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Empathy Team > Oakland Oscar Grant/Mehserle Trial Verdict Protest

Article that mentions the Empathy Team: City, community groups express pride following protests

The strategy, explained Katz, helps get to the bottom of people’s anger and prevent them from lashing out. “It’s a reflection process where people feel heard,” said Katz, “and it reduces tension.”

Article on Tikkun blog: Nonviolent Conflict and Communication — at Street Level

Edwin Rutsch is videotaping all kinds of people in political hotspots and asking them for their views about and experience of empathy. Today he is at a pro-Johannes Mehserle demonstration in Walnut Creek, an outlying Bay Area suburb.....

July 8, 2010
- Initial Report by Judith
(Images and image comments - Edwin)
(see 40 video interviews on empathy from the event

The Empathy Team and others from BayNVC just returned from downtown Oakland and everyone is OK. Edwin stayed to nearly the bitter end, filming people, asking them what empathy meant to them, while they were getting poked by police batons in their backs.

Empathy Team in front of the Police Line: Honey Bear, Edwin, Lea, Judith, Floyd

We talked to many people on many sides and had some friendly, meaningful, deep conversations. There were some angry people there early on, expressing what I heard as a vehement need to be heard and for safety. Then around 6:00 the protest at 14th and Broadway got going, blocking off the street, putting up the stage and hooking up the microphone with the speakers. People started on the mic right away. People of Oscar's age were invited to speak first, then others came up.

People facing the stage on 14th and Broadway

Later I talked to a 30ish white man talking about his mistrust of the system and intimating that he had attachment to a particular strategy about how to resolve the problem. After that I talked with some people expressing humor in an ironic tone, saying "shoot me officer" and turning their backs to the line of police right in front of them. There was also a vibrant artistic presence at the event, with people pantomiming Oscar dead on the ground, wearing paper masks of Oscar's iconic smile. Later, I talked with a police officer who was about to get laid off. He was expressing an unmet need for predictability.

Honey Bear talks to a woman about empathy, she felt Obama was not showing it

The Mayor's office provided team members orange vests for safety. You will see our people wearing them in the attached video. Present were: Itzel, Joanie, Lea, Gail, Bob, Honey Bear, Annie, Edwin, Floyd, and others associated with groups like Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, religious organizations, legal observers, media organizations, mayoral candidates, band musicians, and families. I was interviewed live by Channel 5 and many of us were seen by others on TV.

Judith being interviewed on Channel 5, "We're not saying things to people, We're here to listen"

Our Mayor's office contact, Isaac Taggart, suggested we leave when the sun started to set, as it got near 9:00. Everyone took the advice except Edwin. It turned out to be good advice because police were closing their circle around the protests at that point.

After the Team left, Police started arresting protesters that were throwing things

"Empathy-Schemmempathy, The police are not here to be empathetic.
 It's all about control, it's not about empathy."
 he told me as the police were poking him in the back.

Also more people were starting to wear bandanas over their faces. After a little while, police outnumbered the remaining protesters (and Edwin).

"As far as empathy goes, I'm just not feeling it right now."

"We're having empathy for the person who got shot. I have a 3 year old black son."

It turns out we got one of the last few trains from downtown. A couple trains went by us on the platform without stopping. Then a train stopped finally all the way down at the very end of the platform and a phalanx of police officers with riot helmets came out of it. We ended up going home on that train.

"I wish people would have empathy on both sides. Not throw bottles at the police,
which almost hit me and I wish the police would calm down. "