Before the Black Lives Matter Movement, Oakland was an epicenter for resisting policing. In 2009, Oakland rose up in response to consecutive years of police killings from the cases of Gary King Jr to Andrew Moppin, Anita Gay, Casper Banjo, Lovell Mixon and many others. The most well-known case that sparked attention from around the world was that of Oscar Grant, who was brutally killed by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police while held down to the ground and unarmed on New Year’s Eve. CR members Isaac Ontiveros and Rachel Herzing, also both staffing Creative Interventions at the time, wrote this article for Left Turn breaking down the upswing of Oakland’s anti-policing movement in the late 2000’s with Oscar Grant’s death and the organizing that emerged immediately after.
“For those who have been organizing against imprisonment and policing, Oscar Grant’s execution represented both immediate opportunities and immediate challenges for mobilizing Oakland communities.
The breadth of people ready and willing to fill the streets, make demands, and advocate for change was awe-inspiring. Within that cacophony of voices, there was little coordinated effort, however. Several organizations stepped out to offer themselves as leaders with little negotiation with others around strategy and messaging, and in several cases a lack of responsibility and coordination when calling for action. Other groups offered their spaces for community dialogues and meetings, but those spaces were often censored or tightly moderated. At times there was even direct contradiction in the messages circulated at demonstrations, town halls, and through media outlets.”