Murder in Cold Blood

On New Year’s Eve, as scores of horrified people looked on, Oakland transit police forced 22-year-old Oscar Grant to the ground, kneeled on his head and then shot him in the back.

Grant, an African American father of a 4-year-old daughter and an Oakland grocery story worker, died several hours later. The bullet entered his back, ricocheted off the concrete floor and punctured his lungs.

Police attempted to confiscate cell phone videos taken by Bay Area Rapid Transit passengers and initially claimed that security cameras didn’t record the incident. However, in the last two days, they have been forced to admit that the security cameras did capture the assault.

Additionally, one especially graphic video taken by a passenger was released by the Bay Area television station KTVU. It shows an unarmed and unresisting Grant, lying face down, shot at point-blank range by an officer as his horrified friends and onlookers watch.

Although police and BART authorities still refuse to give the name of the officer who shot and killed Grant, KTVU obtained a copy of the civil lawsuit filed by Grant’s family, which names officer Johannes Mehserle as the shooter.

Grant “was unarmed and offered no physical resistance to BART police officers,” according to the claim filed by attorney John Burris. According to KTVU’s summary of the lawsuit:

Grant fell to his knees and put his hands up “in an effort to demonstrate that he was submitting to the Latino officer’s thuggish display of authority.”

But the officer dug his knee into Grant’s back, causing Grant to “yell out in agony,” the claim states.

Grant feared for his life and “made a valiant effort to de-escalate the situation by appealing to the officer’s sense of humanity by telling the officer that he had a 4-year-old daughter” and asking the officer not to use a Taser gun on him, according to the claim.

The claim alleges that Mehserle, who was standing nearby, kneeled down and restrained Grant’s hands, then “inexplicably” stood up, drew his firearm and pointed it directly at Grant’s back.

The claim states, “Without so much as flinching, Officer Mehserle stood over Mr. Grant and mercilessly fired his weapon, mortally wounding Mr. Grant with a single gunshot wound to the back.”

* * * * *

The New Year’s killing has provoked a growing community response as the police account of the incident has fallen apart. Although Mehserle has yet to issue a statement, according to media accounts, police officials suggested to the press that he intended to use his Taser gun on Grant and claimed he might not have recognized the difference between the two weapons.

That assertion has been met with disbelief by anti-police brutality activists. Burris cast further doubt on the police account at a January 4 press conference:

It’s an outrageous set of facts. My sense is clear that this was an unjustifiable shooting. There were no movements, and he was not trying to overrun the police officer. A gun cannot discharge accidentally. You have to have your finger on the trigger.

When conduct like this occurs, there is a price to pay. Police have to be held accountable when they engage in this kind of unlawful conduct.

Following the killing, a spirited, spontaneous protest of 20 people took place outside BART Police headquarters on January 5. Grant’s family is holding a memorial for him in his hometown of Hayward, just south of Oakland, on January 7.

Activists are planning a rally to demand justice for Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland later in the day, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. The protest was called by concerned community members and is spreading quickly by word of mouth.

Police brutality is nothing new in Oakland. In the last few years, a string of police killings have angered residents, including last spring’s shooting death of 15-year-old José Luis Buenrostro-Gonzalez, which remains an open case, with no officers being accused of any wrongdoing.

“We have no intention of letting the cops off the hook,” said Dana Blanchard from the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. “The whole criminal injustice system is rotten, and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure Oscar Grant’s death shines a light on it.”

What You Can Do

A video of the police shooting of Grant [1], taken by a commuter, has been posted online by anti-police brutality activists.

For more information or for notices of upcoming protests and organizing meetings, see the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center Web site [2].

52 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. The Angry Peasant said on January 8th, 2009 at 11:46am #

    Once again (and I’m talking to a certain Greg Kurtz, if he’s listening), a worthless piece-of-shit cop commits murder. Will he lose his job? Possibly. Got to prison? Hell, no. We never really lost the wild west days where cops are concerned. All it means for them to kill someone is extra paperwork. When a cop kills someone, it’s a mistake. “Whoops, I goofed again, Sarge.” If someone shoplifts a can of SpaghettiO’s, their life can be turned upside-down for a year. This is our justice system. Protect the powerful (and their enforcers), and imprison the helpless.

    No surprise it wasa cop in California, either; the most brutal in the country. Hopefully (but as I said, doubtfully), he’ll get a few years to think about why he became a putrid cop to begin with.

  2. Michael Pugliese said on January 8th, 2009 at 1:19pm #

    WWLDT say?
    What is the purpose of a riot?

    by Latoya Peterson

    I have a piece on the Oakland shooting scheduled to run on Monday from a frequent contributor. However, I stumbled across this article in the SF Gate and wanted to throw it out to the room to discuss.

    A protest over the fatal shooting by a BART police officer of an unarmed black man mushroomed into several hours of violence Wednesday night as demonstrators smashed storefronts and cars, set several cars ablaze and blocked streets in downtown Oakland.

    The roving mob expressed fury at police and frustration over society’s racial injustice. Yet the demonstrators were often indiscriminate, frequently targeting the businesses and prized possessions of people of color.

    They smashed a hair salon, a pharmacy and several restaurants. Police in riot gear tried to control the crowd, but some people retreated along 14th Street and bashed cars along the way.

    The mob smashed the windows at Creative African Braids on 14th Street, and a woman walked out of the shop holding a baby in her arms.

    “This is our business,” shouted Leemu Topka, the black owner of the salon she started four years ago. “This is our shop. This is what you call a protest?”

    Wednesday night’s vandalism victims had nothing to do with the shooting death by a BART police officer of Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day – but that did little to sway the mob.

    “I feel like the night is going great,” said Nia Sykes, 24, of San Francisco, one of the demonstrators. “I feel like Oakland should make some noise. This is how we need to fight back. It’s for the murder of a black male.”

    Sykes, who is black, had little sympathy for the owner of Creative African Braids.

    “She should be glad she just lost her business and not her life,” Sykes said. She added that she did have one worry for the night: “I just hope nobody gets shot or killed.”

    What the hell was the point of destroying a black owned business to protest the murder of an unarmed black man?

    As citizens, we have the right to peacefully assemble and peacefully protest. And the article mentions that the protest started off peacefully – but a smaller offshoot of participants started the violence, mainly against local businesses and parked cars. Some of the cars belonged to the city of Oakland, but others belonged to private citizens, just going about their lives.

    Something that always strikes me about those who incite a riot is that they always seem to do it in our neighborhoods. If you want to tear something down after an egregious event, that feeling is understandable. (I don’t feel like it should always be acted on, but that’s another post.) However, why is it that the violence quickly spirals out of control and starts attacking innocents?

    Perhaps I am biased because it was only in the last three or so years that Washington, DC finished cleaning up the traces of the last round of riots we went through. A lot of the older folks have painful memories of what it means when a protest starts of well, then turns to chants to burn the city down.

    Readers, what are your thoughts?

    (Photo Credit: Lacy Atkins for the Chronicle)

  3. John Hatch said on January 8th, 2009 at 2:24pm #

    Nothing will change until citizens start shooting back. It’s time.

  4. Tree said on January 8th, 2009 at 2:34pm #

    No one should be shooting anyone. Social justice doesn’t come from killing people.

  5. Suthiano said on January 8th, 2009 at 2:42pm #

    Store owners of all races should expect to have their way of doing business changed if we are to have social justice, the lack of which is what the protests were about. There are no innocent bystanders, and everything that exists as part of the structure of the system is an obstacle to change. When we talk about physical structures (shops, roads, malls), we understand that these things – while providing a “service” – are physical impediments to change. These physical structures control the way we move through our spaces (roads, garbage cans, sidewalks, bike racks, bus stops, etc). In as much as we cease to actively create (quite literally being a part of the processes of construction) the space becomes foreign and controlling. Signs direct us and we become creatures of habit, even further alienated from the processes of construction going on around us.

    We could call this state “orthodoxy”. As Syme says in Orwell’s 1984, “Orthodoxy means not thinking – not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness”.

    Kudos to the protesters who still have enough feeling in them to break from the state of unconsciousness. Perhaps the store owner will start using the shop as a space to organize different processes of construction.

  6. Grace said on January 8th, 2009 at 4:43pm #

    Sounds like everyone has been eating the same mad cow! I rode that line for years and even though it is “Oakland” despite the lore it is just people living and working. The killing is shocking and horrible! The vandalizing black owned businesses is just off to me. I don’t get that.

  7. john wilkinson said on January 8th, 2009 at 5:57pm #

    “Social justice doesn’t come from killing people.”

    this is the way we want to think, but that is not always the way things happened in history. american civil war didn’t increase justice? what about anti-nazi resistance in WW2 (oh, i see that wasn’t “social” justice which is somehow different from “other” justice)? i am against ANY killing, too, but i am also against sweeping generalizations and factless certitude.

    and he didn’t say “killing”, he said “shooting”. he didn’t even specify whether he meant guns or tasers or slingshots. i know, a lawyerly argument, exactly the kind they use to defend killer cops so they ALWAYS (in my experience) go scot free and evade responsibility for their actions. to go on and possibly KILL again (or cause killing by other cops who see that some lives are, well, worth less, much less, and some people, those with guns, are always MORE equal than others). that kind of KILLING people doesn’t seem to disturb you too much.

  8. Tree said on January 8th, 2009 at 6:20pm #

    John, you’re an idiot.

  9. Danny Ray said on January 8th, 2009 at 7:03pm #

    Some times you have to stand up, square your shoulders and shed a little blood to change things, nothing will change by begging for change, Those cops killed that man in cold blood. A certain french guy said you can not make an omelet unles you break a few eggs.

  10. Tree said on January 8th, 2009 at 7:40pm #


    A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.

    A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.

    Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.

    As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.

    I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

    Intolerance betrays want of faith in one’s cause.

    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.

    Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.

  11. Danny Ray said on January 8th, 2009 at 8:06pm #

    You know Tree ,I could grow to love you for your beliefs, and your wonderful heart, I do not agree with you but I love you for the way you feel

  12. The Angry Peasant said on January 8th, 2009 at 8:54pm #

    I said it before and I’ll say it again: We need a return to the 60’s! Martin Luther King’s efforts were admirable, and brought about change. We mustn’t forget, though, that many groups who brought real change in the 1960’s were at least semi-militant. The Black Panthers have recently reformed, calling themselves the New Black Panther Party, and I think they’ve got the right idea.
    I agree, John Hatch. Enough is enough is enough. The police don’t “serve and protect” anyone, other than the wealthy, maybe. They abuse. Time to start fighting back—not just the police, but the whole corrupt evil system. If they won’t hear our voices, maybe they’ll feel our fists!

  13. Hue Longer said on January 9th, 2009 at 5:04am #

    MLK I imagine felt shame over his part in the teeth being taken out of the movement because of his talk down he had with JFK when it counted. As admirable as it was that he later felt regret and tried, he died a bastardized martyr because he stood down when his big chance came earlier.

  14. Ramsefall said on January 9th, 2009 at 7:47am #

    First and foremost, what happened to Oscar Grant is an unacceptable travesty, for him, his family and the community. Reading about this incident is naturally infuriating, witnessing it must have been even more disturbing.

    From the footage, it’s plain to see three aggressive cops throwing their fucking weight around, compensating for their small dicks and absent intellect. ¿Didn’t Mommy give them enough attention?

    ¿To serve and protect? Exactly. To serve their egos and protect their hidden inferiority complexes. All the authority any cop needs is hugging his/her hip in a holster.

    We have to admit, most law enforcement officials are not the most educated in the herd (a GED is sufficient for entry in many locals, shouldn’t we be questioning qualification standards?), and as such, how can we expect them to adhere to principles of right and wrong? Cops become cops not to serve and protect (although they may be convinced that that is the reason), but to compensate for their feelings of inferiority and thus needing to prove something to everyone around them.

    Solution? Shooting back can’t be the answer, fighting fire with fire only results in a bigger fire. If society weren’t so fragmented, we wouldn’t experience so much dysfunction. Remaking ourselves happens one person at a time, as Ghandi professed. And as Krishnamurti identified, an inner revolution is what is needed to overcome the world’s chaotic propensity.

    Blessings to Mr. Grant and his family.

    Best to all.

  15. Tree said on January 9th, 2009 at 8:19am #

    Danny Ray, it’s not so much how I feel but how I try to live my life.
    In my life, I have been beaten, abused, raped, strangled, threatened death in more than one fashion, and been through more awful shit than some will see in a lifetime. Anger and hatred does not change any of that. It doesn’t improve my present situation, it isn’t healthy or productive. Passing on whatever anger or bitterness I feel to another does no good, either.
    This is how the world is. Yes, I get angry but I won’t sink to the level of the inferior people who hold such sway over all of us.

  16. Janine deManda said on January 9th, 2009 at 11:49am #

    Suthiano said, “These physical structures control the way we move through our spaces (roads, garbage cans, sidewalks, bike racks, bus stops, etc). In as much as we cease to actively create (quite literally being a part of the processes of construction) the space becomes foreign and controlling. Signs direct us and we become creatures of habit, even further alienated from the processes of construction going on around us.”

    I feel the need to ask a few questions in response. First, if active construction is required for a free and engaged existence, then why are you posting on a site created by someone else using a computer invented by someone else and built by someone else still? Why are you not living in the bush somewhere ignoring game trails and forging your own path to the nearest stream every day? Do you ever leave your house, and if you do, do you walk out randomly into traffic in an attempt to actualize your denial of the constrictions imposed upon your free soul by traffic laws? If not, why not? And if so, why haven’t you been hit by a bus yet? And finally, are you really so fuckin’ clueless and privileged that that post was the best you could offer in response to the ongoing egregious murderous fucked upness in the world?

  17. Juba Kalamka said on January 9th, 2009 at 12:23pm #

    Suthiano said “Signs direct us and we become creatures of habit, even further alienated from the processes of construction going on around us.”

    I think my dad, who grew up in a colored only coal mining camp in 1930’s-50s West Virginia was less a “creature of habit” than a creature who understood the potential harm that could come to him and/or his family had he disobeyed the numerous “signs” he encountered in his daily life. I would say the same and similar would apply with regard to peoples experience of signs saying “No Dogs or Chinese” , “Jews need not apply” and the like, etc.,etc. True, resistance that has happened in certain spaces and times throughout history was neccessary for change(s) that eventually resulted, but that doesn’t mean that the folks who led said resistance (or the idiot motherfuckers who broke that braid shop owner’s window) were somehow imbued with a better, more forward thinking, or more actualized spirit or “feeling” than someone in the hood trying to get by and feed their kids. Not to say that the myopic,self-congratulatory arrogance informing your post wouldn’t lead you to think such was so.

    I’m just sayin’.

  18. 17 said on January 9th, 2009 at 12:41pm #

    I’m with Tree. The rioters who attack innocent and defenseless people are no better than the cops who attacked the defenseless man. Turning one’s anger toward creative and productive solutions may require much more effort than choosing the mindless and destructive path but the pay off is so much greater.

  19. Rene Levesque said on January 9th, 2009 at 1:14pm #

    I cant comment on something I havent seen but we’ve had two deadly shootings here.

    One was a guy who was chased by cops through his neighborhoods beacuse he had a warrant for assault with a machete.
    The other was the brother of a dude who has been involved with violent gangs.

    I felt bad for the second kid but not for the first yet both got lumped together.

    There are a lot of bad cops and Ive seen plenty of abuse but I have seen even more violence and abuse from street thugs that I have become disensatized to some abuses.
    Not every person shot by a cop is a criminal but neither are they saints.

    I dont trust cops but there are too many cities in the US which are cesspools of violence where I wouldnt live for any money in the world.

    The real shame isnt this isolated death, its living in a dangerous environment and condemning the next generations to more of the same.

    bonus pts for burning a black owned business.
    sheer genius.

  20. lichen said on January 9th, 2009 at 3:30pm #

    I fully support the riots; fuck these disgusting serial-killer cops and soldiers. I am in solidarity with this article:

  21. Hue Longer said on January 9th, 2009 at 4:34pm #

    Why people are discussing the riots is the problem. Talking about Ghandi would have been a good idea to sell to cops if they’d only buy it–selling it to victims with justifiable outrage means you are part of the systemic problem which equates reactionary emotions of victims with the state sanctioned terror of the oppressors.

    someone lost a car or a shop window and you listen to the pretty white lady on TV talk about what a tragedy it all is….fuck Ghandi.

  22. Ramsefall said on January 9th, 2009 at 4:57pm #

    Hue Longer says, “…fuck Ghandi.”

    Let’s all take up arms and kill each other with ghuns (as Hue probably spells it), it’s much easier to stoop to the level of violence than taking the high road and resolving issues intelligently and peacefully. Way to speak from your sack and your lost pair of brain cells, Hue.


    if you support the riots, why not go join em?

    It’s now even more apparent that people are off their rockers.

  23. lichen said on January 9th, 2009 at 5:09pm #

    Perhaps rich ‘peacefull’ people like you can hop on a plane at any time to go somewhere you’d rather be, but I can’t. You’re “high road” of snorting cocaine on a private jet and looking down on those “unintellegent” city people who have enough of the injustice and lies of the system and don’t give a fuck about trashing a mcdonalds or a cop car is fast-plummeting; I hope you have a parachute, chump.

    The cops have murdered someone, the protesters have not. If you are siding with the cops, you are not a ‘peaceful’ person.

  24. Tree said on January 9th, 2009 at 5:17pm #

    “It’s now even more apparent that people are off their rockers.”

    Clearly so.

  25. Hue Longer said on January 9th, 2009 at 5:19pm #

    He’s not my hero, Ramsefall…I just spelled his name the way you did. Your well poisoning, circumstantial ad hominem and ad hominem aside, you missed my point.

    Morality is not only the last bastion of cowardice, but of helplessness as well. Gandhi, MLK and Jesus serve the state so that this helplessness can become a brave stance of morality. Don’t forget the issue here is the state murdering at will…Calling out people to put their money where their mouth is doesn’t make your “peaceful decision” brave. Some including myself feel we still have much to lose and for that can be called cowards for not joining in what you too are too afraid or well off to join…recognizing this is more honest than invoking the great pacifier and deluding yourself into seeing it as strength. Any sage advice for Palestinians, Ramsefall?

  26. Tree said on January 9th, 2009 at 5:25pm #

    The reason I chose to post quotes specifically by Gandhi and King was because they are easily recognized names. The quotes themselves speak to much deeper truths that have existed for thousands of years and while I figured some would not see the forest for the trees, I’d hoped others would.
    Whatever the case, it’s a bit of a puzzle to me why people continue to read and post comments on a site dedicated to peace and social justice when they clearly support neither one.

  27. Hue Longer said on January 9th, 2009 at 5:36pm #

    No Tree…I do not support peace without social justice. You?

  28. Tree said on January 9th, 2009 at 6:01pm #

    Funny you assumed I meant you, Hue.
    But since it’s clear you care more about arguing instead of discussing and since I find your anger really boring, I won’t respond to your question.

  29. Danny Ray said on January 9th, 2009 at 7:09pm #

    Sorry Tree, Although I can’t swear that I know what Hue is thinking but I believe that what he is saying is that sometimes you have to force social justice. At one time there was a great deal of peace on plantations in the south but there was no social justice was there.
    At one time South Africa was a very peaceful place.

    Slaves have a fairly peacefull life.

    Thinking that by begging for justice will work is nuts.
    Ghandi only freed India from the british empire because he was opposing a fairly humane foe.

    If instead of Churchill he had been up againced Stalin He would have been dead forthwith, or somewhere in the Taiga counting trees.

    The same with Dr king. Had he been up againced real bad guys he would not have made it across the Edmund Pettis bridge

  30. Ramsefall said on January 9th, 2009 at 7:56pm #


    rich and on the high road snorting cocaine on a private jet? You lost me there buddy.

    Supporting the cops? Apparently you didn’t read my first post, thanks. Enjoy your trashing of whatever.

    Best to you.

  31. Ramsefall said on January 9th, 2009 at 8:36pm #


    yeah, my bad on that spelling, what a dork, foot in mouth hurt, ouch!

    Aside from the faux pas, advice for Palestinians is the right question, and the toughest. How do people like the Palestinians combat a force like that of Israel/US?

    While it’s infuriating enough just to hear of the atrocities, actually proposing a functional solution presents enormous obstacles. I’m sure that if my house were bombed, my wife and family maimed, I would instinctively want to resort to violence, that may be the most natural tendency. I honestly can’t say what I’d do in response, you got me there.

    Carnal reactions aren’t the solution though, that type of behavior will only perpetuate the situation, hence humanity’s traveling in circles. An eye for an eye or fight fire with fire theories only result in blindness and more heat, which isn’t really productive, is it? I think that’s what men like Gandhi were getting at. If you choose to see morality as cowardice or helplessness, that’s certainly your prerogative. But saying fuck Gandhi, and his message, is pretty extreme, which you may just well be.

    I wish I had an answer for the Palestinians or any other oppressed group and/or individual, I’d give it freely. But sadly, I don’t.

    These are complex issues, and there are no simple answers, most likely. But if you look at the fundamentals of all our problems around the world, they could all be solved if people would just be nicer to other people, taking others into consideration, getting beyond their shallow egos driven by power, status or money. The system is sick and twisted, has been for way too long now, and I for one have never adjusted well to it, thankfully. This could turn into a long philosophical discussion about root issues, or it could be best summed up again in what J. Krishnamurti expressed so eloquently, “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

    As for any previous insult, my apology.

    And that my friend, is what the world needs more of, forgiveness. Christ illustrated this best (and I’m agnostic by the way, not blowing any holy trumpets here) when upon the cross he asked, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.” But, in his defense, he was heart/spirit-centered, humanity operates from its balls and ego. Which will bring humanity more prosperity quicker? Our past should answer that clearly enough.

    Best to you.

  32. The Angry Peasant said on January 9th, 2009 at 8:39pm #

    I’m with Lichen. Anarchy!!!

  33. Ramsefall said on January 9th, 2009 at 8:47pm #


    that final question should read; Which will NOT bring humanity more prosperity quicker?


  34. Hue Longer said on January 10th, 2009 at 12:04am #

    Thanks and no worries, Ram

    I didn’t say I see morality as cowardice or helplessness….I indicated that invoking it was the last defense of cowardice and helplessness.

    Say a man walking with his family sees another man across the street start punching people who come out of the bakery. To the man with the family, the man doing the punching is larger and seems more capable of handling himself. The man with the family is scared, scared for what the other man may do to him and maybe even more afraid of what the other man will do to his family. His little girl says, “Daddy do something”. Fear overcomes his concern for anyone other than his family but showing them he is afraid is out of the question so he lies to himself and lies to his family and talks about Jesus and Gandhi on the way home. My problem is the dishonesty of it, not the fear.

    I suggest that everyone who has too much to lose or is afraid, not condemn the angry actions of the people rising up and concentrate instead on what they are angry about…otherwise one is doing the hall monitors and ruling class a huge favor (and your ego will see through your attempts to fool it eventually).

  35. Hue Longer said on January 10th, 2009 at 12:11am #

    And regarding your other point about getting along and not continuing the circle…this is a fine discussion for those on equal footing with one another, but Palestinians and black train commuters are the oppressed being dominated by the oppressors. The oppressors love nothing more than calls for peace because they sure as hell are not going to stop


  36. AElfwine said on January 10th, 2009 at 1:01am #

    Sigh…Has anybody spouting off about Ghandi actually read any Indian history and how independence was gained? It actually wasn’t all that peaceful. Sure Ghandi talked peace but he kinda had his cake and ate it too. As in knowingly instigating large scale riots by going on hunger strikes. Read some books before you post on the intertubes people.

  37. Tree said on January 10th, 2009 at 7:16am #

    AElfwine, I’d be impressed as hell if people on the board would read comments correctly, let alone Indian history. Baby steps…

  38. Ramsefall said on January 10th, 2009 at 8:03am #


    thanks for the reply, we may be getting somewhere with this.

    What you mention about equal footing is relevant, but I’m not talking about calls for peace, I’m talking about people simply changing the way they treat one another, one person at a time. A rich and powerful (wo)man has the same opportunity to demonstrate kindness, compassion and grace as a poor and weak (wo)man — wealth or power, oppressed or oppressor has nothing to do with how we treat one another. It’s about choice at the individual level, not the group level.

    I’m responsible for my actions and my treatment of the people around me and those that I encounter in life, regardless of anyone’s position in society. It’s your choice to treat people how you do, and your neighbor’s choice to treat people how he/she does. It’s about individual responsibility, which isn’t being met, obviously. By each individual living up to their social/human responsibility, the footing would eventually reach equilibrium. We’re not on equal footing as individuals and the circle is perpetuated because of man’s poor treatment of one another…every man for himself has created the disparity between us.

    We could say that the world is the way it is, or, we could realize that the world doesn’t have to be this way. If every single person on the planet would simply take others into consideration more than they do now, our conditions could change almost spontaneously. Unfortunately, we are so divided because of religion, politics, nationality, race, social status, etc, that we are impaired from seeing our commonalities, and hence the cycle is perpetuated.

    Best to you.

  39. Ramsefall said on January 10th, 2009 at 8:51am #


    nowhere here has anyone said that India’s independence from Britain was won without any use of violence. Gandhi believed that resistance to evil/oppression was best accomplished non-violently, but if that was insufficient to overcome the evil, then violence would have to suffice…he wasn’t about absolute pacifism by any means, that’s understood.

    Part of the cause of the riots were that not every individual was on the same page, nor was each individual prepared to make the same level of suffrage, and thus the discrepancy in the degree of ideological commitment brought on different reactions and mass scale riots.

    You are correct though that reading more on Gandhi to attempt to better understand his ideology would be beneficial. I’d say sorry for boring you with our discussion, but I’m not.



    it’s not about reading comments correctly, it’s about individual interpretation and perception. Interpretations can be correct or incorrect, in other instances they’re just different. And of course, Western interpretation differs greatly from Eastern.

    I didn’t know that we were discussing this in the presence of experts, nor that we’re being evaluated.

    Best to you both

  40. Max Shields said on January 10th, 2009 at 8:53am #

    The economic and cultural changes needed will change the political schism.

    That work needs to be Thinking that national transformtion is 1) going to happen 2) be real and effective; is, in my opinion, a delusion.

    A little US history brings us directly to this time and place. The militia/police were one of the first things created once the state of 13 colonies had in place a corporate charter of governance – the US Constitution. The use of these forces to keep “order” was one of the essential priorities of the “Founding Fathers” (at least most).

    Ruling the expanisionist United States was the first order of business. Today we see it as it is presided over the corporate media, institutionalized hierarchical empire structures and local militias and police departments. As most here now we have a massive privatized penal system with the most incarcerated human beings in the world.

    It is not so much the “wild west” that creates this situation, but a hierachical imperial empire with its faux democracy.

  41. Tree said on January 10th, 2009 at 10:03am #

    I was being a bit facetious and to me, “correctly” means proper interpretation. I definitely wasn’t implying that anyone is being evaluated. If people can’t even spell peaceful, let alone practice peace, so be it. The world goes on and what’s happening today is the same thing that’s happened every day since recorded history.
    It seems to me that people in general put so much energy into arguing and very little energy into listening and understanding. People are so caught up in themselves they think only their opinion matters. Of course, opinions and beliefs all rest on shifting sands and can change quickly.
    I think that a lot of people come to forums like this to express any and every opinion they have but don’t make the effort to connect to others and create dialogue and god forbid, gain a different perspective. I think it all stems from fear.
    And none of it changes the world anyway. Maybe it’s just a way to make ourselves feel better, like we’re actually doing something good when we’re really doing nothing at all except typing.

  42. Max Shields said on January 10th, 2009 at 10:09am #

    let’s try this again so what I think I’m writing is actually what is posted:

    The economic and cultural changes needed will change the political schism.

    That work needs to be local. Thinking that national transformtion is 1) going to happen 2) be real and effective; is, in my opinion, a delusion.

    A little US history brings us directly to this time and place. The militia/police were one of the first things created. Once the “state” of 13 colonies had been put in place a corporate charter of governance – the US Constitution was drafted and ratified. Giving the power of governance to an elite structure. The use of these forces (militia/police) to keep “order” was one of the essential priorities of the “Founding Fathers” (at least most). And the forces were used frequently to arrest uprisings by citizens.

    Ruling the expanisionist United States was the first order of business. Today we see it as it is presided over the corporate media, institutionalized hierarchical empire structures and local militias and police departments. As most here now we have a massive privatized penal system with the most incarcerated human beings in the world.

    It is not so much the “wild west” that creates this situation, but a hierachical imperial empire with its faux democracy. The police ‘state” is an arm not to “protect” citizens as much as to protect the state and provide order. We witnessed (those of us old enought to remember) this most flagrently in the early 70s with Nixon and the confluence of the War in Vietnam and Civil Rights.

    This is a legacy that rules today. To change it, I submit you cannot go head to head with it. Force has ruled and will continue to do so. Also, violence simply begets violence. Real change needs to happen where there are chincs in the empire’s armor. Local change is possible. It is human scale and at first does not threaten the larger status quo. Once communities change, bridges of solidarity can begin to take deep root within and outside of continental North America. That is how you negotiate peace, justice, and fair trade.

    To underestimate the power of local is to forgo any chance of progressive change.

  43. bozh said on January 10th, 2009 at 12:07pm #

    max, respectfully,
    thruout history armed rebellions against patrician (mis) rule had always been put down by violence.
    from this, one can conclude that any movement, local, state, or federal that wld threaten status quo wld undoubtedly be also put down.
    history has not only shown but proven that the ruling class will never give up its opiate or delusion/illusion unless two things happen: inner aggression against, at first small shops, churches; and later against pols, clergymen or two) a massively-strong second party; a party representing the oppressed is in effect.
    if gazan massacre does not prove what modern patricians won’t do to maintain the old world order, i don’t know what will.
    and we, the dissidents, are also gazans and especially to socalled zionists. thnx

  44. Max Shields said on January 10th, 2009 at 1:40pm #


    with equal respect, the unraveling of empire is what my remarks are premised on. The fork in the road is one of fascism or a turning toward a deep living democracy with an aligned sustainabile economy built on local communities.

    These communities are human scale. They are happening, in some cases intentionally. I am mindful of the power of empire, and that that power is not simply force, but the media and corporate elite who have usurped or coopted every movement in the US.

    We know that, but that should be our lesson as we move forward, not an obsticle to achieving our journey/ends.

    Of course, such a transformation would be in solidarity with non-empire inclusive of the Palestinians and peoples throughout the planet.

    The choice is ours.

  45. Suthiano said on January 10th, 2009 at 2:35pm #

    To Janine and Juba,

    In no way did I compare my action of writing on DV boards to the breaking of the window.

    In no way did I suggest that writing will bring about change.

    In no way did I suggest that the people who broke the window were acting strategically to bring about change.

    Nor would/did I ever suggest that the way forward is through a series of “symbolically” rebellious acts carried out by independent actors.

    I won’t address the other ridiculous statements made in those posts, which are completely unrelated to the meaning of my post, and only serve to make the posters look immature, inarticulate and ignorant.

    What I can say is that I would rather work towards change with a group of people who aren’t afraid to break a shop window just because the owner happens to be black, than people who spend their whole lives following orders for the sake of self-preservation… namely because the former involves dissident action (the basis for change), whereas the latter does not.

    Opening and operating a business that doesn’t even portend to have anything to do with social justice or “change,” (but rather sells hair extensions) is the exact orthodoxy of thought for the sake of self-preservation that can be contrasted to a rebellious, passionate desire to make something different… How to harness that passion and utilize it effectively is a different question, and obviously not one that I can answer completely.

    The fact that I’m attacked so viciously for such opinions only serves to demonstrate how confused “progressives” actually are.

  46. Hue Longer said on January 10th, 2009 at 2:42pm #

    Whatever works, Id ask people to stop complaining about the riots and to start complaining about what causes them. Eye on the prize

  47. bozh said on January 10th, 2009 at 3:55pm #

    imo, violence in US, unless it be directed/organized by a leadership and be massive, has a ghost of chance to bring on any change for the better; actually it might bring on change for worse.
    starting with a boycott of middle class business; picketing churches is a better way to go. try to shame a christian who approbates crimes.
    but even then one has to have a political party that stands behind you.
    middle class and churches are always siding with criminals; so, one needs to start with these people.
    after all mafia prospered by doing ‘business’ with small business. it worked and still works today . thnx

  48. Suthiano said on January 10th, 2009 at 4:16pm #


    How about targeting high schools? The recent protests in Greece were driven by high-school and university students. I believe that any plan should involve these people, who are more inclined to question authority than a life-long church-goer is.

    Youth respond to visual messages, as they grew up on advertisements. Message presented well will have a strong effect on these people.

    Recently unemployed are also a good group as they are angry, and have free time. the unemployment rate in the U.S. reached 7.2 at the end of 2008 and will likely reach as 9.5% by the end of this year. 30,000,000 unemployed Americans hold a lot of organizational potential.

    Curious as to your thoughts.

  49. Max Shields said on January 10th, 2009 at 7:46pm #

    I won’t debate Ghandi, but as far as “history” the UK empire was exhausted, bankrupt. Perhaps Ghandi represented that last straw, but the empire was kaput.

    Still the words have a melody and it gave us MLK. Still non-violent resistence is not pacifism and is in fact the inverse tactic of terrorism.

    We have choices.

  50. Ramsefall said on January 10th, 2009 at 10:13pm #

    Thanks, Max.

  51. Tree said on January 10th, 2009 at 11:44pm #

    “The sun never set on the British empire, because God didn’t trust them in the dark.”

  52. bozh said on January 11th, 2009 at 7:03am #

    if educators wld be allowed to enlighten school children and students in higher education that wld be wonderful.
    regarding any church which supports israel’s or US crimes, it only takes two or three people to hold antiwar signs and a condemnation of any church support for these crimes.
    as you say, this may not have much if any success but pious people shld not be left in peace if they won’t allow peace for others.
    boycotting shops which support israel is a good idea. i do not know whether in US people wld be allowed to also picket shops.
    still, to me, most essential thing is to have a party. at this stage of panhuman development, we need leadership.
    it is nigh impossible to infiltrate a party.
    that’s why (said before) uncle has one party. he cld have ten, but it wldn’t have changed a thing.
    i belong to New Democratic Party and am a member of of vancouver, bc.
    we held numerous protests. at one rally, in ’03 we had about 10td protesters. i was holding banners; passed leaflets, etc. thnx