Poor activists on behalf of upstanding citizens like Mixon!
But before I quote their response, I want to go back in recent history, just by about a few days.
Here's what Uhuru spokesman Bakari Olatunji said the night of the rally on behalf of Mixon. Mixon is the 26-year-old parolee who shot and fatally wounded four Oakland police officers on Saturday, March 21:
"We pay respects for a young brother who we felt symbolized the resistance of African people who are terrorized daily by the police force which are an occupying army in the African community, and not just here in Oakland but all throughout this country," Olatunji said. "You see every day black people are dying at the hands of the police."
The local branch of the Uhuru movement has its headquarters a few blocks from the section of MacArthur Boulevard where Mixon gunned down the first two Oakland police officers during a traffic stop. A few hours after fatally wounded the first two officers, he shot and killed two more police officers while they trying to enter the apartment building where Mixon was hiding.
If nothing else, the local branch of the Uhuru movement, by holding its rally on March 26, was guilty of some extremely bad public relations timing.
By that day, news reports had already reported that Mixon had been linked to the 2007 drug murder of another East Oakland resident and, through DNA evidence, to the February rape of a 12-year-old East Oakland girl.
The Uhuru movement's position does make you wonder if the group cares more about making a political point about so-called police repression than about the fact that their so-called hero/martyr victimized one of their community's daughters/sisters/nieces/cousins/granddaughters.
Anyway, I was checking out their website today, and I got the sense that they received some backlash for their sympathetic position to Mixon. Too bad, huh?
The Uhuru Movement thanks all of our friends and supporters who have voiced their concerns about the position taken by the Uhuru Movement on the March 21 killings of four Oakland policemen and twenty-six year old Lovelle Mixon.
We unite with your interest in dialog and resolution to this situation and in building unity among the various communities in Oakland through genuine social justice.
The Uhuru Movement has always understood that our friends may disagree with some of our positions—positions which always uphold justice for the African working class community.
We understand and unite with your concerns that the tense situation in Oakland must be resolved.
It is unfortunate that it takes a situation like this to bring Oakland’s real problems to the surface.
We have to take the March 21 events in the context of the long history that the Oakland police department has had with the Oakland African working class community.
It was the infamous brutality of the Oakland police that gave rise to the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in the 1960s.
There has been the exposure of the notorious Oakland “Riders,” whose brazen violence, harassment, racism and dishonesty are well known.
There have been relentless police murders of African community members young and old, such as Casper Banjo, an elderly African man and well-known, respected artist who was blatantly shot by the police last year.
There are hundreds of African and Mexican working class people who have been murdered by police over the years, real human beings whose names fade from the collective memory so quickly. Many of these victims have been blatantly slandered in the media, doubling the pain of the grieving families.
The recent cold-blooded, point blank BART police murder of young Oscar Grant was only unusual because it was caught from many angles on video.
But it is much more than this. Oakland has a very clear publicly supported policy of police containment, implementing an incessant martial law with ever-present SWAT teams and police helicopters circling over neighborhoods
California’s prison population is the fourth largest in the entire world and the OPD does everything possible to feed young African men and women from Oakland into that system for their entire lives.
Discriminatory legislation such as Three Strikes locks up countless African people as young as 14 years old for things that white people get to go to rehab for.
It has long been documented in articles by journalist Gary Webb in the San Jose Mercury News, for example, that the US government is responsible for imposing the devastating crack cocaine plague in African communities, and it is well known that the police have and continue to facilitate this.
The Uhuru Movement does not support the loss of life of any person. But the loss of life at the hands of the police in the African community of Oakland has been going on for half a century.
The “tensions” in Oakland are caused by the police, not by an impoverished community struggling to survive.
Even the mainstream media sources such as the New York Times and National Public Radio have had to mention in most reports that many in the African community do not support the police’s position in this case, and understand that Mixon’s actions were the result of years of oppression of a whole community which has come to a boiling point.
Lovelle Mixon’s life, like that of thousands of young African men in the impoverished neighborhoods of Oakland, was over long before he was killed by police. He faced a hopeless dead end of joblessness, poverty and criminalization by a society that would rather lock up young African men than make college or jobs available to them.
The police are not social workers; they are a military force with the assignment to carry out a violent containment policy against a whole community. The purpose of the police is to maintain power for the status quo and uphold the relations of poverty and wealth in the city.
If we want to move forward and “build bridges” as a city there is only one road to do so. We have to truly understand the calls of a community under siege and demand an immediate end to this completely failed public policy of police containment, this war without terms waged against the African community of Oakland.
We have to demand a policy of genuine economic development for the African community—development that truly benefits and uplifts the deeply impoverished African working class of this city, and is not just another cover for gentrification and dispersal of the oppressed.
We appreciate your continued support of the Uhuru Movement and urge you to take an active stand in transforming Oakland into a model city of shared prosperity and true social justice.