[News] Open Letter to the Justice for Oscar Grant Movement: Next Steps, Strategy and Unity

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jul 16 10:25:22 EDT 2010


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Open Letter to the Justice for Oscar Grant 
Movement: Suggestions on Next Steps, Strategy and Unity Building

By Kali Akuno
National Organizer - Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
Director of Education, Training, and Field Operations – US Human Rights Network

The righteous anger and indignation on graphic 
display in Oakland, California Thursday, July 8th 
at the mockery of justice rewarded to Johannes 
Mehserle for murdering Oscar Grant and the open 
collaboration of several non-profit organizations 
with the government to contain and delegitimatize 
the people’s resistance is a clarion call. It’s a 
call not just for justice for Oscar Grant and the 
countless victims of police terror, but for 
radical, systemic change. The anger, and its 
focus, indicates a heightened awareness on behalf 
of a new generation of working class Black, 
Latino and Asian youth of the intractable 
contradictions between the imperialist state and 
oppressed peoples and the willingness to challenge them.

A new phase of development and a new set of 
challenges now confront the movement to win 
justice for Oscar Grant. The inexperience of the 
youth forces engaged and the current weaknesses 
and fragmentation of the left make this a very, 
very delicate time. If certain conversations 
aren’t had, if certain lessons of the past and 
present aren’t incorporated, and if certain 
contradictions aren’t addressed, then all of the 
radiant energy on display July 8th could easily 
fade, or just as easily turn its wrath in upon 
itself and miss its true target.

This small contribution is an attempt to help 
ignite conversation, share reflections from 
critical movements of the past, and offer 
suggestions in the hope of helping to facilitate 
strategic and programmatic development within the movement.

On Next Steps and Organizing Orientation
1. Joint Reflection: to move the Justice for 
Oscar Grant Movement forward progressive forces 
focused on building the democratic mass movement, 
should join forces and come together to assess 
the strengths and weaknesses of the Justice for 
Oscar Grant Movement over the past year and half. 
One of the two main objectives of such a 
collaboration, in the short term, would be to 
produce a joint assessment and a unified set of 
demands, both tactical and strategic, to help 
anchor the movement in its next phase of struggle.
2. Joint Assessment: This assessment should be 
issued as a statement and/or document that 
provides a clear analysis of the movements 
weaknesses and errors and some strong points of 
orientation to try and anchor, sustain, and guide 
it going forward. Some key points of assessment 
should include (but not be limited to) the following:
a) A firm condemnation of collaboration and 
opportunism; but avoiding personalized 
vilification of the social forces that 
collaborated (being mindful of the lessons of COINTELPRO)
b) A statement of distinction on the role of 
political and community organizations as opposed 
to non-profits; and clarity on the reformist 
orientation and political limitations of non-profit organizations
c) The function of organization in the movement 
to combat infiltration (as appears to have 
occurred within the Black Bloc and other formations)
d) The need for strategy to help facilitate 
forward development and political advancement of the movement(s)
3. Joint Strategy and Work Plan: The second 
primary objective of such a collaboration would 
be to draft a one-year strategy and work plan to 
realize the unified demands that are put forward 
to the movement to democratically accept 
(understanding the independence of initiative of 
each formation), modify, or categorically reject.

This convergence of forces, although necessarily 
centered in California, particularly the Bay Area 
and Los Angeles, should seek to build and 
consolidate a national and international organizing initiative.

On Demand Expansion and Development
1. The opening of a Federal Investigation by the 
Department of Justice (DOJ) can and should be 
used as a national organizing opportunity. 
However, more self-determining justice 
initiatives should be organized simultaneously to 
challenge US hegemony (internally and externally) 
by internationalizing the struggle. More 
concretely, an independent “people’s or citizens” 
commission should be established to conduct an 
autonomous examination of the evidence, issue 
indictments, and pressure the DOJ and its 
process. This commission would ideally consist of 
family members, community activists, lawyers, 
jurists, etc. and call on various international 
bodies within the United Nations (UN) and 
International System (such as the Inter-American 
Court) to intervene in the case and challenge the 
racist policies and practices that enabled it.
2. The demand for resources and economic 
development must be supported unequivocally, but 
modified in a manner that puts limits on the 
controls of City Hall and its near exclusive 
access by “grasstop” forces. A means to 
accomplishing this (not without its faults or 
limits by any stretch) could be the 
institutionalization of participatory budgeting 
systems to determine the use of the cities 
resources to ensure they are used to address and 
service human needs such as adequate housing, health care, education, etc.

Synthesis Demands
This synthesis is an attempt to combine and 
expand on the demands originally articulated by 
the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), By 
Any Means Necessary (BAMN) Coalition, and the New Years Movement (NYM).
1. We demand that Officers Pirone and Domenici be indicted for murder.
2. We demand civil restitution and reparations 
for the family Oscar Grant, and the victims of 
Police violence by the OPD and BART.
3. We demand that BART Police be disarmed and disbanded.
4. We demand that the Police Bill of Rights, 
which shields the records of police misconduct, 
abuse and murder, be immediately abolished, and 
that all police records be made public.
5. We demand that an independent “peoples 
commission”, drawn and determined by the citizens 
of Oakland, with international jurists determined 
by this commission, be granted oversight into the 
Federal Department of Justice investigation of 
the murder of Oscar Grant, and systemic 
violations of civil and human rights by the Oakland and Transit Police.
6. We demand the termination of all Gang 
Injunction laws and policies in Oakland and 
throughout California on the grounds of their 
unconstitutionality and their violation of civil and international law.
7. We demand that Oakland be declared a sanctuary 
city, and that all ICE raids and racial profiling 
policies and practices targeting Latino/a, Black, 
Asian and other oppressed peoples be terminated immediately.
8. We demand that the City of Oakland, the State 
of California, and the Federal Government provide 
massive funding for education and jobs in Oakland 
that are allocated and distributed via a 
transparent and democratic public participatory budgeting process.

One-Year Plan Targets/Tactics
1. Conduct a mass and coordinated non-compliance 
action in Oakland and Los Angeles the day after 
Mehserle’s sentencing, that calls for Student 
walk outs and strike or “sick out” actions by 
Public Sector, Transit, Dock, and other workers 
that disrupts the regular flow of “business” to 
raise our demands and demonstrate the power of mass action.
2. Organize broad, neighborhood Police/Copwatch 
formations, and work to create “liberated zones” 
in Black, Latino, Asian, and white working class 
and poor communities, where the police are 
prohibited or curtailed in their activities.
3. Organize a massive local, regional, statewide, 
and national “Justice for Oscar Grant” petition 
drive to pressure the DOJ and build support for 
the movement’s demands (buttressed by broad 
internet and social networking interface to support and broaden reach).
4. Develop a broad people’s media and cultural 
workers initiative to provide educational, 
motivational, and agitation tools and resources 
for the movement and to provide sufficient 
analysis and coverage to frame the movement from 
its own perspective and counter the reactionary 
framing and attacks of the bourgeois media.
5. Hold a People’s Tribunal, with international 
observers and jurists, to pressure the DOJ and its deliberations.
6. Utilize Inter-American and United Nations 
special action procedures and special rapporteurs 
to conduct international investigations, 
recommendations, and sanctions on the US 
government for its failure to protect the human 
rights of Oscar Grant, the victims of police 
violence, and the targets of the various racial 
profiling laws and policies sanctioned by the government.
7. Organize local, state and national referendum 
and legislative initiatives to realize and 
support the movement’s demands. A possible start 
could entail running progressive candidates in 
Oakland who stand on a platform based on the 
movement’s demands in the upcoming elections to 
help define public debate and pressure the government to comply.

Without a doubt, accomplishing all of this is a 
tall order, particularly for a young and 
fragmented movement. But, as the history of the 
peoples’ struggles against white supremacy, 
colonialism, and imperialism here and all over 
the world demonstrate, no political challenges 
are insurmountable. If we dare to win, then we 
must dare to struggle against the internal 
shortcomings and subjectivities of the movement 
that hinder us from building the operational 
unity needed to execute initiatives of scale such 
as those proposed in this paper. The struggle for 
unity does not mean that we should stop 
struggling against collaborationist and 
opportunist ideas and practices. It simply 
implores us to do all we can to seize the 
opportunities at hand. With organization, 
strategy, discipline, and determination we can and will win!

In Unity and Struggle.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kali can be contacted via kaliakuno at gmail.com.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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