Protesters gathered in the rain outside of the Oakland Police Department headquarters on Tuesday to call for the arrest of BART officer Joseph Mateu for the killing of 28-year-old Sahleem Tindle.
“It’s great we have 40 people out here in the rain, but we need 400 like when Oscar Grant was killed,” said Cat Brooks, co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP).
Mateu shot Tindle three times in the back in front of the West Oakland BART station on Jan. 3. Leaked bodycam footage showed Officer Mateu approaching two men in an altercation on the ground, yelling at them to show their hands before shooting Tindle in the back. Tindle later died in the hospital.
After the footage was leaked, it was presented to the media by BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas during a press conference on Feb. 21. Rojas’ presentation included his own interpretation of events, hailing Mateu as a “hero,” and narrating the officer’s potential mindset during the incident.
BART police citizen review board member George D. Perezvelez proposed a motion to prevent Rojas from speaking to the media at their March 12 board meeting. Nine of the 11 board members voted in favor.
Cathryn Freitas of District 2 and Richard Knowles disagreed with the motion—Freitas characterized it as a “gag order.”
But Brooks considers it a “victory,” saying the motion will stop Chief Rojas from re-traumatizing the Tindle family.
The family has called for the firing of Mateu from BART, and are now calling for criminal charges against the officer.
“The video should be enough to get him arrested,” Brooks said.
Tindle’s mother, Yolanda Banks Reed, spoke to the rally by phone. Her voice was amplified by four speakers on a pickup truck. “I’m so sad that I even have to protest,” she said.
Monica Ramos, a West Oakland registered nurse, held a sign at the rally saying, “Mateu is a murderer.”
She said she was angry and grief-stricken because “this is just a normal family, and they have to turn into activists.”
Reed lamented that she could only bring charges against the man who killed her son by pressuring District Attorney Nancy O’Malley to do so. A petition calling for Mateu’s indictment is available at: bit.ly/INDICTMATEU. The DA’s office has confirmed that an independent investigation is underway, but were unable to comment on the ongoing investigation.
While many protesters have called for policing reform, some are even less optimistic about the future of policing in Oakland.
Speaking at the rally outside police headquarters, Noelle Audrey Rose from East Oakland asked, “How do you reform an un-reformable system?
“My question for the community is: How do we take care of each other so that we don’t need the police?”