No, it’s not 1991, but police brutality in California is still prevalent. After an Oakland police officer shot and killed an unarmed 22-year-old black man in the back on New Years Day, protestors have taken to the streets and organized rallies to demand justice. Here, Bay Area rapper and “voice of the community” Mistah FAB gives OZONE an eyewitness account of the widely-reported “riots.” FAB, however, isn’t asking, “Can’t we all just get along?” He is enraged by the blatant police brutality of the Oakland Police Department, who he describes as “malicious, hired assassins” and vows not to let Oscar Grant’s murder be forgotten or “swept under the rug” by the ignorant behavior of some protestors. Most of all, he reminds us that there is an Oscar Grant in every city.
Mistah FAB at the Oakland protest
A lot of news outlets have referred to this situation as the “Oakland riots.” We get the impression that there’s a lot of violence going on. Is that an accurate description? What are you seeing?
[The media] is trying to make it seem as if it’s anarchy and the people are trying to overthrow the judicial system, and it’s not like that. Unfortunately there were some demonstrators who allowed their frustration to overcome them and caused them to destruct some things and demolish a few things but it was nothing to the extent of what we would consider a riot. When people hear about “riots” they think of things like the L.A. [Rodney King] riots and the Watts riots and things of that nature, but it’s nothing comparable to that.
Do you think it’s going to get to that level or are things calming down at this point?
If there aren’t any answers and a confirmed decision as far as what’s going to be done and what justice will be brought, I think it can definitely get worse. You have a group of young kids who have unchanneled energy. It’s built-up frustration mixed with adrenaline, and that combination is a deadly concoction. A lot of those individual kids with nothing to lose will react as their emotions are telling them to react, and it will definitely get worse. It can get dangerous. Some of those guys are homicidal and suicidal. They’re willing to kill and they’re willing to die. They don’t care. They’ll go kill a cop and put it on film. If they feel like no justice will be served by the judicial system, they’re gonna govern themselves. That’s how they feel and they’re wild enough to do it.
Since you have a voice in your community, what are you advising your peers to do? What’s a productive way to move forward and what direction are you pointing people in?
I’ve been asked to speak at a few rallies, which I attended. The message I delivered was: “I know you’re frustrated.” The people in our community are flustered. They feel that there’s always an Oscar Grant going on and no one gets recognition. A lot of people feel like their family members have been victims of similar situations. They feel like it’s the right time to react. If y’all don’t give a fuck, we don’t give a fuck. I’m trying to convey the message to them that I understand their pain, but we have to first demand that justice be brought. The only way to do that is to keep it in terms [the government] understands. If they wanna play games, we’ll demonstrate and show why this [officer] should be tried as a murderer and convicted as an assassin. We’ll prove that. We’ll handle it in a way that [the police] understand. They can’t just sweep it under the rug because we’re “rioting” and acting primitive. The “rioting” is taking away from the fact that this guy isn’t in jail…
FOR FULL INTERVIEW, LOG ON TO WWW.OZONEMAG.COM