Nearly one month has passed since U.S. Marshals chased the wrong man through Fruitvale, leading to a car accident with a paratransit vehicle.
Initial media reports labeled the “suspect” as a “violent fugitive.” Activists quickly mobilized and used social media to counter that story when the man turned out to be Jabari Shaw, a college student, father, and well known Oakland anti-police brutality activist.
On March 9, plainclothes marshals conducting surveillance mistook Shaw and, using unmarked cars, surrounded the car Shaw was in, drew their weapons and even blocked a car door, according to Shaw. In fear, the driver, Mary Valencourt, sped off with Shaw and his four-year-old daughter, Anniya, in the backseat.
According to Shaw, an unmarked law enforcement vehicle later hit their Buick from behind, sending them crashing into a paratransit van. All three were hospitalized.
Shaw, who was not charged with a crime, limped out of Highland Hospital on March 9. He has returned several times due to ongoing pain, including his ribs and his arm. He also feels traumatized each time he sees police.
Doctors told Shaw that Valencourt might not walk again. Shaw’s greatest concern is his daughter, whose leg was broken and is now afraid to leave their home.
“My daughter is still suffering,” Shaw said at a fundraiser held on March 29, where 100 people gathered at the Eastside Cultural Center in Oakland to support Shaw. Shaken and standing with his arm in a sling, he added, “It’s hard for a child. Her innocence was taken in the back seat of that car. She was a victim of police brutality at four years old.”
Although he is currently receiving anti-depressants, the drugs are inadequate. “If you want me to stop being depressed, take the police out of my community,” Shaw said.
US Marshals and the Oakland Police Department did not respond to phone calls inquiring into the incident and the nature of the federal police activity in Oakland. Police initially told news outlets that although the vehicles were unmarked and officers wore plainclothes, they did identify themselves as law enforcement.
Other recent activities involving federal marshals include something they are calling gang violence crackdowns. Shaw’s attorney, Anne Wells, requested information about the marshals’ activity in Oakland, particularly the investigation that led to the accident.
“Police acknowledge that this was a mistaken identity, but haven’t done anything to rectify the situation,” said Tur-Ha Ak, an organizer with Community Ready Corps (CRC), who recorded a hospital bed-side video interview of Shaw that went viral on Facebook. “We believe in self-determination, and we’re asking the community for support,” he said.
The fundraiser featured performances by Young, Gifted, and Black, Young Oakland, Shango Abiola, Ras Ceylon and Alia Sha. The event was co-sponsored by CRC, the Anti-Police Terror Project, the ONYX Organizing Committee and the Eastside Arts Alliance. Shaw’s supporters are raising money online at: www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/fundraiser-for-anniyah-jabari-mary/325030.