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January 9, 2009 / JV

oakland.

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a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police officer straight up shot a man in the back. Oscar Grant, 22 years-old.

I’ve never fired a gun, but can someone please tell me how probable it is that one could accidently remove a gun from its holster, cock it (possibly, depending on the type of gun), and pull the trigger? Seems like a lot of intent is involved to me. Also, how similar does a taser feel to a gun? Would I not be able to tell the difference between my taser and my handgun?

The sad thing is, police can do absolutely anything and get away with it, regardless of whether or not it’s caught on tape. if charges are ever pressed, they’ll switch the trial to some county hours away from where the crime occurred and have the case heard and the officer acquitted by a jury of non-peers.

A couple hours before this happened, undercover cops in plain clothes killed Adolph Grimes III (also 22) in New Orleans. He was actually returning to N.O. from Houston, TX to spend new years with his family, after being displaced by hurricane katrina. 48 shots fired, he was hit 14 times, 12 in the back.

‘common street thugs’? CNN makes some shaky implications. notice the mention of the loving father. why does it matter that there was a gun in the trunk? “they seem angry and frustrated. what is the source of that?” maybe feeling like your life is valued at naught by the systems of the country you live in? perhaps feeling like you’re only recognized as a citizen when accused of a crime?

I don’t want to make these instances seem like anomalies because they surely aren’t. it is interesting, however, to watch the media indulge in the 1960s rhetoric of ‘riots’ again. this time, they’re not calling them ‘race riots,’ which is refreshing although that may only be a matter of time. i’m curious to know (maybe from someone who’s in the bay area) if the violence/”outrage” is being misrepresented and the extent to which there really is “a riot”.

the unfortunate thing about physically rising up against cops and the government in the united states is that the odds are stacked against you. when you go up against the police, you’re going up against the military, the fbi, and all those crazy fed folk. and while guerilla warfare could theoretically defeat them (if executed properly – look at the vietnam war for example), we don’t have the numbers or the resources to afford that. i mean, it’s not happening. not to mention, these days most people in the country have some of their most valuable information stored virtually, meaning we are a bribe away from not owning any of our own information. the next warfare will most likely be almost entirely virtual, in my opinion. it’s a new day when you’re watching the presidential inauguration with CNN, facebook, and twitter, while checking your savings account balance and paying your hospital bill — all from your living room.

given the tempting sense of ‘helplessness’ that accompanies tragedies like these (and i mean, katrina, hello), what do we do? how do we organize when things like this continually happen? do we write about it, put up videos, take aggression out on those around us, and maybe study a little harder? do we wait for obama to make a speech? or do we cry, pray, and thank god that at least that time, it wasn’t our brother. although, in many ways, he was.

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3 Comments

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  1. Sailingwindward / Jan 9 2009 9:06 pm

    Since there was no video in the New Orleans shooting the police can say what ever they want, the coroner will lie about the cause of death and the evidence lab will swear by it, I think the people of New Orleans need to retaliate against the police in the same way. He was shot 12 times in the back, what sort of threat could he possibly posed to them, COWARDS is the only way I can describe the New orleans PD.

  2. Kholi / Jan 14 2009 11:21 am

    this post is only reminding me of how very angry i was watching the news footage … or lack of adeqaute news footage. and it’s sad … because i still don;t know what to do … i have friends in oakland who were there taping … and is blogging about it or putting it up on my facebook page enough? no? is violent reatliation? it seems that we shall see.

    meanwhile … things i could do without:

    1. “uncharged” officers
    2. subjective coverage w/loaded terminology
    3. ppl heartless enough to forgo any type of memorial setup near BART (but then maybe they too question what that would do.)

  3. Maggie / Jan 27 2009 9:45 pm

    This is a very late response to your question about the representation of what went down as a “riot.” I’m a new Oaklander and live on a street that had many broken store windows and one torched car. That being said, YES, the media is grossly over-exaggerating with the use of the term “riot.” The protests themselves (as hopefully most know by now) were largely peaceful and organized. Those who caused the violence and destruction to local businesses were largely not there for the protest or to start a conversation about justice, but just joy-riding off its energy. Case in point–one punched a protester in the face. Also, more interestingly to me: 70 of the 100 or so of those arrested for destructive acts during the protest were not actually from Oakland, but rather from Berkeley or San Francisco. I’ve heard neighbors and local business owners refer to this crowd as “white anarchists”–kids who have little to do with the demands of the protest and even less to do with the Oakland community. But still, it’s Oakland that gets the violent image in the media, along with, as you write, the evocative “riot” tag.

    Big fan of your blog, by the way!

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