2nd Anniversary of Oscar Grants Foul Killing marked by Vigil/Rally at Fruitvale BART.
On new years day 2011, a racially diverse crowd of 150-175 people marked Oscar's murder at the hands of BART police with statements from Grant family members, reminiscences of Oscar, and pledges from family and community alike to carry on and intensify the struggle to get justice for all of the many victims of unjust police violence. The Vigil/ Rally was called by the Grant family with solidarity from the family of Derrick Jones ,another unarmed black man from the east Oakland neighborhood near Fruitvale BART who was recently shot up and killed by the OPD.
The "Oscar Grant Committee to Stop Police Brutality and State Repression" that includes Oscar's 'Uncle Bobby' and family friend Jack Bryson among its active members, played a prominent role in organizing and sponsoring the event. The event was organized in a little over two weeks time, using the OGC's and Grant family's network of contacts.
The first part of the action was a candlelight vigil focusing on members of the Grant Family, including Oscar's mother Wanda, and was MC'ed by Uncle Bobby. This was a collective sharing of grief and love with several prayers offered by ministers of different faiths including both Christian and the NOI [Nation of Islam] minister Keith Mohammed. Frank Jones, father of the slain Derrick Jones also spoke passionately and made common cause with the Grant family and vowed that this is only the beginning of a struggle for justice. The well known attorney John Burris spoke on the epidemic of unjust police killing cases that have come to his office recently. Dan Siegel, the attorney from the National Lawyers Guild who is working with the OGC and recently helped to defend the 152 protesters arrested in Oakland on Nov. 6th, also spoke.
During the 2nd part of the event, Uncle Bobby turned it over to OGC organizers, who broke out colorful OGC and SDS [Students for a Democratic Society] picket signs and distributed them throughout the crowd. The signs touched on the rally's themes, included: 'We Are Oscar Grant', 'Jail Killer Cops', 'Stop Police Terror', 'An Injury To One, Is An Injury To All' , 'Without Struggle, There Is No Justice' and a series of signs that said 'Stop Police Brutality, Justice For ______' , with the blank spot filled in either with 'Oscar' or one of the other unarmed victims of lethal police violence that the OGC has voted to fight for such as Derrick Jones, Martin Cotton, and Guy Jarreau.
Several active OGC members/leaders including Lesley Phillips, Dave Welsh, and Elizabeth Adams spoke on the group's organizing projects and battles for justice. Lesley informed the gathering of the recent Vallejo police killing of a returning black NVC [Napa Vally College] student during a film project that the OGC is looking into and working with locals on. OGC members encouraged the gathering to join with them and car pool down to Santa Cruz on Sat., Jan.8th to protest the unjust 'State Repression' focused on the heroic whistle blowers, Bradley Manning and Wiki-leaks Julian Assange.
Other community and political organizations spoke or slammed some poetry during the open mike time or were present to show solidarity including the Grey Panthers, BAMN [By Any Means Necessary], the IBT [International Bolshevik Tendency], the ISO [International Socialist Organization], the SDS/MDS [Movement for a Democratic Society] , Berkeley Liberation Radio, America Needs To Know [public tv program] , Peace & Freedom Party, Speak Out, and the Green Party -among others.
Members of the OGC presented small bunches of picket signs to the Grant and Jones famies that said "We Are Oscar Grant" and "Stop Police Brutality, Justice For Derrick Jones". They were warmly and gratefully received.
The two dozen police squad cars and armored personnel carrier staged around the corner had no call to move against the peaceful action and even the gods seemed to be smiling on us, as the rain clouds broke apart and the sun came out just long enough to conclude the rally . Unlike our previous 3 events which got drenched.
All in all, I'll call it a peoples victory and a great way to start the new year off, uniting the the people and fighting for justice. I'm very proud of all the brave street solders that shook off their new years hangovers, disregarded the rain clouds, feared not the the shadowy police state presence and came out to stand up for justice on new years day.
Stop Police Terror
We Are Oscar Grant
We are Derrick Jones