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Two weeks ago, late at night, 18 year old Alan Blueford was outside in East Oakland with two friends. Officers who were or had been responding to another call approached the group, possibly with guns drawn. They claimed they thought that one of the young men had a concealed weapon.


Alan ran. One of the police chased him. No one seems to have a clear idea of what happened then, but two blocks away the policeman put a number of bullets into Alan, and also shot himself in the foot (whether before or after firing the other rounds remains unclear).

(If you do not understand why a young black man would run from the Oakland Police regardless of the circumstances then you are as naive as I was until I started learning about the OPD; in fact, any such person who didn't run knowing anything about OPD would be insane).

The Oakland police originally claimed that Alan had shot at the officer, but that story was quickly debunked -- no shots other than the officer's occurred.

As best I can ascertain, the police continue to claim that Alan had a gun, and that a gun was found at or near Alan's body. As best I can ascertain, some witnesses say that Alan was holding and pointing a gun at the officer; some don't. There does not seem to be any information about the gun other than it was not fired. Assuming that it even exists, that is. If it does exist, one might want to know such things as whether Alan's fingerprints were on it and the history of the weapon.

It is impossible to believe anything the police say about the incident -- without even considering the historical record that demonstrates their duplicitous record in similar previous circumstances -- because their story kept changing. According to Alan's cousin the police first told the family that he was running down the street shooting randomly, that he died on a porch, that he shot at the officer, and that they took Alan to the hospital where he died of his wounds. None of this turned out to be true. She also says the police have said that a gun was found thirty feet from Alan's body, but that he was shot while pointing the gun at the officer. This may not defy the laws of physics, but is at least unlikely.

(I would cite some of the numerous newspaper accounts, but they are often contradictory or report the earliest police lies and shed no more light on what is really known of what happened than I am portraying here)

According to a flyer put out by or with the permission of Blueford's family

The family has reason to believe that Alan never had a firearm.
Alan's father says the police story makes no sense. That he trained his son very well; that Alan knew that pulling a gun on a police officer was tantamount to suicide/murder; that his son would never had done such a thing.

Perhaps the gun does not even exist. Or maybe it was planted long after the fact (OPD is notorious for such things and Alan's body lay in the street for four hours in the middle of the night while police came and went). There's always the possibility that the gun spontaneously generated.

Maybe Alan did indeed possess it, as strange as it seems for him to have had a gun while standing around with his friends, waiting for some girls to come get them on a Saturday night. If he was carrying one, might he have tossed it while running away? If so, he wasn't pointing it at the officer when he was shot.

Besides the gun, there are other questions. What was the incident the police were responding to? Had they already responded to it, or were they heading towards the call? If the latter, why would they consider these three young men more important than the call they were responding to? Given that it was midnight, how could an officer at a distance determine that someone was likely to be in possession of a concealed weapon? And when Alan took off, why didn't he just keep on running; what prompted him to stop and apparently turn around?

Either this information is not available, or no reporter has gone to the effort of trying to find out.

We may never know the truth. But what we do know is that this was not an isolated incident. The Oakland Police continue to shoot and often kill people, mostly young black men, in questionable circumstances, year after year after year. As one article on the shooting put it

The stereotyping of young Black men effectively makes it legal for the cops to kill them with impunity.
Gary King.

The ((Oakland)) City Council on Tuesday night approved a $1.5 million settlement with the family of a 20-year-old man shot and killed by police two years ago.

Gary King Jr. was fatally shot by police Sgt. Pat Gonzales during an altercation Sept. 20, 2007. The city maintained Gonzales believed King had been reaching for a gun, but the killing prompted public outcry from people who believed King was wrongfully killed.

The family sued in 2008.

Jody Woodfox.
The city of Oakland has agreed to settle a lawsuit with the family of an unarmed man fatally shot by a police officer.

...City Council members passed the city attorney's recommendation to settle... for $650,000.

Former Oakland Police Officer Hector Jimenez shot 27-year-old Woodfox in the back on July 25, 2008, as he ran from his car after being pulled over for suspicion of drunken driving.

Jimenez was fired last month for violating the police department's use-of-force policies...

Derrick Jones.
The family of an unarmed barber who was shot to death by Oakland police is suing the City of Oakland.

The ten million dollar civil rights lawsuit by 37-year-old Derrick Jones's family claims officers used excessive force when they opened fire on Jones on Nov. 8.


The officers -- Eriberto Perez-Angeles and Omar Daza-Quiroz -- have said Jones reached for what they thought was a gun. It was later determined to be a small silver scale.   

Rahein Brown.
The Oakland Unified School District police force is the focus of a federal grand jury investigation...

The district is the subject of two federal lawsuits in connection with the Jan. 22, 2011, fatal shooting of Raheim Brown, 20, by schools police Sgt. Barhin Bhatt, who opened fire after Brown allegedly tried to stab Sgt. Jonathan Bellusa with a screwdriver

Tony Jones.
Tony Jones, 24, was shot once in the back by an Oakland officer on the 2000 block of 62nd Avenue in East Oakland about 11:45 p.m. Sunday after he ran from a van that police had stopped, according to police and Jones' attorney, Waukeen McCoy.
Tony Jones is the cousin of Oscar Grant. More on the Tony Jones shooting by the San Francisco Chronicle. Jones is now suing the City of Oakland for $10,000,000.

John Sloan and Antoine Jackson.

The families of two men shot and killed by Oakland police during a confrontation last year have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city.

Capt. Ersie Joyner and Officer Cesar Garcia shot and killed John Sloan, 23, and parolee Antoine Jackson, 30, respectively, on Curran Avenue in Oakland on May 18...

Police have not said what led the officers to shoot the men. Authorities have acknowledged that none of the men fired shots...

The lawsuit, filed by attorney John Burris, said that neither Sloan nor Jackson posed a threat to the officers... "To me, this was an ambush," Burris said in an interview.

It's always the same old, same old. A man dies. Protests are held. Answers are demanded. People denounce what happened at City Council. A City official or two make comforting noises. An "invesigation" is done, which results in a report that the police action was justified.

No person is ever held truly accountable; certainly no officials are ever fired. If absolutely necessary in a political sense, the officer who fired the shots is put on leave or "retired" with a bountiful pension.

Only years later does the City feel an amorphous pain in terms of settlement monies paid out. Settlements are approved in closed-door sessions of the City Council, with everyone congratulating themselves on avoiding a messy and public trial. At that point no one even remembers what happened, no one thinks about the life that has been lost, and no one talks about the students that could be taught, the hungry that could have been fed, or the homeless who could have been sheltered using these monies. Because, well, it happened so long ago.

And so, because there is no responsibility, Oakland continues on the same path, year after year, decade after decade.

Will there ever be a reckoning? Will the Oakland Police finally do something so astoundingly brutal that a Rodney King-like tragedy will be sparked? It seems that nothing less will prompt Oakland's government into doing anything about its trigger-happy employees and its out of control police department.

When there is

No Justice!

How much longer can it be before there is

No Peace!

Originally posted to jpmassar on Mon May 21, 2012 at 08:35 AM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, SFKossacks, California politics, and Police Accountability Group.

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