Background: Two weeks ago, the family of Alan Blueford and their supporters sought answers from the Oakland City Council about Alan’s death — answers they have been seeking since their 18-year-old son was murdered by Oakland police officer Miguel Masso on May 6, 2012. Answers were not forthcoming. The council attempted to move on to other city business, including a resolution proclaiming Oakland an “International City of Peace.” The community rose up in anguish and distress and said: No Justice, No Peace.
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In an attempt to avoid facing an onslaught of distraught citizens again this evening, city administrators held behind-the scenes meeting where they discussed limiting the number of people who would be allowed in council chambers. It’s comforting that they were able to focus on such matters while violence continued unabated on the mean streets of their city; five people were shot to death in the last couple of days.
Although such restrictive policies were not yet supposed to be in place for tonight’s meeting, dozens, if not hundreds, of people were barred from entering the council chambers. Balcony seating was closed. I didn’t attend, but I watched the livestreams and chatted online with people who were there. A friend who made it inside said that at the beginning of the meeting, there were only about 75 people present and many seats were empty. (There is seating for 216 and standing room for many more.)
According to media reports (which almost always underestimate crowds), about 100 people took part in the Interfaith March for Alan Blueford, which began at the Alameda County Courthouse and continued to City Hall for the meeting. Interfaith member and fearless Occupier Nichola Torbett says that the group blocked the streets at rush hour, without a permit. (Whose streets? Our streets!) Once they arrived at City Hall, many of these people were denied entrance to the council meeting by the police.
The meeting began just after 5:30 PM with Open Forum comments. I’m not sure I can adequately describe the clusterfuck that ensued. Adam Blueford, Alan’s father, spoke first and said he had been offered a redacted version of the police report, but that did not really satisfy him. He seemed somewhat resigned and did not appear to expect that anything new would be revealed. Other Blueford family members begged for a response from the council — something, anything.
Council President Larry Reid was nothing if not inconsistent in his application of rules and time limits for speakers. The crowd chanted periodically, but was mostly quiet whenever someone was allowed to speak the truth. Many people who had signed up to comment were not actually present; several times the council instructed “staff “ to go look for them and overrule the police who had been keeping them outside.
Once she was finally allowed to enter and address the council, Nichola, of the Interfaith Coalition, quoted Jeremiah:
They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.
Without reviewing the video archive, I can’t remember whether Nichola stopped there or continued with the verse, which goes on to say:
Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.
Another commenter said that the police violence in Oakland is “an ongoing crisis, like hunger.”
Oscar Grant’s Uncle Bobby demanded a copy of the Oakland Police protocol [presumably for officer-involved shootings]. President Reid’s exasperation at having to listen to the demands of yet another family member of yet another young man killed by police was evident. Poor Larry; that would exasperate just about anyone. Reid finally decided to cut the microphone just as Alan Blueford’s mother, Jeralynn, stepped up. And that’s not even the most outrageous or bizarre thing that happened. To wit:
- Mrs. Blueford managed to have her voice heard loud and clear without a microphone (scroll to bottom of link for video). Councilwoman Desley Brooks reacted to this righteous, heartfelt rant by conjuring up a couple of fake tears and telling Mrs. Blueford that she didn’t need to “come here with all these people and yell.” As my friends in the audience said, Desley was basically telling her to “drop the riffraff” (protestors) and trying to separate the Bluefords from the community. Desley told Mrs. Blueford to keep bringing the council new evidence and information. She even said that the Bluefords should put their issues on the council agenda! Because, you know, when the po-pos kill your child and then lie about it for months on end, it’s your job as a parent to try to figure out WTF happened and make sure it’s on the agenda . . . assuming the council will let you into the meeting . . . and keep the microphone turned on long enough for you to talk.
- Several council members said that the Brown Act (California’s open meetings law) did not allow them to address any concerns put forth by citizens unless those items were on the agenda. Those of us at home furiously googled the Brown Act and discovered that, sure enough, “critics accuse public bodies of using provisions of the Brown Act to circumvent or thwart the Act’s own intended purposes.” If I am not mistaken, this “new rule” is a response to the threat of a lawsuit, since they seemed able to discuss the case to some degree at the meeting in May.
- Councilwoman Brunner, to her credit, tried to get the council to explain how and when they might be able to provide answers to the Bluefords — since the rules precluded them from actually fulfilling any part of their roles as elected representatives. Of course nothing came of that, but it was nice of her to try. Late news indicates that Reid actually did hand over a heavily redacted version of the police report to the Bluefords; they gave it to their attorney and there is no word yet as to what it may contain.
- Larry Reid continued to ad lib the rules and repeatedly threatened to have the police clear the chambers. About an hour or so into the meeting, Councilwoman Bitchface Libby Schaaf motioned that everyone who was not sitting quietly in their chair and minding their manners should be removed. Someone seconded the motion. People began to chant “We’ll be back” and eventually most of them filed out, leaving the council to once again consider the “Oakland, City of Peace” resolution that had been held over from the previous meeting.
- At the exact moment that the Bluefords were being jacked around by the council, No-Show HoJo released a mealy-mouthed statement promising that information about the Blueford killing would soon be released to the public – and that, as always, he is unable to comment. And he doesn’t blush.
Photo by greendoula. May 2012 vigil for Alan Blueford. Foregound, Jeralynn Blueford, Alan’s mother. To the right are Jack Bryson, whose sons were with Oscar Grant when he was killed, and Bobby “Cephus” Johnson, Oscar Grant’s uncle.