Seminary of the Street

Confronting Police Terror

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Police Brutality = Police Terror

From Ferguson to Oakland and to every city in this country, increasingly militarized police forces serve to terrorize, contain, and control low-income communities of color and others who pose an existential threat to an unjust status quo. As Rev. Starsky Wilson proclaimed at the Black Lives Matter convening in St. Louis in August 2014, police brutality now joins the cross and the lynching tree as symbols of imperial domination.

 We at Seminary of the Street have been involved in the struggle against police terror since 2009, when Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed 21-year-old Oscar Grant where he lay face down and handcuffed on the BART platform. Our perspective in shaped by the analysis of Rev. Lynice Pinkard, which can be found in her article, "The Master's Mehserle Cannot Dismantle the Master's House."

We are collecting here reports and photos from some of the actions in which we have taken part, as well as biblical and other analyses we find especially compelling.

We are excited to announce a national gathering for Christians and other Jesus followers who are active in the Movement for Black Lives and who would like to explore how liturgical direct action can disrupt business as usual and cast a vision for a different kind of community safety that does not involve militarized policing and police terror. Click here for more information.

On September 9, 2016, we joined with the Stop Urban Shield coalition to disrupt the annual Urban Shield conference at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. Urban Shield is a militarized weapons expo and SWAT Team training for police departments and other first responders from around the country and many other countries around the world. Using racialized scenarios and the spector of terrorism, this training fosters racism, militarized response, and xenophobia. The struggle to end Urban Shield continues. Alameda County residents are urged to contact Alameda county supervisors and ask them to defund Urban Shield.

On November 25, 2015, a number of us were part of a sit-in at the Alameda County Courthouse to demand that charges be dropped against the Black Friday 14, a group of 14 protestors who stopped BART trains on Black Friday 2014 to draw attention to the war on Black Lives. We were arrested, cited, and released. Ten days later, all charges were dropped against the Black Friday 14!

On December 5, 2014, many of us joined other organizations in a historic four hour and 28 minute shutdown of the Oakland Police Headquarters to raise awareness of and call for an end to police killings of Black and Brown people. A number of us were arrested, but all of us have been released.

Love Warriors Blockade the Site of Urban Shield
Photo credit: Joshua Eaton

On August 31, as the Black Lives Matter convening drew to a close in St. Louis, we joined the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and other allies in a meditation blockade and public protest around the downtown Oakland Marriott Hotel, host of the Urban Shield weapons expo and militarized police training. This was the first event in a week of education and action around the Urban Shield conference. We are delighted to announce that Oakland will no longer host Urban Shield held every year in Oakland and surrounding areas.  Read T. Thorn Coyle's powerful reflection on the blockade,  "Opposition Is a Prayer."

Shortly after midnight on May 6, 2012, 18-year-old Alan Blueford was shot and killed by Oakland police officer Miguel Masso. When he was killed, Alan was fleeing from police harrassment on a street corner. We have been involved with the Blueford family and the larger Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition in an effort to open an investigation of the case and bring justice to the officer who killed this unarmed teenager. After repeatedly having doors slammed in our faces, we are now asking state attorney general Kamala Harris to require the local district attorney to reopen the case.
Nichola prays at rally to pressure Kamala Harris to reopen the case 

On July 8, 2010, a group of concerned people from Seminary of the Street took part in the protest of the verdict of involuntary manslaughter for Johannes Mehserle, not because we want to see any person spend more time in the prison system that is swallowing and brutalizing so many black and brown men, but because we long for some acknowledgment of the loss of Oscar Grant's life and the lives of many other victims of police brutality. The original "Call to Lament and Action" can be found here.