The nearby Oakland Police Department is so plagued that it has been appointed a court monitor, former Baltimore commissioner Thomas Frazier, by U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson to oversee mandated changes to the department.
What Post-Racial America?
What does this mean? It means that as the Black community and its organizers and leaders have justly claimed and proven, a post-racial society DOES NOT exist in America.
Blacks are still falling victim to racist law enforcement organizations intent on sending them to prison if not to the graveyard. Why is it that our Black youth must endure officers at their presumed “educational safe havens” or when they are merely enjoying some leisure?
What real justification can there be for officers – who were hired to secure a school dance on a school campus – to venture from their assigned duty posts and beat, shoot and kill innocent youth? Furthermore, what justification does Tony Smith have for not releasing the details of the incident as reported by his staff?
When Smith started as superintendent he was quoted in an Oakland North article as saying, “For me, you have to examine the effects of institutional racism, institutional classism, institutional bias, language bias and say, ‘At this point, the system that we have – even if we do it really, really well – isn’t going to close and transform that gap.’”
Apparently that was only talk and didn’t extend to his school police department. Not only has Smith championed school closures, he hasn’t brought in valuable resources such as librarians, music programs etc. In the same interview he said:
“I’m incredibly committed to thinking about new kinds of relationships with local communities. We have to become beacons and be able to infuse into those neighborhoods expectations and ways of being. That takes partnership and leadership and expectations and being honest about how hard it is.”
It is safe to say that the beacon light is out when it comes to Tony Smith and the Oakland Unified School District. His failure to demonstrate unwavering, transparent leadership has continued to damage Oakland schools and district departments – as evidenced with the OSPD.
Smith has only been in Oakland four years and he conveniently is moving to Chicago, just as a wrongful death suit surfaces and a federal investigation is taking place, with him as lead culprit.
In his letter to the Oakland School Board, he cited family illness as the reason for the move. That very well may be true.
What is also true is that, on Smith’s watch in Oakland, we have lost another young Black life.
Laura Savage is a graduating senior in journalism at San Francisco State University and is interning with the SF Bay View this semester. She can be reached at [email protected].