Weak Verdict, Stronger Movement
Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Oakland to mourn Oscar Grant and express outrage at the light sentence given to his murderer, Johannes Mehserle. Mehserle shot Grant in the back while he lay face down on the ground. For this execution-style murder, he got 2 years in prison with credit for time served on an involuntary manslaughter charge. The judge gave the jury incorrect instructions for how to apply the gun enhancement, and decided to just drop it, thus lowering Mehserle's maximum possible sentence to 4 instead of 14 years, rather than retry the case. According to those inside the courthouse at the time of sentencing, the judge openly blamed Grant and his friends for the murder.
We didn't expect justice from the system, but the whole struggle did bring advances in revolutionary organizing in the region. The November 5 demonstration looked like others from the movement for justice for Oscar Grant, but missing were the non-profits trying to run the show and divide the protesters. It was refreshing to hear consistent messages that encouraged people to get organized, stressed the need for nation-based organizing (while uniting Black and Brown), refused to work with the government and denounced the outside agitator line.
The city-sanctioned demo ended with a live performance of "Operation Verdict (Fuck Dat)" by local artists Unity, Sinista Z, & Ras Ceylon. Here's the last verse:
Revolutionaries speak with clarity
an injury to one affects us all
like Oscar Grant.
Cuz I am we
and we are he
So you will see us in the streets
Yellin "Fuck da Police!"
No justice, no peace
these non-profits is weak
tryin' to water down the movement
and cut off free speech
gettin paid by the beast
to calm the rage of our seeds
that are sick of the oppression that
they daily gotta see
and live with.
ain't no outside agitators
'cept these murderous pigs
with the gun, badge and a taser
so see ya later
if you tryin to claim that leadership
you ain't nothing but a snitch
and a politician's bitch
Police out here knockin brothers down
Trying to move the cats to somewhere out of town
You know the state wanna water this shit down