No, itâ€™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 â€œvoice of the communityâ€ Mistah FAB gives OZONE an eyewitness account of the widely-reported â€œriots.â€ FAB, however, isnâ€™t asking, â€œCanâ€™t we all just get along?â€ He is enraged by the blatant police brutality of the Oakland Police Department, who he describes as â€œmalicious, hired assassinsâ€ and vows not to let Oscar Grantâ€™s murder be forgotten or â€œswept under the rugâ€ 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 â€œOakland riots.â€ We get the impression that thereâ€™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 itâ€™s anarchy and the people are trying to overthrow the judicial system, and itâ€™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 â€œriotsâ€ they think of things like the L.A. [Rodney King] riots and the Watts riots and things of that nature, but itâ€™s nothing comparable to that.
Do you think itâ€™s going to get to that level or are things calming down at this point?
If there arenâ€™t any answers and a confirmed decision as far as whatâ€™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. Itâ€™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. Theyâ€™re willing to kill and theyâ€™re willing to die. They donâ€™t care. Theyâ€™ll go kill a cop and put it on film. If they feel like no justice will be served by the judicial system, theyâ€™re gonna govern themselves. Thatâ€™s how they feel and theyâ€™re wild enough to do it.
Since you have a voice in your community, what are you advising your peers to do? Whatâ€™s a productive way to move forward and what direction are you pointing people in?
Iâ€™ve been asked to speak at a few rallies, which I attended. The message I delivered was: â€œI know youâ€™re frustrated.â€ The people in our community are flustered. They feel that thereâ€™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 itâ€™s the right time to react. If yâ€™all donâ€™t give a fuck, we donâ€™t give a fuck. Iâ€™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, weâ€™ll demonstrate and show why this [officer] should be tried as a murderer and convicted as an assassin. Weâ€™ll prove that. Weâ€™ll handle it in a way that [the police] understand. They canâ€™t just sweep it under the rug because weâ€™re â€œriotingâ€ and acting primitive. The â€œriotingâ€ is taking away from the fact that this guy isnâ€™t in jail…
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