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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.


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.


Tell the DA to Drop All Charges!

To date, hundreds of protesters have been arrested for protesting for justice for Oscar Grant. Most recently we saw 152 people unjustly corralled and arrested on November 5th (day of Oscar’s killer’s sentencing). Others are still facing charges from July 8th (the day of Mehserle’s involuntary manslaughter verdict). We demand that the Oakland DA drop all the charges against all protesters!

You can follow this link to petition Nancy O’Malley, the Alameda County District Attorney. We wrote a form letter, but of course feel free to edit it! Any signatures posted to this petition will individually be sent to the DA’s email inbox. Let’s flood it!

We are also encouraging you to mail a hard copy to the DA’s office at the following address:

Alameda County District Attorney’s Office
1225 Fallon St. Suite 900
Oakland, CA 94612

Here is the petition letter as written (included in the link above):

I am writing to you regarding the November 5th, 2010 arrests of protesters following the Rally to Honor Oscar Grant at City Hall. I am concerned about misconduct by OPD.  This includes a documented dispersal order given simultaneously as protesters were trapped by police, as well as misinformation given by police agencies and spread by media agencies.  Therefore, I demand that you drop the charges of all 152 defendants.

Furthermore, as we examine police misconduct from the night of July 8th, 2010 in

downtown Oakland, it is evident that the OPD, Alameda Sherriffs, and other law enforcement agencies are culpable for trapping protesters into the area using excessive aggression.  These police actions clearly incited riotous behavior and looting. If these agencies will not be held accountable for their documented instigation of property destruction in the streets, neither should those facing charges for various forms of protest.

If you should decide to pursue the blatantly unjust charges from either of those nights, it seems likely that the community’s declining faith in the justice system will further diminish and will result in continued expressions of 1st Amendment activity whose burden you will have to shoulder.  The choice is yours.

Also, THIS FRIDAY, November 19th, there will be a rally to drop the charges against all 152 arrestees from November 5th outside Wiley Manuel Courthouse (also the DA’s office, 661 Washington Street in Oakland). Press conference at 3pm, rally at 4pm.


Drop the Charges! Nov. 5 Legal Update

This is a legal update for the protests following last Nov. 5th, Johannes Mehserle’s sentencing for the murder of Oscar Grant.

152 people were arrested, in a mass arrest around E 17th street and 6th avenue in Oakland. Most were given the charge PC 408, a misdemeanor of Unlawful Assembly. A few people were additionally charged with PC 407, misdemeanor Unlawful Assembly, and a few people were charged with PC 602 (L), misdemeanor Trespassing. One person was booked on Arson charges, but has not gone to court yet. It is unclear what the charges from that arrest will be.

There were allegations that a protester grabbed an officer’s gun holster on the evening of Nov. 5, but no one has been charged for that offense. There has been no facts to support for that story’s merit, to our knowledge.

Arraignments will be in the first week of December, all in Dept. 107 at Wiley Manuel Courthouse, 661 Washington Street. Court support is encouraged.
The schedule for arraignment has:
8 people on 12/2
12 people on 12/3
120 people on 12/6.

Six people remained in custody over the weekend and five of them had arraignments on 11/9. Of those folks, the Oakland 100 Support Committee was able to bail two of them out. Of the people arraigned so far, most protest related charges have been dropped but some are being held on prior warrants. Two people remain in custody as of 11/14/10.

More legal support is needed. For donations, go to https://supporttheoakland100.wordpress.com/supportdonate/.

Inside the jail at Glenn Dyer jail (North County), there were a number of concerns with arrestee’s treatment. Many people were denied adequate medical treatment for injuries relating to police brutality during arrest, but also for preexisting medical problems exacerbated by a lack of care while in custody.
Many people were denied food for over 12 hours.
One person was beaten badly by Sheriff guards while in Glenn Dyer.
Also, at least one person was given a swab for DNA testing, which is a protocol used for folks accused of felonies, but not acceptable practice for misdemeanor charges.

The National Lawyer’s Guild, Legal Support for the Oakland Assembly and the Oakland 100 Support Committee denounces the excessive amount of law enforcement and brutality to protesters. There were more than eleven police and law enforcement agencies in Oakland. The people of Oakland have a right to express their
outrage at a justice system that gives a token slap on the wrist to an officer who was videotaped murdering an unarmed black man in the back.

Justice for Oscar Grant and now, Derrick Jones.

In solidarity,
Members of the National Lawyer’s Guild Demonstrations Committee, Legal Support for the Oakland Assembly and the Oakland 100 Support Committee