Oakland City Council: “We’re gonna party like it’s 1984.”
It’s deja vu all over again.
Back in May, I wrote a diary about Alan Blueford, the African-American high school student who was murdered by Officer Miguel Masso of the Oakland Police Department. Initially, OPD said that Officer Masso and Blueford had been in a “gun battle.” That’s what Blueford’s parents were told hours after they arrived at police headquarters seeking answers. They’d been notified by Alan’s friends (as opposed to police) that their son was dead. Police informed them that their son (and the officer that he supposedly shot at) had been rushed to Highland Hospital. Those were lies. It turns out that Officer Masso shot himself in the foot. Alan was apparently left to die in the street and was never transported to the hospital. The coroner found that Alan had not fired a gun. Officer Masso’s credibility has been further undermined by revelations that he may have been hired by OPD while he was still under investigation in a civils rights lawsuit filed against him when he was a New York city cop.
On May 15, the Bluefords appeared before the Oakland City Council asking for help in finding out what had really happened to their child. Chief Jordan was missing in action and the council had no answers for the Bluefords that evening, although one of them helpfully proposed that a more efficient next-of-kin notification protocol might be in order the next time the pigs blow a black teenager to Kingdom Come.
On September 18, frustrated by more than four long months of obfuscation and stonewalling by the City and OPD, Alan’s family once again appealed to the City Council, asking them to produce the police report on Alan’s death. Once again, the council promised that Chief of Police Howard Jordan would materialize. And once again, after a “10-minute break” that lasted more than a half hour, HoJo was a no-show.
Council chambers were packed with hundreds of supporters of the Blueford family from all segments of the community, including—but by no means limited to—members of Occupy Oakland. When it became obvious that no police report was forthcoming, the crowd began to chant, “Where’s Howard Jordan?” The council attempted to reconvene and introduce the next item, which was a resolution to name Oakland as an “International City of Peace.” Although the irony may have been lost on the council, it was not lost on the crowd. The next chant became the familiar standby: “No justice, no peace.” Council president Larry Reid abruptly adjourned the meeting, leaving the Blueford family without answers and the remainder of city business undone. A few days later, OPD leaked a “new” report that Alan Blueford’s fingerprints had been found on a gun at the scene. The Blueford family quickly responded, saying that OPD was continuing to slander their son and that the timing of the leak was suspicious and self-serving, given OPD’s ongoing inability to produce a police report.
The Bluefords and their supporters—in particular, members of the interfaith community—have vowed to return to the next city council meeting on Tuesday, October 2nd. Anticipating that another large crowd of people might show up and demand accountability from their elected representatives, City Administrator Deanna Santana is attempting to limit the number of people allowed to attend the meeting. In a series of off-the-record meetings with other high-level city officials, Ms.
Antoinette Santana has proposed that the balcony area of the chambers be closed, reducing the current 214 seats by about half. She also wants to bar citizens from standing in the chambers or congregating immediately outside the doors, which has been a longstanding tradition. Instead, overflow crowds would be diverted to rooms with video feeds (and, of course, no access to the council members safely ensconced in chambers with a manageable group of 100 or so).
Edited to add this lovely bit of doublespeak:
“The primary goal is to make sure the city’s business moves forward and the public has a chance to participate in the political process,” city spokeswoman Karen Boyd said.
You can imagine how Oakland is reacting to this latest fascist fantasy dreamed up by the gang that brought you Scott Olsen. Stay tuned for an update on Tuesday.