Castlemont High Students Walkout to Protest Murder by Oakland Police

November 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers in the Bay Area:

On Tuesday, November 17, more than 100 Castlemont High students in East Oakland walked out of school to protest the police murder of Richard Perkins, two days earlier. This walkout was the latest in a number of recent high school student actions in the San Francisco Bay Area. In previous weeks, in the neighboring city of Berkeley, students had two walkouts, demonstrating against school administrators’ inaction to a message on the library computer system—a KKK boast of plans to lynch a Black person on a specific date in December.

Castlemont High is predominantly Black and Latino, and sits in locked-down and distressed “Deep East Oakland,” where police maraud like an occupying army, and where youth have very little hope of a future. This defiance was significant and students we talked to were very proud of what they did. Even before, they had been following the murder and upsurge in the case of Michael Brown and Eric Garner; and some even pointed back to the outbreaks from the murder of Trayvon Martin, when they were freshmen. This murder of Richard Perkins was something that “hit home,” propelling them into action. Some Castlemont students were in the area when Richard was killed. They spread the word in classes on Monday. A student organization called “Student Union” organized the protest for the following day, over the displeasure of the school principal. They made signs and marched the half-mile to the spot of Richard’s killing, chanting “Stop police brutality” and “No justice, no peace.” They didn’t buy the pig version of the killing, as reported in the news. Afterwards, students and friends of Richard told us about how things unfolded during the weekend that set the stage for Richard’s murder by police.

On Sunday, November 15, the Oakland police were in chaos, trying to suppress an “outrageous” Oakland “Sideshow.”1 Up to 700 cars and motorcycles from as far away as Fresno, San Jose, and Los Angeles converged, shutting down numerous street intersections and a portion of Interstate 880, doing donuts and kicking up clouds of smoking rubber from the tires of all manner of vehicles, from jacked-up big rim floaters, to family sedans and motorcycles. Police were quoted in news accounts saying people threw rocks and bottles at a squad car.

At one point Oakland police, Alameda County Sheriffs, and California Highway Patrol encircled suspected participants and onlookers alike, busting people, writing tickets and towing motorcycles. Cops were pissed, they had been made fools of all day, but now they were “in control” and definitely wanted to let people know it. It was against that backdrop that Richard Perkins was shot and killed by police. “I just heard pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, many shots,” said a witness. “He wasn’t doing nothing!” said another.

Richard, a 39-year-old truck driver, was the father of two children. He loved his community and helped at his church. Richard was not a participant in the sideshow, but was attracted by his love of motorcycles. His mother told us fondly how Richard loved to work on bikes, “but could never keep his running long enough to ride it.”

Police claim that Richard walked toward them pointing a “replica” gun at them, so they had to shoot. Four cops opened up on Richard. Holes from high-powered police bullets ripped into cars and the nearby gas station, and Richard was murdered on the spot. Later, Oakland police produced what they are calling the “replica weapon,” and the Oakland police chief said, “Officers were shocked when they found out it was not in fact a real firearm.”

Some of the Castlemont students told us that there was nothing in Richard’s hands, and that when he saw the cops aiming at him, he lifted his shirt and held his hands up and yelled, “Please, Don’t Shoot!”. But the cops opened fire anyway. Then they let Richard’s body lay where he fell for 10 hours! His mother said, “They left him there like a dog!”

Four days after Richard’s murder, the police have not yet released his name to the press. And even though Richard’s name was tattooed on his chest, they only informed his mother of his murder two days later! In fact, his mother had been praying for someone in the neighborhood that she heard had been killed by police. Only, later, to find out that it was her own boy.

This is Outrageous!! This shit has to stop!!

1. From Wikipedia: “A sideshow is an informal demonstration of automotive stunts now often held in vacant lots, and public intersections, most often in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, United States. Sideshows first appeared in Oakland as informal social gatherings of African-American youth. Sideshows were made even more popular throughout the 1990s with such songs as Bay Area rapper Richie Rich‘s ‘Sideshow’ anthem. ‘Down Bancroft / To the light / Let me warm it up, I hit a donut tight / Chevy on my side / Windows straight tinted / He got hype when he saw me spinnin’ / I’m up outta there, sideways to the next light.’” [back]



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