Oakland, Calif. – The “Justice 4 Alan Blueford” campaign went into high gear during mid-July, culminating in the family receiving the coroner’s report, after two months of stalling, and the filing of a federal civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit. The campaign also held a large coalition meeting, broadening the support base.
Blueford was just 18 years old when he was killed by Officer Miguel Masso of the Oakland Police Department on May 6. A Black youth, Blueford was a month away from graduating from Oakland’s Skyline High School when he became the victim of a random OPD stop and frisk, and was detained without cause with two of his friends. The OPD has changed its stories several times about why they stopped the three Black youths, how Masso was shot (Masso later admitted shooting himself), how Blueford was shot, and any medical care Blueford did or didn’t receive.
On July 19, the Blueford family, together with the J4AB campaign, held a press conference in front of the Alameda County coroner’s office to demand the release of the coroner’s report. The OPD had originally put a hold on its release, seemingly in an attempt to allow them time to develop their story. The police report, according to the Oakland city administrator, may not be released for six to 12 months.
Jeralynn Blueford, the victim’s mother, spoke with heavy emotion during the press conference: “I as his mother and our family deserve to know what happened to my baby. Reports are all we have. We would like answers.” Blueford’s father, Adam Blueford, continued, “[The] story keeps changing. We want the truth. … [We are] not going to stand for anything but the truth.”
One of the lawyers supporting the J4AB campaign, Dan Siegel, pointed out, “Alan was not engaged in a gun battle, the officer shot himself. I normally get police reports in one to three days.” Walter Riley, another attorney, talked about how “police rode up on three young Black men, lights off, came out of their car with guns pointed. … Do we have to ask the community to show their rage, take to the streets?”
Tanesha Walls Blye, Blueford’s cousin and an attorney, stated: “Even in [Alan’s] death he deserves respect, not assassination of his character. Together we marched and rallied as a community and a family. … Chief [Howard] Jordan stood in Acts Full Gospel Church claiming Alan received immediate medical care. Evidence proves Alan was never taken to the hospital. … [The] only thing [that] happened were acts to ensure that he died in hopes that his story would die with him. They didn’t anticipate the love of his family.”
Struggle releases coroner’s report
Walls Blye spoke about some of the campaign’s demands, including “public acknowledgement of the lies, repeal of the Officers’ Bill of Rights, and changes to stop and frisk, which we consider stop and kill.” Other demands include that Masso be fired and charged with Blueford’s murder, and that OPD Chief Jordan be held accountable for lying to the Blueford family.
Under public pressure, the OPD pulled its hold on the coroner’s report. After the press conference, attended by all the major Bay Area media, the report was finally released to the family, who were required to pay $321 for it. To add insult to injury, the report contained no pictures. The family was told that release of the pictures would require a court order. The report confirmed that there was no gun powder residue on Blueford’s hands and no drugs or alcohol in his system.
A federal civil rights and wrongful death suit was filed by attorney John Burris on behalf of the Blueford family. Burris also represented the family of Oscar Grant, who was murdered by Bay Area Rapid Transit police on Jan. 1, 2009. The suit is filed against the City of Oakland, Jordan, Masso and 25 other unnamed OPD officers. It claims Masso shot Blueford three times while he was already on the ground and presented no threat. It also claims that Masso and a fellow officer sparked the events leading up to the shooting by detaining Blueford and his friends without cause, violating their civil rights, and that the firing of three shots into Blueford was an excessive use of force.
On July 21, a community barbecue was held at Arroyo Park in East Oakland, near where Blueford was killed. The J4AB campaign, with support from Occupy Oakland, fed 300 people at the barbecue. Family members and others talked to the community about how Blueford was killed and the campaign demanding justice, an end to stop and frisk and repeal of the Officers’ Bill of Rights.
The J4AB campaign is planning a rally in front of Oakland City Hall on July 31 at 5 p.m. City Council meetings normally commence at that time, but all meetings have been cancelled until September. So J4AB will be delivering subpoenas to all the council members, demanding their presence at the rally to explain why they haven’t taken action demanding release of the police report, the firing and charging of Masso, and a public admission by Chief Jordan as to all the lies told to the family, the press and the community.