Riseup! Which Side are You On?


Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, Interviews Uncle Bobby at Riseup What Side Are You On rally protest in Manhattan New York October 2015

CEPHUS “UNCLE BOBBY” JOHNSON: I am affectionately known to the community as Uncle Bobby. I am the uncle of Oscar Grant. How many of you have seen the movie Fruitvale Station? I’m going to be short. I just want to say this. One famous person that I know who’s standing behind me right now named Dr. Cornel West said this: If you want to hear the truth, you must let the suffering speak. Martin Luther King said it this way: “Cowards ask, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks, ‘Is it political?’ Vanity asks, ‘Is it popular?’ But conscience asks, ‘Is it right?’ There comes a time when neither safe, political or vanity is the reason why you stand. You stand because it is right.”
PROTESTER: Do the right thing!
CEPHUS “UNCLE BOBBY” JOHNSON: Rise up!
PROTESTER: Do the right thing!
PROTESTERS: Rise up!
CEPHUS “UNCLE BOBBY” JOHNSON: Rise up!
PROTESTERS: Rise up!

AMY GOODMAN: That last speaker was Dr. Cornel West of Union Theological Seminary, speaking at the anti-police brutality protest Saturday in New York City. Before that, Oscar Grant’s uncle, Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, and director Quentin Tarantino. The leader of the New York Police Department’s union has called for a boycott of Tarantino’s films after he participated in the Rise Up October protest Saturday. On the streets after the rally, when thousands marched from Washington Square Park up to Bryant Park, where the New York Public Library is, I spoke to Uncle Bobby further, the uncle of Oscar Grant.

CEPHUS “UNCLE BOBBY” JOHNSON: I am affectionately known to the community as Uncle Bobby. I am the uncle of Oscar Grant, the young man, as you know, that was killed in the movie Fruitvale Station.
AMY GOODMAN: Tell us what happened to Oscar Grant, when it happened.
CEPHUS “UNCLE BOBBY” JOHNSON: On January 1st, 2009, at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, California, as you know, Oscar Grant was laying face down in a prone position with his hands behind his back, before Johannes Mehserle stands up and shoots him in the back without any apparent reason. He alleged that he thought Oscar had a gun.
AMY GOODMAN: And tell me what happened. Who witnessed this?
CEPHUS “UNCLE BOBBY” JOHNSON: Of course, there was many on the platform that evening that saw what happened.
AMY GOODMAN: It was New Year’s night.
CEPHUS “UNCLE BOBBY” JOHNSON: It was New Year’s night. They, of course, videotaped what was occurring. And for the first time in California state history, because of the community, because of labor, the ILWU Local 10, longshoremen’s, who shut down the ports, and of course the community that embraced the family, we got, for the first time in California state history, an officer arrested, charged, convicted and sent to jail. We count that as historical, not a victory, because he only did 11 months, because of a technicality that the judge alleged. However, we know that the unifying of these families across the United States will bring about a real change.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Oscar Grant’s uncle, Uncle Bobby, in the streets of New York, though he’s normally in California, because thousands marched on Saturday.


About Uncle Bobby

All our work at Love Not Blood Campaign is guided by our vision for a racially just society. We dream of a day when families will not have to be traumatized by police violence, including communal violence. When all families are granted justice and supported through their traumatic experience of police violence. When every family is safe from police violence and communal violence. In service of this vision, Love Not Blood Campaign adopted an ambitious purpose: to support and embrace every family impacted by police violence and communal violence in building a political movement to eliminate police violence and structural racism from our society.