On January 7, the streets of Oakland erupted into an orgy of property damage when a protest honoring murdered Hayward resident Oscar Grant turned violent. Helicopters buzzed over the downtown skyline, and you could feel tension in the air. Eyewitness accounts tell of protesters breaking store windows, setting cars on fire, and throwing bottles from rooftops. Videos show angry mobs trying to tip over police cars as officers in riot gear hung from the sides of an armored truck. By the time the rioting was quelled, more than one hundred people had been arrested. Journalist JR Valrey was among them.
One week before, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, Grant had been shot in the back by BART cop Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale BART station. Cell-phone footage of the shooting was soon all over the Internet, and the protest was organized to demand justice for the slain 22-year-old and his family. Valrey attended not so much as an observer but as a participant.
Valrey is what you might call an advocacy journalist. With his KPFA radio segement The Block Report, his job as associate editor for San Francisco Bay View newspaper, and his position as the so-called “Minister of Information” for the Prisoners of Conscience Committee (POCC), he has become known for covering police shootings. When he reached the protest, he did something no mainstream journalist would do: He took the mike and spoke to the crowd, demanding justice not just for Grant, but also for other victims of police violence.
“Why didn’t people come out when Bay Area police officers murdered unarmed Terrence Mearis, unarmed Casper Bajo, unarmed Anita Gaye, unarmed Gary King, unarmed Gus Rugley, unarmed Cammerin Boyd, unarmed Idriss Stelley, or when the police terrorized fifteen-year-old unarmed Laronte Studesville, unarmed Randy Murphy, or unarmed Nadra Foster?” Valrey asked the crowd. “Is it because these cases were not caught on camera?”
By sunset the protest was dying down, and Valrey says he left to meet some friends. But about one hour later, he says he got a call that there was rioting downtown. When he returned, he saw dozens of police in a huge circle on 14th Street and Broadway, occupying the intersection in front of City Hall. According to his Bay View article “Oakland rebellion: Eyewitness report by POCC Minister of Information JR,” protesters shouted slogans at the police as angry bands of people smashed car windshields and storefronts with skateboards, their feet, and other objects. Valrey said he began taking photographs.
Mayor Ron Dellums soon made an appearance, walking through the angry crowd, as Valrey put it, “like black Jesus.” The mayor made his way across Broadway to the Civic Center area and then delivered a short speech in which he called for civility to prevail. Valrey says Dellums was swiftly booed off stage and retreated back to the safety of City Hall. The rioting soon resumed. Windows were smashed, cars and trash cans were set ablaze, and protesters taunted officers or lay down in front of police lines with their faces down and their hands behind their backs, mimicking the posture of Oscar Grant when he was shot. According to Valrey’s article, the police began breaking into groups of six or seven and rushing rioters, tackling and arresting anyone in the vicinity.
Valrey says two officers chased and tackled him while he was taking photographs by the Federal Building. He spent the night in Santa Rita Jail and was charged with felony arson, which carries a possible sentence of three years in a state penitentiary. In all, 160 people were arrested on the night of January 7, mostly on misdemeanor charges. All but ten subsequently had the charges against them dropped. Just four people, including Valrey, are still facing felony charges.
Oakland police would not release information describing the events the leading up to his arrest. Valrey also declined to go into greater detail, claiming that he doesn’t want to compromise his defense. But he insists that he is innocent. “I have no history of arson, when I was arrested there was no lighter, no matches, not even paper to light anything.”
Valrey claims his arrest was payback for his years of covering police brutality. “I was covering it as a journalist,” he said. “But one thing that’s different about me from the rest of the rebels is that the Oakland police know me. … I’m not a stranger to the power structure of Oakland, so I believe like many others that I was targeted politically. … We were basically set up on trumped-up charges.”
His lawyer, Marlon Monroe, says the case against Valrey is weak and will fail: “There’s no physical evidence that they can pin on JR, despite the fact that there were several officers who witnessed the arrest, as well as news cameras.”
In the meantime, the arrest has given Valrey plenty of fodder for The Block Report and the Bay View. In the weeks since the riots, he has written eyewitness accounts, interviewed people present at the rioting, and run radio shows interviewing family members of Oscar Grant. He hasn’t hesitated to use the KPFA airwaves and pages of the Bay View to call for community support in fighting his felony charges.
But Valrey hasn’t just covered the riots and their aftermath. He has participated in “town bizness meetings” focused on what Valrey calls “police terrorism.” He has helped organize POCC political actions, including a boycott of BART on what would have been Grant’s 23rd birthday. And he has defended the Oakland riots as a necessary means of getting the city’s attention.
Valrey has become the mouthpiece of an anti-police movement that has grown since Grant’s shooting. He even defends the actions of cop killer Lovelle Mixon as a “heroic day of resistance against the police.” As unpopular as these sentiments make him in many quarters, he has become a beacon for the anger that smoulders among some members of Oakland’s black community.
Perhaps emblematically, his voice can be heard at the end of a new song, “Fuck the Police, We Ain’t Listening,” by Oakland rapper Beeda Weeda. The song begins with sound bites from news reports about the rioting, and then the chorus kicks in, Fuck the police, we ain’t listening, Beeda sings. Wanna push us? Wanna push us? Motherfucker, keep pushing. Burn this bitch to the ground and leave the whole city cooking. At the song’s end, Valrey delivers a brief spiel before the fade-out:
This is POCC minister of information JR at BlockReportRadio.com. We changing what they call rioting into what we call rebelling. We wasn’t just tearing shit up, we were rebelling against injustices. … We don’t need just one cop arrested, we need a whole new motherfucking system.
Clearly, JR Valrey is not your typical police reporter.
Valrey is no stranger to controversy. The thirty-year-old has been voicing his often-confrontational opinions on The Block Report for five years now. The show began as a segment called “From the Belly of the Beast” on KPFA’s Hard Knock Radio. It eventually moved to Flashpoints, a daily political news show hosted by Dennis Bernstein. Flashpoints airs The Block Report sporadically, typically once or twice a week. It also airs locally on KPOO, as well as on stations in Atlanta; Los Angeles; New York; Washington, DC; and elsewhere.
Valrey says he uses his journalism to “bring it to the powers that be.” He ridicules so-called “kiss-ass journalists” who warn him that he is cutting his own throat by being so up-front about his allegiances.
“I get criticism all the time because the positions I take are not the popular ones that someone who wants a career in corporate journalism would take,” Valrey said. “I get more praise for what I do though. Way more praise.”
Some of Valrey’s positions include justifying the vandalism of the “Oakland rebellions,” speaking in defense of Your Black Muslim Bakery, and glorifying the actions of Lovelle Mixon, who murdered four Oakland police officers on March 21 before being gunned down himself in a shoot-out.
“To me, a great journalist is not somebody who has everyone agreeing with them, it’s somebody who strikes a chord,” he said. “Whether you like what I write or you hate what I write, I don’t want you to feel indifferent about what I write.”
Although his journalism didn’t begin as overtly political, Oakland’s history of black self-empowerment has been a clear influence on Valrey’s politics and approach to journalism. “I was influenced politically by my grandmother, who talked a lot about the Black Panthers,” he recalled. “A lot of the ideas of the Black Panthers, like communalism, and collectiveness, we practiced as a family in general. At the same time I was reading stuff like Huey Newton and Malcolm X.”
His career in journalism began after he attended a summer journalism program at San Francisco State as an eleventh grader. While attending St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Alameda, he wrote an article about the racism that he said he and other nonwhite students faced within the Catholic school system. The article was published in the San Francisco Examiner on the same day that O.J. Simpson was found not guilty, and consequently received a lot of attention. When a teacher mentioned in the article threatened to sue, several local journalists came to Valrey’s defense.
“They came to my defense and I really saw the power of journalism in my own life,” Valrey recalled. When the teacher in question learned he had the support of the Examiner‘s lawyers, Valrey says she had a “religious transformation” and decided not to sue. “When I had seen the power of journalism, I saw that I could use it in the interests of not just myself but to get justice for my community.”
Since 2002, Valrey has been on the staff of the San Francisco Bay View, where he covers issues of concern to the black community. For the past two years, he has been the paper’s associate editor. Managing Editor Willie Ratcliff stands behind Valrey and his work, which covers international issues like the war in the Congo and political turmoil in Haiti, as well as local issues such as prison activism and police harassment.
Ratcliff said the paper receives a lot of praise for Valrey’s work, which he has helped to direct. “I’ve tried to teach him not to use things just to provoke people and make them mad,” Ratcliff said plaintively. “When you use language like ‘pig,’ you’re just gonna get people mad. But he’s learning.”
Valrey says both his writing and his radio show are vehicles for his work with the Prisoners of Conscience Committee, a self-proclaimed revolutionary organization founded by Fred Hampton Jr., the son of the assassinated Black Panther of the same name. The committee was conceived of during the 1990s, while Hampton Jr. spent nine years in jail for aggravated arson. The charge was related to the firebombing of a Korean grocery during the 1992 rioting following the acquittal of officers responsible for beating Rodney King.
The POCC describes itself as “an organization that consists of African Revolutionary Freedom Fighters whose agenda is to liberate the minds and hearts of African and colonized people.” The committee refers to prisons as concentration camps, gentrification as “land grabbing,” police enforcement as “police terrorism,” and drugs and alcohol as “chemical and biological warfare.”
It was that last viewpoint that led Valrey to take one of his more infamously controversial positions as a journalist — defending the vandalism of two Oakland liquor stores.
In November 2005, about a dozen black men dressed in sharp suits and bow ties were caught on camera trashing a local liquor store. One of the men was identified from surveillance camera footage as then twenty-year-old Yusuf Bey IV. Bey was the leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery, an Oakland business once known for encouraging black self-empowerment, but steadily gaining a reputation for violence and intimidation. The footage, which showed the men breaking bottles and smashing windows with golf clubs, was run on television news tirelessly. The story was front-page news across the Bay Area. But only one journalist was able to interview Bey. That was JR Valrey.
Yusuf Bey IV was the son of bakery founder Yusuf Bey, whose organization and followers have been implicated in a number of crimes dating as far back as 1968. In 2002, the elder Bey was charged with 27 counts of felony sex crimes, charges he never had to face in court because he succumbed to cancer prior to his pending trial. After his death, two successors were killed under mysterious circumstances before the younger Bey took the reins in 2005.
At the time of the vandalism, Valrey had known members of the extended Bey family for years. But, according to Valrey, it was the liquor store case that began his reporter/source relationship with Yusuf Bey IV.
Valrey got his interviews by treating Bey like a civic leader with a respectable platform and not like someone apparently caught on videotape ransacking two businesses. While other media outlets were asking how bakery leaders could have become so violent, Valrey avoided the question completely, and instead let Bey discuss the issue of liquor stores in poor black neighborhoods.
“The anti-liquor-store movement in Oakland is part of the new black-power era that is emerging in Oakland,” Valrey said at the outset of the interview. “A few months ago, some brothers ran up in two liquor stores in North Oakland and threw all of the liquor that was being sold on the ground. That one action kicked off a movement that has Muslims from every faith involved.”
Valrey: “What is the objective of the movement to get liquor stores out of the black community?”
Bey: “We had liquor stores in our community for a long period of time, and we know what goes on around these liquor stores. And one thing about it is, it’s not just liquor stores. They sell crack around these liquor stores, they’re able to buy crack and drugs from these liquor stores, and things like this are not supposed to be done by so-called Muslims. If you say you’re a Muslim, you should have the action of a Muslim.”
Most conventional journalists would have regarded Valrey’s two softball interviews as a shameful case of pandering to an apparent criminal. But Valrey not only defends his right to interview Bey, but stands by his interview subject. He suggests that Bey is the victim of a racist media conspiracy.
“I did this interview with Yusuf Bey IV because I think that it is important for the black community to hear his voice through the barrage of malicious articles that the mainstream media has been putting out about him and his codefendants,” Valrey wrote in the introduction to a Bay View transcription of his KPFA interview. “I’m not a judge or a jury but, as a journalist, I’m definitely not going to let the racist media bury someone that I have access to, without allowing him to say what he has to say. The mainstream media is not used to our community saying that we are going to make our minds up on what we believe independent of their white power media infrastructures.”
In a recent interview with the East Bay Express, Valrey went further still. He appeared to endorse the very acts of vandalism that Bey and the other bakery members were suspected of committing.
“I thought that Yusuf Bey and the Black Muslim Bakery took a stand that local politicians haven’t taken in decades, that being that the black community is drowning in liquor stores,” Valrey said. “In a lot of places we don’t have supermarkets but we have liquor stores on every corner, and it’s an issue that has been talked about for decades and nobody dealt with it. They’ve never said anything to me as if they done it or didn’t do it, but whoever did it, I support the fact that they did what local politicians couldn’t do and they brought the issue front and center. To this day, nothing has been done to limit the amount of liquor stores in the black community, which we basically equate in the black community to biological warfare. If they were involved with that, I applaud.”
And Valrey’s relationship with Bey would eventually extend beyond his tacit support for acts of vandalism. It would eventually result in Valrey being implicated along with Bey in one of Oakland’s highest-profile murder cases.
The crime that forever changed the public’s perception of the bakery was the August 2, 2007, murder of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey. Bailey was gunned down in front of witnesses who saw a black man shoot him with a shotgun before escaping in a white van. Since Bailey had been working on a story about the bakery, that institution was immediately suspected. Because of an unrelated investigation, the bakery’s compound was soon raided, and several members were taken into custody, including Bey and employee Devaughndre Broussard. The latter confessed to Bailey’s murder but later recanted, saying Bey had ordered him to confess. News coverage of the crime eventually called attention to a suspicious connection between the suspected mastermind and JR Valrey.
An October 25, 2008, story by the Chauncey Bailey Project — a team of reporters and news outlets created to investigate Bailey’s murder — accused Oakland Police Detective Derwin Longmire of ignoring crucial evidence connecting Bey to the crime. Cell phone records and surveillance information available to Longmire evidently placed Bey outside Bailey’s home just hours before his murder. During the fourteen minutes that Bey sat parked outside of Bailey’s house in the early hours of August 2, he made a number of phone calls, mostly to bakery member Antoine Mackey. But the records show he also made calls to Valrey.
“During the fourteen minutes he was outside Bailey’s apartment early Aug. 2, Bey IV received two calls from a person who had known Bailey for more than a decade,” the article states, “JR Valrey, a blogger and activist then reporting for the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, where Bailey sometimes contributed news items. Valrey is also affiliated with New America Media, a sponsor of the Chauncey Bailey Project.
“The records show that Bey IV called Valrey twice on Aug. 1, and that Valrey called Bey IV twice while Bey IV was parked outside Bailey’s apartment on Aug. 2. The two calls totaled 2 minutes and 18 seconds. Six minutes after leaving Bailey’s apartment, Bey IV called Valrey at 12:43 a.m. That call lasted nearly three minutes, the records show.
“Valrey refused to discuss the calls with the Bailey Project. ‘(It’s) none of your business,’ he said, and refused to answer other questions. ‘I don’t have nothing to say to you, man,’ he said. ‘You all are the anti-bakery project.'”
The article stated that police never interviewed Valrey regarding these conversations. But Valrey did subsequently address the accusations in the San Francisco Bay View.
“Last Sunday,” he wrote, “the Oakland Tribune released an article from the Chauncey Bailey Project called ‘Evidence Ignored,’ which passed off misleading information as facts and omitted relevant information in apparent attempts at character assassination.” Valrey proceeded to accuse the stories of containing errors and outright lies, “which have made many people outside of the self-congratulating walls of the journalism industry question its credibility, professionalism and sincerity.” Valrey said he refused to answer the reporters’ questions because he didn’t believe they were working in his best interests, nor in those of the black community or Chauncey Bailey.
“Ever since its inception, it was never about honoring and continuing the work of the late journalist Chauncey Wendell Bailey Jr. and answering questions regarding his death, as it claims on its web site,” Valrey wrote in a Bay View article. “The Project and the Oakland police seem to have more of a lynch mob mentality in their investigation. They seem to be trying to ensure that their reporting will result in some young black male or a group of them paying for the murder of Chauncey, even if they are innocent.”
So what were the phone calls about? Valrey told the Express that he was calling Bey IV to talk about the case of one Laronte Studdesville, whom he described as a victim of police brutality. A meeting with Studdesville’s father had been scheduled for the following day, and Valrey was inviting Bey to attend.
Valrey’s editor, Mary Ratcliff, confirms that assertion. “What JR does is very much in the tradition of the Panthers,” Ratcliff said. “He looks to the street — or gangs, as the police would call it — and sees that these guys are doing political organizing and they don’t even know it. Maybe their intentions aren’t always that great, but many of these gangs legitimately started out to protect their neighborhoods and their communities. If we could just politicize them, imagine what we could do. That’s what JR’s always tried to do, but that doesn’t make him a gangster. I know that he had been trying to recruit Yusuf for months, telling him that there are better ways of doing things, and that’s what those calls were about.”
But if this was a business call, then why did it come so late at night?
“I don’t remember it being around midnight,” Valrey said. “It may have been around 10. We don’t have a bedtime, neither me nor Yusuf Bey, as far as I know. To speak for myself, I don’t have a bedtime, so we don’t just stick to white business time, 9 to 5. I just don’t make calls in those times and I don’t think that calling someone at 12:00 implicates me in anything.
“I think that I effectively poked a lot of holes in where they were basically trying to implicate me in a murder that I’m not involved in, in any way,” Valrey said. “But it also shows the weakness in their journalism, shows the laziness in their journalism. I did a very shallow investigation and poked holes all throughout what they were saying in the article I was in.”
Valrey says he believes that Bey had nothing to do with Bailey’s killing. “They’re treating them as criminals and they’re trying to be the judge and the jury.”
The murder of Chauncey Bailey appears to most observers to have been based upon the notion that imminent reporting from Bailey would threaten the interests of the bakery. But Bailey was hardly a probing investigative reporter; in fact, he was widely criticized in journalism circles for how cozy he often was with his subjects. Valrey advances an equally improbable notion: that it was Bailey’s ongoing efforts to expose Oakland police corruption that led to his death.
“At the time of his murder, Chauncey Bailey and Yusuf Bey were both in my phone,” Valrey said, adding that he and Bailey had a good relationship. “I also know that Chauncey Bailey was working on a story dealing directly with the police.”
Valrey maintains that the Chauncey Bailey Project hasn’t done enough to pursue leads that Bailey was looking into police corruption at the time of his death, and has suggested not only that Bailey’s murder was a police cover-up for which Bey was a scapegoat, but also that the Chauncey Bailey Project is in fact a front for the police.
Bob Butler, a reporter with the Chauncey Bailey Project and president of the Bay Area Black Journalists Association, denies Valrey’s suggestion that the project is in cahoots with the police. He said the project has found no evidence implicating the Oakland police in the murder. “The last story Chauncey wrote was about the bakery. He may have been looking into possible police corruption, but we have seen no evidence to verify that claim,” Butler said. “I’d be very interested to see evidence that the police were responsible for Chauncey Bailey’s murder.” Butler points out that the Chauncey Bailey Project published evidence last June showing that Bey admitted that he kept the shotgun used to kill Bailey in his closet after the murder. That information can be found at ChaunceyBaileyProject.org.
But this is not evidence enough for Valrey. “I think that the Chauncey Bailey Project really speaks to the disconnect between the journalist world and the real world,” he said. “You have the bigwigs in mainstream journalism coming together and of course they’re going to pat themselves on the back for doing a good job. But the question still remains: They did all this, and they wrote all this about Yusuf Bey, but he’s not even charged yet, so really the question comes, how effective are you? Because you guys work hand-in-hand with the police, obviously. I’m not going to talk to the police, whether it’s through the Chauncey Bailey Project or whether it’s through a uniformed officer. If I have anything to say, I’ll say it in the San Francisco Bay View or on Block Report Radio.”
KPFA has a long tradition of giving a voice to viewpoints otherwise ignored in the mainstream media. Like Valrey, many of the station’s contributors have an agenda. Although some staffers dutifully adhere to the same journalistic standards embraced by mainstream journalists, others have less interest in reporting the news than in giving voice to the perceived underdog. Many of these advocacy journalists are, like Valrey, unpaid volunteer producers.
Unpaid staffers make up a political block of significance at KPFA and have the support of some paid staffers, including Dennis Bernstein, who has taken Valrey under his wing by giving him airtime on Flashpoints. As a member of its volunteer staff association, Valrey has been critical of KPFA management for some time.
Last year, station manager Lemlem Rijio curbed the influence of the often-unruly unpaid staffers. Rijio changed the rules to reduce the voting power of unpaid staffers, who for years enjoyed the same voting rights as paid staff members when it came to selecting board representation. Since around that time, Valrey has zeroed in on Rijio and other station managers.
Last August, while interviewing filmmaker Iana Jones about her documentary on black radio, Valrey used the topic as a platform to criticize Rijio. “Even today,” he said, in an implied reference to KPFA, “there are black puppets put there to keep the status quo in place.” He also said that the repression of black viewpoints at KPFA is being enforced “by black face, from the top.” And Valrey made a point of noting with apparent disapproval — as he has done numerous times in his Bay View articles — that Rijio is from Ethiopia.
The interview was one of many times that Valrey has called for a black public affairs show on KPFA. “That has been one of my major campaigns,” he said. “There’s black music shows on the radio, but there’s really no regular black public affairs show. KPFA has these types of programs for Asians, for Latinos, but not for black people. I would like to see The Block Report as a weekly or daily, or even a biweekly program,” he said. “This really came to a head when the Nadra Foster thing happened.”
Just three days after Valrey’s interview with Jones, the long-running conflict between some of KPFA’s volunteers and management once again came to a head when volunteer staffer Nadra Foster was arrested and removed from the station’s studios by Berkeley police. Foster had reportedly been banned from KPFA for making long-distance calls on KPFA phone lines. However, she continued to work in the station’s studios, coming in about three times a week. She claimed that she didn’t think the ban was official, as she had never received anything in writing. When a staff member confronted her for using one of the studios, a manager called police to remove her. Foster, who had a prior criminal record, resisted her arrest, allegedly biting one of the officers during the melee. After more officers were called, Foster was forced to the ground, put in restraints, and hauled off to jail.
The Foster incident prompted Valrey to call for Rijio’s resignation. However, a supporter of Rijio, who asked to remain nameless, said she was dealing with a family emergency at the time of the incident and played no role in calling the police.
More recently, Valrey again called for Rijio’s resignation after several paid and unpaid staff members were reprimanded for supporting him on air after his arrest. Those reprimanded include paid staffer Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio, and volunteer Nina Serrano of La Raza Chronicles, who both read the following announcement: “We believe JR to be innocent of setting fires and causing physical damages, as he was professionally occupied covering this important story. … People are showing their support by coming to his hearing Monday, February 23, at 9 a.m. at 661 Washington Street in Oakland.”
Hanrahan defends her actions. “Management doesn’t understand the tradition of Pacifica and why it’s so important that we support and defend it,” she said. “The guy is out there, and when you’re out there as a journalist you get blowback, and you have to be supported. If the DA comes down on him, that probably means he’s doing his job.” Speaking of Valrey’s call for Rijio’s resignation, she said, “I want things to change at KPFA, and I support JR’s right to say what he said. JR is a serious journalist doing important work. In my opinion we need ten JRs.”
On the day after her announcement, Hanrahan said, she was given a formal notice of misconduct and asked to take a leave of absence. The notice, obtained by the Express, claimed violation of station policy in three regards: making a “direct call to action” over the air, broadcasting information without authorization from management, and neglecting to indicate that the information was “not the opinion or position of KPFA.” Serrano said she was not given a written reprimand but warned verbally about her transgression. KPFA staffers were also given a memo reiterating these three rules and noting that their violation would lead to disciplinary action, Hanrahan said.
Valrey responded with an article in the Bay View. “KPFA was the first listener-sponsored station in the country when it went into business in 1949 and was seen as a beacon of audio resistance in Northern California. Sixty years later, East African-born General Manager Lemlem Rijio has had broadcasters reprimanded because of their support for me and the Oakland 100. All of this is some bullshit, considering that KPFA is constantly begging for money. Isn’t that a ‘call to action’ or ‘advocating action on the air’? … We are urging everyone to call KPFA and tell them that you will not give them another cent until the General Manager Lemlem Rijio is fired or steps down. We need a constant inundation of calls to kick off this part of the campaign.”
On March 21, three Oakland police sergeants were shot and killed by parolee Lovelle Mixon. Another officer was severely injured and died the following day. Mixon, who had a warrant for his arrest for parole violation, had been pulled over on MacArthur Boulevard in what was described as a routine stop. After shooting Sergeants John Hege and Mark Dunakin, Mixon apparently walked over to the officers and shot them both again, execution-style. He then fled the scene and hid out in a nearby apartment building. Police raided the building after receiving a tip as to his whereabouts. From inside a closet, Mixon shot and killed S.W.A.T team members Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai with an AK-47 assault rifle. He was then killed by another officer.
While most of Oakland reeled in shock over one of the deadliest attacks on law enforcement in California history, JR Valrey wrote an article for the Bay View that essentially justified Mixon’s actions.
The article, headlined “Police 2, Oakland residents 4,” described Mixon as “a suicide sniper who used a gun instead of a bomb to take out enemies of the community.” It described the tragedy as one that “some in the black community see as a day of heroic resistance against the police.” The article went on to suggest that street memorials for the fallen officers were police-created, and that reports of citizens attending them were media propaganda. “The reality is, when you go to the scene, which I did a number of times, you see very few residents of the area — especially young black males — with any sympathy for the officers.”
Valrey referred to the incident as a “revolutionary suicide,” and wrapped up his piece with a provocative question-cum-threat: “How does it feel when the rabbit has the gun? Welcome to East Oakland.”
You can always find another side of the story at BlockReportRadio.com.