by: Ianna Hawkins Owen on July 11th, 2012 | 1 Comment »
What though before us lies the open grave?
– Claude McKay’s ” If We Must Die“
Black families in the San Francisco Bay Area are no strangers to this kind of grief. Before the nation turned its eye to Oakland in the wake of the Oscar Grant riots in 2009, there were others. And there are still more now. According to a court-appointed monitoring team, police shootings are so flagrantly mishandled that District Court Judge Thelton Henderson has moved the Oakland police department “one step closer” to federal receivership, as reported recently by Colorlines.
Meanwhile, Bay Area residents continue organizing to counter this quiet genocide in a few ways. In June, the International Socialist Organization of Oakland (a group to which I have no affiliation) hosted a community discussion to talk about police brutality and hate violence (though the de facto focus of the panel was on the former). Panelists at the discussion included the sister of Brandy Martell, a black trans woman shot to death by a transphobic attacker on April 29, and the family of Alan Blueford, an African American teenager shot to death by Oakland police on May 6.
For those who have not heard, following Blueford’s killing, the police initially claimed that Blueford shot an officer. It was later revealed that the officer shot himself, but the department continued to insist that Blueford brandished a firearm and that both he and the officer were rushed to the hospital. A People’s Independent Investigation, recently formed and present at the community discussion, has since canvassed the neighborhood of the shooting and gathered the testimony of ten witnesses who confirm the worst: Blueford was never carrying a weapon and his body was carelessly tossed about but never received emergency medical care.