Check news reports of the aftermath of Oscar Grant’s killing and the overwhelming images you find depict riots in downtown Oakland. That’s too bad, because lost in the pictures of riot police and broken windows are the majority of angry citizens who have expressed their feelings of injustice non-violently. Tonight, several local youth organizations join forces to provide a forum for dialogue about the trial and two-year sentence of Johannes Mehserle, and this week’s fatal shooting of Derrick Jones by Oakland police officers.
Josh Healey of Youth Speaks says the forum will provide a space for young people to speak freely about their own experiences with police abuse, and to discuss ways of healing the tension between law enforcement and youth in the Bay Area. “We’re trying to show that at least these young activists are taking a powerful and peaceful stand for justice,” Healey said.
The forum will include representatives from the Ella Baker Center, the Homies Empowerment Project, RAW Talent, AYPAL, and the Urban Peace Movement, as well as young poets and performers.
The Youth Town Hall is from 5-7pm tonight, at the ProArts Gallery at 199 Kahn’s Alley in Frank Ogawa plaza.
Below is an excerpt from one of the poems to be performed tonight. The poet, Donte Clark, is a 20-year-old member of the Richmond-based youth organization, RAW Talent.
I Ain't Know Oscar Personally
By Donte Clark
Nah I ain’t know Oscar personally, but granted he ain’t deserve this
That BART cop Mehserle had murdered this man on purpose
That was somebody’s son
He was a son with a daughter
Face down one round enter his back this man’s slaughtered
They say it’s involuntary so that was the charge given
convicted for two years or less, he leaves prison
Ain’t that some bullshit?
I guess life ain't fair
White man been killing niggas since the day we got here
It ain’t start with Sean Bell and it won’t stop with Oscar
Harassed me and beat my family members up, they killed my partner
Pops had came home — teeth gone, his mouth leaking
Eye swollen them cops kicked his ass for no reason
All from a traffic stop over there in Point Richmond
Far from home a black man, two white cops, and no witness
Walked up to his car followed usual procedure
License, ID, insurance "Keep your hands where I can see them"
My pops a convicted felon, ran his name, they rushed back
Billy club to driver window, it shattered, his head cracked
Pulling him out the car, they mace him and beat him more
Face kissing the concrete his blood starting to pour
This violence against my people … I ask you, what is all of this for?