One year ago the parents of a young man were confronted with the fact that their son had died that night in a gun battle with the Oakland Police.
One year later, the parents of that young man know for a fact that no such battle occurred, that the evidence points to the conclusion that an Oakland Police officer executed their son while he was lying on the ground weaponless, and that the officer then lied, lied again, lied some more, and had others lie for him about what happened in the fateful minutes just after midnight on May 6th, 2012.
One year later, the parents of Alan Blueford wake up every morning knowing that no one in power cares about their son or the facts: not the Oakland Police, not the Oakland City Administration, not the Oakland City Council, not the Alameda County District Attorney, not their state or US representatives and not California's Attorney General. They would all rather Jeralynn and Adam Blueford disappear into the Bay Area fog.
One year later though, they have not vanished into the mist. They wake up each day and continue fighting for justice for their son.
Stay with me; listen to Jeralyn Blueford's voice as the year unfolds.
It began with questions.
May 11th. Five days after Alan's death.
Say Lord Jesus! I'm a God-fearing woman, and I raised my son as a God-fearing Christian, and I'm here to tell you, "Justice is mine!" says the Lord. My baby. My son. Alan. Alan Blueford. Who loved everyone. Who just went around with the biggest smile. Who had the most infectious eyes. Who could melt my heart. My heart is broken. It's broken, this is the most senseless thing...When those questions were met with lies or silence, a plea for help.
No young man deserves to be shot in cold blood...
Everybody loved him. How could you shoot my baby like that, and not come out and give any kind of statement?"
May 15th, 2012. Oakland City Council.
We are here to plead for your help...As no one listened, it quickly morphed into anger
May 25. Socialism 2012 Conference.
We are going to JAB the hell out of the police...Protests eventually led to the release of the Coroner's Report on the death of Alan Blueford - two and a half months after he had been killed. It had been completed within days of his being shot, but Oakland Police had 'requested' that it not be released. Why? Because it would only serve to highlight the lies they had told. A 'gun battle' as reported by the media in the immediate aftermath ? No, not a trace of gunshot residue on Alan. Drugs, as hinted at by OPD? No, not a trace of alcohol or drugs in his system.
The police murdered my son. So they didn't protect him...
We went to every agency. We went to the City Council, we went to the City Mayor. We went to the Oakland Police Chief. We met with all the heads of the departments. We met with the assistant Police Chief. We met with the City Attorney. They are still hiding evidence. They are still telling lies...
When the City Council reconvened after its summer recess, anger turned into calling out their hypocrisy and inaction. The Bluefords agreed with their supporters (JAB, the Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition) that it was time to shut down City Council...
September 18th, City Council.
We came here in May, asking for help. You came to our services Mr. Reid, said you'd help us. This officer told lies from the beginning, that my son shot him, and now we know: He never shot him! ... Even Chief Jordan told us, but they only told us behind closed doors. Nobody's said anything, nobody's stood up for Alan. And this officer's at home on disability on our tax dollars. What is wrong with this?Still, No Justice, No Peace. Callouts turned into shaming.
Nobody said he was about to graduate. Nobody asked question about where his ID went. Nobody asked why didn't they call his mother.
October 3rd, 2012. City Council Turns Off the Microphone.
I'm Jeralynn Blueford. I don't need the mic. You all are here, City Council, you see why there is separation between the community and the City officials...This intense pressure resulted in a redacted police report finally being released that evening, five months after Alan had died. Within days, the District Attorney's report clearing Miguel Masso - the OPD officer who shot Alan three times as he was lying on the ground - was also made public. It was a whitewash to surpass the Platonic ideal whitewash.
If you don't have kids, then you are lucky. Because you won't ever have to go and bury your kid. My son is gone. I'm standing here before you, begging you three or four times, asking you for help. You told me you would help me. You told me don't worry about it. I'll give you a call. Well, I don't have nothin. I don't have a police report...
What mother wouldn't want to know what happened to their baby the night they died? What mother wouldn't want to know the chain of custody to his body? They never called me. They never gave me an answer. They're still not giving me an answer.
Anger turned into denunciation.
October 16, 2012, Press Conference and Rally Denouncing District Attorney's Report.
Alan cannot have a voice, because he was murdered. Shot to death on his back. So I am Alan's voice.
Still no one in power cared. No one cared that the police report was inconsistent with the District Attorney's report. No one cared that the evidence in the police report did not support the conclusions that the District Attorney's report arrived at. No one cared that multiple witness statements contradicted Officer Masso's sworn statements. No one cared that the laws of physics were violated by the magical appearance of a gun said to have been in Alan's hand when he was shot by Officer Masso but only found several minutes after the fact, twenty feet away from Alan's body.
No one cared because no one wanted to care. Justice for one young black man holds no sway in the halls of power in Oakland. After all, well-to-do white people in the nice parts of town were being robbed, and what is more important? Who would take up the cause of an eighteen year old "drug dealer" killed in a "gun battle" in one of the most rundown parts of Oakland? (Those "facts", despite not being true, were, and probably still are, the dominant meme about the case).
Denunciation turned to grief, and a desire to honor Alan on what would have been his 19th birthday, December 20th, 2012.
December 18th, 2012. JAB Benefit Celebrating Alan's Life And Featuring Angela Davis.
Stand here where I'm standing and looking into this crowd of beautiful people who chose this Tuesday evening to honor my son, my baby Alan, I just want you to know my cup runs over and I thank and praise God for you."
Grief turned to new resolve, as demands were renewed that the District Attorney or the State Attorney General prosecute Miguel Masso.
March 5th, 2013. Rally Outside District Attorney's Office.
"It's hard to come out and speak when someone's been robbed from you. Someone has been stolen from you. Someone you love and look forward to. My son told me, 'Aw, mom, I'll be back.' And he didn't come back.
Ultimately, new resolve becomes renewed hope. On the evening of the one year anniversary of Alan's death, 150 people took candles and marched in solemn vigil to mark his passing.
this was the most genuine/honest thing I've been too in a long time. Beautiful vigil.— Alyssa(@alyssa011968) May 6, 2013
The Bluefords release a dove - we have moment silence & then a prayer.
No video recorded what happened on May 6th, 2012. The world will never see on Youtube the equivalent of Johannes Meserle pulling out his gun and shooting a prone and handcuffed Oscar Grant. We will never know exactly what happened, or why.
But there is much we do know.
Here is the Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition's rebuttal to the District Attorney's report, demonstrating the shoddiness and unprofessionalism of the report, and the total failure of the District Attorney to analyze any evidence that contradicted the official line.
Witnesses testify that, just minutes after midnight on May 6th, 2012, Officer Miguel Masso was chasing Alan Blueford down Birch Street in East Oakland. Officer Masso's report states that both he and Alan were on the south sidewalk (Alan was killed on the north sidewalk), at which time Alan pulled a gun on him and then both of them crossed the street. No witness statements mention anything about either of them being on the south sidewalk, about Alan turning around, or Alan pointing a gun at the officer during the chase.
Most witnesses testify that Alan tripped or ran into a driveway gate, falling to the ground, at which point Officer Masso came, stood over Alan, and engaged his duty weapon. Officer Masso reported that he first shot Alan from a distance of some five feet while Alan was standing up. None of the casings matching Officer Masso's weapon were found near where Masso claims to have initially shot Alan; three of the four were found close to where Alan's body ended up.
Officer Masso claims that he shot Alan while Alan was standing, Alan fell into the gate, fell to the ground face first, then turned onto his back, pointing a weapon at Officer Masso. Officer Masso then says he shot Alan twice more. Finally, backpedalling, he shot himself in the foot.
Oakland has shot detection technology known as Shotspotter. Just recently, Oakland Police reports were unveiled which revealed what Shotspotter detected on May 6th. It revealed four shots taken within the span of 1.1 seconds on Birch St., the second shot fired 0.4 seconds after the first, and the last shot fired 0.3 seconds after the third. This shot sequence is fundamentally inconsistent with Officer Masso's account. The District Attorney had access to this information but chose a) not to include it in the report, and b) not to report the inconsistency.
The gun. Ah yes, the gun. What of the gun that Alan allegedly brandished at Officer Masso?
No witness reports, as Masso claims, that Alan turned and pointed a gun at Masso while across or in the street. Some witnesses claim Alan never had a gun; some witnesses claim Alan did hold a weapon just before Masso fired at him, but these are the same witnesses that say that Alan fired the weapon at Masso. We know this to be untrue for three reasons: a) There was no gun residue on Alan; b) four shots were detected by Shotspotter, and Masso fired four shots; c) the gun that was "discovered" in the vicinity had not been fired.
According to police accounts and witness statements taken down by police, it was several minutes after Officer Masso fired his last shot that some witnesses noticed or pointed out a gun lying twenty feet from Alan's body, up the inclined driveway. Officer Masso stated that Alan held a gun when he (Masso) fired the third and fatal shot. No one has ever even attempted to explain how the gun allegedly in Alan's hand at the time of his death moved twenty feet up an incline. Officer Masso's report makes no mention of the gun after the third shot. The only mentions of a gun by Officer Masso after that point are his statements, as reported by his partner:
I swear to God I saw him with a gun.And moments later
I swear I saw him with a gun.The gun found twenty feet from Alan's body was not immediately sequestered. For reasons unknown it was disassembled at the scene (a picture of it disassembled, lying in the driveway appears in the police report). Later, the magazine of the gun was found to have Alan's thumbprint. The gun had been registered to a former police officer from whom it had been reported stolen in a burglary some nine months earlier. Suffice it to say that OPD has a record of and is notorious for planting evidence. Again, the truth will probably never be known.
There's more. There's much more.
All of it confronts the Bluefords every morning, and perchance in their dreams.
For them, and those who fight along side them for the truth, there is truly
Another year begins.