Recommendation: Find creative and non-violent ways to express community values and ideas, and stay involved
The final recommendation is directed at the citizenry of Oakland as a whole. The history of social movements—and the history of Oakland itself—suggests that no institution left to its own devices will ever promote lasting change without the support of a popular movement. This—in a nutshell—is why it is so important to safeguard the right of citizens to speak out, organize, and mobilize on behalf of principles they believe in. In other words, this is the ultimate reason why in the words of Rachel Lederman (panelist on the Dec. 12 event at Laney College) it is important to protect the “right to dissent.”
Community activists we spoke to talked about the need to find creative and means of expressing their ideas, and reaching new audiences.
Oakland—and the civil rights movement as a whole—has a powerful legacy of non-violence. That legacy is as strong today as it was historically. The power of that strategy comes not only from its inherent righteousness, the discipline requires, and its morality, but also from its effectiveness. Not all protesters believe in the wisdom of non-violence as a strategy. But if protestors do adopt non-violent protest strategies, the advice from reformers within the police department is that they will be far the more effective in helping the OPD to gradually shift its operational culture and tactics.
In the words of one community activist who helped organize the protests in response to the Oscar Grant shooting: “quite simply—stay ready.” Reform of the OPD will never be possible without the active involvement and insistence by Oaklanders that the time for reform is now.
What can the community – and particularly Oakland’s activist community – do to help promote human rights-consistent reforms in the OPD from the grassroots?