From Oscar Grant to Lovelle Mixon - Oakland's Troubled Legacy

New America Media, Commentary, David Muhammad Posted: Mar 24, 2009

Editor's Note: Lovelle Mixon might not have been thinking about Oscar Grant when he shot the police officers in Oakland. But in a community with a long troubled history with police, many are making that connection, says David Muhammad. A native of Oakland, Calif., Muhammad now co-directs Washington, D.C.'s juvenile detention system as chief of committed services, Department of Youth and Rehabilitative Services.

Four Oakland Police Department (OPD) officers killed, another shot, and a young assailant dead. This is tragic and unfortunate. Period.

I begin this way to make sure that message is not lost as I also explain how so many others in Oakland saw this story. I received a barrage of phone calls, text messages, and emails shortly after the initial shooting of two officers, and the messages kept pouring in after three more officers were shot and the suspect killed.

Every one of the people I spoke with, young and old, all merged this tragic incident with the killing of Oscar Grant on New Years day by a BART police officer. It is quite possible that Lovelle Mixon had no thoughts of Oscar Grant. Lovell was a parolee out from prison for assault with a deadly weapon. He had apparently violated his parole, and a warrant for his arrest was issued. Maybe he just didnt want to go back to prison. But in the minds of many Oaklanders, the two horrific shootings that of Oscar Grant and that of five OPD officers were connected.

After the announcement of the death of the fourth officer, I received one very disturbing text message from a young man who was incensed by the Oscar Grant murder: Us: 4 - Them: 1

I was born and raised in Oakland. I grew up, like most of my friends, with a fair dose of fear, distrust, and animosity toward police. I was a teenager in 1988 when NWA released its controversial hit, F the Police.

One night that same year, I was hanging out with a very large group of friends and fellow junior high school students. There were approximately 25 of us standing on the corner when, unbeknownst to me, four of the guys tried to take the car of a couple who had pulled up in a nearby parking lot. Now, I participated in my fair share of delinquent acts as a juvenile, but this crime I wanted no part in. I walked off with my cousin.

While walking home, an OPD car pulled up alongside of us I immediately ran off. I sprinted through several back yards, jumping over fences and leaping over bushes. I ran right into a waiting cop on the other side of a fence. It was pitch black, in the back of an apartment complex, and I had angered the pursuing officers. I stopped and put my hands up I anticipated being badly beaten.

The officer slammed me onto a bed of rocks, busting open my lip. He stepped on my neck with his boot and when his partner arrived he stomped on my back. And though that was clearly excessive force, when I was then picked up, handcuffed and led to the car, I was astonished that it ended there. The officers took me to the couple who had almost been carjacked and when they said I was not involved, I was let go. (Ironically, one of the handcuffs wouldnt come off so the officers took me to the fire department to have it cut off before they drove me home)

I had many friends who were not nearly as fortunate as I. Oakland is a town long known for the animosity between citizens and police. Such strained relations gave birth to what the city is best known for in many parts of the country the Black Panther Party.

And it was that spirit of the Panthers that had so many people I spoke with connecting what Lovelle Mixon did to Oscar Grant. Many in Oakland are still furious that three months after Johannes Mehserle murdered Grant that he has not been convicted and sent to prison.

The death of four police officers, who seemed to have been honorable servants of public safety, has the potential to fuel more disdain among cops for the black community. This will, of course, create greater distrust of police within the community. It can become like the deadly gang rivalries that go back and forth for generations that these same officers try to stop.

There is great need for healing in Oakland. A leading cause of on-going street violence is the lack of trust between the community and law enforcement. The tension in Oakland since the murder of Oscar Grant had amassed into a powder keg, and it ignited.

Whether Mixon lit it intentionally or not we may never know, but it was lit. And now, before it gets even worse, a deliberate, public, sincere healing is needed in Oakland.

Related Articles:

Oakland Police Massacre Casts Ugly Glare on Ex-Felon Desperation

An Infamous Legend is Born and a Community is Under Siege

First Response: Oakland Young People React to Police Killings



Page 1 of 1

Share/Save/Bookmark

User Comments


Melissa on Mar 28, 2009 at 07:59:43 said:

For one I am tired of the race card...would it have better if Grant and Mixon got shot by a black officer...No. As far as the two of them, I would be OUTRAGED if I were Grant's family. Yes their son had a record, but he was obeying the orders of the BART cop and he got shot in the back, accident or not his death was traggic, but probally wouldn't be that big of a deal if it was a black officer. Say I am wrong but there are a number of you that know I am right. But to compare him to this piece of &*#$ Mixon, please. Mixon didn't just have a record, he had a failure to appear, which was his choice...I mean come on how hard is it to meet with your parole officers, if he would have the warrent would have never been issued...but Mixon couldn't keep his head striaght...he had rape, car jacking, robbery, and for a person that is "trying to get his life in order" carrying around a weapon that is made to go through bullet proof vest...is complete CRAP. I hope I NEVER hear these two names in the same sentence again. It's pathetlic. And again...the quote in the story "But in the minds of many Oaklanders, the two horrific shootings that of Oscar Grant and that of five OPD officers were connected." I have a couple of things to say...one they are not connected...two there was NOT 5 OPD...there was a Bart cop and 4 OAKLAND POILCE...

Some people say the reason Oakland is so bad are the cops??? Really? Because I don't remember people looking for apartments or houses saying "Oh, east oakland, I can't move there the cops are bad...get real they are saying that because of people that are like Mixon" Would you not be scared knowing your neighbor has a gun designed to go through walls, go through bullet proof vest...He could have killed anyone that day, by a stray bullet, in a way thank god he only killed four cops, and not others. Not that I agree with the death of the cops in anyway, but can you imagine the bullet going through the wall ad hitting his sister, or even a young child walking in the street coming home from school. At least the cops know what they face everyday. I grieve for the wives and the kids...my dad was a cop and is retired now, Thank god. I really don't know what I would do if I lost him, especially the way they lost their loved ones. Oakland does have potential, and if no one else agrees with that, watch the news, when a young black man from Oakland can say "yes there are some really bad cops, but the majority of them are civial human beings that are trying to serve and protect" makes me regain hope. Or what about the little black boy saying he likes motorcycles and he dreams of being a motocycle cop. There is hope, and if this did come from killing of the four police officers, I salute and tip my hat to every single police officer out there, dead, alive and retired. Know that there are still little kids that want to grow up and be just like you! As a daughter of a deaputy sheriff (sgt.) - I wish I can tell the kids especially the 14 year old daughter that things will be okay and get easier, but the truth is it will get easier until you have those special occiasions when you want/need your dad to be there. My heart goes out to them.


Reese on Mar 26, 2009 at 18:46:34 said:

Do the people who are furious about the fact that Mehserle's trial has not begun realize that our court system is slow for everyone? In fact, the trial for Alberto Alvarez, the man accused of killing East Palo Alto officer Richard May was just about to start (and is now being delayed until August). Officer May was killed 3.5 years ago. If it takes 4 years for an officers family to have \"justice\", why should anyone reasonably expect \"justice\" for anyone else any faster than that?


Steve DeWitt on Mar 26, 2009 at 16:27:06 said:

It\'s punks like you that make me sick!! You just walk away?? No thought of maybe assisting those two innocent people?? typical african-american think.. walk away then run..


Steve DeWitt on Mar 25, 2009 at 20:12:18 said:

It's punks like you that make me sick!! You just walk away?? No thought of maybe assisting those two innocent people?? typical african-american think.. walk away then run.. No wonder why you'll never raise above street trash.


Peter on Mar 25, 2009 at 18:55:45 said:

You ran!?!?!? Why? You did nothing wrong. Why not try to stop the ones doing the carjacking. You try to justify your actions by just leaving. That is what's wrong. You want "change" but you yourself still condone criminal behavior.

No one deserves to die the way the four cops died or even the way Oscar Grant died.
However, on the day Oscar Grant died, no one comments on the animalistic behavior of the youth screaming, yelling, cussing and taunting of the officers as they tried to do their job.

A criminal is a criminal.

Mixon was an animal who got what he deserved...it's devastating that he took four cops with him that were just doing their jobs. He knew he was in the wrong and made his decision.

Mr. Muhammad, your analysis is weak at best.

You expect too much.


Oakland Native on Mar 25, 2009 at 17:41:15 said:

It amazes me that you can write this article and not realize YOU are part of the problem with Oakland.

Police Abuse?? Really?? You were hanging around with a group of people who attempted to carjack a couple and when the police try to talk with you about it you run. By running you made the decision not to be part of the solution, but to be part of the problem. Why didn't you try to stop your friends from doing something criminal. Why did you run from the police? Why not say, yeah there was a carjacking and I know who did it - let me help you find them so we can take those criminals off the streets.

It sickens me that people like you complain, but do nothing to help the sittuation- instead you just cry racism.


Glenn Donovan on Mar 25, 2009 at 16:25:55 said:

There is no connection between Oscar Grant's unfortunate and ACCIDENTAL death to this marauding animal's wanton slaughterfest. As a person with a high position in the criminal justice system, you have to hold yourself to a higher standard than grasping whatever racial hyperbole feels most righteous. You have a duty to tell those folks the truth.

You are so blind, you can't even see that your story of police abuse isn't even abuse. Apparently you were hanging out in a group of people where a carjacking happened. The police were cruising the area looking for suspects, questioning people. You fled - an indicia of guilt, btw - and by your own admission were only restrained, not beaten. My guess is that you were struggling and resisting arrest when your neck was stepped on. But you can't see the restraint in this encounter - it doesn't fit your narrative but you use it anyway knowing that your brethren won't call you on this nonsense.

The longer you hang on to your racist narrative, the more you cripple yourself, and by extension your "community".


Glenn Donovan on Mar 25, 2009 at 16:21:05 said:

There is no connection between Oscar Grant's unfortunate and ACCIDENTAL death to this marauding animal's wanton slaughterfest. As a person with a high position in the criminal justice system, you have to hold yourself to a higher standard than grasping whatever racial hyperbole feels most righteous. You have a duty to tell those folks the truth.

You are so blind, you can't even see that your story of police abuse isn't even abuse. Apparently you were hanging out in a group of people where a carjacking happened. The police were cruising the area looking for suspects, questioning people. You fled - an indicia of guilt, btw - and by your own admission were only restrained, not beaten. My guess is that you were struggling and resisting arrest when your neck was stepped on. But you can't see the restraint in this encounter - it doesn't fit your narrative but you use it anyway knowing that your brethren won't call you on this nonsense.

The longer you hang on to your racist narrative, the more you cripple yourself, and by extension your "community".


Anon on Mar 25, 2009 at 09:47:32 said:

It is sickening that anyone would link Mixon to Oscar Grant. The only thing these two situations have in common is that they occurred in Oakland. That's all. They are in no way related.

Mixon was a criminal and a cold-blooded killer and it's as simple as that. He didn't stand for any ideology. He took the lives of four police officers who did absolutely nothing to deserve it. Now their wives are widows and their children are fatherless.

Oakland has so much potential, but I wonder whether it will ever be able to shed its horrible reputation.

-->




Advertisement


ADVERTISEMENT


Just Posted

NAM Coverage

Criminal Justice

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisements on our website do not necessarily reflect the views or mission of New America Media, our affiliates or our funders.