African arts showcase at UC Berkeley

The spirit of Africa was alive at the African Arts Society's "Showcase" on November 20 at UC Berkeley.

Ready to Learn Fun Fair

Children enjoyed face painting, legos and storytelling at the Ready to Learn Fun Fair at Peralta Elementary School in Oakland.

Occupy Oakland calls for West Coast Port Shutdown

Organizers say Port owners are "1%." Port begs to keep the Ports Open for 99% workers.

Oakland Labor Day BBQ hosts good time for 'fam bam'

The "I am Oakland" collective hosted the Labor Day Fam Bam BBQ at Mosswood Park on September 6.

Protest against censorship of Palestinian Children's Art

In response to censorship of Palestinian children's art by an Oakland art museum, dozens came out to protest in Oakland.

RIP Peabo Wellington

College of Alameda student Jepeabo Wellington was murdered days before the school year began.

Students gain college acceptance at Black College Fair

Hundreds of young people attended the third annual Black College Fair at Laney College, the second year the Oakland community college has hosted the event.

Laney College Welcome Back Bash

Eddie the Eagle and Laney College student Ebony Miller shake a tail feather at the Welcome Back Bash January 28, 2010The Associated Students of Laney College (ASLC) held its spring 2010 Welcome Back Bash on the campus' main quad January 21, 2010. The event was postponed twice due to poor weather.
The bi-annual welcome back bash is an opportunity for students to learn about campus resources and take pride in the Laney College campus. The event featured representatives from ASLC, the Laney Black Student Union, Asian American Association, Alpha Lambda, Phi Theta Kappa, EOPS, Laney Health Services and AC Transit.

Exclusive photos from The Black Hour

BART reaches $1.5 million settlement for daughter of Oscar Grant

BART reached an agreement with the mother of Oscar Grant’s young daughter Tatiana, according to BART. The settlement is for $1.5 million and stems from the $50 million civil lawsuit filed against BART after then police officer Johnannes Mehserle shot and killed Grant at Fruitvale BART early New Year’s Day. Grant was lying on his stomach with his hands behind his back.

Oscar Grant's daughter, Tatianna speaks at vigil for her father, alongside Jack Bryson, Wanda Johnson and Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson
Photo: Flickr user TheBlackHour.com

"It’s been a little over a year since we experienced the tragic death of Oscar Grant,” BART Board President James Fang said in a statement. “No matter what anyone’s opinion of the case may be, the sad fact remains this incident has left Tatiana without a father."

Fang added, "While these proceedings have been taking place, we on the BART Board have been taking the actions needed to improve the BART Police Department to ensure our officers are better-trained and better-equipped to keep our customers safe.”

“This settlement is critical in our efforts to move forward,” BART Board Member Carole Ward Allen said. Ward Allen chairs the BART Police Department Review Committee, and represents the district in which Grant was shot and killed. The Police Department Review Commitee is responsible for reforming the department. "We’re working hard to make the Police Department the best it can be for our officers, our customers and our community."

BART then touted their reforms in progress:
"Since the shooting, BART has made a number of significant changes including:
  • Working with the State Legislature to pass a bill (AB1586) on citizen oversight of the BART Police Department implemented – Monday, January 25, the State Assembly passed AB1586 (67-0), it now heads to the State Senate.
  • More than tripling the number of training hours provided all officers, including increased training in crowd control, defensive tactics and Taser use.
  • Involving the public in BART’s search for a new police chief.
  • Increasing police visibility in stations and on trains.
  • Requiring officers to report all use-of-force incidents, not just those deemed “significant,” with each incident thoroughly reviewed by a newly-established panel that determines the next appropriate steps of action.
This announcement follows one month after BART and Grant's family released a joint press release ahead of the one-year anniversary vigil.

There is no word on the separate suits filed by both Wanda Johnson, Grant's mother, as well as that filed by Grant's friends, who were beaten and abused prior to Grant's shooting death.

Long lines await Laney College students

Laney College students wait in the Tower lobby for their number to be called, just to wait in another line for financial aid checks Jan. 29.


On the second week of school, Laney College students waited in line for upwards of two hours Thursday, January 28 to receive financial aid checks.

In order to prevent overcrowding on the second floor, students were cordoned off into a line near the elevator in the Tower Lobby that stretched nearly outside the building. Students were then given tickets to prevent line cutting. The wait was so long, one student found a chair to sit during the wai.

Laney College student Tevita Afeumi rests during the two hour wait for a financial aid check.

The line continued once students went to the second floor, where both Financial Aid and the Bursar’s Office is located.

Laney College students waiting in line for financial aid checks, pasrking passes and the AC Transit EasyPass
Peralta Police Services were called to assist when the lines were split; one for those who only wanted a Semester Parking Permit or an AC Transit EasyPass, and those who were picking up a Financial Aid check. There were no incidents reported. In fact, when this photographer went to take photos, many students smiled.

Photos by Reginald James.

VIDEO: Sade 'Soldier of Love'

Sade. The beautiful, sensual talented British-born Nigerian singer has a new album. And she's the subject of this week's Music Monday.

"Soldier of Love" breaks Sade's 10 year haitus. Here is the first video, and title track off of her sixth album.



The militancy of the beat is reminiscent of the Black Power era. The military, drum line style dancing invokes images like Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" featuring steppers from the Nation of Islam.

Haiti Relief Benefit in Oakland

Haiti Relief Benefit at the Black Dot Cafe in West Oakland

Haiti Relief Fundraiser
Sunday, January 24, 7 p.m.
Black Dot Cafe
1195 Pine St.
West Oakland
With reports of over 150,000 dead in Haiti following a 7.0 earthquake, the U.S. response and media coverage of the Haiti disaster mirrors that of Hurricane Katrina.

The San Francisco Bay View, the POCC and the Haiti Action Committee will host a Haiti Relief Benefit at the Black Dot Cafe in West Oakland Sunday, January 24.

THe featured speaker is Pierre Labossiere, co-founder of the Haiti Action Committee. The event will also include Oakland attorney Walter Riley, co-founder of the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund (HERF) and a survivor of the 7.0 Earthquake that rocked the nation.

Funds raised at the event will support the continued efforts of the Haiti Action Committee, as well as put a media-medical team on the ground. The team will not only provide immediate aid to the Haitian people, but give a real account of the Haitian people's plight, opposed to the subliminally racist coverage that distorts truth that is taking place now.

"You know they’ll go where the needs are greatest and the stories most compelling," writes Mary Ratliff, editor of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper.

NAACP sells out civil rights to net neutrality

By Glen Ford
Special to TheBlackHour.com
Without the effective right to communicate with one's fellow humans, all other rights disappear. In opposing internet neutrality in return for corporate telecom money, the NAACP and other so-called civil rights groups have committed an unforgivable theft of the people's trust.

The battle for democracy in the 21st century is increasingly being waged on the internet to such a degree that a movement for people's power in the United States seems inconceivable without free and unfettered access to the internet. Yet established civil rights organizations, whose relevance has long been under question, have sold out the people's internet rights in a bargain with the giant telecommunications corporations.

The FCC's net neutrality ruling will decide whether the telecom corporations will be allowed to monopolize the internet for their own profit whether all ideas and enterprises will have equal rights to travel on the internet, or it becomes a toll road for the billionaires. As a letter to the FCC, signed by 20 organizations, puts it, the principle of internet neutrality allows all Americans to speak for themselves without having to convince large media companies that their voices are worthy of being heard.
As the Federal Communications Commission prepares to rule on fundamental issues of internet neutrality, the NAACP and the League of United Latin American Citizens, LULAC, have aligned themselves with the likes of Verizon, AT&T and Comcast. The Urban League and the National Council of La Raza are claiming to have open minds, but look ready to go where the money is.

The FCC's net neutrality ruling will decide whether the telecom corporations will be allowed to monopolize the internet for their own profit whether all ideas and enterprises will have equal rights to travel on the internet, or it becomes a toll road for the billionaires. As a letter to the FCC, signed by 20 organizations, puts it, the principle of internet neutrality allows all Americans to speak for themselves without having to convince large media companies that their voices are worthy of being heard.

The telecoms are willing to spread millions of dollars around to buy Black and brown people's support.

When corporations rule, only money has free speech rights. That's the kind of internet environment that Verizon, AT&T and Comcast want to establish and they're willing to spread millions of dollars around to buy Black and brown people's support. White internet activists have shied away from calling the deal cut between the telecom companies and the NAACP, LULAC and others by its name but we won't. It's bribery, theft of the people's trust, a depraved sellout on a massive scale.

Sadly, it's a path of betrayal already taken by most of the Congressional Black Caucus, three and a half years ago. Back then, the same cable and phone companies were trying to undo regulations that forced them to serve the poor as well as the rich. The telecoms pulled out all the stops. In addition to contributing heavily to Caucus members' campaigns and offering blandishments to influential Black community groups, the phone companies coerced thousands of their employees in districts around the country to call their congresspersons and push the company line.

Progressive Black Caucus members told us the pressure was nearly unbearable. In the end, two-thirds of the Black Caucus caved in to the corporations. Only 13 members held out for the people's interests, while 27 bowed down to the power of money.

Now it's the NAACP's and the Urban League's turn to show if they still deserve to call themselves civil rights organizations. Make no mistake about: no civil right will be safe, or even defensible, if corporate America is allowed to decide who travels the information highway, and who does not.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Contact BAR executive editor Glen Ford.

Haiti 2010: An Unwelcome Katrina Redux

(Editors Note: The People's Advocate Cynthia McKinney, a former Georgia Congresswoman and 2008 Presidential Candidate speaks to the militarized U.S. response to the Haiti Earthquake)

By Cynthia McKinney

CYNTHIA MCKINNEY
"Much to my disquiet, it seems, here we go again. From the very beginning, U.S. assistance to Haiti has looked to me more like an invasion than a humanitarian relief operation."
President Obama's response to the tragedy in Haiti has been robust in military deployment and puny in what the Haitians need most: food; first responders and their specialized equipment; doctors and medical facilities and equipment; and engineers, heavy equipment, and heavy movers. Sadly, President Obama is dispatching Presidents Bush and Clinton, and thousands of Marines and U.S. soldiers. By contrast, Cuba has over 400 doctors on the ground and is sending in more; Cubans, Argentinians, Icelanders, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans, and many others are already on the ground working--saving lives and treating the injured. Senegal has offered land to Haitians willing to relocate to Africa.

The United States, on the day after the tragedy struck, confirmed that an entire Marine Expeditionary Force was being considered "to help restore order," when the "disorder" had been caused by an earthquake striking Haiti; not since 1751, 1770, 1842, 1860, and 1887 had Haiti experienced an earthquake. But, I remember the bogus reports of chaos and violence the led to the deployment of military assets, including Blackwater, in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. One Katrina survivor noted that the people needed food and shelter and the U.S. government sent men with guns.

Much to my disquiet, it seems, here we go again. From the very beginning, U.S. assistance to Haiti has looked to me more like an invasion than a humanitarian relief operation.

On Day Two of the tragedy, a C-130 plane with a military assessment team landed in Haiti, with the rest of the team expected to land soon thereafter. The stated purpose of this team was to determine what military resources were needed.

An Air Force special operations team was also expected to land to provide air traffic control. Now, the reports are that the U.S. is not allowing assistance in, shades of Hurricane Katrina, all over again.

On President Obama's orders military aircraft "flew over the island, mapping the destruction." So, the first U.S. contribution to the humanitarian relief needed in Haiti were reconnaissance drones whose staffing are more accustomed to looking for hidden weapon sites and surface-to-air missile batteries than wrecked infrastructure. The scope of the U.S. response soon became clear: aircraft carrer, Marine transport ship, four C-140 airlifts, and evacuations to Guantanamo. By the end of Day Two, according to the Washington Post report, the United States had evacuated to Guantanamo Bay about eight [8] severely injured patients, in addition to U.S. Embassy staffers, who had been "designated as priorities by the U.S. Ambassador and his staff."

On Day Three we learned that other U.S. ships, including destroyers, were moving toward Haiti. Interestingly, the Washington Post reported that the standing task force that coordinates the U.S. response to mass migration events from Cuba or Haiti was monitoring events, but had not yet ramped up its operations. That tidbit was interesting in and of itself, that those two countries are attended to by a standing task force, but the treatment of their nationals is vastly different, with Cubans being awarded immediate acceptance from the U.S. government, and by contrast, internment for Haitian nationals.

"Interestingly, the Washington Post reported that the standing task force that coordinates the U.S. response to mass migration events from Cuba or Haiti was monitoring events, but had not yet ramped up its operations."
U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral James Watson IV reassured Americans, "Our focus right now is to prevent that, and we are going to work with the Defense Department, the State Department, FEMA and all the agencies of the federal government to minimize the risk of Haitians who want to flee their country," Watson said. "We want to provide them those relief supplies so they can live in Haiti."

By the end of Day Four, the U.S. reportedly had evacuated over 800 U.S. nationals.

For those of us who have been following events in Haiti before the tragic earthquake, it is worth noting that several items have caused deep concern:

  1. the continued exile of Haiti's democratically-elected and well-loved, yet twice-removed former priest, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide;
  2. the unexplained continued occupation of the country by United Nations troops who have killed innocent Haitians and are hardly there for "security" (I've personally seen them on the roads that only lead to Haiti's sparsely-populated areas teeming with beautiful beaches);
  3. U.S. construction of its fifth-largest embassy in the world in Port-au-Prince, Haiti;
  4. mining and port licenses and contracts, including the privatization of Haiti's deep water ports, because certain off-shore oil and transshipment arrangements would not be possible inside the U.S. for environmental and other considerations; and
  5. Extensive foreign NGO presence in Haiti that could be rendered unnecessary if, instead, appropriate U.S. and other government policy allowed the Haitian people some modicum of political and economic self-determination.
Therefore, we note here the writings of Ms. Marguerite Laurent, whom I met in her capacity as attorney for ousted President of Haiti Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Ms. Laurent reminds us of Haiti's offshore oil and other mineral riches and recent revivial of an old idea to use Haiti and an oil refinery to be built there as a transshipment terminal for U.S. supertankers. Ms. Laurent, also known as Ezili Danto of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN), writes:

"There is evidence that the United States found oil in Haiti decades ago and due to the geopolitical circumstances and big business interests of that era made the decision to keep Haitian oil in reserve for when Middle Eastern oil had dried up. This is detailed by Dr. Georges Michel in an article dated March 27, 2004 outlining the history of oil explorations and oil reserves in Haiti and in the research of Dr. Ginette and Daniel Mathurin.

"Unfortunately, before the tragedy struck, and despite pleading to the Administration by Haiti activists inside the United States, President Obama failed to stop the deportation of Haitians inside the United States and failed to grant TPS, temporary protected status, to Haitians inside the U.S. in peril of being deported due to visa expirations."
"There is also good evidence that these very same big US oil companies and their inter-related monopolies of engineering and defense contractors made plans, decades ago, to use Haiti's deep water ports either for oil refineries or to develop oil tank farm sites or depots where crude oil could be stored and later transferred to small tankers to serve U.S. and Caribbean ports. This is detailed in a paper about the Dunn Plantation at Fort Liberte in Haiti.

"Ezili's HLLN underlines these two papers on Haiti's oil resources and the works of Dr. Ginette and Daniel Mathurin in order to provide a view one will not find in the mainstream media nor anywhere else as to the economic and strategic reasons the US has constructed its fifth largest embassy in the world - fifth only besides the US embassy in China, Iraq, Iran and Germany - in tiny Haiti, post the 2004 Haiti Bush regime change."

Unfortunately, before the tragedy struck, and despite pleading to the Administration by Haiti activists inside the United States, President Obama failed to stop the deportation of Haitians inside the United States and failed to grant TPS, temporary protected status, to Haitians inside the U.S. in peril of being deported due to visa expirations. That was corrected on Day Three of Haiti's earthquake tragedy with the January 15, 2010 announcement that Haiti would join Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, El Salvador, and Sudan as a country granted TPS by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

President Obama's appointment of President Bush to the Haiti relief effort is a swift left jab to the face, in my opinion. After President Bush's performance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the fact that still today, Hurricane Katrina survivors who want to return still have not been provided a way back home, the appointment might augur well for fundraising activities, but I doubt that it bodes well for the Haitian people. Afterall, the coup against and the kidnapping of President Aristide occurred under the watch of a Bush Presidency.

Finally, those with an appreciation of French literature know that among France's most beloved authors are Alexandre Dumas, son of a Haitian slave, and Victor Hugo who wrote: "Haiti est une lumiere." [Haiti is a light.]

Indeed, Haiti for millions is a light: light into the methodology and evil of slavery; light into a successful slave rebellion, light into nationhood and notions of liberty, the rights of man, and of human dignity. Haiti is a light. And an example that makes the enemies of black liberation tremble. It is precisely because of Haiti's light into the evil genius of some individuals who wield power over others and man's ability, through unity and purpose, to overcome that evil, that some segments of the world have been at war with Haiti ever since 1804, the year of Haiti's creation as a Republic.

I'm not surprised at "Reverend" Pat Robertson's racist vitriol. Robertson's comments mirror, exactly, statements made by Napoleon's Cabinet when the Haitians defeated them. But in 2010, Robertson's statements reveal much more: Haitians are not the only ones who know their importance to the struggle against hatred, imperialism, and European domination.

This pesky, persistent, stubbornly non-Western, proudly African people of this piece of land that we call Haiti know their history and they know that they militarily defeated the ruling world empire of the day, Napoleon's France, and the global elite at that time who supported him. They know that they defeated the armies of England and Spain.

Haitians know that they used their status as a free state to help liberate Latin Americans from Spain, by funding and fighting alongside Simon Bolivar; their example inspired their still-enslaved African brothers and sisters on the American mainland; and before Haitians were even free, they fought against the British inside the U.S. during its war of independence and won a decisive battle in Savannah, Georgia, where I have visited the statue commemorating that victory.

Haitians know that France imposed reparations on them for being free, and Haiti paid them in full, but that President Aristide called for France to give that money back ($21 billion in 2003 dollars).

Haitians know that their "brother," then-Secretary of State Colin Powell lied to the world upon the kidnapping and second ouster of their President. (Sadly, it wouldn't be the last time that Secretary of State Colin Powell would lie to the world.) Haitians know, all-too-well, that high-ranking blacks in the United States are capable of helping them and of betraying them.

Haitians know, too, that the United States has installed its political proxies and even its own soldiers onto Haitian soil when the U.S. felt it was necessary. All in an effort to control the indomitable Haitian spirit that directs much-needed light to the rest of the oppressed world.

"Every plane of humanitarian assistance that is turned away by the U.S. military (so far from CARICOM, the Caribbean Community, M├ędecins Sans Frontieres, Brazil, France, Italy, and even the U.S. Red Cross)--as was done in the wake of Hurricane Katrina--and the expected arrival on this very day of up to 10,000 U.S. troops, are lasting reminders of the existential threat that now looms over the valiant, proud people and the Republic of Haiti."
While the tears of the people of Haiti swell in my own eyes, and I remember their tremendous capacity for love, my broken heart and wet eyes don't dampen my ability to understand the grave danger that now faces my friends in Haiti.

I shudder to think that the "rollback" policies believed in by some foreign policy advisors to President Obama could use a prolonged U.S. military presence in Haiti as a springboard for rollback of areas in Latin America that have liberated themselves from U.S. neo-colonial domination. I would hate to think that this would even be attempted under the Presidency of Barack Obama. All of us must have our eyes wide open on Haiti and other parts of the world now dripping in blood as a result of the relentless onward march of the U.S. military machine.

So, on this remembrance of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I note that it was the U.S. government's own illegal Operation Lantern Spike that snuffed out the promise and light of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Every plane of humanitarian assistance that is turned away by the U.S. military (so far from CARICOM, the Caribbean Community, M├ędecins Sans Frontieres, Brazil, France, Italy, and even the U.S. Red Cross)--as was done in the wake of Hurricane Katrina--and the expected arrival on this very day of up to 10,000 U.S. troops, are lasting reminders of the existential threat that now looms over the valiant, proud people and the Republic of Haiti.

VIDEO: Do-Dat "A Dream Reborn"

Bay Area Rapper Do D.A.T. recently teamed up with Green For All to produce "A Dream Reborn," a music video inspired by Dr. King's legacy of environmental (social justice) work, and pushing towards green jobs and not jail cells.

"Nowadays, it seems like every rap artist claims that they are representing for the hood, but few of them are present in the community when they are needed the most," reads "A Dream Reborn's" video's You Tube description.



Do Dat, born Markese Bryant, previously studied African American Studies at Laney College in Oakland, before transferring to Morehouse College in Atlanta. Be sure to check out the behind the scenes footage of "A Dream Reborn" music video, and take a tour of East Oakland with Do-Dat, pointing out the environmental injustices people face.

Bryant has been busy at Morehouse College organizing around envirnonmental awareness, recently leading "The Dream Revival: Green Recovery Symposium" at King's alma mater, after last year's PowerShift Convergence.

The Martin Luther King Jr that's never quoted

Emergency Vigil in Solidarity with the People of Haiti in Oakland

The Haiti Action Committee and Congresswoman Barbara Lee will hold an emergency vigil in solidarity with the people of Haiti on Monday.


Photo: Flickr user Miriam Godet

Oakland Vigil for Haiti
Monday, January 18th, 5:00 P.M.
Oakland Federal Building
1301 Clay Street
(12th Street BART Station)
By Robert Roth
Haiti Action Committee

Three million people are homeless, untold thousands are dead. With their own hands, Haitians are heroically digging out friends and relatives from the rubble left by the devastating earthquake, showing once again their resilience, determination and courage in the face of disaster.

Days after the earthquake, the United Nations admits it has fed only 8000 people. With thousands of U.S. troops headed to Haiti, it is clear that the U.S. and UN are more concerned with "securing" Haiti than with feeding and housing people. Millions of dollars worth of food and medicine sits on the tarmac at the airport in Port-au-Prince while the poorest communities remain without aid.

In a scene reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina, 10,000 people have sought refuge in the Aristide Foundation near the airport in Port-au-Prince. Over 50 doctors are there, yet no medical supplies or food has arrived.

We remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

This is a time to respect the resiliency and courage of the Haitian people. It is a time for aid, not charity, for solidarity not a U.S. military take-over. And it is a time to return President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to his homeland.

Please support community-based organizers in Haiti who are working day and night to get aid to the people. Please contribute to Haiti Emergency Relief Fund.

Oakland Celebrates the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with Service



Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a revolutionary. While many have been conditioned to see his birthday -- now a national holiday (although not without struggle) -- as a day off, King always worked on his birthday.

The Black Hour encourages you to celebrate the life of this "drum major for justice" as a day of service. Below are a number of events taking place in Oakland tomorrow to commemorate King's birthday

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Events
Monday, January 18, 2010
  • Build an Urban Farm/Park in West Oakland
    Help construct the Mo' Better Foods Educational Farm/Park in West Oakland. Gardening, tree planting and community clean up.
    8:30 am-5:30 pm at1348 5th Street, Mandela Parkway, across from West Oakland BART.
    More information at MoBetterFood.com.
  • Build a school garden in East Oakland
    Help the Ella Baker Center and the City of Oakland finish a school garden at Sobrante Park Elementary in East Oakland.
    Volunteers will create an amphitheater, make the garden wheelchair accessible, and beautify the school by planting flowers and painting.
    10-2 PM at Sobrante Park Elementary School, 470 El Paseo Dr., Oakland, CA 94603
    RSVP with the Ella Baker Center
  • Clean the Martin Luther King Shoreline in Oakland
    Volunteers will assist staff in restoration work and invasive plant removal in order to support and care for wildlife and their natural habitats. Wear comfortable clothes and closed-toed shoes. Please also bring your own water bottle.
    9 a.m. to Noon at the Martin Luther King Shoreline. Oakport Street (near Hegenberger) at the Peppermint Gate. RSVP with East Bay Regional Parks
More Oakland events at OaklandLocal.com

Report criticizes Oakland Police actions on day four officers slain

Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts at press conference releasing findings of report on March 21, 2009 shootout
Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts at press conference releasing findings of report on March 21, 2009 shootout


What started as a “routine traffic stop” led to the “greatest tragedy in the Oakland Police Department's history,” says an independent report on police mistakes surrounding the March 21, 2009 pursuit and shooting of Lovelle Mixon. The shootout resulted also resulted in the death of four officers.

The report, released by police Wednesday night, describes a chaotic police response. Police Chief Anthony Batts agreed with the searing report's findings. He also insisted that the perception that “everything went wrong” was incorrect.

"We will build on those things that we did well, we will correct those areas that were flawed. We will improve. There were many good, solid decisions that were made on that scene that day by command staff. Many courageous, selfless acts took place that day that should be heralded and honored.”
Chief Anthony Batts
Oakland Police
“We will build on those things that we did well, we will correct those areas that were flawed," Batts vowed. “We will improve.”

When the smoke cleared, four officers were dead: Sgt. Mark Dunakin, John Hege, Sgt. Ervin Romans and Sgt. Dan Sakai. All were killed by 26 year old parolee Lovelle Mixon, who was eventually killed by police.

The solemn press conference convened Wednesday night following an afternoon briefing of the four officers’ families, as well as a briefing of OPD staff earlier that evening.

“There were many good, solid decisions that were made on that scene that day by command staff,” Batts said. “Many courageous, selfless acts took place that day that should be heralded and honored.”

Batts--who applied to be city’s top cop following the shooting--vowed OPD would be transparent and would use the incident to become a better police force. He added that some officers had been reassigned following the incident.

Lt. Brian Medeiros, who headed the investigation, described the initial shooting of Sgt. Mark Dunakin and Officer Hege as summarized in the report. Dunakin stopped Mixon for running a stop sign on MacArthur Blvd, according to police. Initially, it was a “low stress” encounter until it was discovered that the driver’s license was fake.

Dunakin, now joined by Hege, approached the vehicle on the driver’s side when Mixon reached out of the window and “shoots him multiple times, basically at point blank range.” After being hit “multiple times,” Dunakin stumbles backwards while the suspect continues shooting “one round after another,” according to Medeiros. The report states Mixon “methodically shot each officer twice.”

Mixon then “shoots both fallen officers in their backs as they're down,” Medeiros said.

Capt. Ben Fairow, who chaired the Board of Inquiry, used a diagram to outline to the audience what took place in the apartment Mixon fled into.

A total of seven officers entered the apartment. Immediately upon entry, officers were fired upon, according to Medeiros. Sgt. Patrick Gonzalez was the first officer to enter the apartment, followed by Sgt. Erv Romans who was shot seconds after entry. Gonzalez – who shot and killed Gary King, Jr. in 2007 – was also wounded.

Fairow said Mixon was firing from the back bathroom while retreating to bathroom. As he fired, an officer shots at him as he went through the door, Farrow told the audience.

After Batts whispered to Fairow, he recalled the report’s commendation of officers for not shooting Mixon’s younger sister Reynete Mixon, who was also in the apartment.

“Prior to getting to the bathroom, light sound diversionary devices were used upon entry,” explained Fairow. These “stun grenades, or “flash bangs” are “concussive in nature,” according to Fairow. One that was thrown into the bathroom “flushed Mixon’s sister out, and she came running out towards the team.”

The report lauded the team’s expertise at holding their fire, they call it "fire control”, their quickly identifying the fact that she wasn’t a threat, and allowing her to pass through while they were still nder fire from Mixon, with a high powered rifle. The report neglects to mention the use of these explosive devices.

Another stun grenade was then used to enter the back room. Sgt. Sakai – who used canines to track Mixon to the apartment – was the first to enter the room and was mortally wounded. The remaining officers, including a now wounded Gonzalez entered into the background and killed Mixon. The entire episode lasted less than two hours, according to police.

Assisting Chief Howard Jordan, who ordered the report nine months ago as acting chief, said the goal of the investigation was to “ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

“The Board found there was a lack of command and control that led to the hasty decision to enter that apartment building,” Jordan said, adding that Chief Batts “has taken appropriate actions to remedy those recommendations.”

Jordan declined to state the names of those officers who were disciplined, and asked the media not to disclose that information.

Police were not aware that the Mixon’s sister was in the apartment, according to Jordan, who called her injuries “superficial.” Mixon’s sister recently filed a claim against the city.

He also cited the police officers Bill of Rights as to why names were not identified in a public document.

Police were criticized for releasing the report less than two hours before the press conference, resulting in primarily mainstream news outlets being the only media in attendance. Police said the rationale was because they wanted to speak to the officers’ families first, then the other members of the police force, and finally with the media and the public.

I don’t know if they had done anything different that the results would not have been the same. Mixon was determined, willing and capable of doing what he did.
Howard Jordan
Dep. Chief


When asked what could’ve been done differently, OPD doubted that the whole incident would’ve had a different outcome with different methodology.

“I don’t know if they had done anything different that the results would not have been the same,” Jordan said. “Lovelle Mixon was determined, willing and capable of doing what he did.”

Prior to the press conference, police brought in two weapons as “props” to demonstrate the type of weapons used to kill the officers. The weapons were neither the exact weapons, nor confirmed as the same type of weapons. Ofc. Thomason told the media, "We know how you people like props."

Police also said that Mixon was positively identified as a suspect in the sexual assault of two women that same morning, as well as the sexual assault of a 12 year old and a Modesto home invasion in February.

MOVIE: Denzel Washington in Book of Eli

Denzel Washington stars in the new post-apochalyptic film "Book of Eli." Washington walks the wastelands of the U.S. with the last copy of the Holy Bible, and hope for a new civilization.

Directed by the Hughes Brothers, the film is in theaters now.

The trailer of Book of Eli is below:


Book of Eli Trailer

Chancellor Elihu Harris to leave Peralta

Board opts not to renew contract, announces search

Peralta Chancellor Elihu Harris
Photo: Sustainable Peralta.

Peralta Colleges Chancellor Elihu Harris will leave Peralta when his contract expires after this spring semester. The former Oakland Mayor and state assembly member has been Chancellor since 2003.

Trustees opted not to renew Harris' contract at their Tuesday night Board meeting, and announced a search for a new chancellor. Abel Guillen, the Board's new president, declined to discuss the decision further.

The meeting was headed for controversy before it started. Trustees were scheduled to approve the District's annual budget, despite a December 17 protest at the Board's last meeting by students. The Budget presented at the time was full of discrepancies, according to faculty and protesting students, and was ultimately postponed until Tuesday night.

At the time, Peralta students were angry that the Board considered postponing the vote until January 12, instead of January 26. The spring semester begins January 21. It would also give students, faculty, staff and the public adequate time to read the budget, demonstrators said.

The budget (Item #18) was removed the Peralta Board of Trustees agenda prior to the meeting.

Yet, the meeting was in stark contrast to December. Few students were present, despite a vote by the Board to place its annual Capital Outlay fee on international students, a long-time complaint by many students and, recently, a key issue for some student representatives.

It has also been reported that Peralta TV, the district run cable channel "blacked-out." While the broadcasts automatically shift to pre-programmed shows at 11 p.m. on the nights of Board meetings, the entire meeting was broadcasted without audio, according to a Peralta employee.

In addition to Harris' contract not being extended, most other managers have been placed on one-year contracts. Peralta Union's have been critical of Harris for granting "secret raises" for all his managers last year -- without approval of the Board. The Board has not retracted the raises.

A source told The Black Hour that Harris' Executive Assistant Alton Jelks, Harris' former Chief of Staff when he was Oakland mayor,will likely be gone by the end of the month.

Harris came under fire this past summer following a series of damaging reports by the Bay Area News Group. Harris allegedly declined to speak with the mainstream press, but did respond to the accusations in the "Back to School Edition" his bi-annual Chancellor's Report sent out to the colleges.

The Peralta Board -- also criticized by BANG for lavish spending -- later called for an independent investigation. Still, former California Community Colleges Chancellor Mark Drummond was critical of Peralta in a report this past fall.

The chief complaint; Harris granting a $900,000 "no-bid" contract to a former business partner, Mark Lindquist. Although Harris did not personally benefit from the deal, this led to an unprecedented front-page editorial by the Oakland Tribune calling for Harris to be fired. The Bay Area News Group also sued Peralta until Peralta agreed to hand over records.

Lindquist's company, 1701 Associates was handling construction management for Laney College renovations, but the contract was ended from the job after complaints, and their inability to do the work needed.. Lindquist is currently the Treasurer of the Peralta Foundation.

Vice-Chancellor of Finance Tom Smith was placed on administrative leave and escorted of the premises by Peralta Police Services -- Alameda County Sheriff's Deputies who contract with Peralta to provide services.

Trustees declined to speak regarding this decision; however, there is speculation. Smith refused to dismiss his former executive assistant -- a confidential employee -- Jennifer Lenahan -- who reported leaked information to the press, saying she hadn't acted improperly. Harris reportedly attempted to have her fired for being a whistleblower. After "embarrassing" Harris, the Board declined to terminate her employment. She now works at Berkeley City College, and is represented by SEIU.

The other likely reason is a lack of financial transparency, pointed out by the last year's accreditation report by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

There were numerous "bugs" involved in Peralta's implementation of the PeopleSoft software program, which led the Peralta Colleges gigantic financial aid fiasco in the fall of 2008.

Although not in attendance at Tuesday's meeting, both the Bay Area News Group and the East Bay Express have reported on the ouster of Harris. As the Berkeley Daily Planet reports, since 2007, no corporate news outlet has provided regular coverage of the Peralta District, with the exception of the Laney Tower student newspaper.

Bay Area bassist Dewey Tucker dead at 24

Rest in Peace Dewey Tucker
Photo: Dewey's Myspace page

Bay Area bass player Dewey Tucker was shot and killed last night.

The talented 24-year old bass player -- a member of the Kev Choice Ensemble as well as bassist for The Coup -- shared the stage with Chico Debarge, Lauren Hill, Martin Luther and many other musicians.

Tucker was shot multiple times last night on Interstate 80, according to California Highway Patrol. He was heading to a rehearsal.

The video below shows Dewey messing around" on the bass.


Dewey Messing Around

Earthquake kills 100,000 in Haiti

Support long-term action in Haiti


REUTERS

Over 100,000 people are feared dead, following a devastating blow that hit the Carribean nation of Haiti.

There are two ways to donate:
Via PayPal

or Mail check made out to:
"Haiti Emergency Relief Fund/EBSC"
donations tax deductible
send mail to:
East Bay Sanctuary Covenant
2362 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

EBSC is a non-profit 502(c)(3) organization tax ID#94-3249753
All donations are acknowledged.

Haiti has been hit by the strongest earthquake in 240 years. The enormity of the effects of this devastating 7.0 quake are only barely understood at this time. It's feared that 100,000 people have been killed and perhaps millions left homeless. This is a moment in which your solidarity is of critical importance.

As the only nation of African people in the Western Hemisphere to lead a violent revolution for freedom, this country -- the poorest in the Carribean -- holds a special place in the African Diaspora.

The outpouring of support has been outstanding, following a Twitter led campaign by celebrities like Wyclef -- a Haitian native -- and others. The FBI has warned of internet fraud and scammers attempting to profit off the suffering of Haiti.

The Black Hour is encouraging those who wish to make a donation to support the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund. Donations will be forwarded to people on the ground to help them rebuild what has been destroyed.

The Haiti Action Network -- a grassroots movement including labor unions, women’s groups, educators and human rights activists, support committees for prisoners, and agricultural cooperatives – will attempt to funnel needed aid to those most hit by the earthquake. Grassroots organizers are doing what they can – with the most limited of funds – to make a difference. Please take this chance to lend them your support.

From the Haiti Action Committee:
Since its inception in March 2004, the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund (H.E.R.F.) has given concrete aid to Haiti’s grassroots democratic movement as they attempted to survive the brutal coup and to rebuild shattered development projects. We urge you to contribute generously, not only for this immediate crisis, but in order to support the long-run development of human rights, sustainable agriculture and economic justice in Haiti.


They emphasize:
ALL MONEY GOES DIRECTLY TO GRASS ROOTS ORGANIZATIONS.

Oakland Seen reports Oakland activists Walter Riley and Barbara Rhine are unaccounted for in Haiti. Riley is father of legendary Hip Hop artists Boots from The Coup.

Families of Americans living in Haiti are encouraged to contact the State Department at 888-407-4747.

Activists demand civilian oversight of BART following shooting of unarmed passenger


Photo: SF Citizen.com

One year after the shooting of Oscar Grant by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, activists are still demanding justice.

And the battle still wages onward in Sacramento.

This Tuesday is an Assembly Hearing on BART Civilian Oversight. The Public Safety Committee will be hearing two bills to create a civilian oversight body for the BART Police Department. While the bills have the same stated purpose, they have one drastic difference: power.

Assembly Hearing on BART Civilian Oversight
Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) will be chairing a hearing at the Assembly Committee on Public Safety on two bills to create a civilian oversight body for the BART Police Department, AB 312 (Ammiano) and AB 1586 (Swanson).
When: Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Time: 9 am
Where: State Capitol, Room 126 - Sacramento
Read AB 312
Read AB 1586
Let Sandre Swanson know you "Support Civilian Oversight of BART"
(510)286-1670
(916)319-2016
Contact other members of the Public Safety Committee.
San Francisco Assembly Member Tom Ammiano and Senator Leland Yee called for Public Oversight of BART. The bill may have passed back in April, but the BART Board of Directors tried to derail the legislation.

Although the shooting occurred in Oakland, Assembly Member Sandre Swanson, -- who was visibly silent following the Oscar Grant shooting -- was not a co-sponsor of the bill. Months later, Swanson authored AB 1586, but later withdrew the BART oversight bill

BART held a series of meetings around the formation of an oversight committee, unanimously passing a plan that would've allowed a Citizen Police Review Panel and police auditor -- hired by BART's Board of Directors -- to give oversight and recommend disciplinary actions. The board, with a two-thirds majority, would also be able to override a decision by BART's general manager and police chief.

Out of these meetings, AB 1586 was born. The bill was initially supported by members of the Oscar Grant family and Oakland National of Islam Minister Keith Muhammad, until that "controversial amendment" removed the power of the publicly elected to provide oversight was removed.

It is still disputed as to "watered down" the BART oversight bill by striking the text; Swanson or BART officials.

Following the shooting, three widely attended trips to the Capitol, Caravan for Justice, were held. Activists planned to "wake up lawmakers."

Although AB 312 is supported by the City of Berkeley, the City of Oakland, the California Teachers Association, 100 Black Men of the Bay Area, it is being actively opposed by Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC), the statewide union for rank-and-file police officers.

Oakland hosts AC Transit Bus Rapid Transit meetings

AC Transit Bus Rapid Transit
Photo: ACTforMe.org.



OaklandBRT Meeting Dates
  • January 11, 6-8 pm, Fruitvale Senior Center
    3301 E. 12th St., Ste. 201
  • January 12, 6-8 pm, Eastside Arts Alliance
    2277 International Blvd.
  • January 21, 6-8 pm, East Oakland Youth Development Center
    8200 International Blvd.
  • January 26, 6-8 pm, Faith Presbyterian Church
    430 49th St.
  • January 27, 11am-1pm, Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room 2
    1 Frank Ogawa Plaza
  • January 27, 5-7pm, Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room 4
    1 Frank Ogawa Plaza
  • January 28, 6-8pm, St. Louis Bertrand Church
    1410 100th Ave.
Oakland will host a series of meetings about AC Transit's proposed East Bay Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system beginning today.

Bus Rapid Transit has been described as "light-rail without the rails." BRT is AC Transit's proposed plan to improving transit along Telegraph Ave and International Blvd. in Oakland. BRT is being used all over the world to make transit faster and more reliable by incorporating a variety of features such as bus-only lanes, real-time arrival information, signal priority, level boarding and more, according to AC Transit.

"AC Transit is fighting to keep public transit options open," Samantha Robinson said. "We want to make public transit better so that people actually PREFER to take the bus, and that's what we've seen Bus Rapid Transit do in other cities across the US and world."

Robinson added that BRT will "make getting to Laney a lot easier for many people."

Oakland City Council members want input on the proposed plan. Meetings will be held throughout Oakland beginning tonight to discuss the plan. Throughout the process, unfortunately, students have not been very actively involved in the process.

Below is a 3D Simulation of what AC Transit's East Bay BRT could look like:


More information is available on the City of Oakland's BRT website, as well as AC Transit's BRT website.

Mapping Black Visual Culture



Afriscape Cartography: Mapping Black Visual Culture, An Artist Lecture Series with Duane Deterville at Joyce Gordon Gallery
http://joycegordongallery.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/lecture-presentation-by-duane-deterville/

Duane Deterville, MA, visual artist, writer and scholar is featured in a four-part artist lecture series entitled, “Afriscape Cartography: Mapping Black Visual Culture” at the Joyce Gordon Gallery in Oakland, CA every Saturday, 3:00-5:00 pm for the entire month of January 2010.

The lecture series is an introduction to the Black Aesthetic in Visual Culture (January 9), Drawing Down Ancestors: Defining the Afriscape Through Ground Drawings and Street Altars (January 16), Jazz and Visual Culture (January 23), Afrifuturism and Black Visual Culture (January 30).

The talks are rsvp and each event is $5-10 sliding scale donation. For more info, e-mail jvbgg@sbclgobal.net

About Duane Deterville:
Duane Deterville is a visual artist, writer and scholar of visual culture. His area of expertise is African and Afridiasporic visual culture. Deterville is co-founder of Sankofa Cultural Institute. He has produced three symposiums on Jazz: “ Jazz the Black Aesthetic” in 2001, “Bird, Bop, Black Art and Beyond” in 2006 and “The Sacred Jazz Symposium” in 2007. He is co-author of the book “Black Artists in Oakland,” Currently, he is a featured columnist for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Open Space Blog. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts and Masters in Visual and Critical Studies from the California College of the Arts located in San Francisco California.

This series of presentations entitled “Afriscape Cartography: Mapping Black Visual Culture” will be of interest to creative artists, writers, curators, art collectors and anyone with an interest in new ways of seeing the Black experience. Artists will be interested in Deterville’s presentation of artistic strategies for visual culture. Writers will be interested in this overview of a burgeoning new field of study that can inform their writing practice. Curators will be interested in the manner in which visual culture informs the politics of display in relationship to the Black experience and art collectors will discover new concerns for developing their collections.

Joyce Gordon Gallery,406 14th Street Oakland, CA 94612 510-465-8911, http://www.joycegordongallery.com
For more information:
Email: jvbgg@sbcglobal.net

Report slams Oakland Police actions that led to death of four officers

Chaos, poor communication and the lack of command contributed to the killing of four Oakland police officers by Oakland resident Lovelle Mixon, according to a report released Wednesday.

The independent report describes the March 21, 2009 shooting of four police officers and the subsequent search the suspect as “an ineffective and poorly managed operation.”

Only the Executive Summary and a Summary of the Board of Inquiry’s findings were released from the reportedly 50 plus page document. Officers were not identified by name, at the request of OPD.

The report details the disorganization, the lack of a command post and no clear authority as well as the lack of an overall plan to manage the 115 police officers who responded following the death of two motorcycle cops. The report states that the two officers failed to follow proper protocol when they approached Mixon's vehicle after a traffic stop. This issue should be addressed by training, the report said.

The report cites the lack of centralized information as a contributor to the lack of communication and confusion.

Following an “uncoordinated” search, the report called the decision to enter into an the apartment where two additional officers were killed, along with 26-year old Oakland resident Lovelle Mixona, as “problematic from its inception.” It states that the “self-assigned” leader Lieutenant Chris Mufarreh, as identified by the Oakland Tribune, failed to gather “routine intelligence” of the apartment, and inappropriately ordered an “ad hoc Entry Team” comprised of SWAT Team members to enter the apartment.

Deputy Chief David Koziki, who retired last year, and Capt. Rick Orozco were also blamed for approving the “flawed plan,” according to the report.

The report continues noting that even after approval of the plan, the “limited and rushed briefing” with the ad hoc Entry Team – in which all members were not present– neglected many issues such as searching protocols, exit strategy nor was a team leader assigned.

The Board of Inquiry was also troubled by “contradictory statements” by staff regarding the whereabouts of Mixon.

After Kozicki assembled command staff to ask if a search warrant would be required for forced entry into the apartment, they responded that the entry “constituted a fresh pursuit,” which eliminates the need for a warrant. Despite a witness and a confidential information placing the suspect in the apartment – with a female – staff stated there was a “low probability” that Mixon was there.

“If staff truly believed there was little probability of the suspects’ presence, there could be no fresh pursuit exemption from the warrant requirement,” the report stated.

Nearly two hours after the initial stop, officers forced open the door. Sgt. Patrick Gonzalez – the officer who shot Gary King, Jr. twice in the back in 2007 –entered the apartment first, followed by Sgt. Romans. Upon entry, Romans was mortally wounded Gonzalez was also shot and wounded in the shoulder. The team had yet to fire a shot, according to the report.

The initial shots from Mixon came from direction of the bathroom, according to the report. Adding to the chaos, Mixon was not alone in the apartment, nor was the three-story building building evacuated.

“Unexpectedly, a female started screaming and emerged from the bathroom,” said the report, “and past the oncoming Entry Team.” The report recognizes the “outstanding discipline in fire control” by the officers for not shooting her.

The report fails to mention the stun grenades, or “flash bangs” thrown at from the living room into the bathroom that brought Mixon’s 16-year old sister screaming, running from the apartment. Mixon then retreated to a rear bedroom, according to the report.

Sgt. Romans was evacuated while Gonzalez, though wounded continued into the bathroom, towards Mixon who had retreated to the rear bedroom.

Officer John Hege was shot upon entry into the bedroom. Gonzalez then entered the room, but tripped and landed in front of Mixon, who was holding a “assault rifle with a large capacity magazine and a bayonet fixed on the end of the barrel.” Gonzalez, another OPD officer along with a County Deputy all fired on Mixon until he was “no longer a threat,” the report said, calling the incident the “greatest tragedy in OPD history.”

Of the findings, there are 37 recommendations ranging from the training for vehicle approaches, acknowledging community members who rendered aid to the fatally wounded officers to the

The report was authored by, James K. Stewart, a senior fellow with the CAN, Institute for Public Research. It was ordered by Acting Chief of Police Chief Howard Jordan to “understand how this happened and what can be done to prevent a future occurrence.” The Board of Inquiry was comprised of senior leaders of law enforcement agencies. The BoI met for 3 days of hearings in the fall, in addition to reviewing documents, tapes, interviews and other OPD investigative reports, according to the report.

Oakland police brass held a Wednesday evening press conference to discuss the findings in the report.

“The investigation was thorough and complete, indicating training and command deficiencies” Police spokesperson Jeff Thomason said in a media advisory sent less than a few hours before the press conference.

Activists demand release of death row inmates

Angela Davis with Merritt College Black Student Union
Photo: Jazymne Young/ Hella Black

Hundreds mobilized December 13 for the fourth annual Stanley "Tookie" Williams Legacy Summit at the Huey P. Newton/Bobble Seale Student Lounge at Merritt College. The event marks the four year anniversary when Williams was executed by the State of California, as well as the activism that took place to save him.

Williams co-founded of the original L.A. Crips street organization. He later sought “Redemption,” writing children’s books encouraging youth to avoid gang life, which garnered a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

Third annual Tookie Williams Legacy Summit (2008)
The summit focused on mobilization actions to abolish both the death penalty and the prison industrial complex.

Barbara Becnel, co-author and friend of Williams, said the state not only killed Williams but “tortured him to death.” It took the executioners 36 minutes to find his veins and for Williams to die of lethal injection. She praised the outpouring of support from the multi-generation, multi-ethnic audience.

“What happened leading up to that day, tens of thousands of people from throughout the state, the country, the world mobilized in an effort to fight for justice,” Becnel said. “This is not going to be a day of pontification. Today is a day to mobilize to organize. We need to mobilize today more than we needed to mobilize four years ago.”

This year’s summit also focused on the liberation of “three innocent men on death row.” Kevin Cooper, Troy Davis and Mumia Abu Jamal.

Wearing a black “I am Troy Davis” t-shirt, Davis’ sister, Martina Correia, introduced herself to the crowd as a death row inmate.

“I am on death row, because that’s where my brother lives,” Correia said. “Not because I’ve committed any crime or murder, because I love him and I’m standing up to tell his story."

Angela Davis speaks at Tookie Williams Summitt at Merritt College in OaklandAngela Davis, co-founder of Critical Resistance – an abolitionist organization that seeks to end the death penalty – spoke to the international movement to end the death penalty.

“It’s not simply a question of innocence that motivates us,” Davis said of abolishment. The U.S. "is the only so-called industrial democracy in the entire world that continues to use capital punishment as a mode of dealing with people who are convicted of certain crimes.”

“The death penalty is an obsolete form of punishment”, Davis added.

The program then turned to another prominent “public execution:” the New Year’s Eve killing of Oscar Grant by BART Police officer Johannes Mehserle.

Cephus Johnson, known as “Uncle Bobby”, credited the people with the arrest of Mehserle, as well as the retirement of BART Police Chief Gary Gee and Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff.

“It was the community involvement that brought about many of the victories,” Johnson said. “If we stand by and allow it to continue, it would be an injustice.”

The event ended with a preview of “The Justice Chronicles,” a dramatic interpretation of writings by the incarcerated, raising awareness of the plight of U.S. political prisoners.

Correia added, "It might be Troy Davis today, but it could be you tomorrow.”

Read the complete article on OaklandLocal.com.

See also: "Bay Area meeting demands release of 3 death row inmates" article in The Militant.

I am Oscar Grant - Photo Essay


Photo: Reginald James

It was a warm and cloudy January morning when I set out to capture these images.

Two weeks after BART police officer Johannes Mehserle shot Oscar Grant in his back, the air was still filled with the foul odor of injustice. The smoke from the barrel of Mehserle’s gun mixed with the scent of burning trash cans and cars set ablaze during the two uprisings had set into the concrete and on the sides of vandalized buildings like soot.

The tag on the bricks of the Pacific Law Building at 15th and Franklin in downtown Oakland spoke to me that morning. Rather; I saw my reflection in its message.

“I am… Oscar Grant!”

...The tag on the bricks of the Pacific Law Building at 15th and Franklin in downtown Oakland spoke to me that morning. Rather; I saw my reflection in its message: I am… Oscar Grant!

I wanted to capture the diversity of those who organized, protested and spoke out for justice. Shot in color, I post them in Black and White to enhance the contrasts; the contrasts of age, race and gender, and all the gray areas.

The original album caption was “Whether young or old, Black, Brown, Yellow, Red or White: We want justice.”

We were all on that platform that night. Grant’s death renewed a collective consciousness.

I am…Oscar Grant, because we are.

bw13

As a part of their virtual memorial for Oscar Grant, the Oakland news site Oakland Local features a "I am Oscar Grant" photo essay by The Black Hour producer Reginald James. See the complete photo essay and artistic statement on OaklandLocal.com.

Remember Oscar Grant, resist police brutality

One year after the execution-style killing of Oscar Grant by BART Police officer Johannes Merserle, former Black Panthers Kiilu Nyasha and Emory Douglass speak to Angola 3 News.

The interview speaks on the history of police brutality in Oakland, the framing of journalist JR -- the Minister of Information for the POCC -- and the effectiveness of riots.

Your browser is not able to display this multimedia content.


Video/interview courtesy of IndyBay.org

Oscar Grant: Gone but not Forgotten



The family of Oscar Grant hosts a vigil and gathering on the one-year 'anniversary' of his death at the hands of a BART police officer on New Year's Day.

From 2-4 p.m. at t he Fruitvale BART STation, the family wants the community to "come celebrate Oscar Grant's life and share a vision of hope. Hear from family and friends, share your voice or your silence."

There will be a community alter for pictures, candles, flowers and other mementos.

From 6-11 p.m., there will be a gathering at the Humanist Hall (390 27th STreet) featuring spoken word, music and other art work over the past year, focused on Justice for Oscar Grant.

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