Jan. 1, 2019, marks 10 years since the murder of Oscar Grant by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle. In the lead up to this grim anniversary, a number of articles, multimedia pieces, radio programs and television news segments have been produced to commemorate the occasion. Especially moving are those that give voice to Oscar’s family and friends. But it’s rare to see significant tribute paid to the fact that were it not for the vigor and relentlessness of protesters and activists, Oscar Grant would have received little to no justice.
Let me be the first to say it: Nia Wilson would be alive today if somebody else had been elected president in 2016! The man arrested for Nia’s murder was not alone. He had an accomplice. The president was not there in person Sunday night, July 22, at the MacArthur BART subway station when Nia Wilson was brutally stabbed to death and her sister viciously attacked, but his spirit was.
“Three African-American construction workers said this week that they were targeted by racial slurs and death threats, including black dolls hanging from nooses in the bathroom, while working on the site of a San Francisco high-rise,” reported the New York Times after renowned civil rights attorney John Burris, who’s representing the workers, held a June 21 press conference. That the issue is important enough for a major story in the New York Times will, we hope, catch the attention of the powers that be in San Francisco.
Last week I noted that there had been a rash of police shootings all over the Bay Area and some of y’all thought I was literally seeing or making up things. Well over the Memorial Day weekend we had three people shot by Bay Area police in two days. Three police shootings in two days is a lot. Ten police shootings in six months by two police departments is a lot. One doesn’t have to look to places like Texas, St. Louis or Louisiana or other Trump-loving states to see questionable police shootings. A lot is happening right here in the Bay Area.
A few things we should all be thinking about: A young man named Justin Carr (his name was initially reported as Cantrell) was shot in the head Sept. 21, the second night’s demonstrations in Charlotte. The first accounts came from clergy and other eyewitnesses. This is what one of them penned on his Facebook page. “Been in Uptown Charlotte with the protesters since 7:30. It was peaceful. Then for some reason, riot cops showed up. And within 5 mins (no exaggeration) a dude lay bleeding on the ground. After the young man went down, it became chaos. The police started this though. Remember that. Don’t let the news lie to you. Don’t let CMPD lie.”
Kevin Durant, the 6-foot-10 basketball star, is now a Golden State Warrior, as he signed a two year $54 million free agent contract to join the team. He announced his decision on July 4, Independence Day, and the announcement sent shockwaves throughout the NBA and the country. After being wooed by six different teams over the 4th of July weekend in the Hamptons of New York, Durant was ready for a change and a new basketball experience.
After the Richmond City Council meeting of July 1, I experienced one of the most intense and hostile encounters I have had to endure as a public official and in my entire life for that matter. Since then, there has been at least one news report and a series of deliberate misrepresentations of what took place that night. It is not my intention to respond to false accusations raised or dignify the insults with a response.
On March 6, the Bay’s “Free Speech Radio” aka KPFA suspended one of the best broadcasters and shows that they had on the air because The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey of Block Report Radio, who’s also the associate editor of the SF Bay View, reported on the fact that members of management and of the CWA union, aka the “White Citizens Council” inside of KPFA, have been engaged in racist activities.
The Bay Area and beyond paid tribute to Belva Davis Feb. 23 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, pouring out memories of her struggles as a “first” on many fronts, breaking through racist barriers and bringing Black people, perspectives and issues to the mainstream news. The unforgettable night also marked the 50th wedding anniversary for Belva and Bill Moore, first Black news cameraman in commercial television on the West Coast.
Supporters of killer cop Johannes Mehserle rallied in San Jose Aug. 2 with no counter-demonstrators. KTVU was there and last week presented two features on Mehserle’s life story, presumably intended to soften his public image and engender sympathy for him as the Nov. 5 sentencing date approaches. Justice for Oscar Grant supporters will protest in the parking lot outside KTVU on Thursday, Aug. 12, 12:30 p.m., at 2 Jack London Square, Oakland. Be there to honor Black August! And Oscar Grant supporters are asked to demand the maximum sentence for Mehserle.