Where are all the Oscar Grant protests when we’re shooting each other in the hood?

It’s time to dispel a pervasive myth. It’s one that suggests Black people are quick to protest incidents of police brutality but nowhere to be seen when it comes to dealing with crime in the community. During the 20 months of protests around Justice for Oscar Grant we’ve all been to town halls where some ‘well-meaning person will stand up and make what they consider a ‘be all end all’ statement about how everyone is misguided for protesting police brutality when we have Black on Black crime happening everyday.

We’ve all read editorials or heard callers on radio talk shows lay claims along these lines; ”We are our own worst enemies” “How can we expect the police not to kill us when we keep killing each other” or “Where are all the protests when we’re shooting each other in the hood?”

Now on the surface such remarks seem like a strong dose of tough love where some concerned community member or leader is attempting to redirect misguided anger away from the police and back onto us.. They are supposedly helping get our priorities in order. However, such conclusions are deeply flawed, play into troubling stereotypes and are simply erroneous.

There's always been Peace Efforts in the hood. To suggest there aren't any is a flawed argument

The truth of the matter is we do care about our communities. How we handle complaints against a public servant who we pay with our tax dollars may be very different then how we deal with Ray Ray the Thug who lives in our hood and is causing problems. And to be quite frank, we’ve long had ‘Increase the Peace’ rallies,  ’Stop the Violence‘ summits Summer Jam festivals to raise money for peace organizations etc all in our communities. Why some insist on acting like they don’t happen is beyond me. It suggests that those who make such claims are disconnected from the people and neighborhood they critiquing.

It’s interesting to note some of these assertions about lack of peace efforts are now increasingly being put forth by police, police sympathizers and right-wing pundits who start off by dismissing activists, protestors and community leaders as misguided or disingenuous for protesting the police but  ’remaining silent’ to Black on Black crime. Here’s an example of what one police sympathizer posted up on my site the other day.

For the advocates, politicians, religious leader and other community leaders, I found that a lot of you have a habit of getting on the soapbox and crying foul and social justice to your followers when the opportunity avails. However, where are you all when there is/are (1) Black-on-Black or Brown-on-Brown crime, (2) schools are falling apart, (3) affirmative action was eliminated in good old liberal Cali, (3) young Black, Latinas and Asian girls being pimped and exploited [look no further than International Blvd/14th], (4) job/economic development opportunities, (5) low voter/political participation and (6) businesses being looted and temporary shut down that affect jobs and revenue. Where were you all when the young track star was gunned down or the pregnant women were shot or the boy was paralyzed by a stray bullet during piano practice. Where were you? Yes, the typical response to the usually dumbfounded individual when posed the question by the reporter… after trying to find those right words to say, is to blow off the question and stress that injustice of the “racist police” must stop and Oscar Grant’s death will not be in vain. If I was a family member of a victim of crime, I would be saying WTF, where were you all at for me. But, I have found that in the Bay Area, it is better to scream, shout, and react rather than putting deeds to words and being proactive in getting results. Too many of these so-called leaders or voices of the community have been talking (ala Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Fox News etc.) without doing any walking or showing tangible results. And many of them have a hard set take it or leave it mentality (ala Republicans) or it is you and not me mentality. And to tell you the truth, I (and probably the majority of other in Black and Oakland community) are getting real sick of the B.S and rhetoric from these glory hounds.

Here’s another example of a police officer who came out for the Pro-Johannes Mehserle rally in Walnut Creek earlier this summer. He’s the white guy with the baseball hat and you can hear him raising the same questions; Where are you when y’all are out there killing each other?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFtjO91dW9g&feature=related

Now on the surface such remarks sound somewhat ‘logical’ if you watch the news and see coverage of an Oscar Grant protest and don’t see coverage of protests or vigils for victims of crime. The truth of the matter its a false narrative.

For example, several days ago I challenged the person who posted this accusation where he accused organizers of being glory hounds to give me a list of names of organizers who are out there protesting at Oscar Grant rallies, but not doing community based work designed to uplift and heal the community. I also posted up this challenge on my twitter feed. It’s been 4 or 5 days and that person nor anyone else has yet to produce such a list. The reason is because when it comes down to it,  it was all talk. This poster like most critics who echo the sentiment of ‘Where y’all at? was nowhere to be found himself.

In addition, his sweeping statements conveniently discounted the fact that almost all the main organizers behind the Oscar Grant movement have long been involved with healing work in the community. Many are part of organizations that specifically work with at risk youth everyday.

Many of the organizers and activists that have fought for Justice for Oscar Grant have been doing work in their respective communities for a long time. That would include folks like Tony Coleman and spoken word artist Ner City

If he or anyone else actually did look up names then they would’ve discovered most of the folks out there at those rallies come from organizations like Leadership Excellence, Youth Speaks, Eastside Arts Alliance, Black Dot Cafe, Homies, United Playaz, Youth Uprising, Barrios Unidos, Urban Peace Movement, Youth radio, Colorlines, Zulu Nation, Grind for the Green, Silence the Violence, POCC, Ella Baker Center, All of us or None, Love Life Foundation, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and this is just a short list. Point being… all these organizations as well as the numerous churches ranging from Allen Temple, Olivette, the Nation of Islam etc. involved with seeking Justice for Oscar Grant do work every single day in the community. They do this work without the glare and spotlight of TV cameras.

Much of what they do is not glamorous work. It doesn’t make for good TV news coverage. After all, as most who put in work will tell you, it takes more than a march and a vigil to turn things around in the community. It’s about building trust and nurturing relationships. It’s about teaching folks conflict resolution. It’s about trying to find ways to uplift people’s self-esteem. It’s about being there for those who are in the most distressed situations and helping those find ways to heal those who are lashing out because of past traumas as well as heal those who are victims. There are no easy solutions.

Do we really only come together to protest the police? Almost every last one of the mostly religious leaders pictured here has programs that specifically deal with violence in the community. Look them up, check their record

Many of these organizers are also the ones that frequently serve as long-term mentors to the troubled youth they encounter. Other work with them in art and cultural programs where they can express themselves as a way to healing and finding new direction. Many work in the schools or have been a part of leadership camps where they volunteer their time. Others have given money. Still others go behind the walls either to prison or juvenile facilities to work with those who are usually shunned and discarded. Many do work where they help those who just out of jail transition back into society. Very few have sat back and placated violence in the community. One has to question the sincerity of those who would suggest that. Common sense would tell you otherwise.

With respect to protesting police brutality, there’s a few points we should be clear on. First marches and rallies around instances of police brutality usually happen when the most egregious situations go down. I.e. the shooting death of an unarmed Black man. Not every assault, abuse and humiliation has resulted in a huge show of support. Perhaps they should because then folks who live outside those communities most subjected to police abuse would understand how pervasive and widespread it is. But sadly many find themselves spread thin because they are already doing other critical work in the community.

Most organizers understand police misconduct is systemic and requires long-term solutions where your both pushing for change within the department and pushing for accountability mechanisms on the outside via legislation. Because the police are part of the government which our tax dollars pay for, one may use a variety of tactics to bring attention to a concern and petition for change. Hence a large march and rally in front of city hall in theory sends a strong message to lawmakers the community is upset and is demanding changes.

Lawmakers at City Hall looking out their windows and seeing a large protest  understand the end result could be the community voting them out of office if they ignore their demands. Lawmakers understand that a protest could lead to community members withholding campaign contributions in future elections. They also understand that lack of response to a protest could result in a costly disruption of business as usual. Voting, Protesting and economic punishment are the languages many law makers understand and so a skilled organizer applies them.

This leads us to a deeper understanding of the dynamics at play when we’re dealing with the police. Keep in mind,  we pay their salary, training and equipment with our taxes. They are hired to protect and serve us and have been given an array of powers including the right to carry firearms and use deadly force to help them carry that out their duties. When they fail at their job it’s a big deal because much has been invested in them and much is expected.

This is no different then the way we collectively act when an airplane crashes versus a car. Car crashes happen more frequently, but when  plane crashes our societal confidence  is shattered and we quickly seek ways to ensure the public not to be afraid of boarding a plane again..

When incidents of police brutality occur it shatters the confidence we as people are supposed to have in them and the system. People stand up to seek justice as a way to restore faith into the process we are told we need to take to address grievances. When that also fails which is how many saw the judges sentencing decision of Johannes Mehserle, people move dangerously close to completely checking out and being despondent or  they become extremely angry and start rebelling.

We don’t have the same political investment and focused social expectations of the neighborhood thug. In many ways we feel at the end of the day we have as a community have the tools and resources to ultimately contain and shut down the thug. In the back of many people’s minds we simply have not exhausted all our options. It’s only when we feel we dont have final say so over the thug do we as community react the way we do when the police kill someone.

M-1 of dead prez noted our reaction or lack of reaction to police terrorism centers on how we deal with power

Right now we don’t feel we get the last word with the police..I think M1 of dead prez said it best on our radio show yesterday.. This all boils down to power and who ultimately has it. In theory the people are supposed to have it, but thus far the police as an institution have positioned themselves as the final power broker over various marginalized communties in particular Black and Brown.

With the Oscar Grant killing we saw the police exercise that power by executing him for all to see on the eve of the inauguration of nation getting its first African American president-(January  1 2009) Grant’s public slaying was a brutal reminder to folks that even with a Black President in the White House, you have no power.

That feeling of powerlessness motivated a lot of people to seek justice and turn the tables. Lots of obstacles were tossed in the way and with each step they were overcome and done away with by those seeking justice.. The DA was changed, the BART police chief forced to resign, officers were fired and for the first time in California’s history, a white officer was brought to trial in criminal court for the murder of a Black man. The balance of power was shifting resulting in a people starting to believe the system could be something we could depend upon thus giving the people final say so.

Unfortunately but not surprising, there was major push back as the police departments throughout the state sought to retain their hold. Every single police union in California came to Sacramento pledging support for Johannes Mehserle. They chipped in resources, paid for his lawyer and basically went all out to help him win his trial.

When Judge Robert Perry went out of his way to side with the police and blame Oscar Grant for his own death, it was a cruel reminder to the family and the community at large that we dont have power especially within the system we invested in.

Bottom line is that some of the police brutality cases are much more then isolated incidents.  They are major markers that indicate there’s an opportunity to flip the script, dismantle or at the very least, peel away some layers from an oppressive institution. With this in mind, when you hear someone complain that our community is protesting the police but seemingly not protesting the the day to day violence, its hard not to see this as a ploy to keep us from challenging an institution that needs to be held accountable.

Take a second look at that video from the Pro-Mehserle rally and see if you see a man (the white cop) who is genuinely concerned about the loss of Black lives in the hood or someone who simply wants to hold onto power at all costs.

As for the ‘concerned community’ members who raise these questions… well some folks have always been afraid of us leaving the plantation and being free.

Something to ponder

Davey D

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Comments

  1. Great piece Davey. Thanks.
    jb

  2. Davey D are u surprised at the judge’s decision.Black people still doesn’t get equal justice man,remember Rodney King decision in 1992?A nasty riot broke out in LA and different citites started acting up,man we lucky in NYC we didn’t get burned down.Sean Bell situation,we Black folks can’t get any decent justice.I lost faith in the system as a Black man,so why suprised at the decision?It says as a Black man,we aren’t shit to the system.Our people needs to question the justice department of DC indeed.Especially when I comes to these decisions,hell wrtie to President Obama to investigate this situation.

  3. Excellent read!!!

  4. Disclaimer:The views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by media anarchist and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, positions or strategies of Black people who are passionate about the preservation and well-being of our culture or any person thereof.

    Ironically this past election was the year anniversary of Media Anarchist/Guerilla Blog. It was conceived out of anger and gave birth to hundreds of posts and thousands of words relating to the savagery within the Black culture that continue to blindly navigate the wilderness of North America. It seems that everyone is living the American dream except for our people. I am however; willing to honor any man who is willing to sacrifice his life and freedom to feed his family. This great nation was built from corruption and an agenda to control, so fuck the conspiracy shit. Many infidels suffer carpal tunnel from reaping enormous wages and salaries off of our ignorance by just a click of a mouse.

    http://www.mediaanarchist.wordpress

    (fam you can’t be putting an entire blog on my blog.. that ain’t the biz.. put a link or make your point relative the topic at hand..–Davey D

  5. Real Brother here.

    As a Real Brother I get hit with the same lame claim that Black Self-hatred and Sellout Mentalities somehow justify White Racism and Supremacy and that’s simply stupid. Anything that Blacks do to each other the result of internationalizing 450 years of White Supremacy and Racism is NOT a justification for it.

    Blacks speak out against Black Sellouts who hurt and harm other Blacks and date and marry outside of the Black Race all the time when we do those same White Racists and Supremacists attack us for being Racist for not supporting Black Sellouts like Clarence Thomas and Larry Elder[Halle Berry and her latest White boy toy] and them. Racists and White Supremacists can’t have it both ways. That 90% of Black people hate each other and think of Whites as Superior is no excuse for Whites to hate us and kill us because they think they’re Superior.

    Oh and how does a Brother get his Blog some run? http://realbrother.wordpress.com/

    Realbrothers Blog too.

    TKCAL

  6. Damn…blogging on someone else’s blog should be prohibited. Great post Davey. Everyone needs to just stop pretending.

  7. Amazing article and well said. I loved what M1 had to say about power.

  8. e-scribblah says:

    good read, dave.

  9. Why can’t black people worry about both issues? So we are just supposed to worry about black on black crime, and act like crocked cops doesn’t exist? They both effect us, we can’t act like either ones are not happening. I hate using the word sellouts, but if some in our community can’t see racism still exist, then they are really blind. We all know black on black on crime is really hurting us, but crocked cops are too.

  10. Man I’ve been trying to reach out to you dude. How come I have to get drastic?

    • Krusher Not sure where u been reaching out to.. I get a lot of emails.. and cant hit back everyone.. sorry.. I have other things I do aside from this.. I appreciate the sentiments and the article.. we all got strong feelings on this.. but again its simple.. this blog is shared by many.. and so just don’t post entire articles like that.. its not fair to me and everyone else..

  11. How many vigils and shrines we’ve been to and the tragedies and violence continue to rise in our communites?

  12. Oakland,L.A.,Newark, and other major cities have been addressing the problems and not offering enough solutions period!

  13. I’m tired of the fake rappers,activists,leaders,politicians,clergy,celebrities, and experts never representing the interests of the people they claim to love.

  14. batteredbypd says:

    I love this post!!! You hit everything right on the head!!! Thanks!!

  15. Gotta love how the white guy in the video equated the police with white and the community with black. What a useful idiot.

  16. I can dig it bruh, I apologize and I have a gang of shit to do as well. Nopt everyone has strong feelings on this. If so then where is the leadership? Where are the ones claiming to love our people so much? I lived in Cali bruh! Lived in Florida,Alabama,Jerz,NY,

  17. I’m calling everybody on this bruh. Not just yourself. I’ve followed you since Rap Pages, Rap Sheet,4080, and any other forum you managed to spit flames. Fortunately for me, I’ve worked with gangs,parolees,the disabled,non-profits,politicians, and a gang of organizations and people that throw our people under the bus. I’ve built with Boots and ready to build with the passionate individuals that actually want change and not empty words because everybody and they mama has a blog!

    • I see lots of people doing things fam.. In all those places.. where’s the leadership?.. leadership is each and everyone of us with a plan who are able to put it into action..I dont buy into the empty words syndrome..Everybody has something to do and many do it.. question is do we recognize it especially if its not on the same game plan we have..
      and yes some folks will throw people under the bus.. they did it with jesus, but that dont stop no show

      One

  18. great content – much needed perspective. can you please narrate and podcast this, would love to hear this in your voice.

    thanks again for the truth in the mix.

  19. This is a FANTASTIC article and gives us all the language to respond when people toss about the flawed “black-on-black” argument to deflate and marginalize informed protest.

    Thanks for NAMING NAMES of the many organizations that touch all of our lives in the East Bay and who quietly get the work done without fanfare OR funding!

  20. @Davey I hear you but its not enough. Don’t worry God will lead me to the right people to make shit happen! I’m going to make people put their money where their mouth is period. Our people been through too much shit to continue to remain stagnated.

  21. Davey D, you did it again, man. Great job as usual.

  22. This is an excellent article, thank you.

  23. Where’s the leadership who will speak out on such blatant injustices??? Where’s our Black president??? Why hasn’t he commented on such injustices? Isn’t that a big part of the reason that Black folk elected him into office in the first place? – because we felt that he could sympathize with the Black struggle in America with the hopes that he would bring some balance….or at least try. What happened???

    From Sean Bell to Oscar Grant, cops get off on cold-blooded murder of black men, and our President who is a Black man himself stays silent. Acknowledging the problem should be a minimal first step, “addressing” it should be the next. Our President has done neither.

    The irony; we dislike those who speak up (ike Al Sharpton and Jeremiah Wright) and then we defend those who say nothing.

    There are many who will say, “Has has a lot on his plate”, or, “He needs more time”, or, “The previous administration made it so bad that [insert excuse here]“. But what could be more important than protecting and preserving the lives of the very citizens who you’ve sworn to protect and defend who put you in office in the first place????

    Save the excuses.

  24. bearwidnezz says:

    Davey it all comes down to accountability, the police officer should be held accountable for his actions, I also think the mob like atmosphere created by the people on the platform escalated this issue, do you think Grant would have been shot if the people would have been more controlled, I dont know, but being distracted while holding a gun to someone can lead to these outcomes. I wonder if those people feel any responsibility. Also the letter that you took offense to had some valid points that no one has addressed and if you did I apologize, What does polce brutality have to do with the way blacks are killling each other? We know that the system is not for us and in alot of cases built to make us fail, but slavery was much worse. We werent killing each other like this. You seem to make excuses for the ray rays and others destroying our communities, It seems that many have become so desensitized to black on black crime that it is accepted as normal, I would like to see us act just as fervent when ray ray blows off mookies head as when a cop kills a black person, just saying…

    • perhaps you should read what I wrote Bear.. I took offense because it was blatant falsehood.. I never ever made excuses for Ray Ray.. i work with ray ray.. and so do many others..and one has nothing to do with the other.. A public servent causing harm in the community needs to held accountable.. why? because we pay him and he shatters our collective trust.. Ray ray also needs to be dealt with.. How? You tell me?

      The police who don’t live in our community have demanded millions of dollars to fight crime.. It hasn’t worked.. yet they have all these resources..It’s now at a point as we saw on friday they exaggerate, agitate and create scenarios to justify the the millions..

      Again as i said tell me which of these organizations are not doing anything, which of the people out there on friday and since you are making the assessments what exactly are you doing? You are doing things right? so I assume you and other organizers cross paths.. if not lets see why not?

      As for Grant .. Grant was unarmed/ Grant was subdued? Grant wasn’t fighting no police.. There was no mob like atmosphere.. thats one of the reason those two cops were fired.. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE for his murder..
      to even suggest that he had something to do with it is ..as you said making excuses..

      .

  25. So let me get this right…….bearwidnezz is implying that the “mob like atmosphere created by the people” is the reason Oscar Grant was shot in the back. He (or she) doesn’t see how a “mob-like” atmosphere (if there was one) can be created by cops yanking innocent men off a train and holding them at gunpoint. He believes that when people’s rights are blatantly and unjustly disregarded, that people should just sit there and be “controlled”.

    Well, at least we know what kind of slave you would have been. :o(

    A trained cop unjustly shoots an innocent, unarmed man in the back, and bearwidnezz wants to blame “the people” who witnesses the injustice. AND bearwidnezz is trying to make the point that despite the fact that “the system” is flawed and biased against blacks that at least it is better than slavery.

    Point being: Bearwidnizz is a prime example of why racism is so prevalent today…..and that is merely because Ignorance is. Not matter what color Oscar Grant was, NOBODY deserves to be treated that way. Nobody! And nobody – not even you bearwidnezz (who is likely just a poser) – can’t deny or defend it.

    For every Ray-Ray and Mookie that you can point out, I can point out 5 Timothy McVeigh’s, Ted Kaczynski’s, George Bush’s, and Columbine Kids. But, with all things considered, when have you EVER heard of an innocent white person being shot in the back?

    Have you noticed the number of people who have been exonerated from jail lately as a result of DNA testing? ALL of them have been black; which means all of them were wrongly convicted in the first place. With all things consider, even you can’t ignore the imbalance and biasness of the justice system. And for you to fault the victims of the system is again a reflection of why this level of ignorance still exists.

    I’m jus’ sayin………

  26. Darkoverlord says:

    Yes there are organizations who ate trying to get the people to wake the fuck up.But real talk is this is a minority in the larger since of the community. At most of these events we see the same faces. I’ve been to events where everyone was young enough to be my grandkids and most of them were Latino or Asian. Hell most older blk folks don’t get involved in any time of movement action period. So while you make a point you miss the big point,blk people are apathic to the max. This was the same during the days of the Panther party. Now of course alot of older folks lie about how they were involved,when alot of them were either informers or antagonist toward anyone seriously trying to deal with the problems facing our communites.We must put the lie to rest that alot of us do care,cuz theres not much to bare this out.
    I get so tired of bllk folks tryna find a way to soft pedal what we know is the truth,BLK FOLKS ARE BEATEN UP AND DOWN MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY and alot are dead from the neck up. As to some racist cracker saying the obvious who gives a rats ass,the truth is true even coming from the enemy.

    • Not true Darkoverlord.. First of all lots of elders were involved. do ur homework.. Not every action needs top be out on the streets.. But elders were at the BART board meetings, elders were at church rallies, elders were at the longshoremans rally..Elders meaning folks over 35 played their role..They were in the courtroom, at the trial

      What rallies were you talking about where Blacks weren’t there? take a look at my footage from day one to the more recent ones show me what your talking about? And yes you damn right everyone was involved, should they not be.. why is that a problem?

      The only lie here is you are ignoring the victories they did accomplish.. its almost like you want to say failure, when that was far from true and yes there is apathy in the community.But there was also lot of involvement, great involvement.. stop trying to salt what folks did.. lets just say everything u said was true, well damn it was good start..

      and lastly

  27. bearwidnezz says:

    I know this is old but I wasnt able to respond swhen it was still fresh
    @davey good points but still deflecting my brotha, I m not from that area but the video I saw showed a lot of chaos on the platform, I think we can start dealing with the ray rays and such when we stop pacifying them. Get it together or we will get it together for you, Im not so involved as you davey, I do volunteer my time to youth programs in my hood to help, I do this not only for the sport side, but also to talk and hopefully steer a couple on a better course for them. Some one did this for me and I definitely want to do the same. A young man did not deserve to die that night, but I cant say that I believe that cop wanted to kill him.

    @Tungs Well first, Im born, raised west side of Chicago, with that I only will say I still live here never moved never will. I am lucky to be alive today and feel honored t ohelp kids get on track if I can. you seem to care about all those white criminals you named, but all those names are in the media, can you tell me about crime white people committed thats not on the news? I bet you can tell me about dude that got shot around the corner or the dude that took the beat down for shortn packs right? my point is I want my hood peaceful I want my mother to be able to sit on the porch and not worry about the bullets flying to hell what mcveigh did. Also to make sure you would know what kind of slave I would be read up on Nat Turner and what he felt about niggas who was dead weight to the overall betterment of our people, he wasnt about excuses,

    • There was no chaos..There was nobody fighting, swinging on cops or in possesion of weapons.. thats already been proven.. and Grants friends werent so called Ray Rays.. There was absolutely no excuse for what took place that night.. The only one out of control was Mehserle who had records of his violent past sealed thanks to the policemena’s bill of rights…

Trackbacks

  1. [...] you will say this is an unfair question. And you are right, it is. There are probably hundreds of actions occurring in East and West Oakland which I don’t see [...]

Leave a Reply