In January of 2001, after the violent murder of Joseph "BIG JOE" Muscadine, a Norteņo from East Oakland, a group of young Chicanos began organizing against gang violence. I became a part of this effort because the violence was familiar to me growing up in the Fruitvale district of East Oakland. I could not ignore it. Leading this effort was David Muscadine, a 17-year-old Chicano and the younger brother of BIG JOE. Nothing was more important to him than to honor his brother by taking a step to stop the killings. David became a visible leader in street organizing, and soon was targeted by the Oakland Police Department. A few months later, David was arrested for the suspected murder of a rival gang member, Jaime Ochoa, who was killed violently on Mother's Day. I knew David was not capable of killing anyone after experiencing the pain of losing Joe. Street-based research confirmed that David was not the murderer. But by then he had been arrested and brutally coerced into confessing to a crime he did not commit. We immediately mobilized for David's legal defense, and spearheaded grassroots fund-raising to get David out of jail. David would call me repeatedly from jail, telling me how scared he was and how he cried himself to sleep every night. The experience crushed him. In January 2002, David won his case. He was innocent.
This piece attempts to capture David's sadness and isolation in jail. His life experiences are formed by his people's history, by the history of Chicanos. The issues of imperialism and colonization that informed the struggles of our ancestors are manifested in us today. We are a product of 510 years of resistance; 510 years of Amerikkan imperialism; 510 years of Chicano Power! This piece honors our history and acknowledges our pain as a Chicano people. Through our pain and victories, we are warriors for our people. La Lucha Sigue! The Legacy Continues!