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A violent weed: Let’s turn this culture of violence around

By Sharon Peterson

In February we marched for Gaza in San Francisco. A few days later, in Oakland, we marched for Oscar Grant, the man who was killed by police at the Fruitvale BART station on New Year's Day. Picket signs for Oscar Grant appeared in San Francisco, and pickets for Gaza appeared in Oakland.

More of us are getting it - police brutality at home and U.S. support and funding of terrorism abroad are joined at the roots. Our government's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (with attacks on Syria and Pakistan for good measure) are tendrils of the same foul weed.

After a long wait for action from BART and from Oakland law enforcement - Johannes Mehserle is in custody and charged with murder. BART is under increasing pressure to establish a civilian oversight committee to monitor relations between BART police and the public.

A new tendril sprouted on March 21, when four Oakland police officers were shot down in the line of duty. All eventually perished from their wounds. It was the second worst police fatality incident in California's history and the worst ever in Oakland.

The tragedy spurred an outpouring of support from citizens throughout the Bay Area and beyond. Their joint memorial filled the Oracle Arena. The Oakland A's dedicated their first home game to the fallen officers.

While there is no direct causal connection between this latest tragedy and the shooting of Oscar Grant, it springs from the same culture. A culture that supports and promotes violence.

A nation whose taxpayers find themselves paying for prisons and weapons and bailouts for robber barons while school campuses crumble and teachers pay for supplies out of pocket, a nation where illness or accident can bankrupt families. Where water will soon become more valued, and perhaps rarer, than gold. In such a culture, all life appears cheap; for proof, just watch the news.

There is one political party that stands against this overgrowth of violence - non-violence is one of its Ten Key Values. It is not your typical political party, run by leaders who tell their members what to think, and what to do.

The Green Party is run by grassroots volunteers, ordinary people who understand that democracy needs workers ... if it's going to work at all.

Your nearest Green Party chapter can be found at www.cagreens.org/locals. Please join us. Let's turn this culture around.