Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More Than 1,000 Ready To Protest In Oakland Today

Activists plan to return to downtown Oakland on Wednesday, one week after a small group of rioters marred what had been a nonviolent protest over a BART police officer's shooting of an unarmed, prone man.

This week's event, scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza outside Oakland City Hall, is part of a national day of nonviolent protest over the New Year's Day death of Oscar Grant III, 22, of Hayward, at the hands of Officer Johannes Mehserle, 27, in the Fruitvale BART station. The shooting was captured on video by several onlookers, and has caused consternation around the world.

Gatherings also are planned for Wednesday in other cities, including Pittsburgh, Pa.; Columbus, Ohio; Little Rock, Ark.; and Erie, Pa., according to a Web page hosted by the Oakland-based Ruckus Society, a nonprofit that teaches nonviolent protest and civil disobedience methods to activists.

Organizer Dereca Blackmon — a founder and partner at Oakland-based Aya Solutions, which consults with government agencies and private companies on issues of race, gender and social justice — said organizers are doing their "due diligence" to ensure Wednesday's event isn't hijacked by others with their own, violent agendas. A group that splintered from last week's nonviolent protest rampaged through downtown Oakland's streets, smashing windows and damaging cars.

"We are having those conversations internally," Blackmun said Monday, adding her Coalition Against Police Executions would probably brief the media and public Tuesday on its preparations. "There is a lot of concern."

The Coalition Against Police Executions' Facebook page had 1,434 members Monday; a similar but London-based Justice for Oscar Grant page had 5,268, including members from all over the nation as well as from countries including Canada, England, France, Greece, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland.
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