Deaths leave Oakland residents asking for a united call to action

By
April 6, 2009

As Oakland residents mourn the loss of four Oakland Police officers, others consider the shooter’s death as a call for action to reform community police relations.

Activist organizations like The Black Colony, made of former Black Panther party members, and the Uhuru Movement, which is headed by the African People’s Socialist Party, rallied around Lovelle Mixon’s cause.

They said the incident, in which 26 year-old Mixon shot four members of the Oakland Police Department and then was killed by the police, spotlighted problems in the Oakland community.

“It’s a war right now, and it’s a struggle between the police and the people for power,” stated Milani Pelley, a former Mills College student who is also one of the founders of the Black Colony.

Devin Brooks, a 29 year-old Oakland resident echoed these same views.

He attended the police funeral on Fri. March 27 but admitted that the only reason he was there was because he was supporting his father, a police officer.

He described growing up in Oakland as a young black man and expressed his views on how the OPD mistreat the community.

“We have no compassion for the police,” he said. “It’s just a uniform, like camouflage; we are at war.”

Shawn Williams, a 44 year-old activist and resident of Oakland, protested the media and the police for what he saw as them giving Mixon’s death less coverage.

“What about Lovelle?” he shouted. “[His family] lost someone too!”

Shawn Harris, a 44 year-old Oakland resident and activist, sympathizes with Lovelle.

“They’re trying to demonize him and make him look like a monster in the community’s eyes,” stated Harris.

Just days after the five deaths, members of the Black Colony leapt into action and passed out fliers along MacArthur entitled, “Dry Your Eyes!! 4 Officers Killed in Oakland: Justifiable Homicide.”

Pelley spearheaded the creation of the fliers, which includes statistics stating that African Americans made up 70% of deaths in Oakland last year – exactly 124 people altogether.

“Are the lives of the Police more valuable than ours?” the flier read. “Lets evaluate; 124 vs. 4! Save your tears for our Black people!”

Not all members of the community agree with this stance. Niviece Robinson, assistant director of Campus Safety, said it saddens her that some people think it’s “not a big deal” that four police officers died.

She believes that in order to remedy that attitude there needs to be more participation in police community activities.

“More people need to meet police. Not all police officers are bad,” she said.

Robinson said now the Oakland community needs to reevaluate its practices, including the prison system, youth programs and interaction with officers.

Mills junior Jennifer Stoney agreed, but said law enforcement also needs to reach out. “[Police officers] need to get to know the community more,” she said.

Hazel Wheeler, a current sophomore at Mills and a Richmond native, is also one of the founders of the Black Colony.

She and Pelley joined 60 Oakland citizens to march in a protest organized by the Uhuru Movement. They held banners while chanting, “OPD you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide.”

While Wheeler doesn’t condone the deaths of the officers, she agrees that it’s to be expected. “Oakland is hella mad,” she said., “and we’ve got nothing to lose.”

Mills junior Tianna Terry said such anger just leads to more violence, without solving the problem.

“I was mad at my friends,” she said. “It’s not helpful.”

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Jennifer Courtney and Anna Belle Peterson contributed to this report.


Deaths leave Oakland residents asking for a united call to action was published on April 6, 2009 in News

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  • Ali Kanatara

    “Pelley spearheaded the creation of the fliers, which includes statistics stating that African Americans made up 70% of deaths in Oakland last year – exactly 124 people altogether.

    “Are the lives of the Police more valuable than ours?” the flier read. “Lets evaluate; 124 vs. 4! Save your tears for our Black people!” ”

    We’re comparing deaths by race? We shouldn’t care about the white people who died, just because there are more black people who died? That is fucked up.

  • http://biodieselhauling.org/blog Jacob Aziza

    I think it is ridiculaus and overblown from both sides, for the simple reason that it was an isolated and rare incident, and therefor is a reflection of nothing. Its no different from when there is a dramatic plane crash, which gets lots of news coverage. People start being afraid to fly. But fatal car crashes occur every few minutes – because they are so common, they aren’t newsworthy (aside from the traffic jam they cause) and people don’t think twice about driving – the reality is that driving is an order of magnitude more likely to kill you.
    Similarly, 3 people were shot by police in Oakland in 2009. Around 300 were shot by civilians. Yet people claim its a “war” between police and citizens, or that police are “harassing” citizens. Its all made up. It isn’t happening. People decide in advance that “the man” is oppressing people, and so they are desperate to search for evidence to support the idea. They like the conflict. Its more satisfying to make it “us against them” than it is to consider the complex reality in front of us.