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On Tuesday evening, Dec. 17, 2015, the Berkeley City Council voted to keep sending officers to the annual Urban Shield war games and weapons expo, even after one vocal citizen held up the expo’s best selling T-shirts and read their inscriptions: “Black Rifles Matter,” “This (barrel of a gun) is my peace symbol” and “Destruction cometh. And they shall seek peace. And there shall be none” (Ezekiel 7:25-27, King James Bible).
Both the Richmond and BART Police Departments sent taser advocates to the Oct. 6 Berkeley City Council hearing, but neither is an exemplar of responsible taser use. BART Officer Johannes Mehserle claimed to have mistaken his gun for his taser after he shot and killed Black teenager Oscar Grant, and Richmond officer Kristopher Tong tasered Black teenager Andre Little in the testicles. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Berkeley Copwatch co-founder Andrea Pritchett about the hearing.
Mansour Id-Deen speaks wit’ The People’s Minister of Information JR about the Berkeley police stopping Black motorists at a disproportionate rate in violation of our human rights. “The disparity is unbelievable,” says Id-Deen. Blacks are stopped more and often “for no reason.” We also speak about “progressive” Congresswoman Barbara Lee securing over $2 million to hire 18 police officers in her district, which includes Berkeley and Oakland. She needs to pay “more attention to local issues and have conversations with local leaders,” Id-Deen says, to make “a better decision.”
I was the founding chairman and national organizer of the Black Panther Party. Our first organizing tactic was to legally observe the police in our Oakland and Berkeley Black communities. During those hard core late 1960s racist, fascist times, we took a big chance with our lives patrolling the police. It was a time of rampant vicious police brutality and murder of Black people by police that was 10 times worse than today.
A collective of community folks organized with the family of Asa Benjamin Sullivan recently launched a people’s investigation into the killing of Asa by San Francisco police in 2006. Asa Sullivan was killed when SFPD responded to a “well-being check” at his residence then tracked him into an attic and shot him 17 times.* Police cannot be allowed to kill people and then claim that person was responsible for his own death and call it “suicide by cop.”
Berkeley Copwatch co-founder Andrea Prichett spoke to KPFA about justice for Kayla Moore and organizing for the long haul, to make police obsolete. Berkeley Copwatch has been taking action against police violence in Berkeley since 1990. The Copwatch organizing model and investigative techniques have spread across the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. This week Berkeley Copwatch posted a list of local campaigns to create real change in Berkeley.
Along with family members of Kayla (Xavier) Moore, Berkeley Copwatch has been trying to investigate the Feb. 13, 2013, death of Kayla Moore in police custody. We are troubled to see that Berkeley police officers are not only keeping track of us and our activities with regard to Kayla’s death, they are attempting to intimidate us.
Xavier Christopher Moore died Feb. 12 during a situation we believe was instigated by the Berkeley Police Department, at her apartment on the fifth floor of 2116 Allston Way, the Gaia Building. The BPD’s press release of Feb. 13 says that they responded to “a disturbance call” at Moore’s apartment. Media reports have said this call was related to mental health.
It is time for all the staff and listeners to embrace the democratic victory that was won for us in legal and street battles of 1999-2001 and by the people who formed the original “Save KPFA” in the mid-1990s. KPFA was not sold from under us, and thanks to their efforts, it never will be. It is time to bring peace to KPFA and Pacifica and help strengthen this priceless resource.
Since 1949, KPFA has been bringing incisive political analysis, vital cultural perspectives, and an amazing variety of music to the Bay Area and beyond. To keep KPFA responsive to community needs, the station needs community participation, and one of the ways to participate is to vote in the board elections.