Saturday, January 10, 2009

Oakland Rebellion Update: IAC-FIST Statement Demanding Justice For Oscar Grant; Calm Urged; 3 Arrested in Connection With Protests

Joint statement from the International Action Center &
F.I.S.T. (Fight Imperialism-Stand Together)

International Action Center

FIST (Fight Imperialism-Stand Together)

Justice for Oscar Grant!
Jail Johannes Mehserle and All Killer Cops!
Amnesty Now for those arrested during the Oakland
Rebellion of the Oppressed is not a Crime, Police
Brutality is the Crime!

The International Action Center and Fight
Imperialism-Stand Together (FIST) strongly condemn the
fatal shooting of 22 year-old African-American father,
Oscar Grant, by BART cop Johannes Mehserle, Jan. 1 at the
Fruitvale station in Oakland, Calif. Grant was forced off
the train at 2 a.m. with others and forced to lie face
down on the ground. While he was laying face down,
Mehserle pulled his gun from its holster and shot Grant in
the back.

The incident was caught on cell phone cameras and has
since been broadcast far and wide, exposing not only BART
police but the ineptitude of the authorities in Oakland in
dealing with the fatal killing of another unarmed person
of color by the police.

It was not until days had passed that BART officials or
anyone from the city made any public statements regarding
the killing, though many witnesses came forward.

Officials refused to officially give Mehserle’s name and
claimed that an official statement was being withheld
until he could be interviewed. Then, Mehserle resigned and
the public was told to wait further.

The people of Oakland appeared to not be in a waiting mood
and instead calling for mass rallies and, at the first
one, openly rebelling, even to the point of almost
overturning a police cop squad car.

This was in response to cops in full riot gear charging
toward what had initially been a peaceful demonstration.

The response of the crowd, especially the young people is
reminiscent of what transpired in Greece a few months back
after the killing of 15 year-old Alexandros Andreas
Grigoropoulos by a cop in Exarchia, Greece. The killing
set off a rebellion that lasted for days and occurred at a
time of a general strike that gained momentum because of
the rebellion, which led to more job walkouts throughout
the country in many industries.

The mood of the oppressed and workers, especially African
Americans in Oakland, one of the poorest cities in
California, is one of being fed up. One woman in the crowd
of protesters summed it up, "We live a life of fear, and
we want them to be afraid tonight.”

From Gaza, where the Palestinian people are quartered in
the world’s largest prison and being slaughtered by
U.S.-backed Israeli bomb and tanks to Exarchia, to
Oakland, people have a right to express their indignation,
demand justice and their due as human beings.

The cop who killed Oscar Grant should not be allowed to
walk free and should be jailed, prosecuted and his fate
decided by the people of Oakland. The evidence is
irrefutable; it was a cold blooded killing.

The 150 protesters arrested and detained from righteously
rebelling at the protest after Oscar Grant was buried
should be released and given amnesty as soon as possible.

Demand that the District Attorney arrest and charge
Mehserle the murder of Oscar Grant:

Contact: Alameda County District Attorney, Tom Orloff at:
(510) 272-6222
(510) 271-5157 fax

End Oppression from Gaza to Exarchia to Oakland!

From the Los Angeles Times

Calm urged after Oakland protests

The family of a man shot dead by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Jan. 1 decries this week's violent demonstration

By Maria L. La Ganga and Ruben Vives
11:33 PM PST, January 8, 2009

Reporting from San Francisco — The family of a 22-year-old man shot to death by a transit police officer on New Year's Day urged Oakland residents Thursday to remain calm and deplored the violence that erupted during a protest over the shooting a day earlier.

The city bristled with anger and sorrow as store owners cleaned up the debris from the vandalism during Wednesday night's protest and officials announced that the Oakland Police Department would join in the investigation of Oscar J. Grant III's death.

Demonstrators disrupted a Bay Area Rapid Transit district board meeting to demand justice. After several hours of anguished testimony, board members apologized Thursday to the family for the shooting death and agreed to consider creating a board subcommittee to oversee BART police procedures.

But it was Wanda Johnson, Grant's mother, who spoke in the strongest terms about the aftermath of her son's death and that protest that resulted in more than 100 arrests, scores of damaged buildings and a number of torched cars.

"I am begging the citizens to not use violent tactics, not to be angry," Johnson said during a news conference a day after burying her son. "Oscar would not want to see all the violence going on."

"You're hurting people who have nothing to do with the situation. You're vandalizing their cars, their properties, you're breaking their windows," said the Hayward woman, who was flanked by family members and their attorney. "Please stop it. . . . Just, please."

Grant was returning home to the East Bay on a BART train in the early hours of Jan. 1, after celebrating New Year's Eve in San Francisco. A fight broke out between two groups of riders on the train about 2 a.m.

BART police met the train at Oakland's Fruitvale station and ordered passengers onto the platform. Grainy cellphone videos broadcast on television and viewed thousands of times on the Internet show Grant lying facedown on the platform.

BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle stands over the young man. He reaches for his weapon and shoots Grant point-blank in the back. Grant was unarmed.

The family has filed a $25-million wrongful-death claim against BART and Mehserle that could result in a lawsuit.

Grant, who has a 4-year-old daughter, was buried Wednesday morning.

A peaceful protest began about 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Fruitvale station, near where Grant died. It turned violent after demonstrators left the station and began marching toward downtown Oakland. Police in riot gear tried to control the crowd, which grew to 200 to 300 people.

Dumpsters were overturned, windows were smashed and cars were set on fire. Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums tried to calm the crowd, which reached the steps of City Hall.

Protesters were angry about Grant's death and the transit agency's handling of the investigation, saying that police officials had taken too long to interview the officers involved.

Mehserle resigned Wednesday without giving a statement, although BART spokesman Linton Johnson said all of the other officers involved have been interviewed.

Reiko Redmonde, a spokeswoman for Berkeley-based Revolution Books, attended Wednesday's protest. She said protesters carried signs with the words "Justice for Oscar Grant" and "This is not the first time this has happened."

Some lay facedown on the ground, with signs on their backs pleading, "Please don't shoot me." Asked about the property damage, Redmonde said the "resistance was justified. I support what happened in Oakland."

Such views were little comfort for Leemu Tokpa, 36, who was cleaning up broken glass at Creative African Braids on Thursday. She had spent the night at her 14th Street store with her husband, baby and three brothers, worried that the mob would return.

Tokpa said she had heard about the Grant case on the news, but she was baffled about why she ended up being a victim, why demonstrators broke her store windows and threw a bottle at her while she held her 8-month-old son.

"I'm disappointed in them," she said of the protesters. "They're saying a black man was killed, and they're mad. We're all mad. But to come to a sister's shop and cause damage? How can they treat me like this?"

Initially, the investigation into Grant's death was carried out by BART officials, with the Alameda County district attorney's office conducting a parallel independent effort.

John L. Burris, attorney for Grant's family, demanded that a murder investigation be conducted. And on Wednesday, Dellums called for the Oakland Police Department to launch its own investigation.

At a City Hall news conference Thursday, Dellums appeared with Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker and Dist. Atty. Tom Orloff, where they announced the new effort.

"The Oakland Police Department has met with us, and we are going to move together jointly" to investigate the shooting, Orloff said, estimating that it would take two weeks before the agencies could decide whether criminal charges would be filed.

"I think it's important that when we move forward, that we move forward with a case that is court-ready," Orloff said. "That's what my goal is."

Times staff writer Jia-Rui Chong contributed to this report.

3 charged in connection with unrest over BART shooting

Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, January 9, 2009
(01-09) 14:30 PST

OAKLAND--Alameda County prosecutors filed charges today against three people arrested during Wednesday night's chaotic protests in downtown Oakland over the fatal shooting of an unarmed man by a BART police officer.

Lee Y. Pang, 28, of Oakland was charged with misdemeanor possession of a concealed weapon and possession of a loaded firearm. Pang was arrested on the 2000 block of Broadway at about 11 p.m. and said, "I've got guns in both my pockets," as he was taken into custody, police said.

Police found two semiautomatic pistols, one in each pocket, authorities said.

A 20-year-old Oakland man, Andrew Lewis, was charged with felony possession of cocaine and misdemeanor vandalism for allegedly breaking windows at the McDonald's restaurant at 14th and Jackson streets.

The third man, Cleveland Valrey Jr., 30, of San Francisco, was arrested when officers saw him setting fire to a garbage can at 14th and Clay streets about 10 p.m., authorities said. He was charged with felony arson.

The three were among 105 people arrested Wednesday night during a violent protest during which demonstrators damaged at least 300 businesses, set fire to trash bins and cars - including a new Oakland police cruiser - and kicked garbage cans into the streets.

Oakland police in riot gear responded by pushing back protesters with batons and firing tear gas.

The demonstrators were angered by the fatal shooting early New Year's Day of 22-year-old Oscar Grant.

Officers pulled Grant and other young men off a Dublin-Pleasanton BART train and onto the Fruitvale Station platform after a fight at about 2 a.m.

Grant was unarmed and lying on his chest when Officer Johannes Mehserle shot him in the back with his service weapon. The shooting, which was captured by at least two people with cell phone cameras, remains unexplained.

On Thursday, Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff said he expects to make a decision in about two weeks on whether to file criminal charges against Mehserle, 27, who resigned Wednesday rather than talk to BART internal affairs investigators.

The investigation is being conducted by Oakland and BART police and the district attorney's office.

Oakland attorney John Burris has filed a $25 million claim against BART on behalf of Grant's mother and 4-year-old daughter.

A number of other people arrested Wednesday night will not appear in court until Monday, jail records show.

Meanwhile, one person was arrested during a relatively muted protest Thursday night. The protester was cited for misdemeanor vandalism at 14th Street and Broadway and released, said Officer Jeff Thomason, Oakland police spokesman.

E-mail Henry K. Lee at

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