‘Warrior’ Artist Aims Oscar Grant Murals at Mehserle Trial

By Adimu Madyun

OAKLAND, CA – Rubbing his face quietly, the Oakland-based artist Golden State Warrior looks out of a car window. He surveys his latest graffiti piece as the paint dries in the night air. “My art is intended to stimulate consciousness,” he says.

GSW’s paintings of contemporary urban black warriors holding giant African spears are prominent in high traffic areas throughout Oakland.  “I use the warrior to bring vital information to my audience,” says GSW.

His new painting speaks directly to Oscar Grant’s killing, and to the former BART police officer on trial for the shooting. It’s an eight foot tall warrior standing vigilantly at 74th Street and MacArthur Boulevard in East Oakland. The character is clutching a trademark spear, and wears an Oakland A’s cap cocked to his right. He’s surrounded by the spray painted messages “Justice for Oscar Grant” and “RIP Lovelle Mixon.” “Oscar and Lovelle are both part of the battle between the police and the people,” the artist says. “Oscar was a tragedy. Lovelle was a victory.”

Lovelle Mixon was an Oakland resident who was involved in a shootout that included himself and four OPD officers on March 21, 2009. Mixon and the four officers died. GSW’s view points echo the sentiments of many in the community who feel the officers’ deaths were payback for years of police abuse.

The painted warrior’s shirt reads “Do The Right Thing.” It’s a plea to those deciding Mehserle’s fate. “What would it look like if they do the right thing and bring justice for Oscar Grant?,” GSW wonders.

As Oakland and the nation await a verdict and the city’s response, GSW said he believes the community, city and state are all preparing for the worst. “The city is investing in a fight with supporters of Oscar Grant, not in new levels of accountability for the police.”

Reflecting on the consequences of a not guilty ruling, GSW asks, “what else can the people do but tear up the city? What are we suppose to do when the court doesn’t work for us? I would rather see justice so it doesn’t come to that. But if justice doesn’t come, what else can we do? Nobody said anything about Oscar Grant until we rebelled in the streets and made the city listen to us.”

28 Comments

  1. Nice work Adimu, thanks for shining light where there was darkness..continue to spread the word as so many know not what is happening in their global neighborhood, and sadly wont give any attention until its at their doorstep. And as we know all too well , whether ignored or not, these problems will reach everyones yard eventually. paz

  2. Talibah

    Nice piece and I am excited to go out and see this young brother’s warrior art. Your voices are so needed, his art and your articles.

  3. Kay

    Living 3000 miles away means I don’t get the life vibe of Oakland very often. Thanks for telling the story that is too often ignored by those who find it easier to live in daze, unfazed by the real world.

    K

  4. heni

    “Listen to your heart!”
    that is my sentence to comment Adimu’s article ..
    like Mother, like Son, great!
    peace,
    heni

  5. Lei.D.

    Like the way this article discusses Art as a means of gathering emotion, thought and expression in a powerful and positive way.

  6. This is for me Township
    For me Brothers in a coffin
    Ones given respect less often…
    It is time that voices from Oakland’s true residents are not only heard, but encouraged to speak out. This paper should continue to be an incubator for township dialogue and expression. We are a complex group of people with many talents and whose perspectives must be acknowledged and harnessed for our growth. Let Oakland build into a township where the effectiveness of community organizing does not strictly depend upon the good will of politicians and the machine they grease nor can be destroyed by their ill advice and actions.

  7. An Oakland A’s cap and an Afrikan Spear – Lovin’ It!!!

    Peoples’ Art is Peoples’ Resistance, they go hand in hand!!!

    Nuff Respect!!

  8. We need more exposure like this to bring more awareness on this chronic problem. Bravo GSW! Bravo Madyun!

  9. Dr. Linda

    Good article — it helps to illustrate the sentiments and frustration of many regarding another unfortunate situation of seeming injustice. While some may feel like intially “tearing-up” (and understandably so), in the long haul communicating (like Madyun did) and working to change the system (through education and advocacy) will go a long way to help ensure more equity and justice. Kudos to those who helped to raise awareness about the plight of Oscar Grant, may he rest in peace.

  10. N. Perkinson

    Not all of the important art is in museums. Thank you for bringing attention to this artist. We need more voices for justice.

  11. WordSlanger

    “Do The Right Thing” is one hell of a slogan. GSW captures the spirit of the town, the impermanent urban tattoos speak our collective angst. Funny how the angst is supposed to dissipate like GSW images are obliterated. Painted in artistic defiance and painted over in systemic fear the images are a sophisticated political commentary moving though the streets like a drum message.

    In art often we can consider things that people have a hard time hearing. GSW’s art bears witness to an existence we have trouble bearing.

    GSW, the struggle continues.

    Thanks to Madyun for the ink and the insights.

  12. Fredrick Ajode

    I think that many wars are fought with physical and chemical weapons, but this war is different, as it is fought with the power of Art. I see a future in the success of this strategy because Art draws no blood but stings the conscience worse than a physical blow. The power of the written word and the picture are going to triumph over the physical items of conflict. Great article.

  13. TB

    Oscar Grant was murdered…maybe not intentionally, but it was murder. The officer and his superviors have to pay. Grant did not deserve to die. You see him laying still on his stomach on the ground and handcuffed…why would he even need to be tasered.

    I feel Mehserle’s supervisor, Pirone (not sure of the name spelling) should have been prosecuted, too. From the tapes, He appears to have created much of the chaos that led up to this tragic event in the Fruitvale station.

    Louvelle Mixon created havoc and killed four innocent officers. They should not have had to pay for Mixon’s mistakes.

  14. sharon

    What a well-written piece. The writer captured the emotion surrounding these events and told a painful story. As for the trial, I find it hard to understand why he had all an all-white jury in L A.

  15. blektigres

    Speak truth to power. I really like the way you mobilise against police brutality. There’s so much of that happening here (South Africa) and for some reason we still haven’t identified it as a concern to take to the streets. Just this weekend a guy driving down a road in the wrong direction was murdered (gunned down) by the police, last year two people in Pretoria, were gunned down by the police flying squad, one in his own home the other because they suspected that she was a highjacker! The tragedy is that the public prosecutor,9months later, still has to publish and enforce the verdicts. The real tragedy? I don’t even know their names.

  16. Jean

    I read the article and the comments. Tearing up a city already in ruins is not the answer, never has been. The truth is an unarmed, handcuffed black man was shot to death when an overzealous white officer pulled his gun instead of his taser. How this can happen is beyond me — the gun is strapped down in its holster. Maybe his fear made him temporarily lose his mind, unstrap the gun, then empty it into the back of this man. I was born and raised in No CA. All the peaceful and violent protests went unheeded. I don’t know the answer. Why have the black “leaders” been silent? Where’s the NAACP and SCLC and the clergy? If the NAACP can hold press conferences about legalizing marijuana, certainly they can speak on this issue — but then again, who listens to them anyway?

  17. Kudos to the author, the article gives voice to the voiceless and paints a possibly best picture of the urban landscape today. I hope we learn more of the micro- community with the emotions, and sorrows that stir those human emotions most alien to the macro-community.

  18. D. Hodge

    I was unaware of the shooting of Oscar Grant. I don’t believe the east coast had much coverage on this killing. I had to Google the shooting to fully understand the article. Based on the video that I viewed this young man appeared to have been murdered. Having recently lost my son due to a protracted illness, I greive for Ocar’s mother. Also I can’t help but wonder why police feel so threaten that they have to shoot to kill when dealing with our children rather than shooting to wound. Why didn’t the officer use a traser? Traser are as cheap as $9.95 on line, defense product #101. Why does it take so many officers to take a young man out? Training needs to be addressed to avoid these types of killings.

  19. The verdict of manslaughter is NOT justice! When we will ever have the honesty and courage to call sin by its true name?

  20. Dedan

    It has been said that when people are stripped of economic and political power the only power they have left is the power of disruption. Short range that may be true in the long run we are doomed unless we develop an intelligent, well thought out long range strategic plan of resistance anything short of that implies that we really don’t believe what history has repeatedly revealed to us and that we cannot continue to expect justice from a system that has for over 400 years has demonstrated that it has no intention of rendering justice to the descendants of those that it once enslaved.

  21. BT

    It’s unfortunate that the worst was realized when the verdict on the policeman came back as “not guilty” of murder. I understand that there was some disturbance after the verdict, but that it was minor. What can be done? It’s awful to see such travesty of justice and to have no recourse.

  22. Osunkemi Coleman

    It seems that the clock has been turned back. Or perhaps has never moved forward. Justice is blind, and the truth is not seen. Adimu is letting us know, that we can not be silent, when it comes to injustice. We must not eat the lies and accept the status quo, that all young Black men are “ganstas” and it is “alright” for them to be killed by police.

    It is apparent that the continued crimes against us, must be and should be revealed to the masses. We need to speak out, write and act, to stop this systematic injustice that is killing our future, our children, our youth, and our men.
    Osunkemi, in Savannah GA

  23. alexa

    Power to the people that are standing up against violence in their city. It is disgusting that the police in most major cities think they are above the law and can do whatever they want. I believe that the people in the Bay Area need to see that their voices are heard. I do not think a point can ever be made to fight violence with violence. A peaceful march at city hall would make a better point.

  24. S.

    We have known for many years that justice equates to “just us”. And we, as people of color are not included.

    “Preparing for the worst”…….the community, city and state have prepared for a full blown WAR. And this is their way of letting us know that no matter what happens….the tables will always be turned in their favor!

    S.

  25. KIM

    Its amazing to see how easily influenced people are by the media! Im curious to know how you are so sure that Lovelle Mixon was a rapist? When did you first take note to these lies? Yes, it was after he laid to rest those oakland crooked ass terrorists in blue, which is when the media, the police, the government all of em are KNOWN to discredit anyone that that threatens their illegal power… That comment was just ignorant… it was stupid really

  26. Dude

    Give me a break! Lovelle Mixon was a rapist! I don’t hope he’s resting in peace — I hope he’s burning in hell.

  27. Great article.
    I love the warrior, oakland spirt, and the connection to the past and the present.
    Where else is this brothers work located, and does he have a facebook page with his work up.
    I’d like to see more.

    Justice for Oscar Grant.
    Free all of our political prisoners now!

  28. Miss P.

    Wow. Kudos to the writer of this piece. I too have noticed how much money is being invested in preparing for a riot in the Town. It always amazes me how a city that claims to be in such a financial crisis that it has to cut funding from numerous social services and other helpful programs, has no problem funding preparations for a riot. I wish our city leaders and officials cared enough to invest in the people of Oakland, and programs to help support and sustain the people, instead of only being willing to fund the aftermath of outlandish social neglect. How can “they” expect the people to take pride in a city that does not take pride in it’s people? Maybe if the city did something… anything to acknowledge the feelings and the plight of the people, that would help to diffuse the situation. From my perspective, police and barricades have never been able to successfully do that. Where’s the love Oakland?

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