The Art of Protest

By Christine Joy Ferrer

People are angry.  Sometime after the midnight hour, a 22-year-old black man was murdered on New Year’s Day—another innocent victim of police brutality. His name was Oscar Grant, shot and killed in Oakland, California by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) agency policy officer. Onlookers video-phoned the horrific spectacle: Grant surrounded by officers, unarmed, bleeding to death on the station platform, his arms shackled behind his back, his face pressed against the cement.

Several hours later, Laron Blankenship, a friend of the deceased, locked himself in a sound studio. He flashed back to the words Grant had spoken to him one day, “No matter what happens, even if I was to die, don’t quit doing this music thing.” His hands trembling, crying and near broken down, Blankenship produced a compelling rap anthem dedicated to Grant, “Never be Forgotten.” He sings, “I know for a fact your soul is still alive and you will never be forgotten.”            

 

A few days later, artist and activist, Melanie Cervantes’ memories flooded back to the many instances of police brutality she witnessed growing up in Los Angeles. At five years old she watched the local library call security to kick her father out of the building.  As a teenager, police victimized her peers on a regular basis. She says the video-taped beating of Rodney King and the later riots induced post-traumatic stress, which was re-triggered by Grant’s all too similar death. Spurred by these emotions, Cervantes and fellow artist Jesus Barraza create a visual call for justice that would resonate within the community and beyond. In a single evening, within the confines of their kitchen, they produced the first 50 silkscreen copies of their widely distributed poster bearing the slogan “Justice for Oscar Grant, Justice for Gaza, End Government Sponsored Murder in the Ghettos of Oakland and Palestine."

 

One week later, during a protest demanding justice for Grant, a young Mexican woman’s voice singing in her ancestral Nahuatl language inspired graffiti artist Desi of Weapons of Mass Expression, while he painted the face of Grant in vibrant colors on the plywood sheets boarded over the windows of a 14th Street storefront. It read, “Rest in Power Oscar Grant” and “All Power to the People.

Thousands have been appalled by the Oscar Grant shooting and have taken a stand to fight injustice.  Many have chosen to creatively express their stance through the arts. Its forms have been many: Songs have been written and dedicated to Grant. Poems, paintings, and posters have been created. Graffiti artists have painted murals. These artists have contributed works to the Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project, an online, print, and multimedia compilation of works dedicated to Grant’s memory.

Editor Jesse Clarke at Race, Poverty and the Environment says he co-sponsored the project because, “Art is an essential element in building the movements for social change. Oscar Grant’s murder is a catalytic event that crystallizes underlying social and political tensions.” Clarke says, “If his death is memorialized and communicated as a representation of those tensions, it can help build a movement. Similar tragic incidents which do not get codified can leave people feeling traumatized, disempowered, and more isolated.”

Movement Art
From the civil rights movement in the United States to the antiapartheid struggle in Africa and environmental activism internationally, art has been used as a symbol, to frame the message, to attract resources, to communicate information, and foster emotions.


“The strongest voice I have is my art,” says graphic artist Santos Shelton, another contributor to the memorial project. “Every day, people of color in this country are reminded that they don’t matter by the powers that be.”  He says he made his piece entitled “Fighting for the Lost” because  “Regardless of the fact that a president is black, the generations of hatred and social injustice that are still within society will take way longer to change.”

According to sociologist Jacqueline Adams, movement art helps communicate a coherent identity, mark membership, and cement commitment to the cause. It’s not only pervasive in many movements, it’s instrumental in the achievement of a movement’s objectives.[1] Craig McGarvey, quoted in Art, Power, and Social Change agrees. He says art is a catalyst that makes change possible as it shapes the dreams, aspirations, and problems of people, thus inspiring them to work with activists/organizers to develop their collective authority and ability to build their community.[2]

“We dream it and then we manifest it into some form of reality and then it can actually happen. It’s an accessible way for people to identify with the issues and the movement. You can argue with protesters but not with the painting,” says muralist Desi.


Movement art is a crucial means of attracting people, pulling them together, and opening up their interconnectedness, McGarvey explains. Cultural change is made possible by the connecting influence of cultural exchange.

“Two summers ago, myself and a lot of other artists were working on an antialcoholism mural at the Raindeer Indian reservation in northern Cheyenne, Montana,” says Desi, reflecting on an experience where he witnessed people provoked to change by an artwork. “It was two to three stories tall, in the center of town, at an intersection. During the process, people were crying. Many came up to us, emotionally moved by the piece, promising to check themselves into Alcoholics Anonymous.”

A Catalyst for Social Change
From art emerges political and cultural resistance. We’ve seen it in the Civil Rights movement through the tradition of music in the African-American church, and in the farmworker rights movement through teatro in the fields.  The birth of the hip-hop movement in the Bronx paved the way for a marginalized group of black and Latino youth to express themselves, communicate their experiences, and criticize social inequality and poverty. The use of photography by the Mothers of the Disappeared at Plaza de Mayo, in the context of post-dictatorship Argentina, reminds us of the state violence done to those denied the most basic human rights and the recognition of citizenship in a functioning democracy. [3]

On behalf of mostly elderly Filipino and Chinese tenants who were fighting a battle against eviction at the International Hotel in the 1970s, artists protested alongside tenants and other advocates to become the cultural arm of the struggle by silk-screening protest posters, painting murals on the I Hotel, and producing exhibitions and publications. It wasn’t until hundreds of artists marched down Mission Street, with their faces painted white protesting the displacement of people of color in San Francisco, did the global mass media finally pay attention to the anti-gentrification message advocates had spent years trying to get  across.[4]

Rooted beneath these acts of artistic liberation, produced by the soul’s inherent expressive nature, is the artist’s pain. Lives entrenched in poverty and hunger, a desperate need for healthcare, gender inequality, police brutality, institutionalized racism, and the myriad other evils of the system create deep wounds in the psyche. Creative visionaries recognize these injuries and their efforts are intrinsic to the healing process.

“The complexity of the racial reality comes down to the economy. Crimes happen because of poverty, which happens because of no jobs, yet millions of dollars are going into the police force,” says Cervantes. “I hope people see how various struggles are connected.”

“Police harassment is a symptom of the prison- industrial complex—it’s more valuable to put people into prison than to educate. It’s about trying to maintain power,” Desi argues.

The Struggle Continues
In 2009, in honor of Oscar Grant, artists are once again compelled to speak out using the greatest gift that they know how to use. They hope to spark change, fight corruption, and build stronger communities. Their designs not only critique the failures of the system that denies many of their human rights, but also pose solutions and open avenues to social health.

“The last time I spoke with Oscar Grant was the day he called me to wish me a happy birthday on December 3. I felt like getting back at the police officer. But instead, I wrote,” says Grant’s friend Blankenship. “I grabbed a dictionary to look up a couple of words to define the pain I felt—‘overwhelmed,’ ‘overexposed,’ and ‘despair,’—another innocent life gone. But my rhymes are not just for my situation. It’s for those that have lost someone dear and are feeling like life’s a wasteland.”
For poetry writer and activist Dee Allen, this was the best way she could pay homage to the memory of an African American working class man who was denied his right to a fair chance.

“Bay Area Rapid Transit’s management needs to know that the public will not forget this act of violence. No community—black, brown or white—needs young sacrificial lambs slaughtered because of some cop’s racist/classist power trip,” says Allen.

Brutality, never an “accident”
It’s systemic
And replicates itself
In different cities to the nth degree.
Bleeding
Stony hearts blame such handiwork
On “a few bad apples.”
And everyone knows
How that tired old maxim goes.
Tell that to the last
Victim inside the chalkline.

(Excerpt from Face Down by Dee Allen.)

Houston hip-hop artist Rukus chose to reach out specifically to Oscar Grant’s daughter. He wrote a song called “Dear Tatiana” like a letter, and dedicated it to her. “We all know that this is unjust. People are gonna’ march. People are gonna’ protest. There’s gonna’ be a big court battle. Hopefully, this guy will end up going to prison,” says Rukus. “But at the end of the day when the dust is settled, when the last person has marched and put down their picket sign, there’s still gonna’ be a young girl that doesn’t have a father.”

Dear Tatiana,
Please don’t ask why does a man have to die
just to touch the sky.
I don’t have the heart to lie and say it’s alright when your daddy isn’t home tonight...
This is for father’s day, this is for single parent fathers who really give a damn and take care of their daughters. Ay.
This is the way I pray, wishing for a better day.
I’m staring at the picture of concrete where a brother lay.

(Lyrics from Dear Tatiana.)

The Power of Icon
The images created in memory of Oscar Grant, from the compelling figure with a halo and a spear, to the countless graffiti and poster prints of his face, bring to mind icons of past struggles.
One can see the resonance with “Handala,” the image created by Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali’s, which portrays a 10-year-old refugee boy with ragged clothes, bare feet, and his back to the audience—a symbol of Palestinian struggle and defiance.5
One can hear thousands of demonstrators marching through Mexico City chanting “Todos somos Marcos (We are all Marcos),” referring to the Zapatista Subcomandante who was being hunted by the Mexican government.
Oscar Grant’s memory lives on—encased in collective artistry, something that can’t be killed. Epitaph expressions painted on the side of buildings, gates, and even on mailboxes, echo the heart of the masses, “I am Oscar Grant.”

Christine Joy Ferrer is the curator of the Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project. She recently graduated from San Francisco State University with a dual major in journalism and dance. She is the publishing assistant for Race, Poverty, and the Environment.
To see the full compilation of creative works in the Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project visit: www.urbanhabitat.org/rpe/oscar.

Endnotes
1.        Adams, Jacqueline. “Art in Social Movements, Sociological Forum, Vol 17-1 (March 2002): 21.
2.         David, Emmanuel A. and McCaughan, Edward J. “Editors’ Introduction: Art, Power, and Social Change.” Social Justice Vol. 33, No. 2 (2006): 1-4.
3.        Ibid. page 3
4.        Martinez,Maria X. “The Art of Social Justice.” Social Justice Vol. 34, No. 1 (2007): 1-4
5.        Naji al-Ali remarked that “this being that I have invented will certainly not cease to exist after me, and perhaps it is no exaggeration to say that I will live on with him after my death.” www.najaialali.com

 


Everyone Has the Right To... | Vol. 16, No. 1 | Spring 2009 | Credits

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“The role of the revolutionary artist is to make revolution irresistible.” —Toni Cade Bambara, Writer and activist

Racism and the Right to Due Process

Commentary by Jack Stephens

“You never seen the police break up a strike, by hittin’ the boss with his baton pipe”
—Boots Riley, The Coup

Very early on New Year’s Day, 22-year-old Oscar Grant III was shot and killed in Oakland, California by a Bay Area Rapid Transit agency police officer. Grant was unarmed, his face pressed down against the floor. Onlookers video-phoned the horrific spectacle as his life was taken from him.

The killing of Oscar Grant was not an anomaly. It was a direct outcome of the racist use of police force  in capitalism. The inherent racial inequality of the socioeconomic system, as upheld by the judicial system, means that police killings and police corruption are not simply a product of a few “bad apples” within the system but the inevitable reenactment of racism and violence that sustain capitalism within this country.

This system was built upon the genocide of the native population, the enslavement of millions of Africans, the invasion of lands through imperialist wars to expand United States borders, the systematic implementation of racial privileges for whites, the attacking of effective trade unionism, and the expansion of capitalist “free-trade” to other nations and peoples across the globe. These are macro examples of the kind of violence that sustains this economic system.

In advanced capitalism, social control is not accomplished by brute force alone. It is also done by promoting an ideology in which the class interests of the economic elite are considered the interests of all—from street beggars to chief executive officers.
In the United States, this capitalist ideology is built upon white supremacy and racial privilege. The white working class has been given better paid jobs and greater access to the national wealth than the African American (or more generally, people of color) working class. Since the very beginnings of slavery in the Americas, the white elite has exploited the African American population and other people of color. It has then used white supremacist ideology to split the working class movement by pitting white workers against the rest.

Because capitalism depends on some level of consent by the working class, the African American history of struggle and dissent against white supremacy creates a major problem for the white elite. Portraying African American men as inherently dangerous—and then shooting them to prove the point—is one piece of the process. Without a subjugated African American population the cogs of capitalism cannot continue to turn.

African Americans and other people of color in the United States are under constant attack from the police. (Witness the arrest and conviction statistics at the county, state, and federal levels.) African American men are shot by police on an almost weekly basis. While the circumstances of each shooting vary, the net effect is to maintain racial and class inequality. A key mission of any urban police department is to harrass and subjugate communities of color in order for white supremacy—and this variant of capitalism—to survive.

What was enacted on that BART platform that New Years day was one more act in a long  history of racial violence against African Americans by the police.

Jack Stephens is a freelance writer and a student at the Graduate Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California.


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Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project

Creative Expressions, a Catalyst for Social Change 

Editor's Note: Early morning on New Year’s Day 2009, 22-year-old Oscar Grant III was shot and killed in Oakland, California by a Bay Area Rapid Transit agency police officer. Grant was unarmed.  His face—pressed down against the cement. Onlookers video-phoned the horrific spectacle as his life was taken from him.

Over three dozen artists have contributed to the Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project. Our goal was to gather the creative works dedicated to Oscar Grant from artists, musicians, writers, photographers and others. Any form of creative expression was accepted-- a video of a dance work, audio, song, poster, photo, etc. Selected portfolio work will be featured in several Bay Area publications (print and online). If you have any questions contact its curator, Christine Joy Ferrer at [email protected].

Brooke Anderson PhotographyPeople are angry. Thousands have been appalled by the Oscar Grant shooting and have taken a new stand to fight injustice.  Many have chosen to  creatively express their stance through art. Songs have been written and dedicated to Oscar Grant. Poems, paintings and posters have been created. Graffiti artists have painted murals. Some of this is compelling art, some is ephemera.  Some of this art is controversial in its subject matter or its expression, but above all this art is the expression of a critical moment in the movement  to end police violence.

For this project, Media Alliance and Race, Poverty, & the Environment act as a clearinghouse, collecting and archiving copies of the material and coordinating its presentation by partner publications including: Race, Poverty & the Environment Journal, Media Alliance, http://media-alliance.org, and Street Spirit Newspaper. This work is supported by a grant from the Akonadi Foundation.

 This project is co-sponsored by Media Alliance and Race, Poverty and the Environment.

Media Alliance’s mission is to defend, develop and strengthen independent media to support the creation of a truly democratic society and to build capacity of low income people and communities of color to create and be represented by media responsive to the communities needs. MA helps create alliances between media creators and media consumers to bring light to under-reported issues, build public support for fundamental rights to communicate and lift up best practices for the inspiration of a broad range of communities, regionally and nationally.

Since, 1990 Race, Poverty and the Environment (RP&E) has been exploring issues at the nexus of race, class and the environment. Founded as a joint project of the Urban Habitat Program of Earth Island Institute  and the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation’s Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment.

Remembering Oscar Grant (All Contributed Works): 

Graffiti Memorializing Oscar Grant

Photography & Art

Poetry

Songs

Videos

 

The material presented on this portion of the site does not originate from RP&E and does not necessarily reflect the views of RP&E. In accordance with Fair Use guidelines, these images and text are reproduced for educational and research purposes only.

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Creative Expressions, a Catalyst for Social Change. Over three dozen artists have contributed to the Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project.

Graffiti Memorializing Oscar Grant

Elliot Johnson Photography

Contributing Artists and Photographers: 
Amend TDK
DESI, Weapons of Mass Expression
DNO, Teach More Culture
Aerosoul

DZYER
David Heyes
Elliot Johnson
James Wacht
Brendan Cox
Eric Arnold
Brooke Anderson
Christine Joy Ferrer

 


The material presented on this portion of the site does not originate from RP&E and does not necessarily reflect the views of RP&E or Urban Habitat. In accordance with Fair Use guidelines, these images and text are reproduced for educational and research purposes only.

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Dirty Cops

Kill Dirty Cops

By DZYER

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

I am Oscar Grant - Various Artists


Unknown Photographer
Source: http://www.socialrupture.blogpot.com


Source: I am Oscar Grant - Brendan Cox

Photo by Brendan Cox


Photo by Eric Arnold



Unknown Photographer
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/riddlebiddle/3223469367/


I am Oscar Grant(4)

Photo by Elliot Johnson


 

 

Unknown Photographer
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/digiant/3203325777/


I am Oscar Grant(5)

Unknown Photographer

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

 

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No Justice, No Peace

No Justice No Peace - Jail the Police; Photo © Eric Arnold

By Amend TDK
Photo by Eric Arnold

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

Protesting Police Brutality: A Mural in Progress - Various Artists

February 27, 2009
In Memory of Oscar Grant's 23rd Birthday

 


March 20, 2009

Photography by Christine Joy Ferrer
A Mural Project in the Making - Various graffiti artists, including Desi of W.O.M.E., Arrow-Soul Council, Mr. E, Melissa and family, Abicus, have been collaborating to create a piece protesting police brutality on the side of a local business on 16th Ave and East 12th Street in Oakland.

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

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R.I.P. Oscar Grant - Various Artists

David Heyes Photography

Photo by David Heyes

Unknown Artist

 

 


Elliot Johnson Photography

Photo by Elliot Johnson
Unknown Artist

 

 


James Wacht

Photo by James Wacht
Unknown Artist

 


Brooke Anderson Photography(2)

Photo by Brooke Anderson
Unknown Artist

 

 


Brooke Anderson Photography(1)

Photo by Brooke Anderson
Unknown Artist

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

 

 


 

 

 

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Rest in Power Oscar Grant

Frederic Larson, San Francisco Chronicle

DESI of Weapons of Mass Expresssion
Photo Taken by Frederic Larson, San Francisco Chronicle

Desi and AeroSoul

Desi and Arrow-Soul Council

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

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Teach More Culture

By DNO TMC

By DNO TMC - Teach More Culture

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

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Photography & Art

Adrienne Miller - Photography

protest flags

Protest Flags

By Adrienne Miller
January 14, 2009: Oscar Grant protest in downtown Oakland.
Visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/venusmedia/sets/72157612539468505/

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

 

 

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Carina Lomeli - Painting

Carina Lomeli, Poor News Network
Image of Idriss Stelly & Oscar Grant from the Fallen Victims of Po'Lice Terror Mural created at POOR Magazine's Office Opening & Mural-Making party. SOURCE: http://www.poormagazine.org/index.cfm?L1=news&story=2179&pg=1   

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

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Eric Arnold - Photography

marker

children

By Eric Arnold
(See more from Eric Arnold:  "Various Artists- I am Oscar Grant" and in "Graffiti")

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

 

From Oakland to Gaza - Poster

Gaza_oakland
Courtesy of East Side Arts Alliance

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

 

Jocelyn Goode - Poster

Gwen Harlow

Poster by Jocelyn Goode
Photo by Gwen Harlow

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

 

Keba Konte - Photo Essay

Photo Essay by Keba Konte

 

 

 

Justice for Oscar Grant Photo Essay by Keba Konte
Shown at the Eastside Cultural Center

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

Khalil, StudioBendib - Comic

© StudioBendib

By Khalil, StudioBendib
Source: StudioBendio

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

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Kirstina Sangsahachart - Photography

Thou Shalt Not KillStop Police Racism

Kirstina Sangsahachart
Source: http://www.ohdangmag.com

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

 

Matthew Williams - Bart Logo

Bart Logo

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

 

 

Melanie Cervantes & Jesus Barraza - Poster

Melanie Cervantes

Melanie Cervantes and Jesus Barraza -"Justice for Oscar! Justice for Gaza!" 
Source: http://dignidadrebelde.com/blogpost/view/88

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

 

Nina Sparks - Photography


By Nina Sparks

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

 

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Pitzeleh8 - Illustration

Illustration by Pitzeleh8

Illustration by Pitzeleh8
Source: http://pitzeleh8.deviantart.com/art/Oscar-Grant-109060838

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored byMedia Alliance

Police are Pigs - Art Design

Police are Pigs

Artist Unknown

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

 

Shelton Santos - Art Design


"Fighting for the Lost"
By Shelton Santos 

"My main inspiration was of course the sad story of Oscar Grant. I tried to infuse cultural images such as Adrinka african symbols. I wanted the piece to focus on the local perceptionof African Americans and how this relates to the violence going on in Oakland. American colors flow into the word 'respect' upside down above a picture of the U.S. upside down to convey the lack of respect for people of color in this country. The 'O.G.' stands for Oscar Grant. The picture of the young black boy in the right side represents all of our youth and the anger they must feel, wanting to fight back against the system. The African symbol in the red patch is called Akoben(war horn). This is a symbol of vigilance and wariness. I used the checkered patch to represent the game we all have to play to exist in this society." - Shelton Santos

Visit: www.santossheltonart.com

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

 

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Various Artists - Other Cultural Works

By Bettina and Isaac 


 

Unknown Artist 


 

Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes

"This young native man was killed exactly one year before Oscar Grant by the Oakland police. [He had an outstanding warrant for BART fare]. As artists we feel that it is important not to focus on one incident but to take a step back and look at the structural racism that continues to impact our communities-particularly mechanisms of the State that enact violence on people of color." - Melanie Cervantes 


 

comic

Unknown Artist
Source: http://www.socialrupture.blogpot.com


 

 

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

 

 

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Poetry

Face Down

"Face Down" by Dee Allen

Smashed vehicle windows
Cannot scream.
Burning dumpsters
Cannot unleash their agony into the smoky evening sky.
Neither damaged
T-Mobile nor
McDonald’s nor
Wells Fargo
Can feel pain.
Underground subways
Cannot fight their sudden closure.
So there’s no need to wring hands & agonise


Over property destruction.


Demolished property
Can be replaced.
The once
Full lives
Taken by law enforcement
Never are.


Brutality, never an “accident”.
It’s systemic
And replicates itself
In different cities to the nth degree.


Bleeding
Stony hearts blame such handiwork
On “a few bad apples”.
And everyone knows
How that tired old maxim goes.


Tell that to the last
Victim inside the chalkline.

Reason for anger,
Cause for alarm,
Millions have seen.
Father of one,
Age 22.
First cruel hours
Of the new year.
Young witnesses.
Four cops.
Facepunch.
Submission.
Face down.
Cold concrete.
Triggerlust.
Hot lead.
Close range.
Loud boom.
Backwound.
Panicscreams.
Slowbleed.
Here lies
Father of one,
Age 22.


Face down.
Subway platform
Was the killing field.


The truth cannot be erased,
Try as the guilty might,
Covering their crime.


Father of one,
Age 22.
His name joins
A seemingly endless
Sea of names,
Compendium of martyrs

To their same last sights:
Uniforms & weapons drawn.
Manifested
Needless State violence
Upon the unarmed.
A little Black girl of four
In Hayward goes to bed
Without her father tucking her in.
A Brown woman sleeps
Without her lover’s face to awaken to the next morning.


Reason for anger,
Cause for alarm.
The powderkeg
Called Oakland exploded twice.
Now that a legitimised
Slayer has been captured & released
Into the general public on bail,
A new explosion looms over the future’s horizon.


More fire
Put to the ‘keg.
Perhaps the murderer’s protectors
Will take notice this time
Because that young father they’ve targeted
Was one of us------


He could’ve been anyone


Anyone’s son, anyone’s brother,
Anyone’s neighbour, anyone’s friend
Anyone Black & Brown
Could be the one in submission, lying face down
In the path of a lethal device
Engineering their quick demise.
___________________________
3.4.09
[For Oscar Grant III-----1986-2009]

Dee Allen is a local poetry writer, spoken word
performer and activist from San Francisco.


"This was the best way I could pay homage to the memory of a African working-class man
from Hayward. Considering what he went through minutes before his death at the hands of Bay Area Rapid Transit police officers Mersehle and Pirone [that one should've been indicted and punished two months ago]. The outpouring of community support needs to continue, nationally and locally. The fight against police brutality and corruption needs to continue. Bay Area Rapid Transit's management needs to know that the public will not forget this act of violence committed by their own officers on those who depend on their subway train system for transportation. No community--Black, Brown or White--needs anymore young sacrificial lambs slaughtered because of some cop's racist/classist
powertrip." - Dee Allen

 

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

 

For Oscar

"For Oscar" - a poem by Sheilagh"Cat" Brooks

How do I explain to my three year old why im marching in these streets
How do I explain to my three year old why she aint seen me all week
How do I explain to my three year old what his death has done to me
How do I explain to my three year old another black man was killed by police

They killed him
Shot him in the back in cold blood
And now we stand in awe and anger and pain
Im not exactly sure why we're shocked
Its not new, just more of the same
Black blood flowing in the white man’s streets
Black blood flowing and yet they’ll set that pig free
History repeats itself and still we never learn
Perhaps the only the way they’ll know is if we let this fucker burn

I am Oscar Grant
That is what the masses scream
I see the thousands in the streets
And feel Im in a dream
How can we be Oscar Grant
Will we be there when his baby girl screams
And will we be there to answer the question
When she asks why there are no cell phones in heaven
So see now I'm on a hell bent mission
To upturn, destroy and tear down this system
That murders my men without retribution
Because that bullshit badge somehow gives them permission
To do as they see fit

So...
How do I explain to my three year old why I'm marching in these streets
How do I explain to my three year old why she aint seen me all week
How do I explain to my three year old what his death has done to me
How do I explain to my three year old another black man was killed by police

And now we’ve reached the breaking point
But I wonder what we’ll do
Is this a fight for Oscar Grant
Or an attack on the red white and blue
His death has stamped a clear impression
Of the mentality that was the birth of the system
That enslaved us then and murders us now
And still there are some who wonder how
This could happen here and today

But we're not free – still merely slaves
jim crow just has another name
with the cops and the klan playing out the same games
slave owners and chasers did back in the day
History repeats itself and yet we never learn
Maybe the only way they’ll know is if we let this fucker burn

But….
How do I explain to my three year old why im marching in these streets
How do I explain to my three year old why she aint seen me all week
How do I explain to my three year old what his death has done to me
How do I explain to my three year old another black man was killed by police


Im in these streets cause I have to be
Cause I cant stand the thought of it being you and not me
And there is nothing else that matters to me
With your birth, I finally reached the end
Of saying to myself, well one day when
The white man decides to set me free
Ill finally discover what it means to be me
But that’s not the fate I want for you
And THAT is why I do what I do

And maybe one day you’ll understand
And maybe one day you won't
But I couldn’t stand to be in my skin
If I didn’t teach you to fight to win
That nothing matters if you’re not free
That is my hope for my legacy
That I’m raising a revolutionary
And she won’t have to be cautionary
In her struggles for freedom
And revolts for her rights
And God(dess) knows I hope I’m teaching you right
So, yes baby girl, I’ll be late again tonight

Still...
How do I explain to my three year old why im marching in these streets
How do I explain to my three year old why she aint seen me all week
How do I explain to my three year old what his death has done to me
How do I explain to my three year old another black man was killed by police

 

 

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

Forty One Shots and Nineteen Hits

"Forty One Shots and Nineteen Hits" by Raul Estremera
For Oscar Grant & Richard Lua

FORTY ONE SHOTS AND NINETEEN HITS!
That terrible nine millimeter sound-
with hollow point bullets strewn all around.
And Amadou Dialo WAS DEAD before he hit the ground.
A life- snuffed out in the wink of an eye.
Then the killers went free, while a mother cried.

Forty one shots and nineteen hits!

Oscar Grant the third
Whose young voice will never be heard?
Because of a coward, and racist RAT.
Who put a bullet INTO HIS BACK
Then took his hate, along on his flight.

But throughout days and half the night
The people raged and took up the fight.

A community’s pain, and struggle, so well invested.
That Johannes Mehserle was finally ARRESTED .

But the struggle it seems was to no avail.
When a racist judge granted him bail.
But don’t worry good mothers, lets remain as ONE
Because our struggle for his justice, has only begun.

So don’t stop the March, or n either the rally
till the whole group of that night will face the tally.
We have marched it seems throughout our history
But the year 09 will see us through victory.

Forty one shots and nineteen hits!

Abner Louima, dancing to the rhythm of a third world beat.
Stepped out of a club, and onto the street.
Was suddenly arrested and brutalized,
Then after the beating was—SODOMIZED
And this heinous crime was done by who?
You guessed it my people- the punks in blue.

Forty one shots and nineteen hits!

Patrick Dorismond, MURDERED and put to rest,
By New York’s finest, Ghouliani’s best.
Thousands came to join the family
To pay their respects in peaceful harmony.
The police then attacked them –WOE AND SHAME
But the people responded with some of the SAME.
They burned the flag and overturned barriers.
Then policemen responded with personnel carriers.
But the people united and had their way.

And so the cops learned that dreadful day,
What even Al Sharpton would have to say-
Not to mess with the people when they come out to pray.

Forty one shots and nineteen hits!

To the murderers in blue, hear my accusations:
You serve as the soldiers of the ruling class,
But your days are numbered, and your killings passed
Cause it’s time for the people to whip some ass.

We’ve seen you murder workers and persons of color.
Destroyed Native people and other cultures.
Then laid claim to some eagle,
When you’re really vultures.

Forty one shots and nineteen hits

To the people in the audience I’m here to say:
Will you heed my message or turn instead.
Go back to your computer and live in your head.
While they’re MURDERING BLACK FOLK.,
Just shooting them dead

There’s only one way to clear the confusion,
And one clear path to a sound solution.
We’ve tried everything else
WHY NOT REVOLUTION!
Why not revolution!
Why not revolution!
Why not a revolution
Within yourself!

Forty one shots and nineteen hits!

Raul "Curly" Estremera is a former political prisoner, a member of the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Coordinator of the Committee in Solidarity with Cuba and Latin America. Curly read his poem on February 20th to community gathered in support of the family of Richard Lua.

Richard Lua was murdered by San Jose Police on February 11th. He went into medical stress from a taser shot when he was trying to get into his home and died at the scene.

 

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

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In Honor of ALL fallen Victims of Po'Lice Terror

"In Honor of ALL fallen Victims of Po'Lice Terror" by Tiny

Oscar Grant, Nadra Foster, Idriss Stelly,
Ahmed mohammed, Sean Bell,
Amadou Diallo, Lucerno Rodriguez,
Marlon Crump ,Mama dee gray-garcia and me,
Some of these folks you know-
some you never will see
Taken away,
silenced, destroyed
and killed by Po-lice,
racism and povertee

We share one hit-
one shot
–one mark
-one drop
Someone had the power
someone did not!
Its called the po’Lice
and they called the shots

From Palestine to Oakland,
From LA to KPFA
inside outside
streetside –to parkside
with homes and without
a culture trained to kill is called upon to intervene
cause people say we have nothing else-

I say -
what does that mean?
For poor magazine
it means we make something else
do something deep-old and rooted in earth,
the creator, our elders-you and me-
we convene-
as a community-
for as long as it takes
we take back out voices-our spirits,
our cultures, our languages, our power-
our beauty- our land – our humanity…

we get off the corporate , capitalism, product –driven-violence
perpetrating- thing wanting train until we can see that there is
another way to resolve conflicts that never means
Po-lice brutality

agents with guns- trained to kill and destroy
instead of protect
even one

Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia co-editor POOR Magazine/PNN, welfareQUEEN
and daughter of Dee.

 

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

One

"ONE (Ode to Oscar Grant)" by Shiko

One
One man
One man in uniform
One man in uniform with
one

one steel
one steel hard
one steel hard cold gun
in one

one hand with

one
one man
one man face down
one man face down on the hard ground
begging for mercy hoping to live for his

one daughter
who will cry every night for his
one soul

Oscar Grant's Glimpse of the New Year

"Oscar Grant's Glimpse of the New Year" by Rashida Mack

I am an African American 22 yr old man,
Trembling,
I am told to hit the ground,
pushed down,
I am lying on a Los Angeles platform,
As commanded,
Face down,
I hear a shot,
Then feel pain
I am shot,
Fading black.

Your Happy New Year to me,
Now called a mistake?
Glock 9mm,
Taser gun,
Glock 9mm,
On my stomach,
Face down,
Unarmed,
Taser or Glock,
Whichever,
Neither.

Cold,
My body lies face down,
Shot down,
On the ground,
Murdered in the first degree,
On January 1st,2009,
In the United States of America.

My name was Oscar Grant.

Source: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/oscar-grant-s-glimpse-of-the-new-year

 

 

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

Slide Show (a poem)

Slide Show (January 2009) by Carrie Leilam Love
It can be read in rows left-to-right or in columns top-to-bottom.

 

this is Oscar Grant bending.
being bent.
this is me waiting at the
window for her to come home.
heart elephant. weighing down
one side, teaching the other
what empty is.
this the biggest boss that we have seen this far, with the baddest bitch
in the game dancing to an old song, at last love, at last love, at last at last thank god almighty we are president at least.
this is Oscar Grant, bent
and headed to the ground.
hit and head to the ground.
this is me waiting at her heart for the window to open. this is Palestine. these are the dead weighing down one side, holding
up the lighter dead. this is the bad
math of mass murder, equation
un-justified.
here we go laughin, cause on a
MTV cribs re-run, only thing in Missy Elliot's bedroom sides a Ferrari bed is a life-size cut-out of Janet Jackson half-naked.
this Annette Garcia, this the Sheriff who shot her in the back. These are her children,
and this is just
how they looked, shocked not surprised, this just how they looked: tough and into distance.
these are my dead: bowler hat and big belly, bowed legs and bright smile, big hands & mad to the marrow. this my grandmama mean as
vinegar and picked through,
preserved against men in the
bone-yard calling: dear wife, dear mother, dear mother, dear grandmother, come join us in the loam.
here we are underground, swinging
on bulb roots, waiting for
the lilies to tell us it's July.
this is Oscar Grant's heart,
opened and filling his empty. this is his back, softer, in this case, than his belly.
this is her back. she welts easily when I scratch. this is a speckled brown egg, narrow end down, yok weighing into the point. This is my back.   this is me, learning empty is full of breath, shoutin: Please don’t shoot!  

 

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carrieleilamloveslideshow.pdf14 KB

Poster

Oscar Grant Memorial Art Project PosterThe Oscar Grant Memorial Art Project has produced a memorial poster in cooperation with Media Alliance and Inkworks.  We are distributing this limited supply of printed posters to interested community organizations and individuals free of charge. You can also download the pdf version and distribute it to your own communties and contacts.

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OscarPoster5-13-09.pdf307.77 KB

Songs

Dear Tatiana (video)

"Dear Tatiana (Letter to Oscar Grant's Daughter)"
Rukus - Produced by Kid Konnect

 

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

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AttachmentSize
deartatiana.mp35.79 MB

Mad World

Novel dedicates “Mad World” to Oscar Grant By SOHH Soul Rebel

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

My Life

"Oscar Grant III Tribute (My Life)" ft. Jennifer Johns & Codany Holiday - Mistah F.A.B. and Amp Live (Zion I)

 

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

Same Shit

 

By Aidge 34, Aesthetics Crew
October 22nd Coalition, LA


"Same Shit" draws links between the the genocide in Gaza, Oscar Grant's
case & Los Angeles police brutality.

Click on the link below to download "Same Shit."

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

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Same Sh_t Clean Edit.mp32.11 MB
Same Shit.mp32.11 MB

Too Many

"Too Many" by Siaria Shawn
(Lyrics only)


Too many of us,

Struck, down, in cold blood,

What did we do?

You don’t see in me, what you need to

Hook-

So where do I put my rage,

I wanna act out, give me a stage,

So I can use my voice, to voice the pain


One too many bullets, have left,

One too many guns,

And I can’t stomach another daughter or son,

On the ground

Hook-

So where do I put my rage,

I wanna act out, give me a stage,

So I can use my voice, to voice the pain


End-

And you should be ashamed(repeat)

Siaira Harris is a singer/songwriter who goes by Siaira Shawn. She wrote this song inspired by what happened to Grant and the ongoing and preceding injustices that people face, especially concerning police brutality.

 

The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance

Videos

Featured Video:

Contributors:

Youth Movement Records
Jasiri X
 

 

Youth Movement Records - Never Will Be Forgotten



Never Will Be Forgotten from Youth Movement Records on Vimeo.

"Never Will be Forgotten" - Youth Movement Records

Click here to hear "Never be Forgotten."

 

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