During the year of Occupy, I had the opportunity to visit Occupy Oakland with my 16 year old son. This was after they had shut down the ports and after a veteran named Scott Olsen was severely injured by the Oakland Police. A small group of us re-occupied Oscar Grant Plaza that night. Along the way, I learned much about Oakland’s radical history and the community’s hostile relationship with OPD (Oakland Police Department). When I came across the article, “Blind Spot: A Motorcycle Death Raises Unanswerable Questions,” I couldn’t help but be very, very curious about the mystery that unfolded on October 10, 2005.
I have spoken to many families in the aftermath of terrible motorcycle accidents. I have also investigated, interviewed and re-created the circumstances that caused these accidents. The cause of an accident is often very unclear in the aftermath. Debris flies, witnesses have varying recollections of what they witnessed and tending to the injured is primary. So when I read the story of the death of Diallo S. Neal, Sr., I have to say, I was intrigued.
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In short, the story is about a mystery. One that ended in a death, and destroyed a family. Diallo Neal was a fascinating character while alive, but his life ended while riding his Harley one night with a friend. One of three things occurred. Either he lost control at a high rate of speed and crashed. Or he was riding with his friend and somehow crashed, with his friend leaving the scene and never admitting to being there at the time of the crash. Or he was being followed by an OPD motorcycle officer at a high rate of speed, the officer caused the crash then left the scene and covered up the entire episode.
What we do know is, Mr. Neal died. He left behind loved ones. We also know that many witnesses say they saw a police motorcycle at the scene and that the accident was caused by the OPD. We also know that trust between the community and the OPD is not high. People believe that they are not safe in their neighborhoods but are also not safe from the OPD.
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Simply look at the story of Oscar Grant, the young man who Occupy Oakland named their home after. Oscar was shot to death in Oakland by a BART officer on New Years Eve, 2009. The officer who killed Oscar now walks free. One can’t read about the mysteries of the death of Diallo Neal without knowing the history of the OPD.