By Terri Kay
A Court for Black Justice and Reparations was held in East Oakland by the International Peoples Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM). The charge against the Oakland Police Department was “Colonial genocide of the African community,” with arguments for the prosecution led by People’s Advocate, Diop Olugbala, Oakland Freedom Summer Project chair and international president of InPDUM.
Directly before the May 5 trial, a March for Black Justice went down MacArthur Boulevard, ending at the Uhuru House. Marching through the community, people chanted: “OPD you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!” “Justice for Oscar Grant!” and “Long live Lovelle Mixon!” (Mixon killed four OPD cops months after the murder of Oscar Grant and was subsequently killed by the OPD.)
In opening the trial, Diop explained that guilt would be determined based on the legal standards of InPDUM’s 52-point program. He said that police are part of the repressive apparatus of the state, to protect the interests of those who have against those who have not.
An attempt was made to serve a subpoena for testimony on OPD chief, Howard Jordan, during a public event held by the OPD. In the process, Bakari Olatunji, a 20-year veteran of the Uhuru Movement, was arrested. He is being held on $25,000 bail on charges of threatening an officer.
Elaine Brown, former chair of the Black Panther Party, provided the first testimony at the trial, on “Counterinsurgency against the Black Power Revolution of the 1960s.” Brown explained that crime is political, not moral, as evidenced by the awarding of medals for killing people in Afghanistan. She talked about the counterintelligence program of the FBI, known as Cointelpro, and how it was used against the BPP.
Brown went on to say that the BPP “couldn’t be part of the scheme that oppressed us — capitalism.” They were socialists. She described how the FBI hired agents to infiltrate the BPP and instigate people so as to get them charged with conspiracies. Brown reminded the crowd that Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), then minister of justice for the BPP, is currently serving a life sentence in a supermax prison convicted of the shooting of two sheriff’s deputies.
This second video is one of a series of six videos documenting cointelpro. The more we learn, the more we know.
‘Constitution not written for us’
Brown wrapped up her testimony by talking about how the BPP had to spend most of its first three years defending people who were arrested. She said, “The Constitution was never written for us” and that judges were part of the same system as the police.
Others who testified included Mike King, from Occupy Oakland, who talked about how attacking the OO camp took legitimacy from the cops and gave it to OO. He said the OPD was now using a more targeted approach, with Homeland Security involved. Other testimony came from Cephus Johnson, uncle of Oscar Grant; Enjoli Mixon, sister of Lovelle Mixon; and Maureen Wagener, who spoke about the “economic quarantine” of the African-American community.
Johnson spoke about Grant’s murder by the Bay Area Rapid Transit police. He said BART police go to the same academy as the OPD and work from the same playbook. He pointed out that Grant and his friends were wearing hoodies, just like Trayvon Martin, and described how police officers on the BART platform shouted racial epithets at Grant. “It’s a racist criminal justice system,” Johnson said, “up and down the line.”
Johnson testified that no African Americans were on the jury in the trial of Johannes Mehserle, the BART police officer found guilty only of involuntary manslaughter in Grant’s murder. Every one of the Black prospective jurors was excluded. The venue was changed from Oakland, where the killing happened, to Los Angeles.
The jury, said Johnson, was denied the right to see all the evidence, such as Mehserle’s past history of police misconduct. After the jury rendered its verdict, the judge modified the jury’s verdict to the benefit of Mehserle. Johnson proclaimed, “This whole system should be destroyed and rebuilt. So I say, study this system, feel the pain, and be a part of the movement to change it.”
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