Mr. Derrick Jones, barber, vs OPD

Update 1:

Although I have thoughts on the matter, I think it’s best for people to get a black perspective closer to the ground. Please read Davey D’s article here.

I will have to research and rewrite this post sometime. (After the jump is my original post, now in the early stages of re-write.) My original post was “colored” by mainstream media reports, and now I’m finally getting to 2nd and 3rd hand non-MSM accounts. Takes time to sort out and don’t have all (or even most) of the facts!

Update 2: SFExaminer: “Not shot in back.” According to the original KTVU report, Alameda County Coroner’s Office conducted the “independent autopsy.” AC is another government agency. How would they be independent? Note to John Burris: the family had better have their own coroner do an independent THIRD PARTY autopsy!!!

Now, there are two sides to every story. Most likely more. And at the very end of this post I pose some ultimate burning (for me) questions. Will post others soon.

The public story per Oakland North and reason for tonight’s International to Fruitvale BART protest, is that one Mr. Derrick Jones ran away from Oakland police Monday evening who were responding to a domestic disturbance call. Mr. Jones allegedly “reached into his waistband” for (who knows what, but it set off the police to shoot him) and was shot “fewer than five”  times. (But on Davey D’s blog he or another commenter have said he was shot up to eight times, and possibly in the back? Or with hands raised in the air nowhere near his waist?)

Where have we heard “reached into his waistband” before?

  • Gary King, Oakland, unarmed black youth
  • Oscar Grant?, Oakland, unarmed black youth
  • Amadou Diallo, New York, unarmed black man (African immigrant)
  • And now, Derrick Jones, unarmed black man

Side note: Now, having read most of Inside Fallujah, I learned (no surprise) that US forces intentionally targetted Fallujah civilians (no “surgical strikes”) for standing up to being occupied. And many times, the military reported to AP and MSM reporters that the Marines 1ID or their F16s were killing “insurgents” who were “hiding in mosques” not civilians hiding for their lives due to the whole city being a warzone between actual insurgents and the US military.  It’s not like this is something new to war. Winners write history, except when an Al-Jazeera camera crew is in town.

Most dramatically, “Fallujah” became a household word in the US due to the ultra-violent hanging and public beating in the streets of four Blackwater Corporation (now rebranded “Xe“) mercenaries who were private contractors. Doing the dirty work that the US Army wouldn’t do for much higher pay. And because of this, the Pentagon leadership, Paul Bremer and US President George W Bush (the highest levels, folks!!) decided to make the WHOLE CITY of 300,000 people pay for this act of revenge against injustices for previous US military killings of civilians in Fallujah. The US military laid seige to the whole city in 2004. Twice. (They lost “round 1.” Super embarrassing. And Davey D’s blog post discusses Derrick Jones’ family’s history of standing up to OPD police brutality, leading to getting two OPD officers FIRED. Now isn’t that embarrassing to OPD’s power too?)

Do you think the same cover-ups couldn’t happen within a police operation? And I ask you this as an Oakland Police Foundation supporter.

If you believe no, you are willfully ignorant.

The other public story promoted by mainstream media and OPD is that the Mr. Jones was shot in the FRONT five or six times-only. Seems like “overkill” to me, pardon the pun. Was that two shots between three officers? 5:1? 4:2?

I grew up believing in and trusting authority. I know now beyond doubt that this is a critical mistake to believe in authority at all times. Presidents, CEOs, teachers, parents, home loan mortgage processors, real estate salesmen, used car salesmen — you can’t always believe them. Sometimes you should definitely NOT believe them. A dismissed rumor is actually the truth. And if you life depends on it, well you better be pretty damn sure….

Obviously, OPD is embarrassed by this because Oakland Deputy Police Chief Jeff Israel won’t admit what the “metallic object” the late Mr. Jones reached for, was.  Scissors for cutting hair perhaps? A nail trimmer? A clothes hangar? C’mon, the suspense is killing everyone!

Now, I’d thought that everyone has seen Chris Rock’s video “How Not to Get Your Ass Beat by the Police.” Had Mr. Jones? [Note, I wrote this prior to reading more about the incident.]

We wonder which story is true: Jones was shot in the back or the front? I know which story the East Oakland “black community” believes, and I know which version the corporate mainstream media and Oakland Police Department are promoting. However, that doesn’t tell me the truth.

What I’ve learned over the last five years is that you don’t hardly EVER get the full, unvarnished truth from “Mainstream Media.” (MSM for short.)

There are two versions of public reaction too:

  1. Protestors say “jail killer cops/murderers.”
  2. The media says, “protest of officer-involved shooting.”

What do you believe happened? This one incident should not give OPD Chief Batts a bad reputation — but he is ultimately the man held responsible for it, since his officers carried out the killing. And the man behind the curtain after Batts would be Mayor Ron Dellums, who I  believe is over 30 years past his use-by date. Obviously these guys are a little farther from the actual situation.

I wouldn’t put it past ANYONE at this point to be lying or covering up facts, from Sgt. Longmire (Chauncey Bailey) to Yusuf Bey (Black Muslim Bakery) to OPD higher-ups to the Governor Arnold to President Reagan, Bush 1&2, Clinton or Obama.

The higher you go, the more puppet-like the apparent “leaders” are. Obama and Bush are very clever props to have on your political stage if you are trying to rob the middle class blind. Even better is to have FOX-ABC-CBS-NBC pretend that there are folks who wear Blue Spandex and Red Spandex and have them vote against their own long-term health and wealth every time through various political tricks. Anyway, back to poor Derrick here.

The obvious takeaway is that white officers VERY LIKELY wouldn’t shoot a white man running away from them. WHITE PRIVILEGE DOES EXIST. I know, because I generally “enjoy” the privilege. I’m happy to provide some cover for any Oakland black folks who need it, since I know the system is biased. But that is not a comprehensive enough discussion of the issue. (Or even much of a fix, Chris Rock’s funny video aside.) There is more to this.

That a shooting would be less likely to happen to a white man doesn’t mitigate this consequence of needing to have out-of-town police. Quite a contrast with today’s handling of the Bay Bridge depressed-white(actually Latino or Italian descent)-guy from Antioch though, right?

So is the solution to hire more cops from East Oakland? Partly — but who wants to arrest their neighbor, if duty called? I could not think of a less pleasant task. I mean, there probably would be more dignity and courtesy in the transaction, but still it creates local tension.

Better than being shot in the back (or front) I suppose.

QUESTION: What per cent of Oakland police officers are Oakland residents? Natives? Black? From East Oakland? I would be surprised if any were all of the above! Wouldn’t you? And if the answer is 0%, why? How will OPD hire more locals?

WRAP-UP

So: What good can come out of this? We’ve seen Oscar Grant die. Sean Bell. Bell got a street named for him, just like JFK-MLK. The African immigrant whose name I sometimes forget. MLK of course. And the guys who hanged in trees. There’s a lot of history here, not just this one incident. And not just blacks-as-victims either. Many times victims become abusers. Ask the Israelis!

You will find this suggestion insensitive on my part, but I believe KTOP and local TV stations ought to replay the Chris Rock video as a public service. [Note: wrote this before reading more about the incident. Still worth viewing, though, as a social study/ commentary.]

I also believe that the community and OPD should jointly fund an outside third party Private Investigator to figure out what happened.  We as a society and city will need to compensate Mr. Jones’s family and probably will before or after a lengthy court trial. Mr. John Burris is already working the case. The cynical among you would say this is another form of poverty lottery. I don’t think the price is worth it and doubt anyone else does.

Lastly, more local police hiring. Maybe the new city council + mayor can legislate this.

What am I missing? Oakland “liberals” will say we need less police or no police. Dream on. Oakland conservatives will bag on the guy for allegedly running away from the police. How about common sense???

My prayers go out to the family of this man who appears to have otherwise been an upstanding citizen for all we know. Although he did have a history of being in jail, he obviously did not deserve the premature ending he received from City of Oakland employees.

My ultimate question about public response to this is: why are people protesting this shooting when blacks are shooting other blacks every day?  Yes, there is Ella Baker Center’s “Silence the Violence” campaign, which I’ve contributed to and believe in.  But EBC is an outside organization funded by millions of dollars from the federal gov via the city, if I have my facts right.

Now, you will say this is an unfair question. And you are right, it is. There are probably hundreds of actions occurring in East and West Oakland which I don’t see every day which de-escalate further violence. There are thousands of people in Oakland who aren’t doing stupid things or making bad decisions.

But bear with me here. Let me ask the question again, differently. Why is there community silence in response to specific shootings?

Examples:

  • Sweet’s Historic Ballroom shooting October 30, 2010 on Broadway: 9 people shot by a fellow party goer. “Black community” response: Silence.
  • 5 Weekend Shootings Leave 3 Dead. “Black community” response: Silence.

I’m sure Ella Baker Center/Silence the Violence/Nicole Lee and others do have something to say about the above shootings. But is it working?

I think the underlying problem is three-fold:

  1. No available gainful or dignified employment for men with high school degrees or less. Gainful meaning $18/hr or more. The Army base and food/car factories of Richmond-Oakland have long gone away to the deep south and other countries. (National political/ banker/ union/ capitalism fail)
  2. “Thug” or criminal inspirational culture of searching for respect outside mainstream traditions;
  3. Oakland schools AND PARENTS not serious about education in poor/ “ghetto” neighborhoods – ie checking their kids’ homework every night, focusing more on social acceptance than academic performance;
  4. OUSD having a two-track system without VOCATIONAL TRAINING in car repair, nursing, plumbing, carpentry and other “non-college track” options which are still higher-paying work;
  5. Too many people chasing too few resources (#1 reframed)
  6. A political system in which private corporate prisons and prison guard unions WANT MORE PRISONERS — they “earn” $80,000 per inmate/bed per year!!

You have to ask “cui bono” or who benefits from the current arrangement of crime and incarceration. So here’s who FINANCIALLY benefits:

  1. Ella Baker Center, Pueblo, Youth UpRising and other non-profits as “solution providers” who receive grant money
  2. Alameda County workers who work as General Assistance/Food Stamps “eligibility technicians” and who get rich pensions after retiring. (I know because I’ve been there! I would say about half of the AC’s “clients” are black, the other half are white, latino and asian.)
  3. State, County prison guards and their union staffers, enjoying fat benefits and pensions for life (duh)
  4. Private, corporate, for-profit prisons (Corrections Corporation of America, Wackenhut, etc) — $80,000 per year per bed, folks
  5. Police — obviously we need police, but they benefit too.

Please dispute anything I’m saying if I’m wrong.

There is something else the protestors aren’t going into, which is the WOMAN who is ultimately the other half of the ruckus. Protestors also aren’t discussing the alleged fact that “Jones was on parole for a gun conviction and had previous arrests for drug possession and domestic violence” — according to OPD DPC Israel.

QUESTION: Is this a made-up media/OPD cover story? I’m hearing third-hand that Jones had his hands up and previously.

I know from talking to barbershop supply shops that many men when released from jail, have a certificate which gives them money to buy barbershop supplies in hopes of them starting a legal business. Clearly, that is a possible reason for Jones being a barber — but is NOT proof.

This being a fact, it is certainly not a factor for protestors. Just as Oscar Grant had apparently had prior felony convictions. Still, it’s not right that these men were shot by police… the situation simply sucks. This can’t continue.

QUESTION: Why are black men not given the same treatment, caution and due process as white men?

QUESTION: America has Obama, Oakland has Dellums/Batts. Why is nothing changing?

I think it is obvious: police should not shoot us for doing nothing wrong. If the facts are true that Jones was “bashing a woman’s head in” then that isn’t true that he did “nothing.”  However, I think there is another reasoning in here, which is in the OPD case, the “black community” perceives itself to be a victim of white institutional racism/police brutality. Whereas in the cases of blacks-shooting-blacks it is a case of individual responsibility and nothing can really be said about that on an institutional level. (Or can it?)

QUESTION: OPD or any other power authority has every reason to keep its “brand” and reputation clean by hiding the truth. Is OPD hiding the truth here? We need Reginald James, EBX and perhaps myself to go ask witnesses in the neighborhood what the hell happened. Too bad there are no cell phone videos!!

Last item, Reginald James shares this photo from Wednesday’s march.

Please share your thoughts.

Photo credit: OaklandNorth.net

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6 responses to “Mr. Derrick Jones, barber, vs OPD

  1. There was no silence abt any of the shootings you mentioned..We can start with the conversations that take place on KMEL’s Street Soldiers.. The work that they been doing for years..

    There were vigils, and conversations and prayers in churches throughout the Bay Area with many being asked to join orgs that address these issues. granted folks are not gonna respond as readily when its two dope dealers shooting it out in their community.. one its dangerous and two they may not see it as an injustic.. But on many other instances folks have come out.. Do you expect them to post up at Fruitvale BART.. or in front of the home of the suspect? Walk up east 14th or take what steps they deem neccessary to heal..

    With the police its different scenario.. the police are paid for by us and a killing strikes a nerve bc very few people have not gone without experiencing something bad with the police..

    lastly if 100 people show up to a vigil and 100 people show up to a police shooting is it silence for both when you have much larger numbers of people living in the community?

  2. Davey, I’m learning as we go along. Thanks for commenting here.

    The contrast between Monday’s shooting and Thursday’s non-shooting is a STARK contrast. I hope it opens “educated” people’s eyes.

    On your last point – yes. That said, during the American Revolution only between 10-25% of people fought the British, 25% were “Loyalists” to the Crown, and the rest didn’t give two shits. I think the 10% who DO show up are VERY important!

    I guess when I say there was silence, there was more “media spotlight” silence. Very few cameras stuck around at Sweet’s Ballroom — but there was plenty of chatter on Twitter and outside. (I live close by there.) I don’t live/interact with many black people or in East Oakland so I probably am missing a lot of good work being done or at least conversations.

    If people weren’t so damn busy and more altruistic, caring about others and the “public” domain, I think more people would show up. Also the “mainstream” media is really terrible. Normally plays down anything bad “authority figures” do.

    Most people probably do not believe Derrick was rightfully shot and wish this pattern of police-“black community” interaction would change.

    I put BC in quotes because I’ll have people at the same time telling me “we’re not all the same” and then talking in their next breath about how A does B to the “BC” as if it’s all monolithic again. Can be confusing at times.

  3. A 21 yr grudge. It is sad that most urban black males only see things in terms of past race injustices. Sometimes a duck is just a duck. There is no great conspiracy. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. And that means if an officer is at your door STFU, show him your hands and sit down. Once you go into flight mode you set off a chain of events that could result in death.

    I would like to see more outrage for black boys killing black boys.

  4. I have never been more repulsed by a blog entry in my entire life.

  5. @HG: I’m trying to see both sides of the story here, assuming there is a legitimate other side.

  6. At least when Spike Lee ask questions there is some process. Your questions just seem disjointed.

    QUESTION: What per cent of Oakland police officers are Oakland residents? Natives? Black? From East Oakland? I would be surprised if any were all of the above! Wouldn’t you? And if the answer is 0%, why? How will OPD hire more locals?
    Seriously, this should not make a difference. OPD can not hire those who do not apply. Some criminal records more or less prevent one from applying. Some people are not psychologically fit to be officers. I suspect this number is higher if one lives in a war zone, drops out of school or holds a grudge against the men in blue. Periodically, council members ask this question. It isn’t rocket science.

    QUESTION: Why are black men not given the same treatment, caution and due process as white men?
    Maybe if black men would just stop and present hands then maybe they would not get shot. It is stupid to think that because one thinks that they are not doing anything wrong it is okay to continue in there every day ways. When a cop says stop, you stop.

    QUESTION: America has Obama, Oakland has Dellums/Batts. Why is nothing changing?
    I can’t began to explain my disgust with this question. There have been black mayors and black police chiefs and hundreds of cities. Is there even a point to this question.

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