Black Journalists Arrested at
Oakland Peace March
By Mary Ratcliff
At the National Student Strike and Peace March in Oakland, California
on March 5th, aggressive police attacked the peaceful, singing crowd of
young and elderly people of color with their motorcycles and weapons.
Two reporters from the SF Bay View newspaper were injured and then also
Thursday, March 6 - Two of the three people arrested at
the peace march yesterday in Oakland were Bay View editors JR and Ra'shida.
All day today the Bay View has been swamped with press calls. Media find
the story interesting because the marchers were mostly young and Black,
unlike those in other anti-war protests so far, the police were unusually and extremely
aggressive, journalists were singled out for attack (we've just learned
that JR's camera was run over by a police motorcycle), and, of course, the
backdrop is a Bay Area caught up in unprecedented police scandals.
The media are also interested in our perspective
because the truth is diametrically opposed to the police statements they
heard - and believed - immediately after the march. The San Francisco
Chronicle, for example, reported, "Police arrested three marchers at Jack
London Square who charged
a police motorcade, said Oakland Police Deputy Chief Patrick Haw." That
statement is absurd - almost silly - on its face. TV anchors, parroting
the police, reported that the people arrested had been throwing rocks and
bottles. That's hard to do with a camera in your hand.
Ra'shida and JR were bailed out of jail and have been
interviewed all day. They are very sore but more determined than ever to
fight for justice and use the press attention to enlighten the people.
Here's the Bay View press release, which was written by Taiwo
Oakland - March 5 marked the day for the National
Student Strike against the war. High school and college students from San
Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and around the Bay Area walked out of classes
today in support of peace. Instead of protecting this peaceful protest,
however, Oakland Police marred the day by brutally attacking the youth and
several elderly people accompanying them. Gathering in downtown Oakland's
Frank Ogawa Plaza, the
protest began peacefully with police looking on. As 300 to 400 students,
most from local high schools, marched peacefully down Broadway toward Jack
London Square, carrying a banner, singing and chanting in the tradition of
nonviolent protest, members of the Oakland Police Department began
following the protesters, and the number of officers steadily increased.
Once the students reached Jack London Square, police
began attacking them, running into the demonstrators with their
motorcycles. Ra'shida Askey, managing editor and staff writer for the San
Francisco Bay View newspaper, asked officers why they were running over
the young marchers. In response, a black female police officer grabbed
Ra'shida by the neck and placed her in a chokehold. The Bay View's
associate editor, JR Valrey, who was also covering the march, came to his
colleague's aid. At this point, several officers swarmed both JR and
Ra'shida, knocking them to the ground and beating them both. Ra'shida
sustained the most injuries.
JR and Ra'shida were placed in a paddy wagon. When
another arrested demonstrator, Kelly Duncan, joined them, the Black woman
police officer holding her remarked, "It was three of them! I should have
been able to use my gun."
The two Bay View journalists are currently being
detained at the Oakland City Jail and have been refused release on their
own recognizance. They are being charged with obstructing and battering a
police officer and resisting arrest. The extent of their injuries is
These unprovoked attacks are yet another example of the
out of control conduct of the Oakland Police Department and police
departments across the nation. The ferocity and severity of the attack on
these two Black journalists, representing a Black newspaper, and on young
demonstrators - predominantly Black high school students - looks
suspiciously like a case of racial profiling. In the Bay Area, known for
racial diversity, political activism, and overwhelming opposition to U.S.
plans for war, such attacks on freedom of speech and of the press are
In a show of support, please share this information
widely and make your opinions known to the Oakland Mayor's Office at (510)
238-3141 and the Oakland Chief of Police at (510) 238-3365.
This article originally appeared in the
San Francisco Bay View and was posted on