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MORE THAN 100 San Francisco Bay Area activists and members of the Black community in Oakland, Calif., came together May 12 for a march for justice for Alan DeWayne Blueford, an 18-year-old high school senior gunned down by Oakland police officers at midnight on May 6.
The march was led by several members of Alan’s family and began with a solemn moment of prayer led by his uncle, an ordained minister. But as soon as the march got underway, the tone turned immediately to righteous outrage.
With raised fists and a wheelchair-rigged sound system, marchers called out the racist and murderous practices of the Oakland Police Department (OPD), which has an infamous history of terrorizing Oakland’s Black communities. Chants of “Justice for Alan!” were interrupted by calls to “Jail the killer cops—now!” and to “Stop the war…on the Black community!” as well as “OPD, you can’t hide! We charge you with genocide!”
… [Alan] and his friends were hanging out at 90th Avenue and Birch Street when two police officers, driving with their lights off, approached the three young men with their firearms drawn.
Fearing a confrontation, Alan ran about two blocks down Birch Street and stopped by a lamppost around some well-lit houses. The police officers fired three times into Alan’s body—including his stomach and leg. After those initial shots, witnesses report hearing a fourth shot. One police officer sustained a bullet wound to the foot and was rushed to the hospital.
The official OPD story changed several times. Initially, OPD-sponsored witnesses said “the suspect” was shooting at police, and that they “believed the young men had a concealed weapon.” Other stories included the claim that Alan died on the porch steps of a house, shooting into the air, and another that he was running down the street, firing randomly. It was later shown that Alan was killed under the lamppost where he had stopped.
The OPD also claimed that a gun was found 30 feet from the body, but forensics tests show Alan never fired a gun. The OPD’s website later admitted that the injured police officer’s wound was self-inflicted. He shot himself in the foot and was rushed to the hospital.
The original OPD story stated that Alan was also rushed to the hospital and succumbed to his wounds there, but the reality is that he was left in the street for more than four hours.