The Guardian March 19, 2003

Police lay into hip-hop journalist

by Davey D

Hip Hop activists in San Francisco found themselves at odds with the police 
when high school students and Hip Hoppers from groups like Youth Force, 
SOUL, Street Academy and numerous other organisations took to the streets 
to participate in an anti-war demonstration. The Walk Outs were part of the 
national anti-war demonstrations that took place all over the country.

The Walk Outs marked one of the first times that large numbers of Black and 
Latino youth from the hood came out and voiced their opinion about the war. 
In the past few weeks there had been some concern that the large anti-war 
demonstrations did not have folks from the hood participating. But 
yesterday's event was different as folks from around the way came out in 
full force. Maybe that's what led to the drama that took place.

According to participants a number of police officers on motorcycles 
followed the group as they started walking from down town Oakland to the 
historic Jack London Square.

Apparently the march was taking place without a permit and the police felt 
they needed to monitor things. Long time Hip Hop journalist and community 
activist JR who was taking pictures and covering the march for the SF 
Bayview newspaper noted the irony of getting a permit to walk down the 
street and let your voices be heard.

It's not like these groups were rioting, looting, causing trouble or even 
holding up traffic. They simply assembled which is their right and let 
their voices be heard.

Shoved and hit

As the demonstration started to grow in size the motorcycle police moved in 
and attempted to use crowd control tactics to split up the group. Young 
high school kids suddenly found themselves being shoved and hit by officers 
on the motorcycles.

This activity set things off as folks began to yell at the officers. One 
young lady was pushed to the ground by an officer and that prompted 
demonstrators to yell even more.

A young Hip Hop writer named Rashida ran to the aid of the fallen woman 
only to be confronted by another officer who tackled her to the ground and 
broke her tooth.

JR who was travelling with Rashida stepped forth to see what was going on. 
He wanted to make sure that what he was seeing would be documented on film. 
He was carrying a camera. His camera was snatched and he was slammed to the 
ground with an officer putting his knee on his neck.

These harrowing images were caught on film by others and JR was shown on 
the evening news being dragged to the ground and arrested. Both he and 
Rashida were arrested and accused of kicking a police officer. For those 
who don't know JR is around 174 centimetres and skinny and would hardly be 
one to simply run up and start attacking an officer.

He phoned in from the city jail and explained that many people were in fear 
of their lives when the officers started becoming aggressive. Kids were 
being run over and shoved by the motorcycles and the police seemed bent on 
intimidating people he said.

He noted that most of the participants were not out in the streets 
attempting to do some sort of civil disobedience or get arrested. In fact 
they had been advised to avoid getting a police record. That can only have 
negative effects in the age of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act. There 
were enough Black folks caught up in the system and we don't need any more.

JR noted that it was extremely important that folks come out and be a part 
of the national anti-war demonstrations. Should war break out it's going to 
be a whole lot of folks from the hood who will be on the front line due to 
our large numbers in the armed forces. Hence we have a vested interest to 
weigh in.

JR also felt that the police with their aggressive tactics were attempting 
to discourage young folk from participating and having their voices heard.

As he was being driven to the police station, JR noted that one of the 
officers callously remarked that he should've "used his gun". I guess you 
can't get any clearer message than that.

* * *
FNV Newsletter

Back to index page