Category Archives: article

Video

THE PEOPLE MAKE HISTORY

Find more information on Dan Siegel’s Campaign Website:
http://siegelforoakland.org/

Filmed and Edited by Alex Levy

Mumia meets with parents of Alan Blueford

By Terri Kay

Originally posted at Workers.org.

Mumia Abu-Jamal met with Jeralynn Blueford and Adam Blueford, the parents of Alan Blueford, when they traveled to Pennsylvania on Oct. 29 to build support for justice for their son, Alan. The African-American youth was killed by Miguel Masso of the Oakland Police Department in California on May 6.

The Bluefords traveled with Jack Bryson, who got involved in the struggle against police repression when Oscar Grant, another African-American youth, was killed on a Bay Area Rapid Transit platform there by the BART police in 2009. Bryson’s two sons were on the platform with Grant when he was killed.

The visit was organized by Sandra Jones, a death-penalty abolitionist and assistant professor of sociology at Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J.

Workers World spoke with the Bluefords, Bryson and Jones about the visit with Abu-Jamal, long-time political prisoner, award-winning journalist and former death-row inmate in Pennsylvania.

Workers World: Why did you want to meet with Mumia?

Jack Bryson: I read all his books and look at him as the Messiah of the movement. In thinking about everything he has been through, who better to comfort and advise the Bluefords?

Jeralynn Blueford: I read up on his case. He experienced what I’ve been going through to the tenth power.

Adam Blueford: I knew he’s been struggling for justice for many years. Through our struggle, I thought I could learn something from him.

WW: What impressed you most about Mumia?

A. Blueford: [Mumia’s] heart. He was such a pleasant individual, and me being a religious person, him saying “God is love” is something I brought home with me. His knowledge and his willingness to help.

J. Blueford: His calming and soothing presence, coupled with his intelligence and strength.

Bryson: He talked about how he loved Huey Newton, the Black Panther Party and Oakland.

Sandra Jones: The ease at which he was able to go back and forth between commentary about politics, discussion of Obama to personal confirmation about himself and attention to Jack and the Blue­fords. At this point he has been in general population for less than a year. He had been in solitary for so long.

WW: What advice did Mumia ­offer about winning justice for Alan Blueford?

Bryson: Don’t depend on the government. Depend on the community and the people. Organize, organize, organize. “Organize with this” [he said, pointing to his forehead].

J. Blueford: Keep fighting. Keep mobilizing. Educating the youth in the struggle is really important.

Jones: [Mumia suggested] creating a website “killer-cops.com.” He thought it would be controversial to have that name, but it would draw attention. He mentioned that all the victims could be listed and have a central place to build the movement.

A. Blueford: Mumia said that justice is never given, it’s fought for. Not violently, but through education and movements, like the JAB [Justice for Alan Blueford Coalition], which we’re attempting to build.

WW: What did Mumia share about his own case and situation?

Jones: He spoke about being able to have contact with other prisoners. [He] told about one young prisoner who told him he didn’t “do books.” He now “does books,” and Mumia is educating other young prisoners. He’s able to spend time with Eddie Africa of the Move 9 [To learn about the Move 9, see workers.org]. Eddie has been alone most of the time he’s been in prison.

Bryson: When asked, “How do you do this — you’re innocent and [have been] kidnapped?” He said every day he is alive is a victory.

WW: Is there anything JAB can do for Mumia?

A. Blueford: We want to make sure the injustice done to Mumia is not ever swept under the rug, that this movement we’re building will eventually get justice for Mumia and walk him out of the doors of that penitentiary.

Bryson: We should write to him and continue to spread international support for him.

WW: Anything else you’d like to share?

Bryson: When [Mumia] was 14, he was arrested in Oakland for supporting Huey [Newton]. He talked about Oscar Grant, Kevin Cooper in San Quentin, Troy Davis and Tookie Williams.

A. Blueford: Mumia really showed us a lot of love. It was like meeting a family member. … We talked, laughed, hugged, cried — like family.

Mumia Abu-Jamal talked about the campaign for justice for Alan Blueford on his Nov. 4 Prison Radio broadcast. Listen to “Tears of Sorrow and Rage” at tinyurl.com/cgha3jx.

Alan Blueford FAQ

Q. Who was Alan Blueford?
A. Alan was a just-turned 18 year old high school student attending
Skyline High School in Oakland, CA. His parents are Adam and Jeralyn
Blueford.

Q. When and where was Alan Blueford killed?
A. Alan was killed at approximately 12:05 AM on May 6th, 2012, in the
driveway of 9230 Birch St, Oakland, CA.

Q. Who killed him, and how?
A. Oakland Policeman Miguel Masso fired three bullets at Alan, one
striking his shoulder, one his right chest, and one close to the heart.

Q. What happened?
A. Officer Masso and his partner stopped Alan and two friends as they
were walking on 90th St. After being stopped, for reasons unknown,
Alan decided to run. Officer Masso decided to chase him. The chase
went on for approximately four blocks until Allan and Officer Masso
arrived at 9230 Birch. At this point accounts diverge. Either Alan was
shot once, stumbled into driveway, and was shot twice more while lying
on his back, or he stumbled into a gate, fell into the driveway and
was then shot three times while lying on his back.

Q. What were Alan’s last words?
A. According to multiple witnesses Alan said “I didn’t do anything!”

Q. Did Alan have a gun?
A. There is no conclusive evidence one way or another. A gun was
found long after Alan was killed, 20 feet away from Alan’s body up an
inclined driveway. Despite multiple witnesses present, none reported
seeing a gun move from where Alan lay to the location where the gun
was found.

Q. Did witnesses say that Alan had a gun?
A. Most did not say anything one way or the other in their signed statements. Some of the witnesses are immigrants who may be concerned about their own safety. It was dark, things happened quickly, and multiple shots were fired by the policeman, leading understandably to confusion. We do know that Officer Masso said to his partner after-the-fact “I swear he had a gun!”  An odd turn of
phrase if Masso was sure Alan had a gun.

Q. Why did Officer Miguel Masso kill Alan Blueford? (Did he have
a good reason to shoot him?)
A. We don’t know exactly why Masso shot Alan. We probably never will.
What we do know is that Officer Masso helped torture a defenseless
prisoner in a NY City jail cell, and then refused to call for medical
attention (this is documented by the NY Police Department).
What we do know is that Officer Masso served as an MP in Iraq.
What we do know is that Officer Masso claimed in his report that he
freaked out, perhaps a minute before he shot Alan, and was unable to
hear or think clearly.

What we do know is that Masso did not have his lapel camera on, in
violation of OPD policy. What was he trying to hide? If we had that
video, many of the questions surrounding the shooting would likely
have been cleared up by now.

What we do know is that 11 of 12 witnesses said that Alan was on the
ground before Masso fired, in sharp contrast to Masso’s statement.
What we do know is that Alan was killed by Masso as the result of a
racist stop and frisk practice built around a discourse labeling all
black and brown young men as dangerous, particularly at night. Many
police departments believe they have a license to kill these young men
whether or not there is an objective reason to believe they are
dangerous.

What we do know is that police are killing unarmed citizens who pose
no immediate threat at an alarming and increasing rate. Over and over
police reports state that an officer “thought he had a weapon” or the
victim was “reaching for his waistband”, only to find out that the
dead victim was shot, sometimes in the back, unarmed.

Q. Is it true Officer Masso shot himself?
A. Yes. Officer Masso fired four shots. One of them ended up going
into his foot.

Q. What did the Coroner’s report have to say about Alan?
A. The Coroner’s report said there was no gun residue on Alan’s
hands, meaning that he never fired a weapon. Nor did he have any
alcohol or drugs in his body.

Q. Was there some issue with the Coroner’s report?
A. Yes. For reasons which are unclear, the Oakland Police demanded
that the Alameda Coroner not release the report. That demand was
honored until the family and supporters created a stink in the press,
held a protest outside the Coroner’s office, and then the family paid
more than $300 in ‘blood money’ as a fee to the Coroner before the
report was released in mid-July.

Q. When did the Blueford family first go to the City Council?
A. In mid-May, a few weeks after Alan’s death.

Q. What happened?
A. Council members, especially President Larry Reid, promised their
help in finding out what had happened to Alan.

Q. Did they get that promised help?
A. No.

Q. What is the Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition (JAB)?
A. A group of people who came together to help the Blueford family
obtain the truth. They come from all walks of life and belong to
various existing organizations. It seeks to find justice for Alan and
to try to ensure that no further such murders are allowed to happen.

Q. What has JAB done?
A. JAB has organized two BBQ’s for community awareness, held multiple
press conferences, held a rally in downtown Oakland, gone en-masse
twice to City Council meetings, analyzed the District Attorney’s
report entitled “Investigation of the Shooting Death of Alan
Blueford.” and reached out to community organizations, churches and
labor unions seeking support against police violence.

Q. Did JAB shut down a City Council meeting?
A. Yes. In mid-September, after months of non-action by the Council
and the City, the Blueford family and JAB stood in front of the City
Council demanding justice and specifically demanding the police report
on Alan’s death, not yet released.
Larry Reid told the Bluefords and the assembled citizenry that
Police Chief Jordan was on his way with the report, then called a ten
minute break. After ten minutes had turned into forty with no police
report and no Police Chief, Reid decided to restart the meeting,
taking up a resolution to declare Oakland “A City of Peace.”
With cries of “No Justice. No Peace!” JAB and allies drowned out the
Council and the meeting was adjourned. No police report was delivered
to the Bluefords that day or in the subsequent thirteen days, nor did
anyone from the City contact them.

Q. What happened next?
A. Two weeks later, the Blueford’s again appeared before the City
Council seeking justice. Many members of the public were shut out of
the meeting, despite seats being available and despite California’s
open meeting law which precludes such decrees. After the Blueford’s –
and allies who had managed to get in before the City Council blockaded
the doors — had spoken for about an hour, Larry Reid, in a grandstand
play, handed the Bluefords a redacted police report that he had with
him the entire time.

Q. The City Council met JAB’s demands?
A. No! Crucial information was blacked out from the report, and
obtaining the police report is only one of JAB’s demands to the City.
Officer Masso is still employed by the City of Oakland while on paid
leave, and the Oakland Police continue their de facto ‘Stop & Frisk’
actions against young men of color on the streets of Oakland.

Q. What has taken place since the redacted police report was released?
A. About a week later, the Alameda County District Attorney released
a document titled “INVESTIGATION OF THE SHOOTING DEATH OF ALAN BLUEFORD”.

Q. What were it’s conclusions?
A. “The evidence does not justify criminal charges against Oakland
Police Officer Masso.”

Q. Do the Bluefords and JAB accept this conclusion?
A. No! As detailed in our response to the DA’s report, that document
was shoddily put together and unprofessional. It did not consider the
evidence, nor did it attempt to resolve the contradictions between
Officer Masso’s account and the testimony of witnesses. The paradox of
the gun’s location was not considered and the fact that the gun was
tampered with — disassembled on location — was not even mentioned.
We don’t know everything that happened that night, but the DA’s
“investigation” was a whitewash. See JAB’s website
http://justice4alanblueford.org
/2012/10/17/j4ab-response-to-the-das-investigation/
for the full text of our response.

Q. Why is all this attention being paid to Alan Blueford? What about
all the other innocent people that have been murdered by the police?
Why aren’t they being given the same attention?
A. The Blueford family knows that they cannot get Alan back. They have
courageously committed to a long, painful battle against the Oakland
Police Department, the City of Oakland, and the criminal justice
system in the hope of getting justice for their son, and to push as
much as is humanly possible so that this sort of thing does not happen
again.
It’s rare that a family is able to come forward as the Blueford’s
have done and bring the murder of a family member by the police to
this level of public awareness. The emotional stress can be
overwhelming.
Let us build on what has gone before, e.g., the movements around
justice for Oscar Grant, Treyvon Martin and Ramarley Graham (shot and
killed by NYPD in his own bedroom, unarmed). JAB’s goal is to support
the Blueford family in their quest not only to obtain justice for the
murder of their son by prosecuting Miguel Masso, but also by building
a national movement that will include all the families and victims of
police violence and change the fundamental relationship of the police
with the community to prevent future murders from happening.

Q. What about Black-on-Black violence? Why isn’t JAB protesting that?
A.  Like all violence within our communities, Black-on-Black violence
stems from a host of social and political issues outside the scope of
our coalition for Justice for Alan Blueford. More importantly, the
police murder of Alan Blueford, like the increasing police violence
against our Black and Brown youth locally and across the country has
absolutely nothing to do with Black-on-Black violence. In fact, police
violence can be addressed through the specific demands of our
coalition, by the indictment of Officer Masso for the murder of Alan
Blueford, the end of de facto stop and frisk policies, and the
withdrawal of the so-called Officers Bill of Rights – their license to
kill without repercussion.

Q. What’s next for the Blueford family and JAB? (As of 10/10/12)
A. The Bluefords have been on the East Coast, speaking with New York
and Philadephia activists against police violence and both cities’ Stop
& Frisk laws.
On Dec. 18th, JAB we’ll be holding a forum with Angela Davis at Laney
College. Stay tuned for other events and actions.
Check our website for the time and place of Coalition meetings:
http://justice4alanblueford.org/

From Oakland to NYC, family members, activists assail police brutality

by Monica Moorehead

Originally published at Workers.org

New York — “I am the proud father of Alan Blueford, murdered by the Oakland police,” stated Adam Blueford. His spouse, Jera­lynn Blueford, added, “Alan’s murder was arbitrary, unnecessary and racist. It’s sad to say but he was shot down because of the color of his skin. They profiled him by saying he looked suspicious.”

These gut-wrenching, heartfelt words were spoken at a powerful, moving public forum held here Oct. 27 on “Fight All Police Terror: Solidarity with the Victims and their Families,” sponsored by Workers World Party.

The Bluefords had traveled from Oakland, Calif., to speak at forums in New York and Philadelphia on behalf of their 18-year-old beloved son, Alan Blueford, who was fatally shot on May 6 by police officer Miguel Masso. The parents are leaders of the Justice for Alan Blueford Campaign in the Bay Area. The campaign has held numerous demonstrations, including disruptions of Oakland City Council hearings.

Continue reading

Walter Riley speaks to the Oakland Post on Alan Blueford

Police Report in Blueford Shooting Raises Questions, Says Attorney

Ken A. Epstein

Originally published by the Oakland Post.

A local criminal attorney is raising questions after examining the police report in the shooting death of Alan Blueford by Oakland Police Officer Miguel Masso.

Meanwhile, Alameda County prosecutors last week released a report saying the police officer acted in self-defense and will face no criminal charges.
The partial police report was released two weeks ago, five months after the 18-year-old high school student was killed.
“It should not have taken the months it has already taken and continues to take,” said Walter Riley, a criminal defense and police misconduct attorney in Oakland since 1984.

“There were a finite number of witnesses available in the case,” he said. “The policeman who did the shooting and his partner, and the officers who arrived at the scene subsequently are all identifiable and accessible.”
The report that was released is missing the “shooter’s statement and the statement of his partner,” as well as crime scene photos and the ownership history of the gun that was found at the scene, Riley said.

A single thumbprint was found on the gun magazine, which is alleged to be Blueford’s, ”(But) we don’t have any further information,” Riley said, about the points of similarity that would indicate the likelihood the thumb print belonged to Blueford.

Nor is there information whether other fingerprints or DNA evidence were found on the weapon.

“There was no gun fight,” Riley continued.  “Witnesses say he was shot while he was on the ground. He clearly did not fire a gun. It is disputed by family and some witnesses that he had a gun at any time.”

A witness reported, Riley said, that he heard Blueford speaking while on the ground. “He said he heard Alan say, ‘I didn’t do anything.’ That’s inconsistent with a dying person having a gun, but it is consistent with a dying person not threatening a police officer with a gun,” Riley said.

The Alameda County prosecutors 18-page says Officer  Masso shot Blueford three times in the chest and left shoulder after the fleeing teenager pointed a loaded semiautomatic pistol at him.

“Officer Masso actually and reasonably believed that his life was in danger after he had made eye contact with Mr. Blueford and that if he did not shoot, he would be killed,” the report said.

The report quoted Masso as saying he “went into survival mode.”
In an angry written response to the report, the Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition this week said “(It) reveals a high level of bias and a shamefully inadequate demonstration of investigative methodology,” citing only witness statements that agree with the police version of the event.

The released Oakland police reports on the killing of Alan Blueford can be found at  http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/10/04/18723068.php#18723083

Justice for Alan Blueford Coalition slams DA’s report

Originally published at Workers.org

by Terri Kay

Oakland, Calif. — The Justice for Alan Blueford Coalition (J4AB) held a press conference Oct. 16 in front of Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s office in response to her announcement that police officer Miguel Masso would not be charged for the killing of Alan Blueford. The African-American youth was killed by Masso, a member of the Oakland Police Department, on May 6.

At the press conference O’Malley’s report was slammed as “biased and deficient.” A release issued by the J4AB stated, “The District Attorney’s failure to carefully review and challenge statements contained in the report of the Oakland Police Department go against the community’s need for answers in this tragic officer-involved shooting.” John Burris, a civil rights attorney, referred to the federal monitors who supervise reforms the OPD was ordered to make by a federal judge in a case won against the OPD in 2000, in which Burris was lead counsel. He said the monitors found that there was “a predisposition to find support for the [OPD] officers’ conduct, often sanctioned by the DA.”

Burris said, “The issue of whether Alan had a gun was not raised, and the DA never considered whether he had a gun when he was shot and killed.” Burris said the picture of the purported gun “taken in a bed of rocks … clearly was never found there. This was a staged situation. How did it get there? Who moved it? When did that take place?” Burris pointed out that Masso is quoted as saying, “I swear I saw a gun” — but Burris said that is “not the kind of statement one would make if [they really] saw the gun!” He said there was “No consideration given [that] maybe it didn’t happen the way the officer said it did.”

Burris discussed how it was “Racial profiling which served as the basis for the stop” of Blueford in the first place, and said, “[We] will continue to move forward on our civil rights case.”

Blueford’s parents: ‘Justice for Alan!’

Responding to Burris’ statement about racial profiling, Adam Blueford opened his remarks by stating, “I am the proud father of Alan Blueford.” He described how his son was just walking with his two friends, but “The DA report tries to make this out as a drug transaction.” The coroner’s report found that there was no gunpowder residue on Alan Blueford’s hands and no drugs or alcohol in his blood.

Jeralynn Blueford, Alan’s mother, said, “My son’s last words were ‘I didn’t do anything’” (as quoted by witnesses in the police report). This clearly is not the threatening stance reported by Officer Masso, for which he claimed he was in fear for his life. She went on to state: “There are too many deaths in California. Stop the killing. We will not stop until we get justice for Alan.”

Walter Riley, also a civil rights attorney, stated: “There is something wrong with the criminal justice system. The DA has given us a shoddy report that looks like boiler plate language. … [It] fails to recognize forensic evidence presented in the coroner’s report, account for the vast majority of witnesses who say Alan was on the ground [when he was shot], and support the argument that Alan didn’t have a gun when he was shot.”

DA’s report is ‘biased, shoddy’

The J4AB Coalition has put together a report which reviews the DA’s report, calling it “biased and unprofessional, its workmanship so shoddy that it fails to meet the most basic standards of an investigative report.” Concluding “Alan Blueford Should Never Have Been Stopped,” the J4AB report states: “In fact the police reverse cause and effect, which gives them the excuse they are looking for to stop, question and frisk. Young black men do not generally look nervously at police because they are doing something suspicious, they look nervously at police because police are likely to stop them or worse. Police then claim that ‘being nervous’ is a sufficient reason to stop them. Had there been no racial profiling of Alan and his companions, Alan would not have been stopped, and Alan would still be alive today.”

“We reiterate our demands that Officer Masso be fired and prosecuted for the murder of Alan Blueford, and that the OPD cease its de facto practices of racial profiling and stop and frisk,” says J4AB. They are calling for a Bay Area Families March to End Racial Profiling on Nov. 10, starting at noon at 14th and Broadway in Oakland. J4AB is “bringing together families of victims of police intimidation, brutality and murder as a call to end the racial profiling which criminalizes Black and Brown men.”

To read the J4AB report and for more information, go to justice4alanblueford.org.

Seeking Justice for Alan Blueford at the Militarized Oakland City Council: Police Murder and Political Contestation in the “International City of Peace”

By: Mike King

The Blueford family and the Justice for Alan Blueford (JAB) Coalition returned to City Hall last night, after causing such a disruption at the last meeting (September 18th) that it was cancelled.  On Tuesday evening, over 200 people came out to support the Bluefords in demanding answers, over 100 of whom were barred from entering the City Council meeting by Oakland police.  Inside the City Council chambers, the Blueford family and several dozen supporters demanded answers and the police report, and that the officer who killed Alan be fired.  This took place amidst empty seats and a large police presence inside the closed doors of the chamber, as a large crowd outside demanded to be let in.  Shouts of “No Justice! No Peace!” and “Jail Masso, Now!” resounded inside and outside of the chambers, preventing City Council from conducting business for over and hour and a half.  Oakland police physically barred the doors to the chamber, blocking a large group, including members of several unions and religious and community organizations from entering.  The shouts of “Let us in!” and “Our City Council!” boomed, measured to be 100 decibels, as police stood smirking, guarding a half-full City Council meeting that is supposed to be a public event.  After ninety minutes of constant chanting prevented the City Council from addressing their agenda, Council member Larry Reid stood up, exasperated, and gave the family his copy of the police report.  At that juncture the family felt that the point had been made, again, that City Council would have to deal with this matter.  The (redacted) police report, said to be available to the public soon, will nonetheless likely shed more light on the police misconduct that took place on the night of May 6th.

Alan was shot by Oakland Police officer Miguel Masso on May 6, 2012.  Although police contend that Alan had a weapon, several eyewitnesses all say that Alan had no weapon.  The long-delayed coroner’s report showed that Alan was laying on the ground with his hands over his head when he has shot.  He had no gunpowder residue on his hands despite previous allegations by the Oakland Police Department (OPD) that he had fired at Masso.  Masso had shot himself in the foot, before shooting Alan three times.  The Oakland police had continued to withhold the police report, and the City Council had refused to demand it (erroneously saying that they did not have that authority), until Reid handed over his own personal copy last night.  The police report, a document that can typically be had in 72 hours, has been purposely delayed to hide the facts of the case.  City Administrator Deanna Santana, who has had the power to both demand the police report and fire officer Masso, recently said she might give the police an additional 6-month extension, meaning it would not have been released until next Spring.  It seems Larry Reid, in his frustration, deviated from the plan last night in handing over the report.  City Council, instead of requesting the release of the police report (let alone demanding that Masso be fired), spent the last two weeks preparing to limit public access to City Council meetings.  The family finds this unacceptable and the JAB Coalition is committed to making sure there will be no business as usual until Masso is fired and charged.

 

Brutality, Corruption and Lies: The Last Few Steps to Federal Receivership

The OPD, and now City Council, have lied to the Blueford family and the community every step of the way.  They said he had a gun.  They said he had shot Masso.  They said he was taken to the hospital, when in reality he was left to die on the street, and then not taken to the coroner’s for over three hours.  Chief Jordan continued to lie to the community and media, saying that Alan had fired a weapon weeks after the killing.  City leaders kept saying that the police report isn’t finished, right up until the moment they gave up and handed it over.  Council member Reid said they would give the Bluefords the report if they left the City Council meeting on September 18th.  When the family did not fall for that tactic, which would have defused the City Hall disruption, Chief Jordan said that the police report was not ready and he needed more time to redact the document after the City Council meeting was canceled.  Why has it been redacted?  Why did it take 5 months and two nights of disruption to simply give the police report to Alan’s family?  Why can anyone else get a report in 72 hours and a grieving family has to go through all of this?

The broader questions about officer Masso bear more attention as well.  Journalist Ali Winston has reported that Masso left the NYPD after his involvement in the beating of a man in custody.  Why is Oakland, a city looking at the very real possibility of being the first major city in the US to be placed under federal receivership, hiring a cop who was, at that time, currently under investigation for abuse in another city?  The looming threat of federal receivership, which will be decided when Thelton Henderson’s courtroom reconvenes in December, shades this whole process.  The city finds itself in a catch-22.  If they fire Masso they admit to police misconduct under their watch; if they persist in doing nothing (but lie and attempt to manipulate the grieving family), they will face continuous pressure and disruption from the family, the coalition and the community.  Their current strategy of doing nothing to hold Masso accountable has been coupled with an attempt to limit democratic assembly in City Council meetings and smear the family’s supporters as an unruly “mob” that simply like to disrupt things.  TheOakland Tribune quoted a recent report by federal monitor Robert Warshaw, which found that the investigation of questionable officer-involved shootings in Oakland had “the most deficiencies and the least inquisitiveness.”  Nobody knows what changes federal receivership would bring, and by no means will it come anywhere close to resolving questions of police profiling and violence.  However, what is becoming increasingly clear is that the Oakland Police and the city leaders trying to shield this cop with a legacy of brutality from justice, just might be the tipping point that ushers in that federal takeover.

 

To Aid and Abet Those That Do Not Protect and Serve

No one is disrupting City Council for the sake of it.  There are demands.  They are being made very clearly and they can be easily met.  They are demands that would not even need to be made in a city that did not prioritize aiding and abetting corrupt and violent cops over the health and well-being of the city’s residents.  The demands are that Masso be taken off paid leave and fired, and that he be criminally charged.  The Blueford family and the JAB Coalition are not springing this on City Council, they have had 5 months to fire Masso, so that the District Attorney can evaluate the case and file charges.  Maybe the police murdering young black men like Alan, who was laying defenseless on the ground without a weapon, is so commonplace to them that they feel that they can simply keep lying to the grieving family, waiting for community support to wane or criminalizing that support.  Then maybe, in the worst-case scenario, the city will have to pay a settlement in a year or two, adding to the $57 million in police misconduct claims in the past ten years.  City Administrator Santana has the power to fire Masso with a phone call, but does not.  City officials that would help obstruct justice have absolutely no moral authority to declare those that would use their voices to demand justice an unruly mob.   The significance of the City Council having their meeting behind closed doors, protected by a wall of OPD officers, just so they can carry out their business without holding that police force accountable, is only lost on the Council members themselves.

The “Blue Wall of Silence” doesn’t end with beat cops and Commanders; the Chief, Mayor and City Administrator have a vested interest in making sure justice is not served in this case.  Disclosing the facts of the case before the receivership ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Henderson may make the likelihood of federal receivership an inevitability, with probable political repercussions for the city politicians who have been overseeing this shameful mess.  Just as Deanna Santana tried to “take white-out to her report card” with the Frazier report that detailed the dozens of OPD violations in its policing of Occupy (asking the independent investigators if she could edit the report before it was finalized), when it comes to the oversight of their notoriously dysfunctional police department, they not only keep and praise cops involved in numerous suspicious killings, they let them train other officers in how to handle weapons.  When Occupy Oakland re-opened a long-closed library in the Fruitvale district, with overwhelming support and participation from the community, City Administrator Santana made evicting the library an immediate priority, and it was shuddered within days.  Why after 5 months of Alan’s murder being on her radar, has Santana failed to do a single thing?

When Occupy Oakland was camped out on their front lawn, City Hall lamented that Occupy had no demands and they had no one they could negotiate with, and we were met with brute force, criminalization, harassment, the suspension of 1st Amendment rights, and subjected to a constant smearing in the lapdog press that continues to this day.  Here we are a year later in a much more specific struggle.  You want demands?  Fire Masso and charge him with murder.  You want someone to negotiate with?  You got it, talk to Alan’s mother, Jeralynn.  To this point all she has heard from the likes of City Administrator Santana and Chief Jordan are lies, all she has gotten from the likes of City Council member Larry Reid are empty promises designed to patronize and give false hope in the city’s broken political system.  A political system that, after what we saw last night, could clearly care less that their cowardly continuation of avoiding responsibility by not firing Officer Masso extends the family’s grieving and compounds their pain.  This avoidance of responsibility is a perpetual pouring of salt in the wounds of the Blueford family.  We are being led to believe that the real tragedy here is that City Council had their meeting delayed, limiting their time to discuss the pressing concerns of the City of Oakland, like further subsidizing golf courses to make up lost profit, or shamelessly declaring yourself an “international city of peace,” as your unaccountable police force creeps all over the city with their lights out, their twitchy trigger fingers waiting to kill another unarmed black kid without a glimmer of accountability.  Time will show that the delusions of those in power in City Hall, though perhaps longstanding, played no small role in their undoing.

 

If the System is Corrupt and Unaccountable, the System Will be Prevented from Functioning

At the end of the day, the OPD shot a young man dead in the street – an 18-year old kid, getting ready to graduate, who had no weapon, who was just waiting for a ride, who ran when a car rolled up on him with its lights out.  He was later laying on the ground with his hands raised when a cop, a public employee, took his life.  Masso shot him on the street like a dog, and now the City Council would rather cover it up than take responsibility and act.  There is more oversight and accountability for an animal control officer if he or she were to shoot an actual dog in the street.  I wish that were hyperbole, but it is a fact.  If an animal control officer mistakenly shot a golden retriever belonging to a member of one of Oakland’s all-important golf courses he’d be fired, probably immediately.  When the community demands that Alan’s killer be fired, City Council rescinds the 1st Amendment to make their avoidance of the issue easier.  The disconnect between the people of Oakland and the city’s elected officials is clear.  The OPD, City Hall and the press would rather criminalize another movement demanding equal respect for the lives of young people in the black community than take action against public employees who commit acts of criminal violence against that community.

The unaccountability of the police and city officials may be par for the course for the Oakland City Council; it doesn’t mean that the Blufords and the people of Oakland need to put up with it.  False sympathetic condolences and photo-opportunity crocodile tears while standing next to the family of the most recent victim one day, as you go about your business of helping to shield the perpetrator from justice the next day – enabling the same type of injustice to be carried out again in the future – may get you that all-important endorsement from the police association, but it doesn’t make you a decent human being.  It certainly does not make you someone who should be vested with such authority.  In May, Council member Larry Reid told the family that justice would be served or they could hold him accountable.  On September 18th he tried to snooker the family into leaving the City Council chambers to pick up a redacted police report that was not even there.  Since then the same Council upon which he sits has tried to pass new regulations prohibiting free speech in the chamber, in hopes that the tears and rage of the next grieving family trying to get answers to why their son was gunned down by the OPD can go unseen and unheard.  Councilman Reid’s frustrated ego eventually handed over the police report he had been sitting on.  It remains to be seen if he will live up to his word and see that justice is done for the Blueford family.

When it comes down to it, what the Justice for Alan Blueford Coalition and the Blueford family are doing is demanding that the arrogance, apathy and hypocrisy of the OPD and city leaders no longer be tolerated or deferred to.  The JAB Coalition and the Bluefords will do whatever it takes so that police profiling and murder are no longer accepted as normal, excused by those in power, and then repeated.  If City Council does not like dealing with angry residents they should stop aiding and abetting those that terrorize the community.  And if they want to keep excusing the same brutal tactics that put the OPD under federal oversight in the first place, they will continue to see forms of organized resistance from the community.  If they are content with using draconian policies that limit free speech and assembly in order to sweep the city’s anger under the rug, saving City Council from having to hear the cries of the victim’s family, they could very well find themselves out of work after the upcoming elections – while facing something a lot harder to deal with than a couple of nights of chanting.

Mike King is a PhD candidate at UC–Santa Cruz and an East Bay activist, currently writing a dissertation about counter-insurgency against Occupy Oakland.  He is also a contributor to AK Press’ new book on Occupy – “We Are Many.”  He can be reached at mikeking0101(at)gmail.com.

Alan Blueford and Oakland’s Continuing Crisis of Governance

By Scott Johnson

Originally posted at Truthout.org.

After seeking justice from the City of Oakland for months, the family of Alan Blueford finally caught the attention of city leaders on September 18 when their protest brought the City Council to a halt.

Alan, an African-American high school student, was murdered on May 6 by Officer Miguel Masso, who drove up on the young man who had committed no crime, chased him for five blocks and shot him dead outside a Cinco de Mayo party. Masso initially claimed that Alan shot him, a story spread by the local media, although when it was revealed that Masso actually shot himself this lie turned into the claim that Alan pointed a gun at the officer. The Bluefords refute even this claim, considering Masso’s earlier lie.

Since May, the Bluefords have demanded that Masso be fired and prosecuted and that stop-and-frisk and racial profiling practices be ended among Oakland police. The elected leadership of Oakland have largely ignored these requests outside of a handful of closed door meetings where the Bluefords were promised a timely investigation and no slandering of Alan in the press. Neither promise was kept.

Continue reading

Searching for Answers to a Police Killing

by Darwin Bond-Graham

Originally published at CounterPunch

Oakland.

All summer long the slaying of teenager Alan Blueford by a police officer festered in the city of Oakland, a metropolis already stained by its troubled police department which for nearly ten years has been spiraling toward federal receivership due to its institutionalized culture of brutality and misconduct. It was no surprise then that the first meeting of the City Council last night, in its new session after the Summer recess, was met by over one hundred outraged protesters and the family of the young man whose death at the hands of OPD frustratingly remains a mystery, with all known facts indicating an unjustifiable murder. The internal police department investigation of Alan Blueford’s killing drags on, as do virtually any and all other official investigations, studies, and reports intended to bring about transparency and accountability within Oakland’s police department. Nothing seems to be working.

“According to the Coronor’s report, my son’s body was removed at 1:25 in the morning,” said Alan’s father, Adam Blueford, before the council, describing the haste with which the police cleaned up the scene of Alan’s demise. “How can a murder investigation be done in less than one hour?!” he asked incredulously.

Alan Blueford was shot by officer Miguel Masso around 12:25 am on the morning of May 6 around 92nd Avenue and Birch Street in deep east Oakland after a brief foot chase. Alan had been waiting with a friend for a ride home after watching a boxing match. Police initially said Alan was in a “gun battle” with the officer, but then backpedaled when evidence showed Blueford hadn’t fired a shot. There had been no shootout, only a one way volley of gunfire. Blueford had committed no crime or offense prior to being confronted and chased by the police.

The next police claim, that Blueford was taken to the hospital after being wounded, was also later proven false; days after his death it became known that Alan died on the scene from gunshot wounds. The officer, who it turns out also shot himself in the leg, was taken to the county medical center. These were only the first false reports in a series of troubling claims. “Lies,” say the family.

Continue reading

Rally demands justice for Alan Blueford

by Terri Kay

Originally posted at Workers.org

Oakland, Calif. — More than 100 people rallied at City Hall on July 31 to demand justice for Alan Blueford. An 18-year-old Black youth, Blueford was killed by a police officer just days before he would have graduated from Skyline High School. Guilty only of standing on a corner while Black, Blueford was shot three times by Officer Miguel Masso of the Oakland Police Department on May 6 and left to bleed out and die on the street.

The coroner’s report, released this month after mass pressure, stated that there was no gunpowder on Alan’s hands and no drugs or alcohol in his system. The July 31 rally demanded that Officer Masso be fired; that he be tried for murder for Blueford’s death; and that the Oakland City Council use their authority to push for the immediate release of the police report.

Justice for Alan Blueford

Speakers at the rally included Blueford’s parents, Jeralynn Blueford and Adam Blueford; and attorneys Dan Siegel and Walter Riley. Hip-hop artist Jabari Shaw performed. Boots Riley, the final speaker, spoke about how the mainstream media have hyped people into believing that cops are really trying to protect them. He said, “When police do kill, they are usually pre-justified by the media and [TV] shows like ‘Law and Order.’”

In a lead-up to the rally, Tanesha Blye, Blueford’s cousin, addressed the City Council on July 26, and then served people’s subpoenas to the eight city council members and Mayor Jean Quan, demanding their attendance at the rally. None of the council members nor the mayor showed for the event, so the Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition posted a huge “notice of termination” announcement on the doors to City Hall. The notice included the demands stated above, a repeal of the Officers’ Bill of Rights and an end to the “stop and frisk” laws, which have become “stop and kill” laws.