Five hundred people gathered in downtown Oakland on Saturday to protest police brutality, racial profiling and stop & frisk; the picture-perfect day contrasting sharply with the grim tales of police abuse told by the families of victims.
It was both a sad and hopeful day. Sad for the obvious reasons yet hopeful because of the coalition we are building and the messages we are sending:
"This slaughter must end!"
"We are not going away!"
The sons and daughters of the parents who fear the most for their soon-to-be-grown sons and daughters took a special role in our march through West Oakland after the rally.
The Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition sponsored the rally and march. The rally, beginning about 12:15 PM at Oscar Grant Plaza featured Adam and Jeralyn Blueford, parents of slain Oakland teenager Alan Blueford. Listen to a highlights video:
Delores, the aunt of Derrick Gaines, fifteen years old when he was shot and killed by South San Franciso police, was one of the first to speak.
"It is not a crime to run... There was a river of blood running down according to witnesses..."The father of Jared Huey, Michael Huey, machine-gunned by Vallejo police, told that grim story.
"They sprayed him with bullets. And at the same time this boy was shouting 'Don't shoot! No! No! No!"Professor of Black Studies at Mills College Dr. Siri Brown was on fire.
left: Mazibuko Jara, center: Dr. Siri Brown, right: Adam Blueford
"You can keep murdering us and we will stand here and fight until we get justice for Alan Blueford... This is not new. We have been killed by police ever since they dragged us here from the continent of Africa."Jack Heyman, longtime ILWU member, spoke of the ILWU's historical support for social justice causes and in particular their action in 2010 -- shutting down the Port of Oakland when Oscar Grant was killed.
"Uncle Bobby.", the uncle of Oscar Grant, made clear with numerous examples how certain bad-apple policemen are involved in multiple killings.
La Mesha Monge Irizarry, the mother of Idriss Stelley, recounted yet another horror story.
My only child, shot 48 times by SFPD.Mazibuko Jara, a South African activist, spoke of the thirty-four laborers who were gunned down at the Marikana mine in August, 2012 and talked of how the ANC had betrayed South African workers.
They were mowed down simply for demanding a living wage...Jeralyn Blueford closed out the rally with this cry:
Nelson Mandela told workers in September 1994... "If the ANC does to you what the apartheid government did, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the apartheid government.
I read the article yesterday where Chief Jordan said about the receivership. They said it was going to bring down 'morale.' How do you think we feel? My son is dead! What about my morale?"The crowd seized the streets, marched down to the police station, and there heard Kristian Williams, noted author of Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America, speak.
Fortress OPD seals itself off.
We marched through and about West Oakland, and then back to Oscar Grant Plaza,
foot-weary but more than ready to continue the struggle.
On our way back to Oscar Grant Plaza, foot-weary but soul-livened
Justice For Alan Blueford
Justice For Derrick Gaines
Justice For Jared Huey
Justice For Oscar Grant
Justice For the Marikana Thirty Four
Justice For Idriss Stelley
Justice For All The Victims of Police Violence
Mary (@marymad) (follow her work against police drones @nomby -- not over my back yard)