Statement of solidarity with the anger expressed in the London rebellions

About two and a half years ago, our community member, friend, neighbor and family member, Oscar Grant, was shot in the back by a police officer (pig) at close range while Oscar was being handcuffed on his belly on the floor of a BART (local subway) station in Oakland, California. Oscar was a 22 year old Black father, and his close friends described him as a ‘peacemaker’. Just before being killed, a pig yelled the phrase “bitch ass nigger” at Oscar and his friends, and slammed one friend’s head into a concrete wall.

Oscar’s killing was recorded on the cell phones of numerous people on the BART train, and the video was widely distributed. In the days after Oscar’s murder, angry Oaklanders took to the streets in protest. The protests took the form of candle-lit vigils, speak-out rallies, open mics and riots (or ‘urban rebellions). In the end, hundreds of people were arrested after the city declared multiple states of emergency and called in the FBI, Secret Service, DEA and 23 other police agencies in to tame the anger that our community was expressing.

Johannes Mehserle, the cop who killed Oscar, was arrested, and became the first officer in the history of California to be charged with an on-duty murder. It is now widely agreed that the many shows of protest and anger, including the ‘peaceful’, ‘non-violent’ and ‘riotous’ behavior, led to Mehserle’s arrest. He would not have been arrested had it not been for ALL these shows of anger.

Dr Martin Luther King once said that ‘rioting is the voice of the unheard’.

We are tired of living in a society which is called ‘democratic’, when our voices go unheard and our communities are targeted by police who essentially have nothing to lose for killing members of our communities.

We, the undersigned, are in solidarity with the anger being expressed in the UK, which has been provoked by racism, unemployment and under-employment (especially among young people and people of color), and followed after the tipping point of the police killing of Mark Duggan, a Black father and community member in Britain.

In the 1960’s there were riotous/rebellious eruptions in Black urban communities throughout the US not unlike what is occurring in Tottenham today. By the US government’s own admission, in its 1968 study (called the Kerner commission) the cause of the Black urban riots/rebellions were conditions created by “segregation and racism”.

So we partially agree with Deputy Prime Minister statement that, “the riots had nothing to do with the death of Mark Duggan”, in the sense that Mr Duggan is not the reason why Tottenham has the highest unemployment rate in London. Like the largely Black ghettos, Brown barrio’s and Red reservations of the US, the Dalit community in India, and the Palestinian territories, Tottenham is economically oppressed and politically marginalized.

We understand that the Londoners’ anger is a result of years of systematic alienation, flowing from the blatant failure of global capitalism to support the people, and policies that have concentrated wealth for the upper classes by taking untold billions through Prime Minister David Cameron’s government cuts in education, health and the general welfare which disproportionately affects the lives of Britain’s poor and people of color, all of which are unacceptable for a forward-looking society.

In solidarity,

People’s Tribunal on Racism and Police Violence
Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant
New Years Movement for Justice for Oscar Grant
ONYX
Oakland 100 Support Committee
Members of the National Lawyers Guild
Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee/Black Panther Party Cubs


UPDATE on “Four Sued By the City of Oakland” Article from February

On April 14th this story hit the news, reporting that 2 of the people sued by the city are being ordered to pay a combined $50K to JC Jewelry store owners. What this and other news articles on the subject fail to mention is that the two suspects already spent months in jail after there arrests in the Verdict uprisings.  After the October 28th issuance of the civil case summons it took the city over a month to realize that the reason they were having a hard time serving papers to one of the men at his home address because he was still in jail!

The men are ordered to pay automatically for not responding to the summons within the allotted 30-day period, most likely due to their unfamiliarity with the civil case process and lack of access to lawyers from jail.

These cases are another crude example of our “justice system” scapegoating a few individuals for its own inability to bring true justice to the atrocities enacted by its own agents, namely in cases of police murder.  “Those who use protests as nothing more than a cover to trash our town or loot homegrown businesses should consider carefully the court’s ruling,” commented John Russo, the City Attorney who a few days following the July 8th verdict promised that his office would be suing individuals for damages to property.  It is a shame and a sham that they will respond this quickly to avenge property damage, but when people are killed or beaten by officers, the cases drag on for years if there is a case at all.


Support Todd and Adrian

3/2/11 Preliminary Hearing

March 2, 2011 (Wed)

9:00 AM – 12:30PM

Alameda County Superior Court, Dept. 112

661 Washington St. Oakland, CA

Friends, Family and Allies: Todd and Adrian were wrongfully arrested on July 8, 2010 during the Oscar Grant protests and charged with Felony Arson and several misdemeanors.

Please join us at their court date on March 2nd, 2011. The judge is going to be deciding which charges against them should be dropped, and which charges have enough evidence to proceed to trial. Their lawyers have told us that it will help them to have supporters in the courtroom, who can demonstrate to the judge and DA that we have allies who are watching the outcome of this case.

We’re asking that if you come, please come on time and meet us outside of the courtroom so that we can enter as a group for maximum impact. Please dress and groom yourself to present a relatively professional appearance and that you please follow the court rules and refrain from catcalling at the judge. This case is very serious, and they may well do JAIL TIME as a result of it – so it’s very important to us that you take it as seriously as we do.

Thanks so much – and, again, thanks to everyone who took time off to come out on Nov. 23 and Jan. 10. Your continued support really, really makes a difference.


Support Needed for Raheim Brown, Another Victim of Oakland Police

Raheim Brown

In the third week of January, three people were killed by police officers in Oakland. One of them was 20 year old Raheim Brown, who was sitting in a car outside Skyline High School with a friend when two Oakland School Police approached the car (yes, Oakland schools have their OWN police force!).

The two cops, Bellusa and Bhatt, claim that Raheim stabbed one of them with a screwdriver before the other shot Raheim five times, including twice in the face. Raheim’s friend who was with him in the car, after being pulled out through a window, beaten unconscious and jailed for five days, has spoken out, saying that the screwdriver was never even aimed toward the officers.

Raheim Brown is yet another young Black man killed by cops in Oakland for no reason whatsoever.

The Oakland 100 Support Committee is now trying to help his family out. While the city coroner released Raheim’s body, they refused to release his death certificate until Raheim’s family paid $320. Apparently, the City of Oakland’s fund for victims of violent crime does not apply when violence is perpetrated by the city’s armed goons.

Unfortunately, beyond the $320, a proper burial, as is hoped for by Raheim’s family, will cost thousands. We know that it is a ton of money, but we’re trying to raise whatever we can to help.

The Oakland 100 Support Committee and our friends are trying to put together a fundraiser, but in the meantime (because Raheim’s family needs it ASAP), if you have ANY money that you can help Raheim’s family with, please donate in the following ways:

-Donate through the Oakland 100 Support Committee’s Paypal link (and make sure to note that it is for “Raheim Brown”)

-Make a direct donation to a Wells Fargo account in the name of ‘RPOS Raheim Malik Brown’ to account number 5104210850, and routing number 121000248

-If you can only donate through check, please contact Jesse @ jstrauss (at) riseup.net for info

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Click the following links for more information about Raheim Brown and how his family is speaking out:
Two more officer-involved shootings this weekend
Witness of Oakland School Police Contrasts Police Story
Families of Oakland Police Victims Plea for Support; DA Refuses Prosecution


Four Sued by the City of Oakland

Oakland City attorney John Russo has served civil lawsuit papers to four of the 90 people arrested protesting the Mehserle ‘involuntary manslaughter’ verdict on July 8th. The lawsuit was first announced about a week before Mehserle’s sentencing on November 5th when the city expected more large-scale protests against government injustice and Mehserle’s blank check for murder. However, until recently, the threat of a civil suit seemed empty. That is, until the first of the four was served papers in the beginning of January, while incarcerated for his actions in the July 8th protests.

JC Jewelry, the day after the Mehserle verdict

The Oakland 100 Support Committee has proudly supported all four of the people being targeted by this lawsuit during their criminal charges, but we don’t know exactly what will happen with these civil suits. This is mostly because every lawyer we work with who we’ve spoken to about it has been confused as to how and why the city can charge these folks in civil court, as they’ve all already been charged criminally, and generally have had to either serve jail time or pay restitution fines (or both).

The lawsuit is targeting two men, being sued for $25,000 each by the City of Oakland on behalf of JC Jewelry, a store on Broadway Ave that was emptied during the protests. The combined amount that the city is suing these two men for is most likely derived from the factual background in the civil case summons, which states that “the owners suffered over $50,000 in property loss.” However, it also states that there were “over 200 individuals during the looting activity” and that “unnamed individuals broke the security gate, kicked in the front door window, broke into JC Jewelry and proceeded to steal the owners jewelry located therein.” The two men being sued were not only arrested and held in jail for at least five months, but all items allegedly from JC Jewelry in their possession were returned to the owners. These two men being charged with $25,000 lawsuits are taking the fall for the 200 plus people who came out in outrage at the harsh injustice dished out by Cop Judge Perry’s court.

The other two people being sued have already been charged criminally for vandalism, specifically graffiti. One of them is being sued by the city for a mere $60. It’s hard to imagine that collecting $60 from an individual could even offset the cost of filing the lawsuit for the city. The other person is being sued for close to $600.

This is blatant targeting of political dissent by City Attorney John Russo, in a desperate effort to scare anyone who wants to see police held accountable and knows that convening in the streets is the only way to have their voices heard, as the people of Tunisia and Egypt have shown us in the last few weeks.


Update & Court Support Requested This Week!

Hey Folks! Here’s our latest update!

Ricky, who was arrested on bogus burglary charges and held in jail since July is out, as are Tyrone and TJ. Hellz Yea!

About a week before Mehserle’s sentencing on November 5th, news reported that the city of Oakland was planning to charge 4 protesters from July 8th with civil lawsuits. Until this week, it seemed like those charges were put together to threaten those planning to protest on November 5th. However, we found out this week that at least one of those threatened with civil lawsuits has been served papers AFTER his case from July 8th was dropped. The City of Oakland is charging him with a $25,000 lawsuit. We expect more news to come soon.

People’s court cases from the night of the Mehserle verdict AND the sentencing (July 8th and November 5th) are coming up. While some folks have plead out under pressure from high charges, others are continuing battle theirs. The folks listed below have asked for support in their felony courtrooms… Please come!

Support Stephanie on Tuesday, January 11th at Wiley Manuel Courthouse at 7th and Washington in Oakland. This court date is in department (room number) 112 at 9am

Support Rashaud and Jackson on Wednesday, January 12th at Wiley Manuel Courthouse at 7th and Washington in Oakland. This court date is in department (room number) 115.


Oakland Police Used FBI, DEA & More for Policing Oscar Grant Protests

The Informant, a local news source out of KALW public radio has obtained documents proving federal involvement in the July 8th (Mehserle’s verdict) protests. The Informant’s mission seems to specifically focus on these types of protests and political dissent: “In recent years, San Francisco and Oakland have played host to public safety tragedies that have stoked local controversy and national attention… We’ll go deep into cops, courts and communities, giving you informed, intelligent, community-oriented news, conversation and analysis.”

All the documents they’ve obtained were uploaded to their website, so the article is pasted below, and links to the raw documents at the bottom of this post.

Before you read it though, news:

-Ricky got out of jail on the morning of Thanksgiving, and he’s been with his family since!

-The DA had announced a civil lawsuit against 4 protesters who were also being charged criminally from July 8th. It looks like their charges are not being pursued!

-No one arrested on November 5th with the charge of Unlawful Assembly has been charged!

-One person arrested on November 5th is still being charged with felony arson, but it looks like the city doesn’t have evidence against them.

-One person arrested on November 5th is being charged with a slew of charges related to ‘assault of an officer’, however it looks like there’s no case against him (especially because he was clearly the victim of an in-jail assault by the Sherrifs.
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Police files reveal Federal interest in Oscar Grant protests, “Anarchists”

December 15, 2010 | 9:29 AM | By Ali Winston

Documents recently obtained by The Informant reveal the significant involvement of state and federal law enforcement in monitoring the various Oscar Grant protests in Oakland over the past two years.

According to internal Oakland Police Department documents about the July 8th protests that followed Johannes Mehserle’s involuntary manslaughter conviction, agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Secret Service, and the California Department of Justice were assigned to monitor crowd activities.

Thirty-three federal, state and local officers were assigned to video details posted in buildings surrounding Frank Ogawa Plaza and throughout the crowd of several hundred demonstrators. Among them were personnel from the Secret Service, the state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, and Bureau of Intelligence and Investigation who took video of the protest. Some DEA and Oakland Police officers recorded the protest, while others dressed in plainclothes provided intelligence from within the crowd to OPD’s Emergency Operations Command Center at 1605 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

The documents indicate FBI involvement in monitoring the Oscar Grant protests as early as January 2009. A police report included in the case file of Holly Noll, a 24-year-old activist who plead no contest to charges of assaulting a police officer, shows the FBI was providing intelligence to OPD on the movements of “black bloc” anarchists in Downtown Oakland on the night of January 14, 2009, when the latest of several protests agitating for Johannes Mehserle’s arrest erupted into property destruction and clashes with police.

Oakland Police Officer Scott Seder’s report from that night indicates specific FBI interest in “anarchists.” The report reads as follows:

“OPD [Oakland Police Department] radio announced a communications order stating the FBI advised groups of anarchists, described as MW [male, white], 17-25 years old, wearing black and red clothing, were en route to the protest and planned to commit acts of violence and vandalism adjacent to the main demonstration.”

Jose Luis Fuentes, an attorney at Siegel & Yee, the law firm that is defending those arrested in the July 8th protests, believes the involvement of state and federal agencies in intelligence-gathering is part of a larger effort to scrutinize political protest. “They’re trying to build a case against ‘black blocs’ or anarchists as domestic terrorism,” said Fuentes. “The federal government wants to know who’s protesting. They’re documenting who the agitators are — This is all COINTELPRO resurfacing.”

The Counter Intelligence Program, or COINTELPRO, was an extensive federal operation that ran from the 1950s through the 1970s that monitored political activists, sometime using law enforcement to harass and discredit everyone from the National Association of Colored People to the Ku Klux Klan, who federal authorities considered dangerous.

But law enforcement personnel who worked the Oscar Grant protests say federal involvement had nothing to do with a political ideology and everything to do with keeping civilians and critical infrastructure sites safe and preventing disorder.

Oakland Police Captain David Downing, who was in charge of “Operation Verdict,” the police response to the July 8th post-verdict protests, says the handful of federal agents were nothing more than extra eyes among the several hundred law enforcement officers working on July 8th.

Ali Winston

An unidentified officer records protesters behind a line of Oakland Police Officers at 12th Street and Broadway on July 8th, 2010

“Their only job was to be out there and videotape, be observers and feed information,” said Downing, who was in charge of Operation Verdict. The DEA, California DOJ and Secret Services agents were a fraction of the several hundreds of law enforcement agents from across Northern California who took part in Operation Verdict.

Much like several police departments provided officers to assist with crowd control, the state and federal agencies brought their investigative capacities to the table, as well as equipment. The FBI and DEA both offered helicopters for air support.

Documents indicate that anarchists were on everyone’s mind.

In a running police log from the July 8 protests and in emails exchanged between OPD command staff in the days prior, there is extensive mention of potential acts of property destruction and violence by “anarchists.” The log was later forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center. “They were interested in the event,” said Captain Downing.

During previous protests about the Oscar Grant case, media reports focused on property destruction allegedly perpetrated by “black bloc” anarchists.

“They’re a concern,” said Captain Downing of the Oakland Police. “They don’t really care about the cause other than using the mask of a large mob to engage in property damage.”

Defense attorney Jose Luis Fuentes remains convinced the intelligence gathered during Operation Verdict was part of a broader effort to intimidate political protest. The subtext is that, “If you’re going to protest and violate any law, we might prosecute you federally,” Fuentes said.

A November 16th primer on “Anarchist Extremism” on the FBI’s website describes the Bureau’s general policy on anarchists:

“Currently, much of the criminal activities of anarchist extremists fall under local jurisdiction, so they’re investigated by local police. If asked by police, the Bureau can assist. But we have a heavy presence at a major national or international events generating significant media coverage—that’s when the threat from anarchist extremists, as well as others who are up to no good, dramatically increases.”

According to an OPD investigative log, the FBI explored the possibility of charging some of the July Oscar Grant protesters federally.

FBI Special Agent Russell Romero contacted OPD on July 21 to set up a meeting about the July 8th incident. On July 27, Agents Russell Romero and Kari McInturf met with OPD investigators “to see if Federal charges can be brought.” Romero and McInturf obtained a list of all the July 8th arrestees and their charges from OPD. To date, no federal charges have been filed.

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Links to raw documents:

Video Team Detail Verdict VCC Log 10-039800 Critical Locations Down Town Commercia


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