Saturday, July 24, 2010

We Interrupt This Blog

This has little to do (at least directly) with the themes that I have been writing about--but I just want to share this.

There's a young woman that I helped raise when I lived in an intentional community years ago (and still have a good relationship with).

Corina just turned twenty last week. I sent her a birthday card and she gave me a call to say thank you. What she didn't tell me is that she had been arrested a couple of days before that.

Corina lives in Oakland, California. On New Year's Day this year, a young black man was being held down by a transit police officer--face down--at a BART station in Oakland. Another police officer pulled out his gun and shot and killed the man being held down. All this was recorded clearly by bystanders.

The trial was held in Los Angeles, 300 miles away, and the officer was convicted by a jury that was composed of seven white and five Latino jurors--no African-Americans were on the jury and supposedly four of the jurors were reported to have police officers among their friends and family. The officer received a sentence of 'involuntary manslaughter' for shooting this young man in the back. Some commentators said they were surprised he was convicted at all.

Needless to say, the community of Oakland was not pleased. There was a protest that night that included a bit of looting and destruction. The Oakland police response was to have hundreds of officers (including police from towns as far as an hour away) out in full riot gear.

This is the scene Corina walked into. Her story is that she saw the police assaulting an older woman. A young man nearby linked arms with the woman and my young friend linked arms with him. The police arrested all of them. She spent the night in jail. Seventy-eight people were arrested. Her crime was apparently "unlawful assembly and failure to disperse." (Corina wrote me, "...I don't know if I was in the right place or the wrong place but man the cops sure were in the wrong place. They seemed to be focusing on arresting a lot more peaceful protestors than looters and people who were actually acting dangerously.")

A blog on the Oakland Tribune site has over a hundred pictures from the protests. One of them shows an older woman with her arm linked to a long-haired young man who in turn has arms linked to a young woman (yes, Corina) who has linked her arms to another young man. In back of them are rows of police in riot gear. As her mother put it, "...she looks strong and powerful..." She certainly looks determined in that picture.

There seems something so right that she would do that. Her mother is very proud of her. I am too. She saw injustice and she stepped in. She was arrested for that.

Welcome to adulthood, Corina. It's a pretty messed up world.

Quote of the Day: "...I began to recognize a source of power within myself that comes from the knowledge that while it is most desirable not to be afraid, learning to put fear into a perspective gave me great strength.
"...My silence had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you." - Audre Lorde


CrackerLilo said...

I'm glad Corina was brave and compassionate enough to step in, and so sorry that there was any need for her to do so.

MoonRaven said...

Thank you.