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Over the past two weeks, protesters have been hitting the streets of Oakland in response to officer related shootings, and grand jury decisions not to indict them. Youth Radio’s Joi Smith interviewed young people and long-time residents of Oakland for their reflections on police violence in the city. Sergeant Joseph Turner of the Oakland Police Department heard her story, and responded in a letter which was published alongside Joi’s reporting in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Even After Grand Jury Decisions, Seattle Student Still Has Hope
Nineteen-year-old Ardo Hersi in Seattle attended a rally in response to the cases of Eric Garner and Michael Brown and the officers who killed them. She spoke with students there about their reactions. She says, “Rage is pointless if it does not fuel change and foster results.”
It can be difficult to understand how things can go so wrong with interactions between the police and the public. One question we had at Youth Radio was how the training of law enforcement officers factors into the tragic incidents we’ve seen over the past year.
To help us gain insight, we turned to Sergeant Keith Gums, a retired 23-year veteran of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. Gums has trained fellow officers in the tactics of modern policing.
In the wake of the decision not to indict a New York police officer in the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died after a chokehold restraint, a fresh wave of protests has been set off around the country. Youth Radio’s Nishat Kurwa reports on the origins of one phrase that showed up on protest signs all over the country, and got lots of play on social media: Black Lives Matter.
We also heard from Youth Radio alumni around the country, reacting to the grand jury decision.
Updated Nov. 25, 2014
Protests Overnight in Ferguson and Cities Around U.S. After Grand Jury Decision:
Protesters took to the streets of Ferguson, Missouri last night, and cities around the country, to express their anger and dismay that a grand jury did not indict Officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in August.
“It was vibrant energy. There were many messages given that night and different motives. I stayed closed with the people I came and trust. It felt good to see other Oakland natives that I could point out in the crowd. The climax was taking over the freeway–blocking the freeway and traffic. There was a lot of people burning trash and I saw people who are from Oakland try to put the fire out–including myself. It felt good being out there. It felt like we were really hands on and we represented those who were uncomfortable showing their support.”– Y.T, 24
“It was wild. We knew what we were out there for but a lot of the people out were mudding up the agenda. It was chaotic, especially when we were heading to the freeway. I asked myself, ‘do I stay or do I go?’ and I went. It was the greatest moment of my life. The people in the car were mostly encouraging and getting out the car and playing music. They were high-fiving and talking to us. Even though they were stuck in traffic they were for the cause. I did get scared when arrest were being made. I heard someone say ‘he [officer] has a gun’ and that made get off the freeway. Overall, that day was unified.”– Rayana Godfrey, 20
The grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Our colleagues over at St. Louis Public Radio are following this story closely. Watch their live updates below.
The grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown did not surprise most people we spoke with in downtown Oakland. Here is what young people in Oakland had to say in response to the decision.
Youth Radio’s Brandon McFarland spoke with 23-year-old activist Camesha Jones with Black Youth Project about how Michael Brown’s shooting affected a generation. She is working alongside other young activists as the country watches Ferguson waiting for a verdict from the grand jury.
With Michael Brown’s death, young black men in St. Louis are given a spotlight they didn’t have before. They want people to know they aren’t backing down. They aren’t giving up. As 27-year-old Darren Seals of Ferguson puts it, seeing the fate of Michael Brown, “didn’t make us scared. It made us furious.”
Youth Radio’s Myles Bess lived through the aftermath of the 2009 police shooting of an unarmed young black man, Oscar Grant, in Oakland, Calif. — and sees parallels in Ferguson, Mo. today.
|The Funeral Of Mike Brown An estimated 3,500 people packed into two chapels to witness the funeral of Michael Brown.|
|On The Streets Of FergusonYoung people in Ferguson have plenty to say about the death of Michael Brown and the relationship between youth and police.|
|Race Conversations In School After FergusonYouth Radio contributor Gilbert Young reports from Atlanta about how Ferguson events are spilling over into school. He says, “My debate coach spent a whole class hour devoted to discussion about Ferguson. It was not long until one of my white peers asked, ‘Why isthis particular shooting national news?'”|
19-year-old Youth Radio reporter Rafael Johns recently graduated from high school in a suburb that is predominantly white. He says that because of what’s going on in Ferguson, his peer group has become less tolerant of mindsets that may be considered racist.
In the wake of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri, journalist and photographer Shirin Barghi created a series of powerful graphics. The messages are simply the last words of people shot and killed by the police. See a few below, and check out her Twitter for more.
Our friends at the Black Youth Project have been covering the events in Ferguson, MO closely, helping their readers put the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in the context of ongoing police violence against young black people.
While large media outlets pick at facts and autopsies in the Michael Brown case, people all over social media are tackling deeper aspects of the issues Brown’s death raises, like self-worth.
Our friends at Youth Speaks launched the Off/Page Project to combine original storytelling and arts with investigative data. The project is soliciting poetry from young people that explains and expresses how Brown’s death and the nationwide response have affected their lives.
Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus sat down with Youth Radio participant to discuss how to improve relations between young people and the police.