Peaceful anti-police march for Oscar Grant

Several dozen people marched and rallied in Oakland on Monday, accusing police of brutality and murder in the killings of Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day and other African Americans in Oakland during the past 40 years.

Organized by Uhuru House of Oakland, the protesters chanted “No justice, no peace” and “Stop police brutality in the black community” as they marched from the West Oakland BART station to DeFremery Park.

The Uhuru movement accuses police of oppressing African Americans, demands reparations for blacks for slavery and colonialism, and pushes for “real economic development instead of more police.”

Monday’s march by about 115 people was peaceful. In two earlier and much larger protests over Grant’s death in Oakland, some demonstrators vandalized businesses and cars.

Grant, who was from Hayward, was unarmed when he was shot and killed by BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle.

The officer resigned from the BART police force Jan. 7 rather than talk to internal affairs inspectors who could have built a disciplinary case against him. Last week Mehserle was charged with murder.

Protest organizers distributed a flyer picturing Grant and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, who was shown with the word “Guilty!” printed across his chest.

A “people’s tribunal” will be held Jan. 31 against “Dellums and other officials for brutality and lack of economic development inside the African community,” said Bakari Olatunji, lead organizer for Uhuru House, the Oakland chapter of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.

Olatunji called police “an occupying army inside the black community like the Israeli army inside Gaza.”

Another organizer, Wendy Snyder, told the rally, “We need to get to the root of imperialism that U.S. white power created.” Snyder belongs to a white Uhuru support group.

The Uhuru group says the killing of Grant resulted from “the policy of police containment of our African community,” which Uhuru says included the introduction of crack cocaine into the black community by the U.S. government and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X by an FBI counterintelligence operation begun in 1968.

One speaker called for violence against police. He drew both cheers and disavowals.

Jack Heyman, an executive board member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10, told the demonstrators, “The longshoremen’s union stands in solidarity with those who want justice for Oscar Grant.”

He recalled police assaults on dockworkers in the 1934 general strike and Oakland police firing wooden bullets and other nonlethal projectiles at longshore union members during a 2003 protest at the Port of Oakland against the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

E-mail Charles Burress at

This article appeared on page B – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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