The Justice for Alan Blueford Movement, which began as a grief-stricken family’s effort to push back against the brutality of the Oakland Police Department, expanded in a display of solidarity by several hundred supporters who gathered in Oakland on November 10 for a rally and march against police brutality in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. The spirited rally included family members who described more than a dozen attacks by police in Oakland, San Francisco, Vallejo and Stockton. Their testimony reflected the fact that nationally police violence takes the lives of young men of color at the rate of one every 18 hours.
Adam Blueford lead off the rally with the story of his son's death. “My son Alan Blueford was murdered weeks before his graduation, days after his prom... Alan was accosted for no reason at all. He and two of his very close friends ... were walking down the street. Police rolled up on them, lights off, jumped out, guns drawn. Alan ran. [Officer] Masso shot himself in the foot, thought my son shot him, stood over him while my son lied on the ground, and murdered Alan. This has devastated our family... It's hard, but it's even harder when justice is not coming your way.”
The Alameda County District Attorney's office has refused to file charges against Masso, ruling Blueford's death justifiable. “We are here today,” Adam continued, “to support all the families who have suffered this injustice of police brutality and murder. We're here today to support everyone here with our total heart and commitment.”
Michael Hughey, the father of Jarrod Hughey, another young man of color killed by the police in the Bay Area spoke. “My son had misdemeanor warrants for failing to appear. He was driving a stolen vehicle that he didn't steal. A friend had given it to him. He smashed into a fire hydrant and went running. When he ran, the police surrounded him with like twenty cops like they were trying to harm an enemy in actual combat. He was hiding behind a fence, one cop looked over the fence to spot him, then another reached a gun over the fence and just started spraying him with bullets. All the while he was saying, ‘Don't shoot! No! No! No!’ … Officers, you can't go around doing this kind of stuff. It isn't right! I don't care what that kid might have done, he didn't deserve that. That is just cold-blooded brutality. That's evil! We've got to get rid of that!”
Cephus Johnson, the uncle of Oscar Grant, murdered by BART police in 2009, pointed out how many of the cops involved in these killings are responsible for multiple deaths but are allowed again and again to remain on the streets to kill some more.
The next speaker was La Mesha Irizarry, mother of Idriss Stelley, a 23-year-old student who was shot 48 times by San Francisco police in 2001. The death politicized Irizarry who has been a political activist ever since. She spoke of the death of 37 year old Dejuan Eaton, a Black man, who had recently lost his grandfather. Eaton then learned of the death of his younger brother and became distraught, leaving his house undressed. Fremont cops shot him eight times. Irizarry pointed out that six naked Black people had been killed by the police in California in 2012 alone.
Speaking against the current wave of police violence, Dr. Siri Brown, Professor of Black Studies at Mills College in Oakland, declared, "You can keep murdering us and we will stand here and fight until we get justice for Alan Blueford... This is not new. We have been killed by police ever since they dragged us here from the continent of Africa." Brown then led the crowd in chants of “Down, Down OPD!”
The march began. Winding its way down Oakland’s main street and past Oakland Police Department headquarters, protesters were greeted enthusiastically by motorists who honked and cheered their calls for an end to “Stop-and-frisk” and other police practices that have become flash points for police shootings. At the end of the march, organizers promised to continue the fight by announcing that long-time activist Angela Davis and others would lend their voices to the resistance by speaking on Dec. 18 at a Justice for Alan Blueford program to honor victims who have died at the hands of the police.
Adam and Jeralyn Blueford, the parents of Alan Blueford, traveled to New York the week before the march to join with the gathering resistance to “stop-and-frisk” and help to generate a national effort to stop police violence against Black and Latino communities. After visiting New York, the Bluefords traveled south to meet with Mumia Abul Jamal. After discussing their case and the growing movement against police violence, Mumia told the Bluefords to take a message from him to the progressive community that only a vigorous people’s movement can defeat police violence and that everyone should make a commitment to organizing that movement. The Bluefords earlier reached out to the families of victims of police violence in Los Angeles and will return to New York in January to continue to build a national coalition to stop police violence against Black and Latino communities.