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On Oct. 27, 2018, a group of homeless people moved to a vacant city-owned lot in East Oakland. They named this encampment “Housing and Dignity Village”; it was a drug-free site for sober, unsheltered women and their families. But on Nov. 7, 2018, the city posted a 72-hour notice for them to leave. On Nov. 9, 2018, Housing and Dignity Village sued the city asking that they not be evicted from the site. Their case was called Miralle v. City of Oakland.
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.
In 1968, Joe Debro was reporting on an Oakland we would recognize today, where white arrests were down and Black arrests up, where in the first four months of 1968, police murdered about a dozen Black and Brown youth allegedly fleeing the scene of a crime, where “almost every ghetto Negro has a police record.” This is Part 18 of the report titled “A Study of the Manpower Implications of Small Business Financing: A Survey of 149 Minority and 202 Anglo-Owned Small Businesses in Oakland, California.”
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?
On Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, the first Oakland police officer in our “crisis of corruption” went to court. Brian J. Bunton, who allegedly abused his power as an officer of the law was arraigned on several charges, including felony obstruction of justice and misdemeanor engaging in an act of prostitution. As we finally move forward in the continuing saga of abuse of power by police officials, the question looms, does obstruction of justice really matter? Is obstruction of justice a “victimless crime?”
Oakland City Council President Lynette McElhaney discusses the most recent sex scandal sweeping OPD and other Bay Area law enforcement agencies, where over two dozen officers and agents had sex or inappropriate dealings with the same underage girl. Councilwoman McElhaney equates sex work with slavery. She also stresses the need for the community to help organizations that support women and girls who have been abused by the sex industry.
To those of us who were alive and sentient, the name Huey P. Newton evokes an era of mass resistance, of Black popular protest and of the rise of revolutionary organizations across the land. To those of subsequent eras – youth in their 20s – the name is largely unknown, as is the name of its greatest creation: the Black Panther Party. It is up to the oppressed of every generation to plumb the depths of history and to excavate the ore of understanding, to teach us not what happened yesterday, but to teach us why today is like it is, so that we may learn ideas to change it.
Instead of simply silently circling, observing and communicating to officers involved in the chase, Oakland helicopter police have begun blaring out warning announcements to the public below through some sort of loudspeaker or bullhorn system. The warnings or announcements are repeated over and over, and go something like: “Stay in your house!” “We’ve set police dogs loose!” “Stand still if you see them! Do not run from the dogs or they will bite you!”
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.
Hundreds of protesters occupied the intersection at Lakeshore Avenue and Lake Park Avenue in the Lake Merritt area of Oakland on Friday, June 12. Protesters called for justice for Demouria Hogg, who was killed by Oakland Police on Saturday, June 6, and for justice for all those whose lives have been stolen by racist policing.
October 22nd, National Day of Action – after weeks of planning, the day had finally arrived. Today we would gather in groups big and small all around the country to speak truth to power: “Black lives matter!” “Stop killing us off!” “We demand a stop to police violence and police brutality!” “We demand an end to mass incarceration!” My National Day of Action started in San Francisco.
Word reached The Liberator Magazine that revolutionary Black independent media is about to expand with the impending launch of Block Report Radio Station on the internet. So they sought out its founder, Oakland journalist JR Valrey, to ask him why he devotes his life to independent media and what we can expect from the new Block Report Radio Station.
I was armed when I entered the darkened studio room on Yosemite in San Francisco’s Bayview District where Zaccho Dance Theatre resides. When I opened the black curtain and stepped into the darkened room, I stood still for a moment to let my eyes adjust and noticed chairs where a few patrons sat. I decided to wander through the huge open space.
I am a 55-year-old New Afrikan man. I came to prison in 1980 for a first degree murder that I did not commit. The prosecutor, judge, victim’s family and my family know that I did not commit this murder. How is it that I can say it as a matter of fact? Because the actual killer confessed to the murder during the trial, did the time for the murder and he has since been released in 1986.
There was an ocean of signs in a sea of banners of struggle and liberation in front of Anaheim’s City Hall and the adjacent park on July 21, 2013. The signs held faces of those cut down in the prime of their lives in loving memory and detail. There were informational signs and signs with slogans of liberation, with demands, statements of fact and advice – such as “Fuck the system” and “FTP” (“Fuck the police”).
On April 4, 2013, the Oakland Film Festival premiered the long anticipated documentary “Crimes of Police,” directed by Ansar El Muhammad and produced by Derrick Bowman. Now the documentary has been chosen for the San Francisco Black Film Festival as well, screening Saturday, June 15, 5:45 p.m., at the Jazz Heritage Center, 1320 Fillmore St., San Francisco.
Oakland may seem like a local anomaly with its big increase in homicides in 2011-12 and the anti-crime hysteria which now engulfs it. But Oakland is just a prime example of the intertwining of crime and criminalization under capitalism, in which the ruling class divides working people one from another and targets particular groups for victimization.
Instead of throwing another quarter million dollars away on a gimmick, the City of Oakland should turn to its own Bay Area neighbors in Richmond to see what they’re doing right and why their homicide and violent crime rates have so radically dropped. I imagine that Richmond’s crime fighting team would consult with Oakland’s at little or no cost, considering the mutual benefit of reducing crime in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The fiery writing of JR Valrey began appearing in the Bay View a dozen years ago. JR made our original vision for the Bay View reality: to inspire Black youth to build a powerful Black community. As the Bay View’s associate editor and one of KPFA’s most popular programmers with his provocative Block Report Radio shows, JR and the youth who grew up on his empowering words and pictures are growing in influence, making a difference every day – and they’re just getting started.
Journalist JR Valrey, who was born in 1978, grew up mostly in Oakland, where the legend of the Black Panther Party was all around him. “A lot of the people around here are Panthers, or knew Panthers or are members of the Black Guerilla Family, which was an organization that Field Marshall George Jackson of the Black Panther Party founded. The revolution is very deep in Oakland. It’s not so cosmetic as it is other places. It’s not just about bandannas and t-shirts and concert throwing and posturing. I think it’s more grassroots here and more ingrained in the spirit of the people.”
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