BSU discusses police actions
February 10, 2009 3:01 AM
The murder of a man without any explanation or justification sparks anger on the injustices of police brutality by the SF State community.
SF State's Black Student Union organized Policing the Police "I am Oscar Grant" Monday night for African History Month to discuss personal stories and steps to actions regarding injustices such as the killing of Oscar Grant by a BART police officer on New Year's Day.
"I feel this is something I could be educated on," said Loren Newman, a pre- apparel design and merchandising major. "I wanted to see what everyone had to say about it because the case of Oscar Grant is a shame."
Erin Haywood, a liberal studies major and BSU coordinator wanted to reach out to the youth communities.
"We hoped it would spread awareness," said Haywood. "We wanted to investigate police brutality, which is always happening in our community, and we wanted to let these voices be heard."
In a three-hour event held at the Rosa Parks Auditorium, seven passionate guests spoke to the full room on several topics, from police brutality to "cop watching," to injustice and oppression, or just gave their opinion on the matter, initiating discussion.
"The reality is our community and the world has been disconnected from the day in and day out," said Minister Keith Muhammad.
"So when we learn that policing began its standard by catching escaping slaves... we know right off the top there's a systematic problem here... The problem isn't the system. The problem is the people running the system."
Dereca Blackmon of the Coalition Against Police Executions brought up concerns on the Police Bill of Rights.
"As we've been investigating on how to be strategic on this issue... we need to think about putting something on the ballots to repeal this Police Bill of Rights which has given police extra protection," said Blackmon.
"We know its injustice, but it's just a shift right now on 'what is my point of power? What is it that I really can do and have a responsibility to do?"
The public's first amendment right allows citizens to watch an officer's interaction with people, according to Copwatch, an organization dedicated to monitoring police actions and asserting individual rights. The organization urges citizen's to familiarize themselves on their basic rights.
They discussed police issues and hate crimes such as the case of Gregory Johnson Jr.
His parents Gregory and Denise Johnson came on stage donning t-shirts with his face on it. The San Jose State University student died of suicide, according to the Johnson's, but they suspect otherwise and feel the police and coroner are not doing anything to justify his death.
"No, this wasn't a case of direct police brutality," said the shaky voice of Denise Johnson, but she believes the police are not doing their jobs.
"[The BSU] put on this event to let the young people know they need to get involved," said Haywood. "They need to get active in their communities and have their voices heard."
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