David McCarthy reports from Oakland on the fight to win justice for Alan Blueford.November 19, 2012
NEARLY 400 people came out November 10 to a rally and march organized by the Justice for Alan Blueford (JAB) coalition. The march was the latest action in the ongoing efforts to seek justice for Alan Blueford, the 18-year-old high school senior who was shot and killed by Oakland police last May.
Up until recently the JAB coalition, which consists of Alan's family and various social/racial justice activists, had organized numerous protests outside and inside Oakland City Hall meetings to demand that Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan release the police report of the shooting.
Additional demands include the firing of Officer Miguel Masso; the indictment of Masso on murder charges; hold Jordan accountable for the lies told to Alan's family; an end to racial profiling in Oakland, including stop-and-frisk tactics; and repeal of the Police Officer's Bill of Rights, which shields cops from prosecution or disciplinary actions of any substance.
According to numerous witnesses, police chased Alan for two blocks after a stopping him and two other friends on the pretext that the officers feared the three had a concealed weapons. Masso fired at least three and possibly four times directly into Alan's body.
A police report was finally delivered to the family after a protest held at City Hall in early October. The report found "sufficient reason" for the initial stop and use of force and didn't recommend any disciplinary or criminal actions against Masso. However, the report was heavily redacted and filled with contrary evidence to what had been reported by numerous witnesses and the physical evidence.
The Blueford family rejected the report for what it was--an obvious attempt to placate the family and brush the matter under the rug--and is continuing to organize.
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THE NOVEMBER 10 march brought out numerous activists and organizations, including the Laney College Black Student Union (BSU), teachers and students from Merritt College, the Occupy movement, the International Socialist Organization, the ANSWER coalition and Service Employees International Union Local 1021--Local 1021 officially endorsed both the march and the JAB coalition.
Solidarity rose to international levels when South African activist Mazibuko Jara spoke to the crowd on police violence and the continued struggles of South African workers, most notably the Marikana miners who murdered by police in August. A written statement of support came from Mumia Abu-Jamal, whom the Blueford family had visited during a speaking tour.
The day started off with a rally in downtown Oakland at Oscar Grant Plaza, where speakers from the Blueford family, other families who were victims of police murders and their allies spoke.
Family members of those who were killed by police spoke at length about the runaround they have received from police and the cops' aggressive tactics that have led to murders. As Jeralynn Blueford, Alan's mother, said, "The devastation [to the family] due to our sons death has been immense...This was a murder and homicide, and we demand it be viewed as such, and we demand justice for Alan. We are going to keep on fighting for justice for our son."
The rally then marched over to the Oakland police administrative building, where protesters staged another shorter rally. The march then went through more streets before finishing up back at Oscar Grant Plaza.
The strong show of solidarity was heartening, particularly from students and staff at Laney and Merritt Colleges, who represent a majority of the city's Black student population. Siri Brown, a professor at Merritt spoke on how police brutality is conntected to the long history of racism, from slavery until today. Timothy Killings of the Laney BSU, spoke to the need to organize and keep fighting: "It's really important to build diverse coalitions, to fight against all injustice."
JAB organizers said they felt the march was a success and the movement is gaining traction and attention, from the protests at City Hall onward, as part of the process to reaching out to more sections of Oakland who want to fight back. As activist Mollie Costello said: "I think it was a success because it started with a 'conversation'--because JAB was out there tirelessly in the community starting up those conversations. It was the hard work of JAB that got this started and to where we are at now."
JAB will mobilize next for an event with Angela Davis at Laney College Theater on December 18.