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“This is what happens when you’re black and walking down the street in Oakland!”

Yesterday, July 31, Oakland police drew their guns on two black teenage boys, forced them to the ground, and detained them for twenty minutes before releasing them.

Bystanders involved with Occupy Oakland, who happened to be hanging out at a nearby café, captured the incident on video, which you can watch at the bottom of this post.  According one of the bystanders at Political Fail Blog, police, who claim to have targeted the two men because they “fit the description of burglary suspects”, also aimed their guns at witnesses recording the police:

While sitting down with a few friends (@CourtneyOccupy, @BellaEiko, @Justizin, @OaklandElle & @AdaminOakland) in a downtown Oakland cafe on Tuesday, we witnessed OPD officer P. O’Donnell badge #392 draw his gun on two men as they walked down Broadway street. During the detainment, the officer briefly aimed his gun at me more than once, prompting me to drop to me knees under the cover of some locked up bikes.

One of the young men held at gunpoint identifies himself as 18-year-old Romel Yohannes. He told Political Fail Blog the following about the encounter:

“The police saw me walking down the street with my little cousin going to get something to eat, and they told us to go to the ground with our hands up, for no reason. They think we match the description of a robbery.”

“This is robbery of character right here. So the only thing we have to say after this is fuck the police.”

Throughout the video, a woman can be heard questioning the police about their behavior. “Oh my god! Don’t shoot them” she says holding back tears. “Why are you guys pulling up with your guns drawn in public like that?” They presented no fucking threat.”

She continues, “Is this what happens when we’re black and walking down the street? You wonder why I won’t leave without my camera? Would y’all have shot him too? Would y’all have did him like Alan Blueford?”

She then warns onlookers, “This is what happens when you’re black and walking down the street in Oakland!”

Apparently, the activists had just returned from a rally at city hall to demand justice for Alan Blueford, an 18-year-old high school student shot and killed by an Oakland police officer in May after running from police.

Just imagine would happen if police began routinely subjecting citizens in white suburban neighborhoods the same treatment—drawing guns on innocent white people walking down the street during the day, shooting at and sometimes killing white teenagers who run from police, and never being held accountable for employing excessive force against innocent white men. I highly doubt this type of police behavior would be tolerated for long, white parents and politicians would never allow it.  America would never allow it.

I highly recommend watching the video because it highlights the daily police harassment endured by people of color, particularly black men, in cities like Oakland, Chicago and New Yor. Yohannes and his cousin appear to be guilty of nothing more than being black dudes walking down the street, a kind of racism that Americans are far too accepting of.

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One Comment
  1. That sister may have saved their lives. Thank you and all who would not walk off.

    August 8, 2012

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