by Malaika Kambon
“Oro en paz, fierro en guerra” (“Gold in peace, iron in war”) – Motto of the San Francisco Police Department
On Tuesday, May 15, the bereaved family members of Alan Dwayne Blueford eloquently addressed those members of the Oakland City Council who were present, seeking justice in a case that is looking suspiciously like a criminal assassination of the 18-year-old student in his senior year at Skyline High School. He was due to graduate in June.
The video re-play of the Oakland City Council meeting for that evening shows members of the family, arm in arm, giving each other much needed support as they spoke before a standing-room-only public audience with hundreds more outside of the doors of the council chambers, addressing the issues of the cold blooded assassination of their child. They testified about the lies and criminalization of him that the police had told family members and stated on television and radio and posted online on the police website, and they described the OPD’s callous disregard for their grief and need for information as they tried to piece together precisely what had happened to their child and how.
It didn’t seem to matter. The Oakland City Council was interested only in addressing – behind closed doors – what to do about how police handle informing relatives of officer-involved shooting victims. Alan’s parents had been told to “go sit down” and wait in the police station lobby for over two hours, with no information about their son, while the police purported to be “continuing their investigation” of an alleged “shoot-out” between an allegedly “unidentified” Black person and OPD officers.
Jeralynn and Adam Blueford said they raced to Oakland police headquarters in the early hours of May 6 after their son’s friend called to inform them that their son, Alan Blueford, had been shot and killed by a police officer.
Councilwoman Desley Brooks called repeatedly for someone to “find police Chief Howard Jordan” to facilitate a “discussion of police protocol for dealing with victim’s families,” but why does this issue overshadow the issue of another OPD slaying of an innocent Afrikan youth?
The OCC mindset bodes ill for any true investigation of this matter. Yet another pointless “internal investigation” will scream cover-up and “discussion of police protocol” will become nothing more than an administrative sound bite in the form of a report, while the deeper issue of an out of control department of killer cops goes untouched.
Note the similarities between five specific cases, in three separate cities, not more than three years apart, all of which included the police or vigilante murders of very young African men who were doing nothing that could even remotely be construed as criminal behavior.
And then, note the similarities between the assassins – and the consistent fact that all of the killers are free and white and that their criminal actions are protected under cover of law, no matter the evidence brought against them.
Comes now Miguel Masso, the OPD assassin of Alan Dwayne Blueford in the small hours of the morning on May 6, 2012, in the 9200 block of Birch Avenue. Defended by Attorney Harry Stern, the same attorney who defended Patrick Gonzalez, killer of Gary King Jr., Masso lives in Los Banos (between Fresno and San Jose), not in the Oakland community in which he and his partner rolled up on three young Afrikan men in deep East Oakland, with guns drawn and lights off, sneaking up as though they were at war in Afghanistan or Iraq.
The three young Afrikan men were doing nothing more than awaiting the arrival of female friends to get a ride to go watch a televised professional boxing match.
This is not criminal activity. But the targeting of these young men for assault with deadly force was at the least inappropriate and quite probably a hate crime.
Then we have the example of George Zimmerman, a wannabe cop, vigilante-stalker of young Black men and the assassin of Trayvon Martin in the small hours of the morning on Feb. 26, 2012, in a Florida gated community. Defended by Attorney Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman, formerly employed as a “forensic review analyst,” i.e., underwriter, at the Maitland, Florida, office of Digital Risk, LLC, a mortgage risk management firm, avoided arrest for months after the murder of Trayvon Martin and has an active permit to carry a concealed weapon in the state of Florida, despite having been charged with second degree murder. His current whereabouts are undisclosed, and according to his attorney Zimmerman had “several safe houses prepared” once released on $150,000 bail.
Thus far, Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s administration is defending its decision to keep Zimmerman’s gun permit active. The argument that “short of a permit holder being convicted of a felony, the state does not have the authority to revoke a permit” is especially specious. Zimmerman is an armed and dangerous loose cannon. Yet he is free, has killed and is under no known court orders of supervision.
Were the situation not so serious, this would be comical, particularly since the FBI says it now seeks to charge George Zimmerman with a hate crime. By definition, the FBI and its history of counterintelligence programs of hatred against Afrikan people (COINTELPRO) makes this an extreme case of the pot literally calling the kettle black. The FBI, a federal organization built upon hatred, charging a hater with – ahem – hating!
Johannes Mehserle is the ex-BART cop, assassin of Oscar Grant III, who on Jan. 1, 2009, shot and killed Oscar Grant because he was purportedly unable to distinguish his heavy Sig Sauer from his much smaller and lighter weight Taser. Mehserle was convicted of “involuntary” manslaughter. Instead of 14 years in prison, he was given two years in prison with credit for 292 days time served. After a few months, he walked out the door free as the breeze.
His attorney, Michael Rain, successfully lobbied the state of California to have his client’s trial moved out of Oakland to Los Angeles.
Rain also got the gun enhancement charge, which would have added 10 years to Mehserle’s sentence, dismissed by “convincing” Judge Robert Perry to believe that his client truly confused his Taser for his gun, even though Oscar Grant photographed Mehserle holstering his Taser, drawing his gun and firing what turned out to be the fatal shot.
After the deals were made, Mehserle dried his eyes and showed no remorse whatever for the murder. He and his appellate attorney Dylan Schaffer are now attempting to have his 2010 involuntary manslaughter conviction overturned on the grounds that the ruling “sets a precedent that makes it difficult for police officers to do their jobs.”
Amid controversy within the OUSD stemming from racial harassment charges, the killer of Raheim Brown, Sgt. Barhin Bhatt was promoted to interim police chief of the Oakland Unified School District Police Department. Neither he nor his partner, Sgt. Jonathan Bellusa, was charged in the killing. (See “OUSD Police Protest.”)
While Mehserle didn’t clean up quite as handily as did Zimmerman and Masso, note the similarities of the three murderers: While the police departments and mainstream media criminalized the slain Afrikan victims, the assassins completely altered their public image photographs and demeanor, hoping that taking geeky, boy next door photos, donning suits and ties, crying – while lying – in court, and making public apologies to grieving families will divert the public from focusing on the heinous crimes they and their respective departments have committed and continue to commit against a global Afrikan community.
Note the further similarities between the Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Kenneth Harding, Raheim Brown and Alan Blueford shootings:
- All except Kenneth Harding were shot in the small hours of the morning.
- All were denied critical medical treatment.
- All were posthumously criminalized both by the police and by a mainstream press that wouldn’t have mentioned the shootings at all if the Afrikan communities of the world hadn’t taken to the streets in rebellion.
- All were unarmed; all shots were fired by police or an armed vigilante civilian.
- All were either fleeing from police or “co-operating” with police directives, despite racial epithets being spewed by police and/or police escalation of legal activities to justify their subsequent use of deadly force.
- None was threatening police.
- None was over 22 years old.
Oscar Grant was denied critical medical treatment and cruelly abused physically, emotionally and racially before and after being shot by a bullet in the back that ricocheted off the concrete platform back into him. And there is evidence of a system wide cover-up involving destruction of evidence and willful medical malfeasance by the Oakland Fire Department.
Trayvon Martin’s body had been left in the morgue for three days before his parents were notified; Kenneth Harding was forced to bleed out and die in public surrounded by heavily armed cops; Raheim Brown was shot multiple times to the head and chest while sitting in a car after a Skyline High School dance; Alan Blueford was shot three times in the back, his ID was stolen and his body was left on the street for over four hours – no telling how long he fought for life – and his parents were delayed at the police station without being told exactly what happened to their child and then fed a tissue of lies. Yet the allegedly clumsy cop was rushed to Highland Hospital post haste from the crime scene after shooting himself in the foot.
Meanwhile police departments purchase new SUVs and lethal toys such as the LRAD, used supposedly for the first time in the U.S. at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh. Now the OPD has acquired one. See “Is Oakland Police Itching to use its LRAD Weapon…Is That Why We Keep Hearing About Riots?“
Not only that, but 35 percent of Oakland’s budget goes to the police in the form of retirement benefits, cost of living increases and a recent proposal for $276,842 to be used to retrofit 149 police vehicles.
One particularly interesting entry appears on pages viii and ix of the Oakland 2009-11 Proposed Policy Budget: “In March 2009, to avoid a year-end deficit of over $8 million (stemming mainly from overspending in Police), 5.0 FTE vacant positions were frozen to save $0.2 million, fees were raised to generate $0.01 million, $0.45 million in police expenses were authorized for transfer to other funds, and a $0.5 million insurance claim was submitted to seek reimbursement for unanticipated police costs following the recent BART police shooting. In addition, $4.2 million in project costs have been deferred to the next year.”
The retrofit, the war toys and the new SUVs are an alleged response to increased criminal activity of Oakland’s Afrikan citizenry that does not exist, while killer cops and armed “citizen” vigilantes roam free to kill with impunity and justify their actions with “officer protection” claims, “stand your ground laws” that apparently apply only to vigilantes, and with the incredible hubris to claim a need to safeguard cities in which the population runs from them if given a chance.
This kind of thing happens in Afrikan Haiti hourly. Grassroots citizens are left in the street after being cruelly and horribly slain by U.S. and Canadian trained police and disease ridden U.N. MINUSTAH forces. Relatives have come home from work to find the bodies of their loved ones – fathers, children, wives, mothers – dead and decaying on the living room floor or in the street.
With the U.S./U.N. military occupation worsening conditions in Haiti, a petition for a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program has been sent to Obama, such that Haitians, like hundreds of thousands of Cuban, Indochinese and Kosovar refugees, can be paroled to the U.S. and a program like that for Cubans can be established for Haitians. Such a resolution was on the Oakland City Council agenda for discussion on May 15, File 11-0396.
But the character assassination of Afrikans has not ceased. The same FBI charging George Zimmerman with a hate crime “engaged in or encouraged a variety of actions intended to cause (and in fact causing) deaths of BPP members, loss of membership … and defamatory discrediting of constructive Party programs and leaders,” as Huey P. Newton wrote in “War Against the Panthers: A Study of Repression in America” on page 54.
Atrocities such as these are always committed against peoples of color globally and predominantly against Afrikan people. We therefore must seriously connect what is happening on a larger and more realistic scale. Otherwise corrupt governments will continue to feed as we bleed.
In conclusion, it is popular to say that a badge isn’t a license to kill. But in actuality, it is. That is what the system has given the police: a license to kill with impunity, and that is what they do. People need to recognize that the police are licensed killers and stop trying to hang on to some vision of them as protectors. The police are at war.
Suggested reading: Dr. Jeffrey S. Adler’s “‘The Killer Behind the Badge’: Race and Police Homicide in New Orleans, 1925-1945.”
Malaika H. Kambon is a freelance photojournalist and the 2011 winner of the Bay Area Black Journalists Association Luci S. Williams Houston Scholarship in Photojournalism. She also won the AAU state and national championship in Tae Kwon Do from 2007-2010. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Saturday afternoon, May 12, at the Eastmont Mall Oakland police substation, the family of Alan Blueford speaks at a rally supporting justice for their son, murdered by OPD early in the morning of Saturday, May 6, 2012, near the intersection of 92nd and Birch Street in East Oakland. – Video: Earl Black
Family members and supporters marched on May 12 from 92nd and Birch, where Alan was gunned down and left for over four hours to bleed to death, to the Eastmont Mall police substation, chanting all the way. – Video: Earl Black
On Saturday afternoon, May 12, in front of the Eastmont Mall police substation, Alan Blueford’s cousin Tanisha Bradford addressed the lies the police presented to the family and expressed, along with other family members, anger and outrage, not only over the death of their beloved, but also because of the way the police continued to excuse their own criminal behavior in obvious and blatant disregard for the family’s feelings and rights. – Video: Earl Black
Jeralynn Blueford, Alan Blueford’s mother, speaks to the Oakland City Council May 15 about the murder of her teenage son and her gross mistreatment by the OPD after his death. – Video: Oakland City Council, posted to YouTube by Lucas Wolf