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Let Oakland Move Forward

The trial's over, and Johannes Mehserle, a BART police officer, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the killing of Oscar Grant. Whether you agree with the verdict or not, the one thing we should all agree on is this: Give Oakland a break. The citizens of Oakland have a long, sordid history of suffering at the hands of police and of violent protest, and as much as Oakland tries to move forward and forge a new way of dealing with conflict, the press and the public won't let it. It was almost as if people willed there to be violence in Oakland in the aftermath of the verdict. Can't we speak more positive outcomes for Oakland? Why do we continually dump our worst hopes and lowest expectations on Oakland?

I haven't lived in Oakland for more than ten years, but the Oakland I knew and loved was more than police violence and violent protests. The Oakland I knew fiercely loved the arts and its artists. It was a soulful, diversity-embracing place mindful of its history as a game-changer in black political leadership. It was more than riots after police brutality trials. If people took the time to know Oakland rather than accept what they hear from people who don't know Oakland, maybe they would see all the good I saw all those years I lived there.

I pray that peace will reign in Oakland and that Oakland continues to move forward in a positive direction no matter what the people and the press say.

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