The Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC) is outraged at the ongoing racial profiling of the Oakland Police Department and their recent targeting of the Trayvon 2, Tanzeen and Lamar (aka Hannibal), two Muslim men of color. Tanzeen and Lamar joined hundreds in Oakland to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman on July 15, 2013; hundreds of protesters wearing black and in hoodies in solidarity with Trayvon Martin, a young black man whose life didn’t matter enough in the eyes of a US courtroom.
As these demonstrators took to the streets to challenge racism in the US legal system they were met with the racism of local law enforcement. Tanzeen and Lamar were subsequently arrested and charged with felony vandalism after the police allegedly witnessed individuals dressed in black break the windows of the Men’s Warehouse. Rather than focus on building infrastructure to meet the critical needs of marginalized communities in Oakland, the City is pursing a baseless case that will waste public money and even more, create a long lasting and devastating impact on two innocent men.
Given that the only two people singled out that evening and charged with any crime are both Muslim men of color, we see this as an extension of the racial profiling that the Oakland police department has shamelessly carried out time and time again. Furthermore, Tanzeen and Lamar are both vocal activists. And their targeting comes in the backdrop of a growing police state aimed at controlling immigrant, poor and people of color communities, and stifling attempts to mobilize and organize for change.
As an organization committed to challenging racism, we view this as an attack on the Muslim community. We stand in solidarity with these two men who have been targeted for being Muslim, men of color who were not afraid to take to the streets to demand justice and exercise their right to free speech. It is after all, only in times where those most vulnerable practice their rights, that rights are challenged by the state.
We call on the DA to drop the charges because the lives of these men, and all those impacted by state repression, matter.