Copwatch Statement on Mehserle Verdict
In solidarity with the community, Copwatch awaits the verdict in the Mehserle trial in Los Angeles. We grieve and rage at the injustice of Oscar Grant’s killing and we condemn excessive and undue force from police and all law enforcement. As a group of citizens concerned about police misconduct, we have followed this case together with the many other cases of police brutality locally and nationally. We respect and stand with the community organizing that has been ongoing in response to this violence. And we commend the courage and dedication of those witnesses who recorded the violent and illegal BART police response on the platform and who came forward with their recordings.
We are preparing for the day of the verdict, in conversation as a group, and with other organizations and community members. We will be in the streets and will respond to witness reports as best we can to serve and support the community at this time. In the long run, we will continue to foster community-based efforts to monitor and observe police behavior. After the verdict is announced, no matter what it is, and after the crowds and politicians go home, we will still need to address the question of how to protect communities from police murders and attacks.
Copwatch has been monitoring police activity in the East Bay for over 20 years, and draws on a powerful legacy of community-based recording and resistance to police brutality and discriminatory policies that has roots in the Black Panther Party. We draw on this history to recognize the importance and need for civilian oversight of law enforcement personnel and agencies. Struggle existed before the verdict in the Mehserle trial. And this struggle will continue. This means we must continue to organize.
However, we must organize outside of this system that murders young Black men in Oakland and across the United States on a regular basis. We cannot hope to succeed if we continue to send a mixed message to our communities. We cannot claim to understand that there is corruption, racism and bias built into the structure of this society and then continue to press for justice from this very same, unjust system.
We need to work together to find solutions beyond police in our communities. Historically, increased police presence is not a solution that helps poor communities. Police and law enforcement cannot solve the problems of poverty and unemployment that are at the core of crime in these neighborhoods.
We imagine that a culture of responsibility and accountability means each of us asking about our own long-term commitments to stopping police brutality. How can we work together to hold agents of the state accountable? How can we remember Oscar Grant by continuing with the momentum of organized resistance that his life and murder further catalyzed? We must continue this momentum and fight the gang injunctions together. We must learn to stop calling the police into our homes and lives and develop alternatives to police. We must continue to report the abuse that we see.
There are many ways to continue the work of gaining justice for Oscar Grant and all the other victims and survivors of police violence. Join a group, go to a Know Your Rights training, learn the law, challenge increasing police power, demand that your city give money for education and not a dime for specialized weapons for police.
Come to a Copwatch meeting!
Mondays 7pm 2022 Blake Street Berkeley CA 94705
COMMUNITY BASED POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY FREE CLASS STARTING SEPTEMBER 1st 6pm on Mondays
Study the history of police, civilian review, gang injunctions, community control, immigration and the law, prison-industrial complex and much more! This course is offered for credit through the DeCal program at UC Berkeley. Members of the public are welcome to attend!
510-548-0425 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org