More than five weeks after Derrick Jones was shot and killed by two Oakland police officers near his own barber shop, his family remains unsupported.
Jones’ November 8th killing occurred after two officers were dispatched regarding a domestic violence complaint. As officers Eriberto Perez-Angeles and Omar Daza-Quiroz approached, they saw Jones running away while holding a small electronic metal scale. Sayng they believed that the scale was a gun, Perez-Angeles and Daza-Quiroz ended Jones’ life with an multiple gunshots. The two officers have been working in Oakland for three and four years, and in that short time had already ended another Oaklander’s life in a hail of bullets (which were fired only by officers—the victim was killed while apparently fleeing by car).
At an Oakland city council meeting on Tuesday, December 14th, Derrick Jones’ extended family took the floor, demanding public condemnation of the killing and prosecution of the involved officers. The group of speakers in the family’s crowd included Derrick’s mother, father, uncles and cousins as well as Oscar Grant’s uncle, a former Parole Officer, a representative from the Laney College Black Student Union, and Minister Keith Muhamed of the Nation of Islam.
Sammy Jones, Derrick’s uncle and minister of the San Pablo Avenue Church of Christ, first called for a “trial before the family and the citizens of Oakland,” and continued on behalf of “The Jones’ family, the churches that we represent and the communities that we live in—not only do we not sanction, we do not approve, we’re not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until at the minimum some type of criminal charges [are filed].” Given that Sammy Jones is one of eight ministers in the family, each representing different Oakland congregations, the family’s voice is powerful in the Oakland community.
Invited to speak by the Jones family, Dr. Gwen Sykes, Executive Director of the Bay Area Consortium for Quality Health Care and board member of the Alameda County Medical Center, described her own family’s history of being targeted by police. Clarifying her relationship to the City Council, Sykes explained that city council representatives had come to her family seeking support during their election campaigns. From that position, she echoed the demand for criminal charges against Perez-Angeles and Daza-Quiroz, but broadened her request.
“I am asking that you not focus in on this specific issue, only that you engage in the research and analysis that the City of Oakland should have the capacity for, and look at this problem from a longitudinal view, and see what it is costing all of us in the City of Oakland to have African-American young men shot by our police whom we pay taxes to employ.”
Sykes’ demand is a tall order, but clearly a needed one, as young men of color continue to be targeted, brutalized and killed by Oakland police officers. It’s worth mentioning that only three days prior to Jones’ killing, former BART cop Johannes Mehserle was sentenced to only two years incarceration for killing Oscar Grant. While these killings may not occur every day, their effects are chilling.
Charles Jones explained the shift in his relationship to police since his cousin was killed. “I’m afraid that I might be targeted now because of this… It’s traumatizing. I used to look at the police as someone who can help you. Now I look at them as predators, and who’s the prey?”
This fear is clearly larger than Charles Jones, and justifiably representative of much of the greater Oakland community. Perhaps this is why Oakland Chief of Police Anthony Batts announced his request for the FBI to open a civil rights investigation into Jones’ killing only a few minutes after Jones’ family finished speaking.
Since that announcement, however, Chief Batts has refused to comment publicly on the request. Bay Area KTVU Channel 2 News was denied an interview, but quoted an anonymous “veteran officer,” who said “It’s not a good idea to bring the FBI investigator in because, mainly, it makes the OPD look like it can’t handle a serious investigation.”* Apparently this is precisely why Chief Batts called on the FBI.
As a family, the Joneses are as much a part of Oakland as anyone and should be protected rather than victimized by police. Sammy Jones explained that “We’ve been in this community since 1952. We’ve retired in this community. We’ve sent our children to all the various schools in this community. We’ve bought homes and we own property. We support this community. It is unthinkable for us to be treated in this fashion, and it is not acceptable.”
Derrick’s cousin Charles Jones ended his comments saying, “I just hope that through this, something can happen to change the police department—a historical change in our environment that we have to live in every day.”