APTP

ANTI POLICE-TERROR PROJECT

The Anti Police-Terror Project is a group of concerned and committed institutions, organizations, and individuals dedicated to ending state-sanctioned murder and violence perpetuated against Black, Brown and Poor people. We are a Black led, multi-racial, multi-generational coalition. Join us as we organize to resist police terror and create a strong and sustainable community support system. APTP is not a non-profit organization.

Cover image by Brooke Anderson Photography

APTP Denounces City of Berkeley Decision to Allow Police Use of Pepper Spray

The Anti Police-Terror project denounces the decision of Mayor Jesse Arreguin and the Berkeley City Council to place more aggressive policing tools in the hands of the historically racist and violent Berkeley police department. On September 10th, at the Berkeley City Council meeting, a 1997 ban that prevents police from using pepper spray at protests, was modified to give police limited power to do so.

According to law enforcement, pepper spray is safer and more contained than tear gas and they need something because they are at a loss for how to respond to the protests that have been in the streets of the City since February.

Pepper spray carries on the air in the same manner as tear gas and has just as much potential to impact people beyond the intended target. Additionally, no warning is required before the police use pepper spray - as there is for tear gas - nor is there any requirement on the part of police for justification of why, when and on whom they use it.

According to the resolution, police are not allowed to use it on crowds but they can target individuals in crowds whom they deem “violent”. If both recent and past history teaches us anything - it is that those of us who pose the most risk to the State and its agenda that get categorized as violent. And there is nothing in the history of the BPD that should give the people any faith that they will operate inside of the rules. One only has to remember the murder of Kayla Moore, or look at the fact that they still refuse to release the full findings of their internal audit on racial profiling, let alone commit themselves to a plan for addressing the myriad of race problems that plague their department.

Each time the right-wing white supremacists have come to the Bay Area under the pretense of “free speech” - violent acts directed at Black, Brown, LGBTQIA persons and progressive businesses with Black Lives Matter signs in their windows have been committed. People have been called racial slurs, spit on and had their windows broken. Activists have been doxxed, had their personal information spread across social media platforms - including where they live and work, received death threats, have had to move into safe houses and bring security to meetings and court dates. Yet - none of these egregious acts of violence prompted Mayor Jesse Arreguin to attempt to classify these groups as gangs (as he is with Antifa) or inspire him to call for increased police aggression. Instead, the Mayor, has called for increased police violence against those community members who stand up and refuse to let hate flourish in the Bay. Even the Mayor himself admittedly received thousands of death threats from these same groups he is rushing to now defend.

This most recent move is little more than the continuation of an agenda that criminalizes dissent, upholds the tenets of white supremacy and empowers the frontline enforcers of white supremacy (law enforcement) to repress the masses. Jesse Arreguin - who ran on a progressive platform - has once again betrayed the very people, and values, that got him elected in the first place.

At the special city council meeting, held at 3pm on a Tuesday after only being announced the previous Friday, the police gave a completely absurd fabrication of the events that took place on August 27. They claimed that the organizers on the sound truck that was at the march were handing out shields and weapons to participants in the march. Organizers did have shields to give to people who were fearful about the all-too-common violence from white supremacists, who have maimed and murdered people very recently, including the death-by-vehicle murder of Heather Heyer in August 2017 and the multiple stabbings of people in Sacramento in 2016. There were absolutely no weapons distributed during the rally and it is deeply problematic for the police to be claiming anything else. Even Mayor Arreguin acknowledged later in the council meeting that the police narrative was “incorrect”, as he was present on August 27.

Public Comment on OPD Commission Enabling Ordinance

[Anyone can comment here before 3/8 or email your councilmember: http://speakupoakland.org/discussions/the-police-commission-enabling-ordinance]

The most recent draft of the Police Commission Enabling Ordinance does nothing to address the major inherent flaws in Charter Section 604. Policing will never be the answer to keeping our communities safe, and City Council’s energy is better spent defunding the Oakland Police Department and investing in community-based drivers of public safety.

The Commission will ultimately serve as a barrier to justice for the following reasons:

Major conflicts of interest

The charter and enabling ordinance state that “no current police or former OPD officers may be Commissioners”. This is woefully inadequate. Given the well-documented, undeniable violations of public trust in Oakland, why would the City not develop strict conflict of interest guidelines to address very real concerns about corruption?

Recommendation: In order to have any semblance of impartiality, the ordinance also needs to disqualify candidates with the following conflicts of interest:

  • Current or former police officer in ANY jurisdiction

  • Current or prior work experience in any District Attorney’s office or as a non-sworn police department employee in ANY jurisdiction

  • Current or prior work as an expert witness on behalf of any prosecutor

  • Recipient of any campaign or charitable donation (directly or indirectly) from any police union or association representing sworn officers

  • Current or former employment in any organization that collaborates with or receives funding, awards or formal positive recognition from law enforcement or prosecutors

  • Marriage or family relation to any current or former sworn officer or District Attorney

  • Any other associations/relationships that could create a perception of a conflict of interest, special allegiance or bias toward law enforcement

While policing and prosecutorial experience might be cited by some as necessary expertise for serving on this Commission, the hard reality is that time and time again, law enforcement relationships and the “Blue Code of Silence” supersede professional judgement and common sense when officials are called to make decisions.

Examples:

One need only look at San Francisco Commissioners with prosecutorial pasts and brothers and cousins who are SFPD officers to see the problem. These are just a few recent examples on a Police Commission that the Oakland charter repeatedly cites as a good example. The public cannot and does not trust those individuals to make impartial decisions:

  • Former President Suzy Loftus was an SF DA and former SF Deputy Chief John Loftus is her second cousin through marriage. Loftus recently resigned from the Commission and now works for the San Francisco Sheriff. Her Twitter feed includes a 2013 photo of herself, her kids, former Chief Greg Suhr and Kamala Harris with the caption, “Proud of my law enforcement family.”

  • Former President - also a former SF DA - Thomas “Tippy” Mazzucco’s father was an SFPD Investigator and worked at the infamous Bayview Station. Mazzucco later gave a “Gold Medal of Valor” to the officer who murdered Kenneth Harding, Jr. for MUNI fare evasion in the Bayview.

  • Petra DeJesus’s brother is a Sergeant. She recused herself from his high-profile “Videogate” disciplinary hearing and suspension, but he was later promoted to Sergeant.

  • Julius Turman was arrested for felony domestic battery and then-DA (and political friend of Turman) Kamala Harris's office chose not to prosecute. That choice not to prosecute domestic battery was out of character for Harris.

The Police Officers’ Association contract and state law supersede charter

The Police Commission is ultimately toothless for the following reasons:

First, due to the binding arbitration agreement with the Police Officers’ Association, an officer always has the right to take their disciplinary recommendation to arbitration. Regardless of what the Agency Director and Chief agree or disagree upon, the decision is not up to them.

As court-appointed investigator Edward Swanson found, “in the 26 arbitrations covering the past five years he investigated, the city prevailed in only seven cases.” (East Bay Express)

Second, Oakland’s Police Commission documents repeatedly include the caveat, “to the extent permitted by applicable law.”

The main applicable California state law is the “Police Officers Bill of Rights” or Copley (Copley Press Inc. vs. Superior Court of San Diego, 2006), which mandates specific procedures for officer discipline and extra “rights” for police officers that do not apply to any other public employees. According to Copley, the public has no legal right to know about police officer disciplinary records and any “personnel records”, whose definition is left up to interpretation.

A former cop and supervisor in the corrupt Chicago “Independent Police Review Authority” will direct the new Community Police Review Agency

Per the charter: Within sixty (60) days of the City Council's confirmation of the first group of Commissioners and alternates, the Oakland Citizens' Police Review Board (hereinafter Board) shall be disbanded and its pending business transferred to the Commission and to the Agency. The Executive Director of the Board shall become the Interim Director of the Agency, and all other staff will be transferred to the Agency.

The Executive Director of the Board is former Indianapolis Police Sergeant Anthony Finnell.

Prior heading the CPRB in Oakland for almost 3 years, Finnell was the Supervising Investigator for Chicago’s infamously corrupt and now-defunct “Independent Police Review Authority” (US DoJ investigation fact sheet here: https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/925851/download). Interestingly, Finnell recently (1/18/17) filed a FOIA request for his own work history and personnel file from the City of Chicago’s Human Resources department. www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dhr/dataset/foialog.html

For obvious reasons, someone who began their career policing in the late 80s/early 90s and was in a supervisory role doling out non-punishments to Chicago PD is not fit to serve as the head of a “Community” police review board. Finnell has been here for only three years* AND this job cannot be held by law enforcement if the Commission wants any semblance of fairness.

The Community Police Review Agency Director must be an actual member of the community with no law enforcement history or ties.

*According to his 2014 $100 donation to Shakir-Gilmore for Oakland School Board, he lives in Livermore.

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Strange Fruit at SF Chief of police Greg Suhr’s House

On January 17th 2016, as part of the Anti Police-Terror Project's #ReclaimMLK #96hours of direct action, the Last 3% of Black San Francisco paid a surprise visit to police Chief Greg Suhr's house to demand justice for Mario Woods, killed by the SFPD on December 2nd 2015, and to inform Suhr's neighbors of the wrongful deaths that he is responsible for, as well as the many scandals he was involved in, including racist and homophobic text messages sent among 14 officers.


Video by APTP media team's Noé Serfaty

Music: Strange Fruit performed by Nina Simone

#ReclaimMLK in the Bay Garners Massive Support From Bay Area Organizations

March Endorsers Include:


Abundant Beginnings
Asians for Black Lives
BASAT
BAYAN USA
Black.Seed
BLM Bay Area
Catylist
Code Pink Women 4 Peace
Community Democracy Project
California Coalition for Women Prisoners
Critical Resistance
Dance Out Loud
Design Action Collective
Ella Baker Center
Fight for 15 Bay Area
Freedom Archives
GABRIELA USA
Haiti Action Project
Interfaith Committee in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter – Bay Area
Jewish Voice for Peace-Bay Area
Justice 4 Alex Nieto Coalition
Justice for Josiah
Justice for Mario Romero
Kenneth Harding Jr Foundation
Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace
Lemon Drop
Marcha Patriotica Colombia
OccupySF Action Council
One Life Institute
Onyx Organizing Committee
Oscar Grant Committee Against State Repression
Peace Out Loud
POOR magazine/PrensaPOBRE
Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT)
Seminary of the Street
SF Occupy Council
SF Veteran’s for Peace Chapter 69
Socialist Alternative Bay Area
Showing Up For Racial Justice - SURJ Bay Area
Stinney Distro
Sum of Us
Third World Resistance
Worker’s World Party

If we've missed you, it's not intentional. Please just say exactly how you want to be listed in the comments to this post and we'll add you.

This newly released video of the 2015 #ReclaimMLK march perfectly captures what we plan on doing again this Monday!

Last year's historic First Annual March to Reclaim King's Radical Legacy

BAY AREA: Join the in #96hours of actions to Reclaim Dr. King's Radical Legacy this weekend.

Thursday January 14th - Monday January 18th, 2016

#96 hours - https://www.facebook.com/events/1637988586490486/

2nd Annual Mass March, Monday January 18th -https://www.facebook.com/events/1541563859495909/

Filmed and edited by Lucas Guilkey and Julia Muldavin

STATEMENT OF CLARITY ON POLICE COMMISSIONER SPEAKING AT OSCAR GRANT VIGIL

 

Although we stand in total support and solidarity with the Oscar Foundation, Wanda Johnson and the Grant family, we stand in strong opposition to ANY representative from the BART Police Department being given a platform to propagate a perspective that they are in compliance and/or in support of the people's interests.

It is our position is that police departments cannot be reformed. They serve as the military arm of the white supremacist, predatory apparatus, in this case The Bay Area Rapid Transit Agency.

We acknowledge that we can & must engage in the reform arena in order to get relief, or what the Panther Party called, survival programs. BART Police Department and every other policing agency in the United States is, and will always be, the military arm of the ruling elite. This has been & remains our position, we stand in solidarity with the families and disenfranchised masses that are being terrorized by police agencies in Oakland, San Francisco, Chicago & across the U.S.

 

* An earlier version of this article stated it was an OPD officer who spoke. This has been corrected to reflect that it was the Chief of BART Police who spoke. We apologize for any confusion.

Black Leadership Committee - Call to Action!

It is APTP's position that we experience the pain disproportionately, therefore it is our right & duty to take leadership in relationship to our fight for self defense & self determined systems of survival. So we as APTP are putting out a community call to action for Afrikan people to join our Black Leadership Committee as we develop & implement strategies towards this end.


To attend our next meeting or for more information get at us here.

Power is the ability to define phenomenon & make it act in a desired manner.
— Minister Huey P. Newton

 

Concerned USF Law Students Statement on SFPD's Killing of Mario Woods

This is a statement in regards to the unlawful killing of Mario Woods by San Francisco police officers on December 2nd of 2015.

Statement:

We, as concerned law students at the University of San Francisco, are outraged at the officers of the San Francisco Police Department who shot and killed Mario Woods without justification.  This use of unnecessary lethal force, and subsequent denial of fault by the San Francisco Police Department, epitomizes the failure of American policing that has become the spotlight of protest in communities around the country.  Once again, the San Francisco Police Department has contributed to the systemic and historic epidemic of unnecessary police violence in communities of color.

Initially, we would like to make it clear that we stand in support of the Bayview Community as they are once again undergoing the repercussions of an injustice at the hands of the San Francisco Police Department. We understand that the Bayview community, like no other in San Francisco, has dealt with decades of oppressive and violent policing.  Accordingly, we recognize that this shooting is not a random act by the San Francisco Police Department, but only the most recent in a long line of similar occurrences.  We would also like to make it clear that we support the individuals and various organizations, such as Black Lives Matter, Anti Police-Terror Project, BYP 100, and others, in this pursuit of justice for both Mario Woods and the countless other victims of unjustified and unpunished police misconduct. 

We are urging the District Attorney’s Office to act by bringing charges against the officers who used unnecessary force when they shot and killed Mario Woods—who posed no imminent risk of serious injury. We have observed a consistent trend in court systems turning a blind eye to acts of violence by police officers. Nationwide, court systems have failed to indict and convict officers when circumstantial evidence has given them reason to do so. Even more shockingly, they have failed to indict and convict officers when video evidence has shown them engaging in seemingly blatant violations of the law; choosing to instead protect officers, and subject communities of color to this massive conflict of interest. In order for San Francisco’s court system to begin to diverge from this disturbing trend, the District Attorney must bring charges against all officers who were involved in the killing of Mario Woods.  We at the University of San Francisco stand with many others in stating that those individuals should not be able to evade the criminal court system simply because they are police officers.   

 

This statement is endorsed by the following:

Black Student Union at the University of San Francisco

Black Law Student Association—USF Chapter

USF Law La Raza Law Students Association

The National Lawyers Guild—USF Student Chapter

Concerned Students of the University of San Francisco School of Law 

Conversation: 'Tasha, A Monologue About Police-Terror Victim Natasha McKenna to Premiere In Oakland is Written and Performed by Cat Brooks

I had a chance to catch up with Anti Police-Terror Project co-founder Cat Brooks to talk to her about a play she's developing about Natasha McKenna. Natasha was killed by sheriff's in Fairfax County Virginia in January of this year. Brooks will be premiering her Natasha monologue titled "'Tasha" at an event this Saturday and Sunday at Eastside Arts Alliance in Oakland, CA. 

Who is Natasha McKenna?

Natasha McKenna was the mother of a seven-year old. She suffered from schizophrenia. She was 37 years old [when she was murdered]. In January, just days before Yuvette Henderson was killed [by Emeryville Police] she called the police because she had been assaulted. When the police got to her - because of her mental state - they took her to the hospital and somewhere in the interaction they say that she assaulted a police officer and so they arrested her. This is important because it was clear they were dealing with mental health issues which is why they took her to the hospital to begin with.

"She was a real person with real feelings who experienced this horrific horrific crime. She was a person, right? She’s not just a name on a placard or a hashtag, she’s a human being."

They took her to the Fairfax County Jail and put her in a cell by herself and she lost it and so they decided to extract her from the cell and they were going to take her to a hospital and so six guys, five whom were in [hazmat] suits violently assaulted her for 45 minutes in an attempt to get her handcuffed and onto a gurney. She repeatedly said that she thought they were coming to kill her. In the process of that, they ended up tasing her 4 times. She died as a result of the tasing. Even though the coroner said she died because of how many times they tased her and they went against every [protocol of how to use the taser], even from the company who makes the taser, no charges are being brought against the police officers.

Natasha McKenna.

As we have seen in the recent past, media and social media focus on male victims of police brutality and that’s now changing due to efforts such as #SayHerName. Before it was almost as if cisgendered males were believed to be the most relatable subjects.  However, in your activism and in this current work you are presenting you are choosing to focus on somebody who is suffering from mental health challenges and who is a Black Woman . . . Why is this topic important to you and why do you think this is a problem that affects us all?

Well I’m a Black Woman and I’m a Black Woman who has bad days. I really think it started with Yuvette’s murder honestly. I’ve been doing this work for a long time and a vast majority of that work has been centered around holding up the lives of Black Men. When Yuvette was murdered, I don’t know if it’s because we’re close in age or if it’s because we’re both mothers or it was right around the corner from my house or all those things combined and just synergistically -  because I think of the Black Lives Matter movement being led by women and unapologetically so - some space opened up to really fit in the fact that we are being murdered by police at a godawful rate too and somewhere I knew that and always knew that and I’ve had my own experiences with police-terror but there just wasn’t the space. It had yet to be opened up. All of those things combined hit me in a particular way. That’s been the primary focus of my work.

My recent decision to leave my full-time regular job and really focus on being an artist and activist and merging those two worlds together, I’ve chosen to focus specifically on telling the stories of those [people] whose stories don’t get told.

What the Black community does not need is for it to be Black Men against Black Women. Like who suffers the most? I’m not interested in that and that’s a very dangerous conversation. I think the conversation is about - if we’re going to get liberated - it’s got to be all of us. In order for real liberation to happen we have to tell the whole story and so that means talking about women, transgender and queer people too.

Tell us about this weekend’s Monologue? How did you choose the topic and what did the process of writing the piece entail?

Again, I made this decision to shift my life in major ways and to really focus on my art. I’m a poet. Initially the idea I had was to tell a bunch of the women's stories, a series of monologues, Rekia, Natasha, Yuvette, Sandra. I didn’t know who I was going to write first and I was literally in bed, it was three o’clock in the morning and Natasha - this is going to sound crazy. If you’re an artist this doesn’t sound crazy but it might sound crazy to other people. Natasha just

 ". . .if we’re going to get liberated - it’s got to be all of us. In order for real liberation to happen we have to tell the whole story and so that means talking about women, transgender and queer people too."

started talking - in my head - really loudly, to the point where I had to get up and write what she was saying. It was just sort of free form. I just typed and I didn’t edit and I just let it all come out. Next I watched the video in pieces. I could never watch it all the way through in one shot. It’s incredibly painful, the video that the sheriff’s put out about her murder. I watched that repeatedly. I watched a lot of videos of people who [suffer from] schizophrenia. And I cried a lot. Then it became clear to me that it’s not going to be a story of all these different woman, I wanted to tell Natasha’s story so I made the commitment to do that. Once I made the commitment out loud to do that the community has really responded with extreme support. That’s how this weekend came about.

This weekend are “artists response to police violence” put on by NAKA dance company who are the same folks who brought us the The Anastasio Project, which is an incredibly powerful piece around police-terror. There are several other artists participating. I think it should be a pretty incredible night at Eastside Arts Alliance.

Is this the premiere of the monologue?

It’s the first time performing it publicly. I’ve been working pretty intensely with a director and coach and we’ll see what happens.

Will you develop this into a full play in the future?

Yes, that’s the end goal. I want to have the first draft of the play completed in February of 2016 and we’ll have our first public reading in February as well.

Many people know you as a co-founder of Oakland’s Anti Police-Terror Project and you’re a seasoned grassroots activist. How important is creating art when it comes to the struggle for liberation?

Art is central to my life. Period. I’ve been on the stage since I was eight years old. It’s what I got my degree in. It’s what I thought I was going to be doing for the rest of my life and then two things occurred. I had my daughter and Oscar Grant got killed. Those two things consumed me so I sacrificed my art and now I’m back to it. Artist’s are the conscience of the community. We just are. I’ve always believed that my entire life. I’ve always felt that I’m supposed to use my talent or my gifts or this calling to make the world a better place, to say things that can’t be said in other places, to challenge the status quo, to force people to think and to take risks. To be an unapologetic truth teller. To me it goes hand-in-hand, particularly in the Bay Area every single major movement that we have has this beautiful cultural parallel path that happens:  Murals  and music and poetry and dance. It’s one of the things that I love about being here.

Cat Brooks addressing protestors at a rally to demand the release of Yuvette Henderson surveillance footage.

I know you’re very busy rushing to a panel right now. Just one more quick question. If people could take just one thing from this weekend’s monologue, what do you wish it to be?


I hope they walk away with Natasha’s humanity. She was a real person with real feelings who experienced this horrific horrific crime. She was a person, right? She’s not just a name on a placard or a hashtag, she’s a human being.

Interview by Frank Sosa @sosanista

Additional sources about Natasha McKenna:

The Washington PostBy withholding jail video, Fairfax County sends a message that it opposes accountability.

Think Progress. No Criminal Charges For Deputies Who Tased Shackled Woman With Four 50,000 Volt Shocks.