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Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson hosted an event at Beebe Memorial Cathedral in Oakland to start public discussion about the violence against young people of color. The event was in response to the recent high-profile cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, as well as the police force used during local protests. The panel consisted of well-known public leaders such as Mayor Jean Quan, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and State Senator Loni Hancock.
I could feel the grief people had for the young people of color who are victims of police brutality. All the seats were full and people were even standing along the walls to hear the conversation. People were eager to share their suggestions at the mic. Some talked about how the dehumanization of black males in the media has affected our society. Others suggested that police should not carry guns at all. Some even raised questions about where police tactics like tear gas come from. Others suggested that police need to learn how to be a better part of our community.
Although youth were the focus, it seemed as if we were not as represented in the room as we could have been. One person that spoke even stated that the lack of young men of color at the event was a “travesty” and then he walked out of the room. Nonetheless, that did not break the concentration of the meeting to find solutions to protect young people of color in our community.
Wanda Johnson, Oscar Grant’s mother, had a chance to vent about her situation as the mother of someone who was killed by an officer. Afterwards, the panel speakers went on to engage the audience with statistics and possible bills and solutions. In closing, Lee spoke about how bills need help being passed through Congress and our presence, as well as that of young people, is essential at future meetings.