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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.
Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, marked the death of the 1,044th person that we know of killed by Tasers in North America, the most recent in Oakland after a man, Marcellus Toney, tried to flee a multi-vehicle accident. This unnecessary death reveals the primary reason why San Franciscans have consistently rejected Tasers for the SFPD. Yet on Nov. 3, the San Francisco Police Commission voted and approved a renewed proposal to arm the SFPD with these weapons. This begs the question: Who are the proponents of Tasers?
Aug. 19 at 11:00 a.m., courageous and loving folks in San Jose, Calif., joined with sister marches and rallies throughout the country in support of prisoners’ human rights and amending the 13th. Their courage is found in the rejection of an institution so prevalent and insidious that any criticism can bring a mountain of ridicule and judgment. It is an institution shielded by a centuries old narrative that tells people, “They are not like us,” and consequently, “they” are undeserving of our humanity.
To honor the call for 120 hours of direct actions to uphold the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., local community organizers have been camping out in front of San Francisco’s City Hall until Jan. 20, 2017. Camp 120 is occupying space in front of City Hall to highlight the ineffectiveness and inaction of DA Gascón and Mayor Ed Lee regarding the heightened policing of Black and Brown residents by the San Francisco Police Department.
March 21 marks the seventh anniversary of one of the biggest events in Oakland history and in the nation’s fight against police terror in recent times. I am talking about the police murder of Lovelle Mixon two months after the videotaped police execution of Oscar Grant. Mixon’s fearlessness, audacity and strength in the heat of battle against the police, who have been rampantly killing Black people in Oakland’s Black community with impunity for decades, created a snowball effect of frustration and courage, which, in combination with the half a dozen rebellions in downtown Oakland surrounding the Grant case, pushed the tide of popular opinion in California towards the conviction of Mehserle.
Activists locked down entrances to the Emeryville Home Depot to demand answers about the murder of Yuvette Henderson, a 38-year-old Black mother of two children who was shot and killed by the Emeryville Police Department on Feb. 3, 2015, allegedly accused by the store of shoplifting. Activists chained themselves to multiple store doors as supporters rallied outside. Protesters shut down the store for five hours, the amount of time Yuvette Henderson lay in the street after being shot by police.
Three weeks after the initial public promise to repost Urban Dreams and stop police control of Oakland school curriculum, Urban Dreams had still not been posted, ostensibly for aesthetic reasons. Two and a half hours after the following letter to Oakland Superintendent Antwan Wilson was sent – detailing OUSD’s official role in covering up the murder of Raheim Brown by school district police – Urban Dreams reappeared.
On so-called Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year in the U.S., members of the Blackout Collective and their allies obstructed BART trains on both sides of the track from moving out of the West Oakland BART station in an economic protest to the systemic wanton killing of Black people in this country, most recently symbolized by the police murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner.
March 21, 2014, marks the fifth anniversary of the police murder of Lovelle Mixon, who was killed after he murdered four Oakland police officers and wounded a fifth, around 73rd and MacArthur Boulevard in East Oakland. “The Ghosts of March 21” is a documentary about the bloodiest day in the history of Oakland law enforcement, shot by Damon “Hooker Boy” Hooker and directed, written and edited by Sam Stoker.
The Community-Labor Coalition to Save the People’s Post Office rallied, marched and occupied the Civic Center Post Office in downtown San Francisco to stop threats of eliminating 220,000 living-wage jobs and closing 3,700 post offices, including four in San Francisco - most in poor neighborhoods and rural areas.
There’s more mischief underway at community radio station KPFA. KPFA subscribers will soon be receiving ballots in the mail asking them to vote on whether media activist Tracy Rosenberg should be recalled from her seat on the KPFA board. This swiftboat-style attack on the station’s hardest working board member must be defeated!
Shot dead in his car on July 15, 2011, a mere 30 and a half months after Oscar’s BART police assassination, Johntue Caldwell, godfather of Oscar Grant’s daughter, Tatiana, was one of the terrorized Black youth on the Fruitvale BART platform with Oscar on Jan. 1, 2009. He leaves behind two young sons.
I was raised by several generations of labor organizers, and in every labor dispute my side is easily chosen. I don’t cross picket lines, and I always stand with the workers against their bosses. With the recent layoffs at KPFA, it’s terrible to see people losing their jobs, but this is not union busting by any stretch of the imagination.
“Who would have thought that Oscar himself may help convict his very own killer,” wrote a commenter. In the court hearing today regarding a motion to exclude Oscar Grant’s fiancé Sophina Mesa from testifying about Grant’s fear of tasers, it was discussed that Oscar Grant took a photo with his sister’s mobile phone of Johannes Mehserle pointing a taser at him.
Universities all over the state of California have erupted into protest over the raising of student fees. In the Bay Area, rebellions have been going down at UC Berkeley and at San Francisco State University regularly; students actually have brought their feelings right to the front door of the chancellor’s house.
Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. congresswoman and member of the Free Gaza movement, gave a talk at the San Francisco Lunacy Theater on Sunday, Aug. 23. The event was a benefit for the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, an independent monthly that covers a variety of local and international stories. Her speaking tour follows her recent expedition on a Free Gaza boat attempting to break the siege of Gaza by sea and on a Viva Palestina caravan from Egypt that succeeded in delivering some of its cargo of humanitarian aid to Gaza.
This video will change your life by giving you the strength to commit - and organize others to commit - to ending the police war against Black and Brown communities and especially our youth, our future. The BART board will hold a special meeting Thursday, July 30, 6:30 p.m., in the MetroCenter auditorium, 101 Eighth St. in Oakland, across from BART's Lake Merritt Station, to discuss citizen review of BART police. Be there!
"Our success here to secure justice for Oscar Grant will no doubt be that line in the sand that will say to all police officers, ‘If you kill or break the law, you will go to jail,'" wrote Oscar Grant's Uncle Bobby, Cephus Johnson, in a message of thanks to supporters. Watch Davey D's video on the week's events. Oscar Grant's family asks supporters to return to the courthouse next week.