This past weekend at Everett & Jones restaurant in Jack London Square, there was a gathering of more than 10 mothers and members of their family who have all lost sons, daughters and husbands to police violence over the past 2 years… It was sobering, powerful and healing. It was also shocking to see so many families and hear story after story of how they lost loved ones to police terror. We heard from the mothers of Kenneth Harding, Derick Jones, Derrick Gaines, Rahiem Brown Jr, James Rivera and Oscar Grant..all gunned down by police.
The families came together for the second anniversary of Oscar Grant Verdict Day. This was the day that a jury in Los Angeles, handed down their controversial decision about Johannes Mehserle, the killer cop who shot an unarmed handcuffed Oscar Grant in the back at point-blank range in front of hundreds of BART subway riders in Oakland, Ca on New Years morning 2009. Millions of people all over the world saw the shocking video and just knew that Mehersle would go to jail for a long time over his egregious actions.
On July 8th 2010, the LA jury came back with a verdict of involuntary manslaughter which left thousands of people who had gathered in downtown Oakland stunned. Adding insult to injury, the Grant verdict was overshadowed by another ‘controversial decision’ being made that day-What basketball team NBA starLebron James would choose. Many in the national media gave their time and attention to James and the NBA while folks in Oakland and the Bay Area were left pondering the injustice that was served before them after 18 long months of organizing and jumping over legal hurdle after legal hurdle.
Many that day walked away thinking that while the verdict was unjust that hopefully police got the message and would change their ways. There would be more caution and concern exercised by police departments, not just in Oakland, but all over the country. This weekends gathering was proof that if anything the Grant verdict emboldened police to act with reckless abandon.
Instead of a decline in police violence we seen a marked increase. Since the Grant verdict day, we’ve seen an outrageous 680 thousand people stopped and frisked in New York with over 90% of those stops being Black and Brown men with less than 5% resulting in any weapons recovered. Stop and Frisk led to the shooting death of unarmed Ramarley Graham We’ve seen police shoot a motorist Hernendez L Dowdy in Memphis, Tn after someone falsely accused him of car jacking. We’ve seen police in Pasadena shoot 19-year-old Kendrec McDadefalsely accused of stealing a computer. We seen an officer in Chicago shoot an innocent bystander named Rekia Boyd after he mistakenly thought the man standing next to her had a gun… We seen police in White Plains New York shoot unarmed army vet, a senior citizen named Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. who accidently set off his medical alert pendant. The officer at the center of the killing has a sordid history of brutality and racism… We seen Oakland police shoot high school senior Alan Bluford in the back and then lie about the self-inflicted wound the officer suffered. He shot himself and blamed Bluford. OPD has still refused to officially identify the officer.
We could go on for days citing story after story along with the fact that in many cities all over the United States police brutality incidents and police killing civilians are on the rise… For example, in Los Angeles which was supposed to have drastically reformed their police department, we seen a huge increase in police shootings. The department tried to blame it on citizens attacking them more. That assertion has since been disputed. What’s crazy about LA is that police pushed to get the city council to support a law that will keep officers records sealed from the public.
The bottom line is this… Police are out of control, and when it comes to Black people they are even more so. Today the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement released a Report on Extrajudicial Killings. Its pretty detailed and extensive. It shows that since Jan 1 2012, they have documented 110 Black people being killed. That amounts to one Black person being killed by police every 40 hours… Since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin police and shot and killed over 80 Black people. This is outrageous and unacceptable.