Martyrs, Martyrs Everywhere 

A slain rapper's funeral is filmed, a shoplifter cleans up, and August is a special month for murderous radicals.

Honor a murderer and/or an armed revolutionary this month. It's Black August!

Founded in 1979, this annual red-letter month celebrating jailed revolutionaries (its tagline is "Free 'em All!") commemorates an August 7, 1970 shootout in which heavily armed Black Panthers burst into the Marin County Courthouse, freed three San Quentin prisoners, and fruitlessly demanded the release of three more, including convicted killer George Jackson, whose book Soledad Brother had been edited and published with the help of Berkeley lawyer Fay Stender, who admired Jackson so much that she persuaded famous French author Jean Genet to write its introduction. Jackson was shot the following year in an escape attempt. Black August is now observed with events nationwide, such as "George Jackson-inspired yoga," set for 10 a.m. on August 31 in Washington, DC's Malcolm X Park.

"August is the month we recall the great loss exacted upon our black revolutionary movement with the assassination of George Jackson" and other "martyred freedom fighters" such as his brother Jonathan, who was killed while perpetrating the Marin incident, writes ex-Panther Kiilu Nyasha at to mark this year's commemoration. She calls this month "a time to embrace the principles of unity, self-sacrifice, political education, physical fitness and/or training in martial arts, resistance and revolution. ... Long live the guerrilla."

Black August has its own MySpace page, complete with revolutionary postings from East Bay-connected criminals such as Basheer Hameed, formerly James York, who joined the Panthers in Oakland in 1968 before being convicted of killing a cop in 1981. ("Intifadas and ceaseless struggle against the forces of oppression are an inspiration to us all," he offers.) For having refused to smuggle Jackson a gun in prison, Berkeley lawyer Stender was shot in her Grant Street home in 1979 by a Jackson associate whose female accomplice had rung Stender's doorbell pretending to need help. The shooter made Stender sign a document saying she had betrayed Jackson. Paralyzed, she committed suicide the next year.

Dig That Kaczynski

When the car belonging to Rice University student Matthew Wilson, missing since December, was found on Berkeley's Allston Way in June, police found in it a copy of Days of War, Nights of Love: Crimethink for Beginners, an essay collection penned and published by the anarchist collective Crimethinc. Its cover depicts a young white guy in a black ski mask. Crimethinc's homepage calls this book "the perfect reference manual for anyone seeking a life of passion and revolt. ... Remember: the destructive impulse is also a creative one . . . happy smashing! Its chapters include "Your Politics Are Boring as Fuck," "Product Is the Excrement of Action," and "Why I Love Shoplifting." The text includes such imprecations as "Fight foul, life is real!" and praises the Unabomber. The book's presence in Wilson's car was not announced until after Wilson was found and arrested on suspicion of burglary in UC Berkeley's Dwinelle Hall on August 14. He has since been released.

Ward Off the Swine

Scott Leister, the 21-year-old Castro Valleyite killed on the Bay Bridge when Jerell Puno slammed his Subaru Impreza at 100 mph into a Mercedes in which Leister was a backseat passenger on August 17, lists his occupation on his MySpace page as "gentleman of the evening." He was joking; in truth he was a college student and avid volunteer striving to improve the quality of life in Latin America. A friend posted the message: "You need me scott to ward off the swine." Charged with vehicular manslaughter and DUI, Puno was released on bail.

Squeaky Clean

That's what a twentysomething man is now, because he shoplifted "eighteen bottles of bodywash" from the downtown Berkeley Walgreen's on August 15, according to the Berkeley police log. Store staff saw him, but he escaped. To the shower?

Eye of the Beholder

A man trying to report a crime was himself treated rather like a criminal, or so it might seem to him. The August 9 Walnut Creek PD log describes a fortysomething white man in blue shirt, tie, and "ripped pants having a loud conversation with himself and his water bottle about Peet's Coffee stealing money and taxes." Asked by cops to move along, he complied.

Damn! R.I.P.

A friend filmed the July funeral of 25-year-old Bobby Hall II — aka Lil Bobby and L.B. — and has posted it on YouTube with an original song as its soundtrack. Loved ones are shown dropping gerbera daisies onto the white casket as Hall's pal, fellow rapper Lil Kata, sings the song whose chorus is Damn! R.I.P., my nigga L.B. Fuck! R.I.P., my nigga L.B. When Hall became Oakland's 73rd murder victim this year, his parents lost their second hip-hop-singer son to homicide. (The first was Jesse Hall, stage name Plan Bee, killed in 1992.) A loved one calling herself Lil Sis Sierra posted a poem for Bobby online that reads in part: "I'll ride fa u,/I'll die fa u, Man if i could've,/i would'v taken them bullets fa u." Elsewhere online, a cousin apologized for skipping the funeral: "Just couldn't ... if I were to go, I would be in a deep depression ... we as a people, the hip-hop community really need to re-evaluate what we do, how we think and how we live. WE ARE DYING!  at a alarming rate, this is ABNORMAL! Where I live the value of life is so not important. ... I tell everybody I live in lil beirut."

Latest in News

  • Sheriff and DA Challenged

    Progressive Black women seek to unseat Alameda County's Ahern and O'Malley
    • Jan 20, 2021
  • Anti-Social Media

    Oakland police investigate allegations of officers' objectionable social media
    • Jan 13, 2021
  • Pantry Level

    How food banks are coping with the pandemic's hunger crisis
    • Jan 6, 2021
  • More »

Author Archives

News Blogs

Most Popular Stories

Special Reports

The Beer Issue 2020

The Decade in Review

The events and trends that shaped the Teens.

Best of the East Bay


© 2021 Telegraph Media    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation