edwards, told KGO-TV. – Photo: Wanda Sabir
My nephew was shot and killed by Oakland police Monday afternoon, Dec. 20. I’m in Dakar at a plenary about youth while a youth in Oakland lies dying in a backyard. Aba was 19. The elder of two sons, he was a sweet boy hanging out with the wrong people. No matter what my sister, Octavia, his mother, suggested, he resisted, yet this was no reason to kill him.

I know the neighborhood where Aba was killed well. My daughter and I used to live just around the corner from where the crash and foot chase happened, near Oakland’s Highland Hospital.

I invited Aba and his mother, Octavia, to the Susan L. Taylor kick-off just three weeks ago: A New Way Forward: Healing What’s Hurting Black America. I told Octavia that she would meet some of the organizers who could help her with Aba, like Baayan Bakari, who is at The Mentoring Center, Dr. Shawn Ginwright, whose specialty is addressing the violence and dysfunction among urban youth, and Dereca Blackmon, who is project director for Oakland Cares and an expert on radical healing exemplified in her outstanding work with youth at Leadership Excellence. We even invited Aba’s parole officer.

Aba holds his little cousin. His mother told KGO-TV he loved children. And she told KTVU that “her son had trouble with the law and was on probation. But she says her son was also the victim of overzealous police who Tased him recently in a case where charges were never filed against him. ‘He was Tased in the head and the back, and one of his fingers was cut off. But they never pressed charges or anything.’” – Photo: Wanda Sabir
Aba complained he was bored, so he and his mother left early; they left before the youth spoke and presented later in the program. The youth testimonies were really powerful. I wonder why when there is a program about or for the youth, they present last or not at all, as was the case at the plenary in Dakar. The three youth who made comments only had between one and five minutes just before the session ended. Only one youth was from the Diaspora. No one mentioned the genocide in Black communities outside continental Africa.

Perhaps if Aba had heard the youths’ stories he might not have been in the car yesterday. It’s all about choice and sometimes one makes certain choices based on one’s known world.

The police also make choices, and theirs is to shoot to kill. The news report said this was the sixth shooting in recent months and four out of the six ended in fatality.

What a wasted life! Aba had so much to live for, so much unexplored. Black America really does need to look at a new way forward and, for boys like Aba who are in crisis, there has to be some kind of on-the-ground mechanism to reach them before the coroner’s office does.

Aba with his cousin, Rayneco – Photo: Wanda Sabir
Aba’s mother was looking for help, looking for answers and the fact that Aba was there with her – complaining but there – meant that perhaps on a deep psychic and spiritual level he wanted to try something different as well. We were just too slow to reach him and his need was urgent.

We need a better triage system so we stop losing our youth.

On the street, young Black men fear and are feared. They are like the ducks sitting in a row at the amusement park: Aim and shoot is the protocol. The ducks are all taken dead; there are no live ducks sitting on the wire when the game is played right.

Aba with his Aunt Phyllis and cousins – Photo: Wanda Sabir
Therefore, we have to rescue our kids, pull them off and away from the rifle range. Often, these boys don’t listen to their mothers, and Aba had a good mother in Octavia. They need men to lovingly offer them alternatives and give them boundaries with logical and reasonable consequences.

One would think that if in the six police altercations, the four people killed were shot in pursuit, then perhaps one shouldn’t run. But even if one stops, that doesn’t mean one isn’t going to die.

As Aba’s mother said, the police only come into the Black community to kill our youth, hardly ever as friends. I never heard in the report that the youth in the car were shooting at the police, just that guns were found. So why the excessive force?

Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at Visit her website at throughout the month for updates to Wanda’s Picks, her blog, photos and Wanda’s Picks Radio. Her shows are streamed live Wednesdays at 6-7:30 or 8 a.m. and Fridays at 8-10 a.m., can be heard by phone at (347) 237-4610 and are archived on the Afrikan Sistahs’ Media Network.

21 thoughts on “My nephew is killed by Oakland police

  1. safeoakland

    this guy had a gun and pulled it out while running from the police. This story is so sad but you cannot go blaming the OPD for every gang related death on our streets. Had he not been stopped we'd likely be reading about a different murder happening.

    1. Micheas


      But we really need to figure out how to bring kids like this to trial.

      Will the next person that thinks about calling the cops to stop a gang hit fail to make that call, because they don't want their friends killed by the police?

      The failure of the OPD to take the occupants of the car into custody alive may well mean that the next gang slaying is not prevented.

      Jean Quan was reasonably eloquent when describing her memories of Oscar Grant, maybe she will be able to convince the OPD to explore ways to reduce the situations that they fire their guns.

      While I agree that the OPD did not incite the incident, they did not make the streets safer.

      The person that tipped off the cops was undoubtedly trying to save a life, and instead is trying to figure out if they should not have let the hit happen and just hope that the victim got lucky.

      Even if it is determined that the OPD had no real choice but to shoot, I would hope that they will apologize to the family that lost a loved one, but the OPD seems too intent on protecting its own to allow actions that would make those of us who live in Oakland to be safer.

    2. mesha Monge-Irizarry

      "running from" meaning fleeing.
      History will tell (truthfully or not) if the young man was shot in the back.
      How dare one assume that Aba was a potential murderer ?
      That reminds me of a delightful comment entered by a cop unbder the pseudoinymn of "John Q Citizen" on Justice4Idriss weeks after my child was killed " Who cares about your dead baboon on welfare ? the sack of shit is eating dirt, good riddance"

      1. Ann_Garrison

        We need video to establish what really happened. The Oscar Grant case became as big as it did, and Mehserle was given an unprecedented sentence—not justice, but unprecedented, for an armed officer to get time for that.

        If network TV were responsible, they'd have roaming video teams on the street with the electronics to pick up signals about where the police are rushing to next, and they'd be following to film this stuff.

    3. CALIFORNIA1952

      The police alleged that he pulled out a gun while running from the police. Yes the story is sad, with a sad ending. The OPD alleged that he was a gang member. I don’t believe that the police is being blamed for every gang related death on our streets. But I seen the body and it was a “OVER KILL”!!!!!!!!!!!!. Had he not been shot over 10 times, and only injured, to tell the truth!!!!!!!!!! If he had lived, we would still be reading about a different murder happening

  2. Der Kosmonaut

    When will Black Americans get it? When will Black Americans stop calling the police to deal with their own issues when it's obvious that the police don't care and when most of the time when the police are called, they deal with the problems only by lethal force? How many times have I read and heard of Blacks calling the police only to cry when the person gets killed by the police?
    Blacks in the US need to police themselves and must organise how to deal with the many issues afflicting them on their own. Blacks must stop relying on the oppressive and racist State to solve their own problems. Until that happens, the State will continue to kill.

    1. Freddy F

      Hello, There was no call to the police re this event, so I'm not sure why you brought up 'blacks calling police'. The police spotted a car reportedly involved in a shooting the previous Friday. Police officers attempted to pull the car over, but the driver did not stop … until he crashed into someone's fence. Also, it is rather obvious that police don't always shoot people — to answer the question you posed. Hyperbole is useful for illustration sometimes, but it is also useful for avoiding accurate assessment.

  3. mesha Monge-Irizarry

    I do not think it is helpful to post our enlightened opinions here.
    Please keep in mind that for us Grieving Families, who desperately look for solace, hoping for words of comfort AMYWHERE, even the press after our L:oved Ones are killed….
    speculations only add injury to our shock and grief.
    Wanda, I am so terribly sorry…. Please convey my heartfelt condolences to your family
    In Unity & respect
    mesha Minge-Irizarry
    Idriss Stelley's Mom.

    1. Malaika H Kambon

      Wanda and all of the extended Families: You have my deepest condolences. I live within shouting distance of this, and actually heard it – but then i hear this alla time… i lived within shouting distance of where Huey P. Newton was killed as well – but then, I heard gun shots over there too, alla time – so much so that i used to be quite adept at identifying what kind of weaponry was used, either by OPD, the so-called 'security' teams in the housing complex i was in – or other folx wit' iron…

      be that as it may –

      Der Kosmonaut is still correct – as long as we allow killers to 'police' us – they will – wit' deadly force.
      ALLA TIME…

      War Without Terms,

  4. Ann_Garrison

    I am so sorry for your loss as well, Wanda. What a story to read on Christmas Day. But I came to visit the Bay View site this morning and was not going to refuse to read it to protect my own holiday while yours is so painful.

  5. John Mulligan

    He was in a gang. He was hunting other gang members. He had a gun. An assault rifle was found in the car he was in. If there is a tragedy here, it is in his upbringing and his choices. The fault for his death lies with him and his mother. You have to do more than just give your kids impressive names.

  6. Raul K

    All these young black men dying, if not shooting each other, then by police. Why make it easy by picking up
    a gun and challenging the cops?! Running just makes them chase, cops live for this, it is one of the reasons
    they become cops. Control freaks with guns, and the youth makes it easy for them by looking like prey, by running. How long will this be allowed to go on? Cops will not stop it, they are invested in it continuing as are the people that employ them. Youth can't, they are angry at injustice, perceived and real, and most youth have little control over themselves. Hard to reason with an angry person. Aba and his mother may have been looking for answers to help with the challenges he faced; on parole at 19 and bored with the presentations of those who were trying to help, sounds like he was already lost.

    How may generations must be lost before this is stopped? It is a loss for everyone, not just his mother, not
    just the black community, but everyone he and all like him, dead, drug ridden or incarcerated, could have touched in their lives and made a better world for us all. A lot lost there, the future. Our future.

  7. princeray

    My greatest sorry goes out for the lost of our young brother and family member. Lest you forget where the guns are coming from? Let our youth know the truth. Guns are deliberately put in their hands as illusions of power but the true story is Racial Genocide. During the 1990s, the feds busted a ring of investors deliberately implanting guns from China and Northern Europe in communities of color to disrupt our entire social order and cause CHAOS. Part of the wider group of extremely influential business people not directly implicated in the conspiracy by federal indictment was U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein’s husband (COSCO Container Lines). High powered and fully automatic weapons and drugs by the shipload come through the Port of Oakland targeted for Black and Brown “GANG BANGERS” to deliberately disrupt social order, kill themselves and give the Prison-Police-Military-Industrial System ground to exterminate them. Let our children come of age with the TRUTH of this Damn System.

  8. Wolf

    Nothing, Princeray, you've got nothing. You're lying. You have no proof, not even anything close to proof. Either cough it up or apologize.

  9. John Mulligan

    Princeray, surely you aren't suggesting that black youths are so irresponsible that putting a gun in their hands is the same as shooting them? Are you saying that there should be a racial standard for weapons ownership? I don't.

    The US Supreme court agrees with me in the cases of Heller and McDonald. Both Heller and McDonald are black men who sued for the right to own a weapon in DC and Chicago, respectively. They won. Your argument, Princeray, suggests that black people should not be allowed to own guns or that they are nearly childlike and need to be protected from firearms. What a racist and irritating concept.

    Far more difficult, Princeray, is the policy of taking responsibility for your own actions. Mr. Edwards died because of Mr. Edwards. Not some made up conspiracy to ship guns to the hood. Mr. Edwards died because his mom thought that using some lame name she picked from a list would be enough to raise her son.

  10. princeray

    Red Parakeet surface to air missiles and AK 47’s for your local Gang Bangers right out of the Port of Oakland, for starters, go to:

    I studied the defendant case files, and FBI’s 302 reports. I wish it wasn’t true. I also wish that the African and Jewish Holocaust-Genocide never had taken place, but these people are real, very rich, influential and concealed by smoke mirrors and illusions. Do we blame the Jews for the Holocaust-Genocide committed by the SS supported by the concealed Rockefellers and Wall Street power elite?


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