Hundreds gather to mourn Oakland father slain by police

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Friends of  Demouria Hogg gathered at site of his death
Friends of Demouria Hogg gathered and spoke out at the location of his death in Oakland, after a protest demanded an investigation into the bizarre circumstances surrounding his death at the hands of OPD officers. Photo by Xochtil Bernedette Moreno.

By Shawn Gaynor

A vigil was held at the intersection of Lakeshore Dr. and Lake Park Ave, in Oakland, California, Friday(6/12) by the friends and family of Demouria Hogg and their supporters. Across the street, candles burned among the broken automobile glass at the location of Hogg's slaying by Oakland Police Department officers one week earlier, after being found unconscious and unresponsive in his car on the morning of June 6.

The gathering, held in partnership with the Anti Police-Terror Project and Black Youth Project, raised questions about the circumstances of Hogg's death. Speakers demanded to know how officers, who by their own account were unable to rouse Hogg for two hours ended up shooting Hogg.

According to reported accounts and OPD statements, Hogg was unable to respond to police during the two hours that they surrounded his car, after he was reported unconscious in the car with a handgun on the passenger seat. According to OPD, officers on site attempted to rouse him by several methods including the use of less-lethal rounds fired at the car windows repeatedly. Finally officers tried to break out the passenger window of the car with a metal pipe, finally waking Hogg, who was then shot by police.

“This pattern is all too familiar. Police do not have license to shoot people simply for possessing a firearm,” said Cat Brooks, lead organizer of the Anti-Police Terror Project. “Just as in the murder of Yuvette Henderson, the police shot this man and then attempted to justify their act by simply claiming that their victim owned a gun. Lots of people have guns. People carry them openly in cities across America. Would Demouria Hogg have been killed for sleeping in his car with a gun on the seat if he were white? It’s difficult to imagine.”

Those gathered demanded transparency on the part of the City of Oakland and the OPD abut the details of the incident. Thus far the OPD has withheld bodycam footage, dashcam footage along with the names of the officers involved in the incident.

As the vigil at the scene of the death concluded, protesters marched through the streets of Oakland. The march, which circled Lake Merritt began at exactly 8:15pm, the same time that Oakland had been enforcing a briefly instituted curfew on after dark street protests, before back tracking on the policy under public and legal pressure.

“We are going to see what sunset looks like in Oakland,” said Brooks, as marchers lined up with a sound truck to begin the procession.

While no curfew was enforced by the OPD on Friday, roughly 100 OPD officers escorted the group, marching in line alongside the procession within arms length of protesters, with more following along on motorcycles and in vans, as a police sound truck repeated at ear shattering volume that the officers deployed in huge numbers were there to facilitate the marchers First Amendment rights.

“They're here to facilitate our First Amendment rights by talking over us and intimidating us?” jested one of the marchers who declined to give their name.

At points tensions rose as OPD skirmish lines block the processions movement only to have the crowd link arm to arm calmly walk through. One arrest was made during the march, but the cause of the incident was unclear.

“Nancy O'Malley can not investigate the Oakland Police Department,” said Brooks of the Alameda County District Attorney, who Black Lives Matter activists say failed to antiquity pursue legal action in the cases of the officer involved shooting deaths of Miguel Masso and Alan Blueford three years ago.

As the march returned full circle to the location of Hogg's death police dispersed and the protest mostly dissipated. Hogg's friends gathered again standing vigil at the corner where he was killed. The group was vocal about their pain and frustration with what they described as an unaccountable system.

“He was unconscious for a whole hour. They could have disarmed him,” they called out.

“He was a good person,” said one of Hogg's friends. “A good man, he took care of his kids, he was a family man, an honest man.”

Mainly they focused on the police report of the incident – a report that has left a community wondering how what seemingly should have been a routine police and paramedic action ended in death.

“The report said that the fire department thought he was dead, so they called the police. If you think a man may be dead, why would you end up shooting him?” questioned one of the friends. “The paramedics told the police they think this man may be dead and he is not responding. And they killed him,” he continued. “Why? They where terrified and scared.”

What Hogg's friends of repeated the most was, “they need to release the bodycam video.”

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