Friday, March 28th, 2008 at 7:42 pm in Uncategorized.
I’ve been busy lately with the law enforcement side of my beat so have been less than energetic in the Night Owl blogging area. But last night I caught the last minutes of the talk at Swarm Gallery with Marcus Shelby, Angela Wellman, Duane Deterville, James Gayles and other illustrious company talking about jazz and visual art. My colleague George Kelly taped some of the discussion, which I will post here when it’s available. The talk was the culmination of Gayles “Jazz Masters” series of portraits.
By the time I arrived chairs were being put away and photos taken with the celebs. Then talk turned to Casper Banjo, the Oakland artist who was killed earlier this month. He was shot by police because he raised a gun (that turned out to be a replica) at police. Deterville said the community was outraged because not only was an elder killed, but a few days later a teen boy was shot by police, who said he had turned a rifle on them.
No apologies came from OPD in either case, which angered Deterville. He was saying it felt like there was no justice — because Banjo was black.
From what I understand, he was saying that racism makes pulling the trigger that much more likely because of racial profiling. I think Hershell West summed up best the anger and frustration I heard last night and have heard for years: “Casper’s death seems so surreal and yet so familiar in an inner city community where black men are gunned down on a regular basis without consequence, without justifiable cause. The black community must need demand a full and accurate account on this unforgivable outrage. My hope is that casper’s life, his art, and his dignity, will require a more resolute action bv the community to demand unequivocal justice, not only for the humanity of casper, but rather, and more importantly, justice for the future of black manhood in the inner city of Oakland.”
Deterville’s wife said the elected officials need to be pressured to do something about the situation. I have no issues with OPD because I work with them. I’m a white middle class woman so one bothers me — police or otherwise — because even in the “worst” parts of town everyone figures I must be lost driving around in my beat up old Toyota.
But I hope to find out what effect Banjo’s meds had on his behavior (i.e. why was he out there on the street with a replica gun in the first place); whether he had an epileptic seizure while officers were demanding he drop the gun; whether the shooting was justified based on objective criteria; and, lastly, untangle the statistics to show whether black, Latino or other people of color are the majority of victims in police shootings. So if I don’t write as often here, it’s because I’m hunkered down. Not much of a night owl but I’ll try to keep things going. If you have anything good to share send it on and pitch in to keep Oakland’s night life in the spot light.