Oakland, CA: Last Thursday, July 8, former BART transit officer Johannes Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the Jan. 1, 2009 death of Oscar Grant, an unarmed young African American man. As feared, that night saw rioting, looting, and destruction in the streets of downtown Oakland. And that's where the local media trained their cameras.
In the aftermath of the police killing of Oscar Grant and the riots that ensued, Oakland residents are demonstrating the strength in their communities. Here’s a collection of stories from our town showing how Oakland is resisting violence: Oakland School for the Arts Students Participate in Walkout On Friday, January 9, fifty students at Oakland School for the Arts, located in the Fox Theatre in downtown Oakland, mobilized in a walkout. The protesters marched and chanted in resistance to both the execution of Oscar Grant and the continued occupation and active aggression toward Gaza and all of Palestine. The procession moved from OSA, on 19th and Telegraph, to 14th and Broadway, an intersection that has seen much dissent regarding Oscar’s murder. 22-year-old Oakland resident Brandon McFarland reflects on the beauty and the ugliness in his city in this piece for Youth Radio. Audio of Brandon’s commentary, which originally aired on National Public Radio’s “Day to Day”:
The following is a personal perspective from Patrice O’Neill, executive producer of The Working Group. This week, just outside our office doors, hundreds of young people ran through the streets of downtown Oakland smashing windows and stomping on cars. The so-called “riot” was prompted by the killing of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old African American man who was shot to death by a white Bay Area Rapid Transit system police officer. Several witnesses captured the killing on their cell phone cameras. They show Oscar Grant face down on the ground, surrounded by police officers. Officer Johannes Mehserle appears to pull out his gun and shoot Oscar Grant in the back. KTVU’s local news report features video of the police shooting. And check out an insightful take on the protests and riots on 38th Notes, an Oakland blog. If you were a young African American man, imagine how you would feel if you saw this video or witnessed this killing? It’s shocking to watch our community go through so much trouble. Like many who’ve had news-grabbing violence committed in their town, I feel like screaming, “This isn’t us!”