CRC Statement on the Attack on Jabari Shaw, his 4 year old daughter, and Mary Carmen Valencourt by US Marshals, FBI, and OPD
In the wake of Monday’s violent police attack on well-known Oakland activist Jabari Shaw, we at Community Ready Corps (C.R.C.) are raising questions about the surveillance of community organizers by the Oakland Police Department and U.S. Marshalls.
According to East Bay Express and eyewitness testimony, U.S. Marshals were surveilling a home in East Oakland when community organizer Jabari Shaw exited the building with his four-year-old daughter. Shaw and his daughter entered the car, driven by close friend Mary Valencourt. Federal officers, dressed in plainclothes, approached the car with weapons drawn but failed to identify themselves clearly as law enforcement. Unsure of their identity and fearing for her life, Valencourt accelerated away from the scene, prompting several unmarked cars to pursue them. When officers identified themselves as law enforcement by flashing their lights, Valencourt attempted to stop at a red light, but the car was rammed from behind by pursuing officers, propelling the vehicle through the intersection and into the back of a Paratransit van.
Eyewitnesses confirmed that officers rammed the car with their vehicle, causing a collision that severely injured Shaw, Valencourt and Shaw’s young daughter. Shaw’s four-year-old daughter broke her leg in the collision, and Valencourt was seriously injured with the potential for permanent disability.
Community Ready Corps leader Tur-Ha Ak and founding member of Oakland Alliance Carroll Fife were of the first on the scene to provide support and bear witness to this unjustified act of police terrorism. They confirmed with eyewitnesses that U.S. Marshals not only rammed Valencourt’s vehicle, but used unnecessary violence when arresting Shaw and Valencourt, including pointing their weapons directly at Shaw’s young daughter. C.R.C. led the Anti-Police Terror Project’s First Responders in documenting the scene extensively, including photos and videos that were viewed by tens of thousands of people within 24-hours of the attack.
Increased collaboration between OPD and federal agencies like the FBI and U.S. Marshals is part of the militarization of local law enforcement. Mayor Libby Schaaf is working hard to portray her aggressive policing strategies as ‘cracking down on crime’ and ‘helping Oaklanders sleep better at night,’ but this incident reveals what the Black Lives Matter movement has been saying all along: police are dangerous, and have no respect for Black lives. Not even the lives of Black children.
Shaw has not been arrested and was released from the hospital within 24 hours. Police claim that the incident was a case of mistaken identity - that they simply mistook Shaw for another Black man who was a target of their surveillance. But given the discrepancy between police claims that Valencourt intentionally accelerated through the intersection, causing the collision, and the eyewitness reports that a police vehicle rammed Valencourt’s vehicle, many in the community are questioning the police narrative.
Jabari Shaw: I’m no stranger to police oppression and repression. Law enforcement efforts to suppress activism are documented. Since I’ve been in this movement these things have been happening to me - harassment, surveillance, intimidation by police. We’ll probably never know the whole truth of what happened to my family yesterday, but I have a hard time believing this attack wasn’t related to my position as a community leader on police accountability.
We know that the State is not invested in the health and safety of Black communities, and the purpose of local and federal law enforcement agencies is not community safety, but the protection of State power. The purpose of CRC is to build self defense and self determination for our own communities.
When our people are attacked, whether by the primary predator (the State) or a secondary predatory (someone within our community), the first thing we need to do is show up and take care of our people, ensuring they get proper medical care and legal defense. Carroll Fife supported Jabari in the hospital and secured legal support from civil rights attorney and friend of CRC, Anne Weills. The second thing we need to do is perform an independent People’s Investigation to document exactly what happened, especially in a case like this where the attack is coming the State.
The State, in conjunction with racially-biased news outlets, will attempt to spin the narrative in an attempt to create a narrative that minimizes the actions of law enforcement while exaggerating and/or creating wrongdoing and criminal intent by the victim(s), so it is critical that we document and publicize the truth. Tur-Ha Ak, as a member C.R.C. led the APTP First Responders, to respond immediately to the brutal attack on Jabari and his family, taking photos and videos of the scene, interviewing eyewitnesses, and pushing all the US Marshals & OPD officers for information.
This is what community safety really looks like: folks showing up for each other, taking care of each, and defending each other. CRC is committed to building this kind of Black power.
“We need a r/evolution of the spirit. The power of the people is stronger than any weapon." - Assata Shakur