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BART case: As Oakland awaits Mehserle verdict, a push for peace

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The group is holding broad meetings to train young people to understand the US legal system, the economic costs of rioting, and to identify outside agitators.

The city Chamber of Commerce announced Thursday an Oscar Grant Memorial Fund for after-school centers for youth. And the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights is announcing forums for youth leaders to be educated about the history of successful social movements.

The tone of this movement is one of healing, understanding, and progress.

“In all the media hype surrounding the trial and the cops vs. protester coverage, something is lost. That something is healing, transformative justice,” writes Ella Baker Center Executive Director Jakada Imani in a statement to media, schools, churches and clerics. “How do we build a powerful social movement and not just participate in one-off flash mobs?”

In a phone conversation, Mr. Imani is openly upset with the media portrayal of events since the Mehserle shooting. Yes, midnight crowds overturned and burned cars, broke windows and caused violence, he says. But months later, thousands of people in the streets held vigils and speeches for hours without incident. Hours after the peaceful crowds dispersed, a few small groups broke some windows, and “suddenly all the media attention was directed at 'another violent protest,' ” says Imani. “This town is perfectly capable of dealing with this peacefully and moving forward even wiser.”

His story is confirmed by Youth Uprising's executive director, Olis Simmons. “If you look at the videos of that coverage, you find that this violence was clearly led by outside agitators because they were wearing Muslim scarves and beanies that our kids simply don’t wear,” says Ms. Simmons.

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