Monday, January 19, 2009

Thoughts on our new president and Oscar Grand

The world is about to change and I can feel it.

Every time I hear Obama's voice I think to myself, "This man will soon lead the free world! Anything is possible."

That said, I am struck by the dialogue on race that is taking place all around me.

On New Years Eve an unarmed man named Oscar Grand was shot by BART police.

Standers-by captured the event on their cell phones. The video can be seen on Youtube or at AOL video.

On January 1 I moved to Oakland. I love my building and my neighbors and I don't feel that I live in an unsafe place.

On January 6 I experienced riots that took place as a result of this shooting. Protesters shut down two BART stations and did a considerable amount of damage to down town Oakland. They were appalled with inaction of the BART Board of directors and the local district attorney's office.

Cars were burned, helicopters were everywhere and most voices on the street sounded outraged.

I went outside that evening to walk my dog and my neighbor and I both ran back inside- our eyes were burning either with smoke or tear gas- I could not smell either, but whatever was out there was pretty awful on the eyes. All told there was about $150,000 worth of damage done that evening. Most all of the downtown restaurants closed that evening. I was sad to learn that my favorite coffee shop had its windows broken.

Oakland was in lock down the next day- helicopters continued to circle above and the police force in and around the BART stations was visible even to me- someone without sight.

On Wednesday January 14 another protest was scheduled based on whether or not the District Attorney decided to press charges against the officer.

This time I experienced a different Oakland from the week before.

This Oakland was filled with people talking... I saw a preacher and a group of young men talking about the city's contracting award procedures. Another group was talking about the police shooting Oscar because he is black. Still another group of people I passed on the street were talking about president Obama and whether or not he will re-vitalize down town Oakland.

So as I prepare to listen to the voices around me in Oakland tomorrow, on this historic day, I remember the words of St. Augustine, "Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are."
God Bless America.

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