Oakland, Calif. — A combined task force of Oakland Police Department officers, FBI and U.S. marshals on March 9 chased respected Black community leader Jabari Shaw, causing a crash that injured Shaw’s four-year-old daughter and the driver. Shaw’s friend Mary Valencourt, who was driving, and little Anniyah each have multiple fractures in their legs and other serious injuries.
Police later claimed it was a case of mistaken identity. The task force of officers had originally approached the car in plain clothes with weapons drawn. The terrified driver, Valencourt, fearing for their lives, took off and the still unidentified officers pursued. When those in the fleeing car finally saw some red and blue police lights inside one of the cars, Valencourt tried to stop, but the car was pushed into a paratransit van.
The victims say the officers violently pulled them from the car, including Shaw’s young daughter, without regard to aggravating injuries caused by the crash. Officers put guns to the heads of both Shaw and Valencourt. Shaw has muscles torn in his chest and sprains in the rotator cuff in his shoulder. Shaw says he is still having a hard time breathing normally.
Police filed no charges against either Shaw or Valencourt. Despite this, Shaw points out the OPD continues to refer to him in news articles as “the suspect.”
According to a public statement on the matter by the Community Ready Corps, “Increased collaboration between OPD and federal agencies like the FBI and U.S. Marshals is part of the militarization of local law enforcement.”
Mayor Libby Schaaf is working hard to portray her aggressive policing strategies as “cracking down on crime” and “helping Oaklanders sleep better at night,” but this incident reveals what the “Black Lives Matter” movement has been saying all along: Police are dangerous and have no respect for Black lives. Not even the lives of Black children.
Jabari Shaw is a well-known leader in Oakland’s Black community and easily identifiable. The mistaken identity claim is almost laughable. He points out that he walks to the store a block away from his home every day and was sitting on his front porch for an hour before the three got in the car. He asks, why couldn’t they have approached him then? Why too, if they saw his daughter getting in the car with them, did they decide to approach with guns pointed?
Shaw was involved in the Justice for Oscar Grant movement, Occupy Oakland, Occupy for Prisoners and the Justice for Alan Blueford Coalition among other activities protesting police violence and defending education rights. A proud father, he almost always has his children with him as he works to support the community. He was a leader of the Black Student Union at Laney College and is now working on his bachelor’s degree at San Francisco State University. He is also known for performing rap and spoken word, having been featured in an MTV video called “Burn” about the Oscar Grant movement by Killer Mike.
For more information, see the video, “Servant of the People: The Community Work of Jabari Shaw,” by Earl Black with the date August 2012 (tinyurl.com/om5qvrf). A community fundraiser at Oakland’s Eastside Arts Alliance on Sunday, March 29 at 1 p.m., will raise support for the Shaw family and the other two victims of police violence to help with their mounting medical bills. See the Facebook page at tinyurl.com/nstsp98.