Brick by Brick


root - Posted on 31 December 1969

Remembering the life and death of Casper Banjo, a black disabled elder, artist, friend and mentor, who was murdered by the Oakland police.

by Leroy Moore/PNN

As a member of the Black, disabled and artist community in the Bay area, as well as, a member of the National Minorities with Disabilities Coalition (NMDC), I have had many experiences visiting, traveling, organizing, and talking race, disability and art with Casper Banjo, who was shot and killed by the Oakland Police the night of March 14, 2008.

In 2006 Casper, three other Black disabled artists, Safi wa Nairobi, Charles Blackwell, Lee Williams, and myself traveled to New Jersey for the Greater Newark Disabled Arts Festival. Casper was excited to be a part of this new organization for Black disabled people and to show his art. He was so proud to be involved with other Black disabled artists and came home with many plans for the future of NMDC and the Black Disabled Arts Festival. I felt so privileged that I was with my Black disabled elder, Casper Banjo, to experience what we call home as Black disabled artists. It's hard to imagine that he will never create and teach his craft again! What a loss for the Black, disabled and arts’ community here in the Bay Area, in New Jersey and worldwide!

The members of NMDC have clear questions regarding the newspaper reporting about the shooting of Casper Banjo. Safi wa Nairobi, a good friend of Casper and fellow Black artist with a disability was in contact with Casper before the night of March 14th and was informed that his neighbors had been harassing him. Could this be the reason why he was walking to the police station at the Eastmount Mall? A common sentiment from friends and family members is what has been described about Casper Banjo was not the person they knew causing friends and family to raise questions of what really happen the night of March 14th, 2008. So far the San Francisco Bayview Newspaper is the only family, friend and artist focused article I have come across. Family, friends and artists are now speaking out about what they knew that led to Casper Banjo's shooting.

Casper was a talented and peaceful Black disabled artist who touched the world with his printmaking, brick layering, black activism and, what Safi discovered as a close friend, his love of stories. Safi told me that Casper Banjo was a great storyteller and she wanted to record his stories however these stories can no longer be heard in Casper's voice. We, family, friends, artists and members of the National Minorities with Disabilities Coalition, will make sure Casper’s story and the night his life came to an end will be told.

Family, friends and the California's Chapter of National Minorities with Disabilities Coalition are holding a candlelight vigil Tuesday 25 March from 7pm - 8pm, either at the 73rd street sub-station where the shooting occurred or another location that will be disclosed Monday March 24th. We need at least two hundred people to show up at the funeral on Wednesday, March 26th at 11am at Baker-Williams Mortuary, 980 Eighth Street, and at least that many at the candlelight vigil Tuesday at 7pm. It is drastically important to honor the life, work and times of Casper Banjo and let authorities know that we, the residents of Oakland, family and friends of Casper Banjo, want justice and the full story of the shooting of our friend. Each of us will build a wall together, brick by brick, as we stand with candles on Tuesday night at 7pm to show support and love for our friend and mentor Casper Banjo.

We are also attending and rally at the Oakland CITIZENS' POLICE REVIEW BOARD Meeting on Thursday, April 10th, 2008 6:00 P.M. CITY HALL – CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS, 3RD FLOOR ONE FRANK H. OGAWA PLAZA. For more information call Leroy Moore at (510) 649-8438.

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