Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cops kill man during pot farm raid

Authorities shot and killed someone while raiding a marijuana farm along the Alameda/Santa Clara County border this morning.
The man was in possession of an air rifle that Sherriff's deputies were apparently afraid of. The man was shot from afar, and then again from up close, just to make sure he was dead. You can never take chances when BB guns are involved.

Monday, July 19, 2010

"You just made the list, buddy."

This is totally the I-580 gunman.

Sniper shoots at Cops during traffic stop

A routine police stop in West Oakland erupted in gunfire when someone with a rifle opened fire at the cops from a high-rise building. No one was hit by the gunfire, and the sniper was not caught.

20 minute gun battle erupts on Oakland freeway

So, the cops got into a fierce gun battle with some 45-year old white guy who was armed to the teeth and wearing a flak vest, and eventually subdued the gunmen (by shooting him several times). Even though they had the perpetrator in custody (he is alive and well by all accounts), they still closed a major freeway for an entire weekend day to collect evidence.
Interestingly, after police murdered Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART station, they let an entire train full of witnesses leave the station, minus some of their cameras and cell phones.
I wonder why they were more concerned about securing the crime scene and collecting evidence when the victim of an officer-related shooting was white....

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Oakland and BART Cops kill man near Fruitvale station

Three Oakland officers and two BART officers shot and killed a man this morning near the Fruitvale BART station after an alleged confrontation with police. The officers claimed that the man had two knives. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

NLGSF says cops used excessive force during Mehserle verdict protests

NLG Decries Police Tactics, Assaults on Peaceful Protesters

Oakland— Despite claims by Oakland Police (OPD) and city officials that law enforcement used restraint during last Thursday’s protests following the Johannes Mehserle verdict, details emerging paint a very different picture. Police used excessive force against a largely peaceful protest, violently attacking a number of people. Police arrested many demonstrators who had done nothing wrong, and then held them in jail through the night and in some cases through the weekend and beyond.

Among those arrested were NLGSF member, and prominent Oakland attorney, Walter Riley. “Thursday’s law enforcement conduct must be investigated. The police were provocative and seemed determined to instigate violence, which of course, served their police contract negotiations with Oakland at a time when they are facing layoffs of 80 officers,” said Riley. “In the organized rally where protesters, including me, were helping to ensure peaceful protest, the police helped to perpetuate a narrative of violence by allowing a small number of people to vandalize businesses when they could have stopped it.”

Also arrested were Oakland School Board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge, 69-year-old former school principal Susan Harman, journalists and legal observers. Many of the arrestees were seriously injured by the police, including a handful who were taken to the hospital from the scene and at least one individual who was denied medication, causing a potentially life threatening situation to an elderly member of the community.

“Last Thursday a court in Los Angeles sent a disgraceful message about police violence, and that message was reinforced by the conduct of Oakland Police and other law enforcement Thursday evening,” said Carlos Villarreal, NLGSF Executive Director. “OPD and outside agencies brought in as reinforcement used overwhelming force on a largely nonviolent assembly, sweeping up lawyers, legal observers, journalists and community members, and seriously injuring a number of individuals.”

Several years ago the National Lawyers Guild and ACLU obtained a $2 million settlement in a lawsuit over OPD brutality toward demonstrators, and at that time OPD adopted new crowd control policies designed to safeguard freedom of speech in just this sort of volatile situation.

“If OPD had followed its own crowd control policies, the injuries would have been avoided,” explained NLGSF attorney Rachel Lederman. “The aggressive use of police formations, baton beatings and indiscriminate arrests were unnecessary and violated people’s constitutional right to protest. To make things even worse, OPD violated state law by jailing people for long periods of time who had been arrested for very minor offenses.”

The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (NLGSF) condemns the police abuse by OPD and other law enforcement on the scene and is investigating possible legal action.

The NLGSF is a human rights bar association founded in 1937 with hundreds of members throughout the Bay Area. Find out more at

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Oakland cops refuse to pay into pension, lose 80 jobs

Eighty Oakland police officers lost their jobs Tuesday when the city and the Oakland police union couldn't agree over pension and layoff language that would have saved the jobs and added $7.8 million into the city's cash-starved budget.

4 more cops charged in post-Katrina bridge shootings

Maybe there is some hope for justice from the Federal Government.
Four more New Orleans police officers have been charged in the deadly shootings of two people in Hurricane Katrina's chaotic aftermath and could face the most serious punishment yet — the death penalty — for the killings that have brought down a string of other officers.
Six current or former officers are charged in a 27-count indictment unsealed Tuesday. Five former New Orleans police officers already have pleaded guilty to helping cover up the shootings on the Danziger Bridge that left two men dead and four wounded just days after the August 2005 hurricane. In one instance, a mentally disabled man was shot in the back and stomped before he died.

The indictment claims (former Police Officer Robert) Faulcon shot 40-year-old Ronald Madison, who had severe mental disabilities, in the back as he ran away on the west side of the bridge. (Sgt. Kenneth) Bowen is charged with stomping and kicking Madison while he was lying on the ground, wounded but still alive.
-MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press Writer

Friday, July 9, 2010

"Slapped in the face"

Justice was not served yesterday.
Oscar Grant was murdered, and if the BART officers on the Fruitvale station platform with Mehserle that New Year’s morning were black or brown youth instead of cops, they would be charged as accessories top murder. There would be no question of intent or state of mind. There wouldn’t even be any need for videotape. As Oscar Grant’s weeping mother pointed out after the verdict, this verdict was further evidence of the lack of equality in America.
Grant’s uncle, Cephus Johnson, delivered a great speech as well, and made a point of not blaming the jury, even though they clearly did not deliberate long enough (not even a full day). Johnson blamed the “system.” He’s right. The jury was not allowed to hear relevant evidence about Mehserle’s background, even though Judge Robert Perry allowed irrelevant information about the victim’s background to be introduced during the trial. But still, the video evidence, mixed with common sense, should have been sufficient. The witness testimony provided during the trial also proved that Grant was not a threat to any of the officers who needed to be tased, and also that tasing Grant was the exact wrong procedure in that situation anyway.
I remember reading in a parenting book that, allegedly, boys obsess over the rules, irregardless of each others’ feelings, whereas girls obsess over each feelings, irregardless of the rules. Even though I believe in nurturing more than nature, this verdict does support that theory. The jury was two-thirds female, and their decision wreaked of their having taken all parties’ feelings into account (even though the defendant and his families’ feelings shouldn’t matter at all). The jury also had no blacks on it, and their decision also wreaked of racism, classism, and most importantly, ignorance. Johnson was just being diplomatic. The jury screwed this up, even though they probably thought that they were being fair, and some jurors may never understand why.
That is how deep the inequality goes. Far too many Americans don’t even see it.
If the BART train hadn’t stayed at the station and kept its doors open, allowing passengers to videotape Grant’s murder, this would have been another case of “justifiable homicide” by East Bay cops. Just like Gary King, Brownie Polk, Parnell Smith, Jerry Amaro, and Casper Banjo. They might have even called Grant a “suspected rapist” the same way they did to Smith and Lovelle Mixon.

It was comedy to see Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums hiding out in fear at OES HQ all night long. Really? You didn’t have the balls to stay at City Hall, where your office is? You didn’t even need to go out into the plaza, you could’ve stayed hidden in City Hall. You were really afraid of the “calm, respectful, peaceful” protest that you helped organize, even with all the paid snitches in the crowd. That’s not leadership, that’s pussy.

Shortly before riot police began “compressing” the crowd as night fell, news reports said that the Dept. of Justice will review the Grant shooting and prosecution of the Mehserle case. Maybe we can thank Dellums for that. Maybe not. I do know that I am very proud of Oakland. We represented: calmly, articulately, passionately, freely, peacefully, and when pushed, forcefully.

Cephus Johnson said he was “disappointed.” Anyone with a conscience should be. He’ll get his chance to appeal to his “higher moral authority” on August 6 when he and his sister get to file their “Victim’s Impact Statement” during Mehserle’s sentencing.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Outside Agitators"

I know I agreed with the whole "outside agitators" theory in my last post, and I wanted to be very clear that I do believe that "outside agitators" stir up crowds during protests, but I also believe that those agitators are cops. feds. undas. whatever.
I also believe there is a lot of anger in Oakland, and that that anger is legitimate.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Oakland waits, or do we?

It’s interesting to drive around Oakland this weekend. Life in East Oakland isn’t very different from other 4th of July weekends. Cops are everywhere. However, I drove through Fruitvale yesterday, and noticed some signs of all the media hype. In response to a letter issued from City Hall, a small handful of businesses have covered their storefronts with plywood. The funny thing is, these businesses also have to put an additional “open” sign on the plywood to distinguish themselves from other boarded up store fronts that are out of business, which are not exactly an unusual sight in Oakland. Other than some plywood, East Oakland and Fruitvale seemed like I thought it would: business as usual.
However, downtown is a much different scene altogether.
Driving in on East 14th, you first see the downtown skyline as a backdrop for a post-apocalyptic scene that used to be the grounds of the Kaiser Auditorium’s parking lot. The parking lot has been torn up, as well as much of the landscaping in between the auditorium and the lake. Huge piles of concrete surround both sides of the street and the median. I’m pretty sure none of it had anything to do with the Mehserle trial, but it certainly seemed appropriate for a town that everyone else thinks/hopes is destined to explode.
Once in downtown, Oakland seems like the place that you read about in the news. Some businesses are already boarded up per the ominous warning from City Hall. Many more were getting boarded up on Saturday morning. The City Center surrounded its entire Broadway entrance with fencing. It looked like they are doing some sort construction project that must have been planned a long time ago, but given the circumstances, you never know. I do know that this is a great time to be a plywood retailer and/or a carpenter.

Trial-related graffiti abounds. It’s mostly wheat-pasted posters. I didn’t see too much spray paint or marker work, although I wasn't on foot, and I don't kick it by the lake. I do know that there is one mural that looks like it was done legally: it's more gallery art than graffiti art. The posters range from being pro-Justice for Oscar Grant to being staunchly anti-Mehserle.
Earlier in the week, someone had used red spray paint to write some propaganda around the Lake Merritt area that went so far as to threaten Mehserle’s son. Not sure whether or not he even has one. I do know that cops often use red spray paint when they want to spread their propaganda though. When you factor in the fact that it was only around the lake, that kinda lets you know what kind of graffiti artist did it: someone who is simultaneously afraid of East Oakland (where Mehserle actually killed Grant) AND wants lakeside residents to be afraid of all of Oakland. Basically, someone who is in the fear industry. There’s a difference between justice and revenge.

Also last week, the “Black political leaders and clergy” issued a letter warning against destroying ‘our’ city. I’ve hated all of the other calls for peace, because I believe that people are entitled to their own grieving process. I do believe in strategic and coordinated action, but I’m not a fascist, and encourage all people to have their own feelings, opinions, and coping strategies. This letter from the “Black political leaders and clergy” did a good job of warning against following the lead of “outside agitators” at least. We all know who really breaks windows and sets trash cans on fire, and I’m glad that someone is calling attention to the provocateurs rather than just fear mongering or pre-emptively justifying police over-reactions.
I'm positive some bullshit shenanigans will go down, even if people are gathering for a victory celebration, but don't believe the hype. Store-front businesses have a right to worry, the black bloc will surely be out in force, but I've seen maintream press coverage that makes the looming verdict seem like a race war might erupt. Maybe tensions are high in Los Angeles, where the trial is being held. They usually are. The Bay Area is different though. We know who the real enemy is. And it ain't the small local businesses on 17th street.
They've been gathering their armies and psyching themselves up for weeks while we've been struggling just to make ends meet. We got numbers though, and we got game.
Thankfully for the local tourist industry, the Mehserle Jury waited til after the holiday weekend to deliver a verdict.
So while the media tells the rest of America that Oakland is about to descend into chaos, real Oaklanders are celebrating another beautiful summer holiday weekend, watching the heavens explode.