A Tale of Two Threats: Who Do the Police Let Live When Danger is Present?

Yesterday something strange and quite frightening took place in the San Francisco Bay Area. A distraught 51-year-old man named Craig Carlos-Valentino hoped in his SUV during the height of rush hour and drove from Antioch to the middle of the Bay Bridge which is one of most traveled spans in the country.  Accompanying him was his 16 year daughter.

Carlos-Valentino stopped his car mid-span and  called local news station KCBS where he announced that his car was wired with explosives and he had a gun. he then followed up his call to the police where he announced the same thing. Needless to say local authorities went nuts. They stopped traffic, alerted the bomb squad, the free way entrances were closed. People upon hearing this man had a bomb started turning around on the freeway and headed back toward Oakland. Local programming was interrupted  and everyone was on edge. We had a man on the Bay Bridge who was ready to blow things up.

Everyone was on edge because they remembered an angry man White supremacist named Byron Williams who back in July was stopped by police on the 580 freeway leading to the Bay Bridge. He was stopped by police for some sort of traffic violation and came out with guns blazing. Williams had on full body armor and had an arsenal fit for a small army. When all was said and done, Williams shot 3 officers and left the freeway strewn with bullets. Williams was on his way to San Francisco to kill liberal workers at the Tides Foundation.

Craig Carlos-Valentino

With respect to Carlos-Valentino and his bomb threat, everyone was on alert. There was a stand-off on the bridge during which this man tossed his gun, allowed his daughter to run off to the arms of police who were near by.  He threatened to commit suicide  and was talked off the ledge of the bridge, the whole time folks had no idea about his car. Did it or did it not have explosives?

Eventually Carlos-Valentino was taken into custody. We later learned this man was upset because his wife was cheating on him and was gearing up to leave him.

This man causes massive traffic jams and got all sorts of law enforcement involved to make sure he wasn’t a domestic terrorist. Later the police explained his ordeal and Mr Carlos-Valentino will live to see another day.

The key words here  ‘He got to live’. Police used caution. They explained away a man who potentially put thousands of people’s lives in danger as someone who was not real threat, but someone who was disturbed. In other words he was humanized.  We came away feeling sorry for this man. We don’t know if  Carlos-Valentino  was abusive, cheated or did anything wrong. He was just a trouble man who issued a bomb threat.

One has to wonder why such caution is not ever afforded to any number of people who have done far far less in terms of endangering the lives of others or themselves, yet wind up being killed by police.

We can look at Amadou Diallo reaching for his wallet.. Shot 41 times. The man had no criminal record and was un-armed.

We can look at the case of Sean Bell who shot 50 times drove away from a club where he held a bachelor party. Bell was unarmed, had committed no crime, but well-trained police thought he and his passengers had reached for a gun.

We can look at  the shooting death of 7 year old Ayana Stanley Jones in Detroit. Police busted into the wrong house looking for a suspect, beat her suprised  grandmother and shot Jones.

Last month Denroy Henry a star football player at Pace University was shot after being ordered to move his car from in front of club where a fight occurred. Henry who was not involved in the altercation, bumped a police officer with his car. End result was the cop unloading his gun into the car and killing an unarmed Henry.

This list can go on and on. One has to ask the hard questions, why can’t law enforcement show the same restraint they do so many others who arguably do far worse. Hell even Byron Williams is still alive and he shot down 3 cops. Why are these unarmed men and women always being killed by police?

Derrick Jones

This past Monday police were called to the Kwik Kuts barbershop in East Oakland owned by popular 37-year-old father Derrick Jones. Police say Jones was involved in a fight with a woman at the shop, not his wife and when they approached he ran away. Jones who was unarmed was shot 8 times by two officers, one of whom shot him twice while he lay on the ground.

Police said they thought the unarmed Jones was reaching for his waistband. Eye witnesses vehemently dispute the tale. Jones had his hands in the air and was shot by cops who many feel had a vendetta out for him.

According to neighborhood folks, Oakland cops never forgot or forgave the way Jones and his family stood up to police for their brutality and misconduct when he was 16 years old and was accused of stealing his own bike.  Disbelieving cops assaulted him and his 19-year-old sister . The family fought back and got two of the officers involved fired.

Over the years Jones was frequently stopped and harassed by police and so were many of his neighbors. As one shop owner who wished to remain anonymous explained, ‘Any excuse to smash on folks near the barbershop was used’.  Monday’s altercation was no different. This time the shooting death of yet another unarmed Black man in Oakland came on the heels of killer cop Johannes Mehserle receiving a super light 2 year sentenced for the murder of unarmed Oscar Grant.

We are posting up audio from the rally for Justice for Derrick Jones which took place in front of his barbershop yesterday. Folks need to check out what’s being said to get a full understanding of who he was, what his family did here in Oakland and how this relates to the injustice experienced by Oscar Grant’s family.

Here in pt1 Derrick Jones’ friend speaks about what happened after he got shot by Oakland police and the how witnesses are being intimidated by the police. Also Oscar Grant’s Uncle Bobby speaks and talks about what took place in the courtroom during sentencing. He reminds people what its gonna take to bring about justice and how the shooting of unarmed Derrick Jones and unarmed Oscar Grant are connected.

Minister Keith & Uncle Bobby

We finish off with some enlightening remarks from Yvette of BAMN who runs down what this case is about and why it appears to be some sort of vigilante killing. Jones was targeted by OPD


In pt 2 Minister Keith of the Nation of Islam gives a passionate speech about the legacy of ‘unarmed Black men’ being shot.  He also gives details as to how these shootings are supposed to be investigated. He calls out the DA Nancy Omally


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Justice 4 Oscar Grant (We Take a Look Back)pt1: Meeting w/the DA-Rally at Fruitvale

Today (July 1 2010) closing arguments began in the Oscar Grant trial. Its been a long time coming and a remarkable feat that we even got this far. The community spent a good 18 months organizing, struggling and resolving important issues around this case.

It was remarkable that folks came together in spite having different approaches and takes on how to go about doing things. There were church goers, militant folks, older, younger etc.  Lots of conversations, tense moments, but collective action at the end of the day…

Below are several videos that show what took place the day of the first rally for Oscar Grant at Fruitvale Bart on Jan 7th 2009.  It’s important to understand the full backdrop. First, people were still on a high that we had elected our first Black President Barack Obama. Many were excitedly gearing up to the inauguration. There was alot of hope and anticipation that a new day was coming…

For folks in Oakland, the murder of Oscar Grant at the hands of white officers including one (Tony Pirone) who called him a bitch ass nigger moments before he was shot, was a huge wake up call that we were not in a post racial society and on many levels it would be business as usual. The fact that Grant’s murder took place in front of hundreds of people, many who recorded this on cell phones spoke volumes. It was brazen. It was unthinkable and it was taken as  symbolic of the resentment and anger many percieved white folks having because of us having a Black President.  That was the talk early on in january of 2009.

Second thing to keep in mind.. 7 days had gone by and there had not been an announcement , press conference or any public statement from Mayor Ron Dellums or the District Attorney Tom Orloff about what many had started calling an execution. BART had a spokesperson speak to this, but no one from their board that oversaw the agency had come forth. In the meantime, residents were seeing this video being played over and over again which each day a new and clearer video surfacing.

This thing about the videos was important because one of the most troubling aspects of the shooting were BART police jumping on trains snatching people’s cell phones saying they were needed for evidence. To this day there’s no telling what was kept, erased altered etc..Again many were upset about the police taking cell phones which recorded this murder and there was no action taken agaisnt the police.

January 7th 2009 was the date of  Oscar Grant’s funeral. That morning, close to 100 clergy, activists and elected officials in Oakland’s Black community came to the steps of the Alameda County courthouse and held a press conference to announce their intention to secure a meeting with District Attormey Tom Orloff who up to that point had dismissed their requests both invidually and collectively. Peep the videos as they speak for themselves and provide a sense of what was going on at that time. All this went down before the riots/ rebellion that would take place later that evening..

This video shows a few of the many remarks that took place on the courthouse steps prior to the 100 Black Leaders entering the building to see District Attorney Tom Orloff.


This video shows what went down once people crowded into the lobby and asked to see the district Attorney. Keep in mind, folks including elected officials had been trying to meet with Orloff a day or two after Grant got shot. On the 7th day they said enough is enough and folks headed on down to his office.


After an hour of haggling District Attorney Tom Orloff finally agreed to meet with the group but would not allow press into the meeting.  He also said No recordings. For the first 15 minutes he was pretty dismissive of people’s concerns.. I pulled out my camera when he told one of the elders that he had no intention to go out and inform the community why he had not pressed charges. He said that job was on us as community leaders. I pulled out my camera at that point.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biU2Eza9p50

Below is a video of the start of the rally at Fruitvale BART on Jan 7th 2009. It was the same day that 100 Black Leaders were initially rebuffed by Thomas Orloff the DA who even after finally meeting did not offer to press charges on Johannes Mehserle the officer who killed Oscar Grant…

The rally at Fruivale BART took place later that afternoon and was put together by a newly formed group called CAPE Coalition against Police Executions..It was also the day of Oscar Grant’s funeral and many people were returning from there to the rally. Folks were very emotional.

What you’re seeing are excerpts from that rally… At the end of the video you see one of the more visible, outspoken and militant  figures during many of Oscar Grant protests.  His name is Mandingo Hayes he’s an activist who was later accused of being a police informant and a former pimp after a February 8  2003 Oakland Tribune article surfaced.  It’s a claim he has denied. You can see that article both online or in this California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice PDF on pg 13 where they have a report about how police informants are being used.

In the clip he is shown encouraging folks to leave the rally and go down to BART headquarters. His push was in direct conflict with what CAPE organizers wanted.. The back story to this was Hayes and his people were already at Fruitvale BART when rally organizers arrived. He had set up camp, was standing on top of the turnstyles and had pretty much shut down the station.. He wasn’t feeling the ‘peace and prayer’ vibe the organizers were putting out and let it be known. He kept calling for folks to take action..

Rally organizers tried to work out a compromise as they wanted to keep things more peaceful..

Eventually Hayes got back on the mic and made his call for folks to leave.. He and a crowd of about 50-100 people broke off and went downtown .. the rest is history.. It was the precurosr to what many call the Oakland Rebellion..


We continue looking back in the days after Oscar Grant’s death. This is more footage from the Rally at Fruitvale, just before the the riots/rebellions that took place in downtown that evening… Here you hear you see and hear controversial figure Mandingo Hayes hyping the crowd talking about he’s ready for action.. We also speak with rapper Deuce Eclipse.


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