The Baltimore Curfew…Was an Abuse of Power

Davey-D-brown-frameOne of the most important things folks can and should be doing with regards to the Freddie Gray situation is pay close attention as to how and why a city wide curfew was allowed to be imposed on the entire city of Baltimore… That’s serious biz. It was a the manifestation of a police state.. It was an over reach that last night (Friday) resulted in abuse of power and gave those institutions responsible for killing Freddie Gray, who expressed open and public hostility at the indictment of its officers, a working blueprint on how to contain folks in 2015.

These police agencies now understand how to get widespread community buy in and compliance. They know that if they frame the curfew as ‘concern’ and ‘fear of wildness’ by youth, then high profile community leaders and others who have genuine concern for the well being of young people in the community would actually publicly model compliant behavior and in many cases actually help the police enforce the curfew…. A curfew that in the minds of many, was something that was needed to quell and punish the youth but in reality applied to EVERYONE… If there was any doubt about that, then folks found out last night when police moved in aggressively and started arresting folks whose only crime was being out after 10 PM and in a celebratory mood as a result of the indictments.

Baltimore police riotsFolks should stop and think about that for a minute. The main agency enforcing this city wide curfew (BPD) is the same one that has massive amounts of lawsuits and settlements lodged against them for abusing citizens.

The National Guard was also called in to enforce a city wide curfew. No one challenged as to why Baltimore police who are at odds and in conflict with many of its citizens weren’t taken off the streets and made to go home as well, if one believes a curfew was necessary.

One needs to ask if the strict enforcement of this curfew was applied all over the city of Baltimore with the same intensity? Where there scores of police in riot gear banging on their shields with bully clubs as they did last night telling folks to stay inside or get smashed?

Baltimore policeIf you was a tourist visiting Baltimore or someone on a business trip and staying at hotels near the Inner Harbor was the curfew strictly enforced? On a Friday night folks visiting couldn’t go enjoy nearby restaurants and clubs?

How strictly was the curfew enforced in affluent neighborhoods like Canton?

Baltimore Police From the Stackizshort video stream shown last night and according to folks like Alicia Garza of Black Lives Matter who were there on the ground, police from various jurisdictions all over the country were on the ground. There was military folks and police from places as far away as New Jersey. Were they there to help and provide additional resources and bodies or were they there to observe and be trained? They appeared to be testing and pushing of the limits to see exactly how one can blackout and quarantine some news agencies while simultaneously getting compliance and stenographic/PR servicing from others.

If anyone was watching some of the video streams you saw that police ‘revoked the rights’ of Human Rights and Legal observers.. They also arranged themselves in particular formats to prevent anyone filming to get views of the people they arrested..They also formed snatched squads which was perfected during the Ferguson protests so they could go after people who had ‘blended in’ with media. It was some straight up fugitive slave catcher tactic.

Baltimore ProtestsCitizens attempting to avoid arrest for being outside as an adult in a city they live, work and pay taxes had to hide amongst ‘credentialed journalist and hope the roving eyes of numerous police agencies didn’t spot them, snatch them up. If someone didn’t have a press pass they were going to jail. For those who don’t know police issued press credentials are often awarded to ‘accredited journalists’ who the police determine are ‘legitimate’ because reach a sizeable audience. In short it’s awarded to corporate media who are embedded and in cahoots with police.

The most egregious aspect of this week long curfew was the glaring silence from any quarters that routinely rail and push back on the government and those in power for encroaching on people’s lives. Many of these folks saw the endless loop of a CVS store burning, got enraged at the site of broken windows and started talking about how the protection of property and restoring of order was more important than healing broken lives traumatized by continuous police terrorism and loss of human lives at the hands of police.

Props to James Rucker who captured this best when he posted up an excerpt from Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. It reads as follows:

Reverend Dr Martin Luther King came from a long line of Black preachers who represented Prophetic Teachings

Reverend Dr Martin Luther King came from a long line of Black preachers who represented Prophetic Teachings

<< I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate.>>

<< I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” >>

<< Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. >>

Oakland ProtestsLast night more than 500 people took to the streets of Oakland in an anti-capitalism march,.. They smashed up all the banks along Broadway and in the downtown area. They destroyed many of the car dealerships on Autorow and busted up a Kentucky Fried Chicken..

Will there be city wide curfew for that? Will a state of emergency be called? Will there be stark silence and compliance if one was attempted? Will those who gave a thumbs up to the curfew in Baltimore give a thumbs up if one was proposed in Oakland after last night’s ‘mayhem’? This is not the first time this has happened. In fact such activities routinely went down when current Baltimore Police Chief Anthony Batts was chief here in Oakland he wasn’t riding the hard for city wide curfews here so why in Baltimore?

oakland protests KFCThe continued institutionalized containment and repression of Negroes and those who support, justify and actively and passively go along with it reflects the long standing inability of our humanity to be recognized even when its our own in power.

PS The first two pictures you see are Baltimore police last night enforcing the curfew..Embedded with BPD are police from other agencies. As they advanced on a crowd that they vastly outnumbered the officers would bang their shields with their night sticks..The other photos are from last night in Oakland where car dealerships and other spots were jacked up..

Christmas Eve: Protests, Drama & Cop Shootings

Davey-D-purple-frameSo it’s Christmas Eve, a time when we are supposed to have good will toward one another and spread peace. Sadly there is much turmoil across the land. First we have in Houston, Texas a Grand Jury decided NOT to charge a Houston police officer named Juventino Castro who shot and killed an unarmed man named Jordan Baker earlier this year..

Castro who was off duty at the time, but in uniform saw Baker riding his bike and mistook him for wearing a hoodie. He said Baker fit the description of a robbery suspect. He said when he approached Jordan, he ran away and then turned around and charged the officer

Jordan Baker

Jordan Baker

while reaching in his waist band.

Castro said he feared for his life and was left with no choice but to shoot Baker. The Grand Jury saw no crime was committed even though Jordan was unarmed and had committed no crime. Read about that HERE.

While this was happening, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio asked that people protesting police violence take a break out of respect for the officers who were slain the other day. He wanted folks to chill after the police union leader Patrick Lynch along with former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Congressman Peter King all blamed protestors for the death of the two officers.

Police protests 5th avenueThey blamed protestors for creating a hostile environment for police and even though the person who shot the police was said to have mental issues and had shot his girlfriend in Baltimore, hours prior to ambushing police in NY. They blamed protestors even though to our knowledge the assailant was never an organizer or main participant in past marches and demonstrations in NYC, yet, he was still connected to this tragedy thus prompting folks like Mayor DeBlasio to call for a everyone to stop demonstrating..

Fortunately folks did demonstrate and had a lot of folks come out and shut down 5th Avenue which is a main high-end shopping thoroughfare in NYC, but mainstream media pounded away the narrative that demonstrators were somehow disrespectful to fallen cops by continuing to protest..

In Los Angeles, video tape surfaced of cops singing a song celebrating the death of Michael Brown.. It was song sung to the tune of ‘Bad Bad Leroy Brown‘ with obscene lyrics disparaging Brown and celebrating his death.. TMZ managed to get a copy and post it for the world to see..

Zander Andreas

Zander Andreas

In San Francisco folks had gotten word from Alicia Garza about the owner of the popular Boom Boom Room which has showcased lots of Black artists that the owner Zander Andreas had posted on his Facebook page that the death of the two officers was because of Al Sharpton, the Congressional Black Caucus, President Obama and demonstrators.

He said Mike Brown and Eric Garner brought about their own deaths because they broke the laws..He said folks need to follow the rules of society.. Thankfully Boots Riley of the Coup lit into this clown as other artists from all over are gearing up to address this issue.. The Boom Boom Room was scheduled to host some big Freedom Festival…We’ll let you know how things unfold..

Protests Antonio MartinWhile this was playing out in the Bay Area, we got word about the shooting of Antonio Martin in Berkeley, Mo which is 2 miles away from Ferguson.. Watching the U stream feed last night was heart wrenching as folks showed up en masse with conflicting stories circulating.. The police said he had a gun and pulled it on them after being stopped in what is known as a Pedestrian Check which is like Stop and Frisk.. According to police Martin pulled out a gun and tried to shoot them. Police feared for their life and killed him..

Protests Antonio Martin womenHis mom came to the scene and was not allowed to comfort her son.. Police claim the crime scene would’ve been damaged. Folks on the scene claim Martin had no gun and was still alive.. Police say he was dead on the spot. We do know he was left there for more than 2 hours..We saw flash grenades and tasers used against a crowd that has had enough..Shout out to all the women who were really holding down that front line last night.. They are fearless.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Lots of stuff going on including Iggy Azalea the queen of Hip Hop telling all of us to step the hell back and that those critiquing her like Azalea Banks are bigots and jealous..She has a bevy of Black male artists like TI riding for her..

Ferguson: Police Draw Guns on Rosa Clemente, Talib & Others

This is a harrowing account from Rosa Clemente who is down in Ferguson with a group of folks who she names in her Dispatches about what went down last night.. It’s important to compare her account with what’s being hailed in corporate media as some sort of major turning point…This sounds like a turning point in the wrong direction.. keep in mind about who is mouth piecing for the police.. Davey D

Rosa Clemente

Rosa Clemente

An hour ago, Jessica Care Moore, Talib Kweli, folks from the Fellowship of Reconcillation, Philip Agnew of Dream Defenders, Bgyrl ForLife, Malik Rhasaan from Occupy the Hood and Trymaine Lee from MSNBC and many others were chased like animals by the cops.

We ran to get away and were surrounded on a small path on bridge, surrounded by all types of police and told to lie down and put our hands up. We complied and we were told if we did not stop moving we would be shot. We were breathing. The young brother lying on my feet as I was holding him was not able to control his breathing he said “I’m choking” the cop told him to stop or he would shoot him.

I told him “try not to move, just lay still I got you.” The gun was at his chest. I looked at the cop and said “please, he is not doing anything”

I tried to record but the cop had his finger on the trigger. I could feel Talib’s hand on my back and Jessica behind me.

Ferguson ProtestsWe laid there until one Black officer said “Let them go, we got who we wanted.” In all my life I have never been so terrified. The young brother Devin said thank you I think you saved my life. What is going down here in#ferguson in all my years of activism, organizing, I have never seen.

This is a war zone, a military occupation and our children are the cannon fodder. P.S. The white boy who threw the water bottle a big fuck you, I am sure you were an agent provocateur. But for the police to act this way, they are itching to kill more of us. P.S. Women are also brutalized and terrorized by the police, at the end all of us are Black and Brown and animals to them.

Ferguson Dispatch #1

Ferguson ProtestsLet me state from the beginning: nothing provoked this, the first hour we were there, we walked, talked to folks, people were moving as they were told they had to and chanting. I saw Amy Goodman, Trymaine Lee, who I talked to for a while. He was the last person I talked to before police vamped. Right before I had talked to clergy, at one point their was a prayer vigil, I observed and did not join that as the police seemed to get very agitated because people were still protesting.

I was staying observant. Talib and Jessica were in a circle with young people who began to notice who they were and I truly believed there was about to be a cypher. I kept my eye on the crew we were with; the amount of police officers was just as many as protestors. I then saw people from Amnesty International, many who I know as I used to work there. We were talking, building; they told me we would see you tomorrow.

As soon as they left I stepped to Talib and said something is about to go down. I felt something shift, as a long time activist against police brutality I have been trained by elders and my organization Malcolm X Grassroots Movement to be alert, stay focused.

I saw them raising their batons and getting in formation. As I was finishing talking to Trymaine, we saw a water bottle, plastic water bottle being thrown, people kind of looked up, turned back to what they were doing talking etc.…and the next thing police came at us like charging bulls, weapons drawn, screaming, causing mass confusion “leave the area now!” “Don’t move!”

At the moment Jessica Talib and I grabbed hands and ran. As we were running the police came from all directions and locked us down. The threats, their eyes, postures, weaponry says it all, we have the power, we don’t care how many cameras there are we will never have to be held accountable. This is one of account of a small group of us. If young people of color did not know where they stood, they surely know now and they told us as much.

Ferguson protestsThese young people were tired, but they were still determined. They were deflated but not defeated. They were longing for direction and leadership that is def not coming from the older generation. They are acquiring knowledge in this moment and are awake. They were expressing their frustrations with so called leadership, the honest truth is I saw many older people of color, talking with, shaking and laughing with the police. They also seemed to be angry with the older people, yelling at them, telling them to go home, they young people replied we are home.

Many of the male so called leadership were as Malcolm eloquently wrote, acting truly like house Negroes, the were not being subversive to the slave master, but being obedient to the new slave master. This might not be the most eloquent, succinct 500 word essay, but on da real: The moment I saw that rifle pointed at Devin, the young men who was right next to me, and I looked into this white bald headed man, and I saw his eyes, I feared the moment that so many young Black and Latino, Latina men and women face, potential death and all I could think about is my daughter hugging me telling me “be careful Mommy, the police hurt women too.”

That split second you think it is over is the most harrowing, terrifying. I thought I was prepared, and I was to a certain extent, but nothing can ever prepare you for that and that fact is that none of us should ever have to prepare for it. Devin and his boys got to go home tonight. They got to go home tonight. I hope they always get to go home.

Ferguson Dispatch #2


One ‘No’, Many ‘Yesses’ in Venezuela-What’s Behind all the Drama Jumping Off?

Venezuela protestsA lot of drama jumping off in Venezuela right now and sadly our corporate media is doing what it always does when events like this take place, deliberately misleading folks and playing to our collective tendency to react to 30 second sound bites and ‘fast moving footage filled with rock throwing, fires and marches.

Corporate media manipulation is able to work in this country because many of are grossly unaware of what goes on outside our borders. Many who are jumping on the bandwagon about Venezuela would be hard pressed to point it out on a map.

Below is an insightful article about whats going on right now along with a couple of interviews with folks who are well versed in Venezuelan politics…  G1 of the group Rebel Diaz. The late Hugo Chavez was supportive of their Bronx based organization RBDAC, Professor George Ciccariello-Maher author of the book  ‘We Created Chávez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution’ and William Camacaro of the Boliverian Circles. All this is happening in the backdrop of the US expelling Venezuelian diplomats in what is being described as a tit for tat move.

G1 of Rebel Diaz speaks on the protests in Venezuela

Long time artist/ activist G1 of the group Rebel Diaz offers up some keen insight as to what is going on Venezuela. It’s a follow up to his insightful article ‘One No, Many Yesses in Venezuela

In our interview G1 draw the comparisons to what has taken place in his native country of Chile and the role that multi-national corporations have played in both shaping policy in Latin American countries and in some cases bringing about regime change. He also speaks about how Chavez supported local Bronx based groups including RBDAC who are trying top bring about transformation.

George Ciccariello-Maher speaks on Venezeula protests

Long time activist/ professor and author George Ciccariello-Maher drops serious science about the on going protests Venezuela and politics behind them.  He gives keen insight into all the major players and stakeholders. He also gives insight into the various anarchist communities who are on the ground and some stark contradictions some of them are playing in recent days.

William Camacaro of the Boliverian Circle speaks on protests in Venezuela

We spoke with William Camacaro who is part of the Boliverian Circle who talked about the important role his organization plays and what we should be watching for as the recent protest unfold in the streets of Venezuela.

One No, Many Yesses in Venezuela

by G1 of Rebel Diaz

G1 of Rebel Diaz

G1 of Rebel Diaz

We’ve read with concern the vaguely humanitarian and dangerously ‘impartial’ opinion pieces by the likes of prominent musicians who, although honest in their emotional responses, fail to accurately assess the social and geopolitical realities happening today in Venezuela.

We all can agree that US foreign policy towards Venezuela since 1999 has been economic sabotage and attempts at regime change in order to protect vested oil interests. We also can agree that the corporate media distorts the reality on the ground in Venezuela to manipulate public opinion towards the interests of US multinationals and their cronies in the Venezuelan oligarch. Facts only.

From here we can begin to understand the nature of the protests in Venezuela.

We recently returned from Chile, where a student protest movement eight years strong has raised important questions about the fundamental human right of high quality, accessible public education. So imagine our surprise when we read about these ‘student’ protests occurring in Venezuela, a country where the constitution enshrines the right to free K-College public education. So, if not the question of access to education, what are their concerns exactly?

We’ve heard of the shortages in toothpaste and toilet paper but this is hardly the Toiletry Revolution. There is also the supposed concern about public safety but it seems counterintuitive to organize violent flash mob protests for safer streets. CNN and Univision paint the picture that there is massive opposition to the Bolivarian Revolution, despite the fact that it has won over 16 internationally-recognized local and national elections since 1999. Moreover, despite the claims of silenced dissent, the majority of press in Venezuela is in the hands of private media companies that operate with open hostilies and lies to destabilize the social fabric. So who is this ‘opposition’ really and why have they mobilized all of their disinformation channels now?

The protests began surfacing on February 12th of this year. On February 10th, The Law for the Control of Fare Costs, Prices, and Profits went into regulation. This law puts a cap on grotesque profit margins to ensure companies doing business in Venezuela are not simply pimping the resources of the national economy at the expense of its people. It seeks to address the economic warfare being waged by multinational corporations, who are hoarding goods to create artificial shortages, raise consumer prices, and foment social unrest. The law seeks to avoid what occurred in Chile during the presidency of Salvador Allende, where the CIA, and the US/Chilean oligarchy initially attempted to instigate a ‘soft coup’ by hoarding warehouses full of everyday necesities like rice, cooking oil, and flour in order to fabricate popular discontent. We need only to look back at this history and other imperial US interventions in Latin America to know that when the power of the global elite is threatened, as is happening in Venezuela today, the empire will respond with unmitigated violence, manipulation, and deceit in order to protect their profits.

Hugo Chavez

Hugo Chavez

Since receiving Hugo Chavez here in the South Bronx in 2005, we have been inspired to create safe, liberated cultural spaces for young people in the poorest congressional district of the United States through the RDACBX.

Recently, we held a concert to commemorate the 20 years of the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico, where the indigenous community has waged a 3 decades-long struggle to protect their land and culture from the same tentacles of predatory multinational ‘development’ companies that threaten Venezuela today; the same entities that spur gentrification and racist police brutality here in the South Bronx.

Although different in context and process, our struggle for survival in the Bronx, the Zapatista uprising, and the Bolivarian Revolution face the same foe; a violently imposed socioeconomic model that threatens our very existence as a human race; a system that values profits over people and the planet. Perhaps we can all take a cue from the ancient wisdom of the Zapatista struggle; that of Leading by Following; For Everyone, Everything and For Us Nothing; and most importantly, One No, Many Yesses. A defiant, unequivocal, unified NO to imperial domination, and diverse, inclusive, participatory, creative, multiple YESSES to the wants and needs of the people- to be determined by, and only by, the people.

Abajo el imperio!
No a la violencia y los golpistas!
Que viva el pueblo Venezolano!

G1 of Rebel Diaz
South Bronx 02/21/14

Work Like Chavez (Rebel Diaz video)

South of the Border documentary that shows the attempt Coup in 2002 in Venezeula and the role corporate media played


Have We Sold Our Souls By Turning a Blind Eye to Obama’s Drones?

Davey-D-purple-frameThere’s a lot of talk about President Obama and his use of drones as well as him having a kill list which has asserts that he can kill American citizens that he deems to be working against America and somehow down with al-Qaeda.. This is indeed very scary and something all of us should seriously reflect on, because whatever steps Obama takes will not be limited to him.. Whoever sits in the Oval office will be able to pick up where Obama leaves off..

Seems like quite a few are giving the President a pass on his policies.. Would we be comfortable with those policies if we had President Romney as opposed to Obama? What if it was former President George Bush saying he has a kill list and has a right to use it on American citizens? Many of us took to the streets and raised a ruckus for far less.

Yesterday in Washington, there were confirmation hearings for John Brennan who is said to be the brains behind Obama’s insidious drone policy…Brennan is shooting to be director of the CIA.. Are people really comfortable with his policies? Are we comfortable with the US setting up drone bases in Niger, knowing that during the Bush administration Bush had Colin Powell lie before the United Nations about the African country providing uranium for terrorists? His testimony was briefly interrupted by folks upset with the drone policies he later defended..

Barack Obama rightAre we comfortable with Obama having a secret drone base in Saudi Arabia and mainstream news outlets like the Washington Post agreeing not to report this to the American people?

I want people to be aware of a tactic that is being used in support of White House policies around the discussion on drones.. There is a set of talking points and particular phrasing being used by stealth surrogates and ‘supporters’ of the President designed to frame the conversation in way that moves one away from talk about diplomacy and de-escalation and into the arena of ‘All  We must fight terrorism at e

Inevitably someone will make try to put the onus on you for objecting..Pay close attention when someone responds or inserts themselves in a conversation and ask questions or makes statements along these lines:

1-If we don’t use drones what better ideas do you have to eliminate top terror operatives? Instead of complaining about the President fighting the war on terror, perhaps you should help him..This is difficult work..

2-Troops on the ground are not as effective..Drones are the only way to fight back… Do you have another way for us to take out top terrorist without troops?

3-There are Bigger threats that you can’t see. Bush started something that Obama unfortunately must finish to protect us all.. It took us over a decade to find Bin Laden

4-Those so-called innocents who have been killed by drones hide or aid terrorists..The terrorists use kids to fight us and then claim innocence. We haven’t killed that many innocent people.. They killed innocent people during 9-11…Our drones are doing the job of fighting terror more effectively

5-The terrorist plan there and then come here or against our interests around the world. They started it-remember 9-11. Its better for us to fight them over there then at home..

6-We must use drones because we have no other options Our allies like Pakistan hid Osama for years and lied to us.

7-Diplomacy doesn’t work..They want to kill us. They have an advantage on their land..they know it better than anyone. I don’t condone killing innocent people but so we must use drones to level the playing field.. They must be stopped!

Drone ProtestsBasically the tactic used is to situate the discussion as if we have no other choice but to fight the war on terror. Its designed to make you forget that the War on terror was a manufactured war with the goal of keeping it open-ended, and perpetual.. so we could expand it as necessary.

Obama is depicted as a reluctant participant who would rather have peace, but is ‘forced to clean up the mess’ that George Bush has started..

We are also reminded that its better for us to fight the war on terror overseas then have it here at home..Innocent people being killed is justified as being a part of war which is ‘ugly’. We are also reminded that terrorists use kids to fight us and hence we shouldn’t be ‘fooled’ or overly sympathetic..

There are Black and Brown faces increasingly being used to push these arguments.. Some are literally paid pundits and operatives. Others in a misguided sense of Black pride and unity have sold their souls and turned a blind eye to actions and policies that they know are dead wrong.. Others who once upon a time have been excluded, have been made to feel ‘special’ because they were put on some sort of White House mailing list,  got a phone call from someone important asking for their help or been invited to informal White House briefings.. The end result is a misguided sense of loyalty at all costs.. As fellow journalist JR Valrey of the Block Report once famously noted, many are not interested in justice or preserving life, they just want their turn to hold and crack the whip..

Obama's drones are terrorismBottom line be wary of the attempts to get folks to buy into a concept that we once railed against called ‘preemptive strikes‘..When Bush kicked this off we hit the streets by the thousands.. Obama doesn’t use the that term, instead he invokes the image of us being in a life and death struggle against ‘evil terrorists‘. As a result many have checked their conscience at the door to pick up a sword to join in sable rattling while simultaneously bemoaning the fact that youth in our community have turned to violence as a solution to problems vs de-escalation and diplomacy..

Do Not Resist the Police! Oakland Police Conduct Mass Arrest During Oscar Grant Protests

Police might as well prepared Marshall Law in Oakland, because they arrested everyone in sight near 6th and east 17th. They declared the entire block a ‘crime scene’ and said everyone within it were arrested as agitators. Police claimed that a rock was thrown at them. Over 150 people were arrested including folks who weren’t even part of the march.

Here’s the link to our special Hard Knock RadioFlashpoints broadcast on the Johannes Mehserle sentencing with myself and Sabrina Jacobs…Our guest included Oscar Grant’s uncle Cephus Johnson aka Uncle Bobby,Jack Bryson who’s sons were on the Fruitvale BART platform w/ Oscar when he was killed….We also spoke with Grant family lawyer John Burris, LA correspondent Thiandiswe ChimurengaM1 of dead prezMinister Keith Muhammad of the Nation of Islam Jesse Strauss Dennis Bernstein and Miguel Molina of Flashpoints and Alan Gomez of Puente Arizona.

Here’s a link to the show


Tonight Oakland Police showed us what Marshall Law was all about as they conducted mass arrests in East Oakland around 6th and East 17th. All in all over 150 people were arrested and likely to be taken to North County or Santa Rita for the weekend.

This all began when about 500 marchers left downtown where city hall is located and attempted to march to the Fruitvale BART station where Oscar Grant was murdered. OPD had devised a boxed in strategy which was described as a scrimmage line. With the use of helicopters, dozens of patrol cars  and undercover cops spread throughout the crowd, police in a series of manuevers tried to corral marchers into a block and immobilize them.

The marchers were a multi-ethnic crowd featuring people of all ages and classes. many were disappointed with the outcome and felt that justice was not served. The overwhelming majority of the marchers were peaceful, in fact this was affirmed early on KGO News who had a reporter in the crowd. As the night went on the narrative changed when it was reported that some car windows were broken. Even though this wasn’t done my  99% of the marchers it was the excuse the police needed. One of the marchers described the police as increasingly aggressive when they found it it difficult to contain 500 people.

When folks arrived at 6th and East 17th the police in riot gear had all sides blocked and declared the area a crime scene. Many of the folks had no idea what that meant and why they were not allowed to leave. Police then announced that everyone except the press would be subjected to arrest. Some marchers were getting conflicting information where they were told they could leave, but when they attempted they were told they could not.

Police were on bull horns telling the crowd ‘This is a crime scene Do Not Resist the Police.” Again no one had any idea why it was a crime scene and what that meant.

Observers from Lawyers Guild were told that a rock was thrown at the police and everyone in the march were going to be arrested as ‘agitators’. This was the story given when I was out there. Imagine our surprise when we got home and saw the evening news running stories saying that someone had snatched a gun from the holster of an officer, and someone else had hit an officer with a car. That wasn’t the 500 people in the march, those were two individuals, both who have been arrested.

We later heard that everyone was arrested for unlawfully assembly. None of this information was made known to the veteran reporters who called into our L’Onda radio show on KPFA including a veteran cop watch leader who was with the marchers as an observer and not allowed to leave with the accredited press.

The police also claim that folks had broken other windows. The question raised is why blame everyone in the march? Police had undercover officers amongst the marchers, they weren’t aware of who specifically violated the law? Why not give folks an opportunity to disperse versus arresting everyone wholesale?

Do Not Resist the Police seemed to be the new mantra from an oppressive force that has now gotten away with murder.

Folks observing the mass arrests were talking about the outlandish remarks attributed to sentencing Judge Robert J Perry. This included him telling the Grant family that with President Obama in the White House folks should not see this incident as racial. He parroted all the talking points of the defense and pretty much blamed Oscar Grant for his own death. Please listen to the radio interview we posted up that features report backs from several people who sat in the courtroom including Grant’s Uncle and news reporter Thandi Chimurenga Here’s the link:

Many are trying to figure out ways to remove him from the bench.. here’s a link to that process

Police systematically booked people. from what we observed they seemed to be separating organizers from 'ordinary folk's

Jack Bryson's two sons were on the platform and witnessed Oscar get killed. He was still in shock over some of the outrageous things Judge Robert Perry said before sentencing Johannes Mehersle. He wants see him recalled

There was hundreds of police out in the streets..They out-numbered protestors

To see more photos click link below

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Searching for Justice as Oakland Streets Turn Lawless

Searching for Justice as Oakland Streets Turn Lawless

by Jesse Strauss

check out yesterday’s radio show to get a blow by blow account of what happened on the streets of Oakland the night of the verdict

As the Oakland community begins to understand the meaning of Johannes Mehserle’s involuntary manslaughter verdict, the streets exploded angrily last night.

Mehserle is the former BART cop who killed Oscar Grant on New Year’s morning, 2009. As Grant was lying face down on a BART platform, Mehserle stood up, grabbed his firearm, aimed down, and shot Grant. Mehserle’s next action was to handcuff the wounded 22 year old father before calling for any kind of medical assistance. Oscar Grant was killed that morning, but the Oakland community will never forget his name.

Yesterday at 4pm, an LA courthouse announced the jury’s verdict, that Mehserle killed Grant with “criminal negligence”, receiving the charge of involuntary manslaughter. From what I understand at the time of this writing, the verdict could mean that Oscar Grant’s killer will serve anywhere from two to fourteen years in jail.

It’s clear, though, that the Oakland community does not consider the conviction strong enough. Speaker after speaker at the 6pm rally in downtown Oakland told the crowd of at least a thousand that they were disappointed with the verdict. Many folks spoke out about their feelings in different ways, but no one seemed comfortable with what had happened.

At the same time, no one seemed uncomfortable by the huge amount of support given by the larger Bay Area. What many sources have called “outside agitators”, many people in the streets last night recognized as community support.

While we think about the mainstream narrative of “outsiders”, it seems important to keep in mind that Oscar Grant himself lived in Hayward, and Mehserle was not an Oakland cop, but a BART officer, which meant his jurisdiction spanned across a range of cities throughout the Bay Area. Oakland simply and justifiably is at the center of this action.

The inside agitators, which are mostly Oaklanders (although I did see some people from Berkeley, Hayward and Vallejo), clearly played a strong role in the community response to the verdict. As the formal rally came to a close at 8pm as organizers were ordered to shut it down by the city, it became clear that the police forces, whether Oakland cops, California Highway Patrol, or others from nearby cities, were excited and ready to use their new training and equipment on the people who came out to voice their opinions.

Once the rally ended, at least two people had already been arrested, but it was fully unclear to any of us witnessing the events what prompted those arrests. Only a few minutes later, I was told that a block away a Footlocker’s windows were broken and its contents ransacked by community members. When I arrived there, I watched some young people grab shoes in the store and run out before two others blocked the entrance, telling others that justice for Oscar Grant does not look like what we were seeing.

But what does justice look like?

As I walked away from Footlocker, I saw freshly sprayed graffiti covering windows and businesses with statements like “Justice 4 Oscar Grant” and “Off The Pigs”. Continuing down the street, I saw protesters running in any direction they could find to avoid confrontations with police, who were slowly marching up Broadway Avenue in Downtown Oakland.

Then the shattering started. Much of the next few hours became a blur. I watched numerous windows at the downtown Oakland Sears fall to the ground as someone lit small fireworks nearby. Sirens echoed in every direction and police announced that the gatherings were illegal and we would be arrested and possibly “removed by force which could cause serious bodily injury”. Minutes later, the wind carried a draft of pepper spray toward me as I walked by three large flaming dumpsters in the middle of Telegraph Avenue.

In the midst of all the action I searched for some kind of organization—some kind of unified goal or idea of justice. The community is angry, and there is no correct platform to address that anger. For those who are sure that Mehserle should be charged with a crime stronger than involuntary manslaughter, the legal approach did not work.

While leadership and organization seemed to have flown out the window, it did seem that the rebellions were much more calculated than those just after Grant’s murder, as most of the broken windows were concentrated at corporate giants like Footlocker and Starbucks. The strongest piece of organization I witnessed in Oakland’s streets last night were the groups of people preventing attacks on local businesses.

The police came in as a close second. They didn’t seem to know how to deal with what was going on, but they would march in formation down a street, only to watch new trash cans light up and windows shatter another block down. While they may have been organized within their small army, officers had no idea how to deal with the realities of last night. In fact, it became clear to me that they made Oakland’s streets very unsafe.

As I walked from Telegraph to Broadway on Grand Avenue, first watching a Starbucks window broken and then that of a sushi restaurant, I realized the night was getting out of hand for everyone. Trying to stay connected with some sort of normality and step away from the crazy streets, I called a friend. As soon as my conversation was over I looked down at my phone to hang up. Then a hand came out of nowhere, perhaps over my shoulder, and grabbed the phone. I tried to hold onto it until I was startled and disoriented by a fist slamming into my eye and I let the phone disappear as blood began dripping from just above my left eyelid.

But where were the police to respond to a robbery and assault in the middle of a major intersection in downtown Oakland? They were clearly not making it safe for me to be in that space, and it is still unclear who or what they made it safe for. The person or people who have the phone and gave me a black eye and some possible medical bills were not crazy and violent Oaklanders that need to be policed to help or save people like me. These were people who took advantage of a lawless space that our law enforcement officers created themselves.

The night started with people moving and becoming angry (or angrier) because police declared a peaceful gathering in the street to be illegal. Windows were broken because people were angry and moving quickly down the streets with nowhere to voice their anger safely.

Hours later, I’m lying in bed with a black eye and a gash above my eyelid. I can only imagine how my night would have ended if the police hadn’t declared the peaceful gathering illegal and created a sense of lawlessness in Oakland’s streets.

This is not justice for Oscar Grant. But what is? From the Grant’s murder to those of us who were endangered by police last night, law enforcement needs to be held accountable to the communities they serve. That at least seems like a good starting point.


Born and raised in Oakland, Jesse Strauss is a producer for Flashpoints ( on Pacifica Radio. His articles have been published on Truthout, Common Dreams, CounterPunch, Consortium News, and other sources. Reach him at jstrauss (at)

check out yesterday’s radio show to get a blow by blow account of what happened on the streets of Oakland the night of the verdict

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