Urban Moment: Oscar Grant Protests
I originally had another posting for today, but I felt that readers would like to know what's really going on in Oakland now. For those outside of Oakland, a young man of 22 was executed by a BART (our subway) officer on New Year's day. For more details on the case and what you can do, read this piece from colorlines.
Last night I drove through 14th and Madison where young people expressed their anger and the police wagon was parked in the intersection ready to arrest them. There was shattered glass on the ground and the door at McDonalds was mildly smashed. Just minutes after driving off, a car was set on fire. From our house, we watched the media copters shine their search lights on downtown all night. When we switched on the news, there was only repeated shots of cop cars driving the streets. It was only when we turned on KPFA, did we hear some real reports about the earlier rally.
Early today, my co-workers and I were asked to leave early because of the potential demonstrations. Our building is located a block away from the BART Office where community members demanded a response from officials. It was my first experience working in sort of a police state. There were dozens of officers on each corner, blocks and blocks of police cars, and helicopters above.Did I feel that my safety was comprised? No. I didn't see any violent protesters. But I definitely felt that contagious state of paranoia and fear that the police can so often provoke.
When I picked up Kai today from his daycare, our provider who is a woman of color wanted to talk about it too. "I hope this is a lesson to everyone. Those police, they always mess with us. Mexicans, Blacks, and Asians." In our short discussion, I could feel that she wanted justice for Oscar too. As I left, I looked at the other kids who were smiling and playing with another. Just thankful that they were safe and still young enough to be sheltered from the ugliness of the world.
My thoughts are with the family of Oscar Grant.