by JR Valrey, the Minister of Information and Editor in Chief of the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper
Adante Pointer has been on the front lines of the current day Human Rights movement. Fighting in the courtrooms with the same purpose and ferocity in his heart as the young brothas that were throwing molotovs at the police in Ferguson during the anti-police rebellions.
I met him in the fight for accountability in the police murder of Oscar Grant, in 2010. At the time, he was working as a young lawyer with the very well known civil rights lawyer John Burris. I was working as a young reporter with the SF Bay View Newspaper and KPFA. I was also fighting an unjustified arson case from the Oscar Grant Rebellions, where I was facing six years.
My real crime was that I was covering the sentiments of rage coming from ghetto youth in the streets as they responded to the police murder. Although I caught a case, Adante Pointer was reflecting sentiments with a suit on, giving us updates on the Oscar Grant case from the courtroom.
Both jobs were essential to making sure that this case was in international headlines. Lawyer Adante Pointer has since covered a myriad of police killings and police terrorism cases all over the Bay that have included Black victims and other people of color. He has always championed the people’s rights, and for that I will always salute him. Check him out as I interview him about some of the current events dealing with police misconduct in the Bay.
JR Valrey: A Black man was put in jail for life in 2011, and freed last year, as recently reported by the Oaklandside, after the star witness said that she was paid thousands of dollars by an Oakland Police officer to lie so he could secure a conviction. What do you think about that? Is this common with the Oakland Police Department (OPD)?
Adante Pointer: OPD has a long history of having officers who have lied, cheated, framed people and as a result tarnished the badge they wear in the name of the community that they are duty bound to protect and serve. You can go back to the Riders who beat people, planted drugs and framed innocent people for crimes. You can look at the two former OPD officers who were “cops of the year” for the state of California, that a federal jury found planted a gun on my client to pressure him into snitching or get sent back to prison. Or the OPD officer who planted a gun on another client of mine and made him fight in criminal court for two years, while facing Three Strikes, until the DA dropped the case on the eve of trial. That client later sued, and a federal grand jury believed the cop planted the gun, and awarded him a large verdict.
So the OPD has a notorious track record of doing this. Keep in mind, this is not unique to OPD; there are many other examples around the Bay, California and the nation where cops break the rules and send innocent people to jail, prison or to face the death penalty – all in the name of securing a conviction.
JR Valrey: Can you describe how you feel about newly elected Oakland District Attorney Pamela Price, reopening eight cases of police murder and misconduct? Why do you support this?
Adante Pointer: As a lifelong Oakland resident, police misconduct survivor and civil rights advocate, I am extremely happy to see the district attorney reopening the eight cases. The previous DA and her staff turned a blind eye to all the shootings, beatings and misconduct our community has endured for generations. The community now has hope there will no longer be two justice systems – one system for the ordinary citizen and another one for police, where they are given a free pass to abuse us and then have their bad conduct ignored or excused away.
JR Valrey: The City of Oakland just fired the recent Black police Chief Leronne Armstrong for covering up police misconduct on more than one occasion. How do you feel about this?
Adante Pointer: OPD has a long sordid history of misconduct and systemic failure to hold front line cops or their supervisors accountable. We only learned of how deep the “no snitching” code is entrenched in OPD due to the work of federal monitor and oversight. This just proves it will take more than a single person to reform OPD, assuming it can ever be done in the first place.
JR Valrey: What does it mean for the City of Oakland’s police department to have been in federal receivership for the last 20 years?
Adante Pointer: OPD and the City have been fighting reform and oversight for generations. The community along with the court has had to fight tooth and nail over the last 20 years to get any reforms accomplished.
Given all the oversight and eyes on the department, it is still an uphill battle to make change. OPD is like a child who refuses to do right no matter what his teacher, parents or friends say.
However, what is just as important to take away from this is to think about what is going on in police departments across this country that don’t have a federal monitor! Imagine the vast amount of cover ups, abuse and misconduct that is taking place every day with little to no hope of anyone doing anything about it other than the community, whose please keep falling on deaf ears.
JR Valrey: Although it was temporarily voted down, what do you think about the San Francisco Police Department proposing to the county’s Board of Supervisors to allow them to purchase police robots that can be accessorized to kill?
Adante Pointer: Unfortunately, we are looking at the future of policing dead in its face. That face being robots who will be authorized to make decisions to detain, arrest, use force, or kill people. I would not be surprised if robot dogs, drones and similar technology are combined with facial recognition and artificial intelligence, along with other advanced technology to further the police state and its goal of identifying, categorizing and collecting data on everyone.
JR Valrey: What do you think about the newly elected Black District Attorney of San Francisco, Brooke Jenkins, relying on the state to pick up the case to prosecute the police officer involved in murdering Keita O’Neil instead of DA Jenkins prosecuting the case herself?
Adante Pointer: DA Jenkins has been very vocal about her dislike for (former recalled SF DA) Chesa Boudin, and what she believes he stood for. We can learn a lot from that situation: because the folks who paid her when she left her job working for Chesa, funded her campaign, and gave her the platform, now influence decisions made by her office.
The SF Police Officers Association does not want any cops prosecuted and that’s exactly what you’re going to see. She said Chesa’s decision to prosecute the cops was political; she’s right. It was the political will of the City to hold cops accountable after years of cops doing bad things and violating the community trust. With her taking office and then winning reelection, her political backers can now dictate her political agenda to do away with these criminal prosecutions. Voting matters.
JR Valrey: What do you think about San Francisco DA Jenkins charging Shannon Collier with only misdemeanor battery – the white man who hosed the Black homeless woman with a water hose during the historic atmospheric storms a couple of weeks back in the city? If the homeless woman was white and the suspect was a Black man, do you think that the charges would have been more severe?
Adante Pointer: We will never know what she would do if the races or roles were reversed. However, what we do know is Collier will likely get a slap on the wrist if anything.
JR Valrey: What do you think about all of the current cases of police terrorism in the Bay Area?
Adante Pointer: Tragically, there are far too many cases of police misconduct, killings and abuse here in the Bay Area. The police departments rarely do anything to punish their own, which means it’s up to me and other civil rights attorneys to get justice for their victims. We don’t have to look to Memphis to find police terrorism when it’s happening right here in our back and front yards, in the so called bastion of liberalism and progressiveness
JR Valrey: How has gentrification affected police murder and terrorism upon the Black community in the Bay the last 10 years?
Adante Pointer: Gentrification has sent the Black community out into the suburbs and rural areas where the police and the communities are even more hostile than in the urban areas. I see more cases popping up in the outskirts of the Bay Area nowadays.
JR Valrey: What kinds of services does your law firm offer?
Adante Pointer: My law firm offers top notch legal services in the areas of police misconduct, employment discrimination and school based discrimination. We also handle a high volume of injury cases having to do with car crashes etc.
The firm’s vision is to always be a trusted community partner by leveraging our resources to represent our community not just in the courtroom, but also in the community by supporting those who do the work like non-profits, community based media platforms and folks who care about making changes.
JR Valrey: How can people get in touch with you?
Adante Pointer: They can find me on the web at www.lawyersftp.com; social media Adante Pointer (FB, IG, Twitter) or by calling my office at 510-929-5400.
JR Valrey, The People’s Minister of Information, is the Oakland Bureau Chief for the SF Bay View. He is also the instructor for The Community Journalism Program.