Dozens of people were shut out of City Council Chambers for the Oct. 2 Council meeting, with offiicials citing safety
More than a hundred supporters of the family whose son, Alan Blueford, was shot and killed by police last May in a confrontation that has been shrouded in secrecy, crowded the Oakland City Council meeting Tuesday night and demanded the Council deliver a police investigation of what happened the night of the death.
Then, after five months of near silence from the city on this request and an hour of the crowd chanting at the meeting, Council President Larry Reid stood up in a huff and carried an Oakland Police Report on the shooting to the deceased man's father, Adam Blueford.
Clearly surprised since his pleas for information have gone unanswered in all these months and since Councilmembers had remained silent during the first hour of the meeting, Blueford accepted the report. Asked later if it was what he sought, he said no because significant portions of the report were redacted, or blocked out so they could not be read.
Still, it was some movement in a case that has left the family of the slain 18-year-old grieving and feeling wronged by their city, said their attorney John Burris outside of Council chambers, even as the crowd continued chanting.
"This is a major first step that should have been done a while ago," Burris said. He said he thought it was helped by "the public discourse" of the night as well as by his filing of a lawsuit against the department on behalf of the family.
Reid's seemingly spontaneous handing over of the report also came on the same day as the Oakland Police Department’s court-ordered monitor issued a report criticizing OPD for the number of situations in which officers fatally shot suspects and for inadequate internal investigations of those incidents. The monitor looked at nine officer shootings and said that internal investigations were too casual and too often favored officers. It was not clear whether Alan Blueford’s death was one of the shootings reviewed.
The 18-year-old was shot twice in the chest and once in the arm by police officer Miguel Masso late at night May 6 on 92nd Street. He was with others, but police have not said who those witnesses are. Police have said that Masso acted in self defense, but Blueford's parents have asked to see the police investigation because they do not believe their son had a weapon. Police have not provided the Blueford's with the investigation report in all this time. Parents Adam and Jeralynn Blueford have become increasingly vocal about their requests and demands.
"That was my baby, my son. And he is not coming back," Jeralynn Blueford said to the Council Tuesday. "What mother wouldn't want to know what happened to her baby?"
The moments she talked were the only quiet ones in the Council chambers that hour as people quieted down to listen to her pain-filled pleas.
"We're just trying to get answers, but every time we've been shut down," she said. "Please do something about this."
In a letter to Oakland Local, the Blueford's wrote, that when police officers decided on May 6 "to bother Alan and his friends, all they knew is that they were three African-American young men. That’s why Alan was murdered."
Michael Blye, Jeralynn Blueford's nephew and cousin to the slain Blueford, said the wait for information about the case "has been very disheartening" to the family and also to the larger community.
"There are kids who are impacted by what happened to Alan," he scolded the Council.
Distrust between the police department and the community has plagued Oakland and hindered crime prevention.
The police monitor was ordered by the judge who oversaw a 2003 Civil Rights suit known as the Rider’s case, in which the police department was charged with setting up defendants in some Oakland neighborhoods, planting evidence and the like. The department has been under orders to reform itself, but the court and the monitor has said the department is taking too long to do so.
Blueford family supporters also came to the last City Council meeting, at which they chanted and protested like at this one. Last time, the Council voted to adjourn. This time the Council kept going, but from the outset, closed out a majority of the protestors from being able to enter the chamber, citing safety concerns and crowd control. Those closed out continued their chants from the other side of the Council Chamber doors.
Among them were a handful of clergy who have supported the Blueford family and said the shooting and the silence from the city are issues of injustice.