I remember Rodney King. I remember Amadou Diallo. I remember Oscar Grant. I remember Trayvon Martin.
It’s been over 20 years, y’all, since the first acquittal I ever witnessed. Did you know?
My friend who lives downtown tells me that the violence in Oakland consists mainly of white anarchists, watched by hipsters, and begins near the end of each protest. She’s been driving herself home from work in order to avoid the violence, which happens just outside her window.
Her telling reminds me of a Berkeley Political Science class I took. We’d been discussing the April 1992 riots over the acquittal of the Rodney King abusers. Two white kids raised their hands.
“Yeah, me and my uncle drove down from Orange County during the riots,” one of them said. The other echoed:
“We got a free radio and some other stuff during that time.”
They spoke proudly, in order to debunk the media-myth that only African-Americans had participated in the riots.
A boy was murdered. Let us mourn. His murderer was acquitted. Let us build a system that works. Let’s not ride on the backs of a real cause in order to further our own self-interest.
Let us remember the dead and fight for the future.
And let’s buy our own damn radios.
*photo from NY times obituary.