On this anniversary of Oscar Grant’s murder by BART cop Johannes Mehserle, there’s a lot we should be remembering: Oscar’s life, the needs of his family and the community, the love we have for one another. But we also need to remember what it was that Oscar’s death has revealed in the year since his untimely death. Yes, it revealed—quite literally, on video—the sordid operations of the racist injustice system of the United States, how a young black man murdered in cold blood will be demonized in the media while the cop who executed him is given the benefit of the doubt.

But it has also revealed something else that we must bear in mind as we move forward: the power of the people in the streets. It was the power of the people in the streets, gripped by a righteous fury at Oscar’s fate, that led to Mehserle’s arrest. It was the power of the people in the streets, doing a lot more than marching, that had the elected officials of Oakland and California as a whole running scared. It was the power of the people in the streets that issued a severe verdict on Mayor Ron Dellums, revealing which side he’s really on.

We need to remember this power, especially because it sometimes appears as weakness. As I write this, a variety of police agencies—city, state, and federal—are attempting to silence the Oscar Grant movement through everything from legal injunction to harassment and overt repression. On the anniversary of Oscar’s death, the OPD is disrespecting the Grant family by attempting to shut down their peaceful cultural celebration, even calling in disinformation and spreading lies about those involved in organizing the events scheduled for January 1st. And we can be sure: when we appear at Fruitvale BART on Friday, the police will be out in full force ready to crack skulls. We do not want this, but apparently they do, and they seem to be doing everything in their power to provoke a conflict.

But remember: the violence of the police is a desperate cry issued from the depths of weakness, fear, and hate. It is desperate because it knows what we are capable of, because we have shown it.

George Ciccariello-Maher is a Ph.D. candidate in political theory at UC Berkeley. He lives in Oakland, and can be reached at gjcm(at)berkeley.edu.

This entry is part of our Oscar Grant Memorial Tribute. See the full series here.