Don’t Label People as “Outsiders”, A Message from Walter Riley

Famed Oakland Lawyer, political activists, and father of The Coup’s Boots, Walter Riley, urges against a language of division in analysis of the Oscar Grant protests. This is a message from him: 

Walter Riley Being Arrested

Lawyer and Legal Observer, Walter Riley was arrested at the Oakland protests on July 8th. (from

The murder of Oscar Grant is a universal issue of justice and civil rights.

I do not like this divisive campaign to divide our community and protestors by calling people outsiders.  Oakland is not an isolated town in the desert.  This is a great metropolitan area with people from all over; with a world class university; we expect people from all over the map to participate in Oakland.  Calling people outsiders in this instance is a political attack on the movement.  The subtext is that the outsiders are white and not connected to Oakland.  From the days of the civil rights movement to now the outsider labeling failed to address the underlying problems for which people came together.

For those whose frustration with progress leads them to violent protest, we must engage in respectful political struggle.  I understand the frustration; I do not support destruction and looting as political protest.  I adamantly object to calling our youth and political activists outsiders.  I call upon everyone to push back against this tendency.

Walter Riley
Attorney at Law
1440 Broadway, suite 612A
Oakland, CA 94612


1 Comment

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One response to “Don’t Label People as “Outsiders”, A Message from Walter Riley

  1. Nick

    I was in jail with him that night. Such a gem. He had some great stories about social justice and civil rights work in Haiti over the last twenty years and in New Orleans after Katrina.

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