Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Nia Sykes Out of Oakland

You madam, are an idiot. Protest anywhere you like, but please riot in your own little room.
Protesters smashed the storefronts of McDonald's as well as stores called Creative African Braids and Oakland Yoon's Pharmacy. Cars along 14th Street were smashed, and some were set ablaze.

A woman walked out of Creative African Braids holding a baby in her arms.

"This is our business," she shouted. "This is our shop. This is what you call a protest?"

Nia Sykes, 24, of San Francisco, a protester who was with the group, said, "I feel like the night is going great. I feel like Oakland should make some noise. This is how we need to fight back.
Sykes had little sympathy for the owner of Creative African Braids.

"She should be glad she just lost her business and not her life," Sykes said.

Added 1/9/2008: SF Chronicle has published Nia Sykes' response to the article, which has since been syndicated worldwide.
"I do not advocate violence"

Editor - Regarding "Protests over BART shooting turn violent" (Jan. 8): I was dismayed to see that I was quoted grossly out of context. I spoke to the reporter for several minutes and they used only portions from the interview to make it seem as if I was condoning violence, which is not at all the case.

I was a part of the peaceful rally that began at 3 p.m. at the Fruitvale BART Station, where Oscar Grant was murdered. I said that the peaceful protest was "great"- not the destruction of property! Some of us continued to downtown Oakland, but I was not a part of the faction of protesters that became violent. I do not advocate violence at all, from police or the protesters, nor did I have any part of it. In fact, when I saw people vandalizing property, I moved to another block, where I was interviewed by the reporter.

I only became aware of the woman whose shop was damaged after the reporter informed me of it. I am sorry that her shop as well as other individuals' and businesses were vandalized.

I am saddened too, that The Chronicle chose to make this article solely about race. The protests were about the execution-style shooting of an unarmed man by the BART police. The protesters who came were of all races: black, white, Asian and Latino.

San Francisco



At 10:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms. Sykes' comment at the end of your excerpt is incorrigible. I do not get it. I DO NOT GET IT. The businesses hurt by this are mostly minority-owned. And they're certainly not owned by any police force.

Unbelievable, that quote.

At 10:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"She should be glad she lost lost her business and not her life"??? What did this b--ch loose this evening? What would we hear her screaming if someone had set her car on fire? What would we hear her screaming if someone had caused her home to be gutted by fire? I'm not so sure she'd be passing it off as, "Oh well, at least I didn't loose my life, no big deal". Somehow her logic escapes me.

At 12:13 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Furthermore, Nia works at California Coalition for Women Prisoners:

Can you believe it? I sure can't. A job of daily self-righteousness must mean she thinks she's infallible.

At 9:35 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fight senseless violence with more senseless violence. Good solution. I'm sure that will win over people.

Perhaps she should club some baby seals while she's at it.

At 2:12 PM , Blogger detarame said...

Yes, thank you. That woman is a horror.

At 3:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find the comment to be pretty outrageous. I think a couple of things that would be responsible to determine are whether it was really Ms. Sykes who said this or someone else giving her name, and whether the reporter quoted her accurately.

At 9:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What? You distrust the accuracy of our nation's fine journalistic media? The same media that did such a fine job at vetting our president elect?

At 9:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

tireiron chef,

You can bet it is her. If it was not, she and the organization she works with, the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, would raise hell and the Chronical would post a retraction.

At 11:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at the peaceful protest, and NEVER a part of anyones destruction. I spoke to a reporter for several minutes and they used only portions of the interview to make it seem like I was condoning the violence. This was NOT at all the case. Please investigate facts! As Obama would say! By Nia Sykes

At 12:07 AM , Blogger stryngz said...

It is amazing to see how all you people ha e jumped on this band wagon of missinformation and are aiding in the public deformafion of this person you know so little about.
i have had the prevelage ov knowing miss Nia Sykes for some time know and all those statements are out of character for her. I know that miss Sykes would in no way shape or for concone the behavior or those riogos few that make so many lose site of the main reason for the protest in the first place. Has it crossed any of you judgemental few that the reporter was out to make a stort and found a way to twist the word used by miss Sykes to make his/her story more interesting. Come on people, get the whole story before making rash comment about someone you know so little about. Thanks to this reperter the life of miss Sykes and her family could have deing placed at risk....(way to go)
i will be in contact with your editor.

At 12:32 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

has been my pleasure my highest honor to have the Nia Sykes as a friend. I had been knowing her for almost all my life. She has never advocated for violence she has never condone violence in the name of peace. I do not know the man wrote this article is but I can say without a doubt in my mind that Nia Sykes never would say anything like that. It's very clear to me that he had his own agenda and only chose to document the last few hours of the event and not the peaceful morning or how the community came together and sung songs of peace.

At 5:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nia: you can't participate in inciting people to your level of outrage and then expect them to reign in their destructive tendencies. Nobody here is saying you did these acts of vandalism directly, but you apologized for them and justified them. I noticed you didn't disown your statement and didn't offer any type of 'context' that might have mitigated it. Know why? Because what you said was as indefensible as anything a bigot, lunatic or anarchist might say. Tell me, is there any context under which Don Imus' 'nappy headed hoes' comment would be less offensive (and I'm being gentle on you as that was one of the milder analogies I could think of using)? There is no way you can justify your cavalier attitude toward the destruction of that woman's property-- in saying what you said in a major paper, you justify and make more intractable those who might have changed their minds regarding the mob violence. Take responsibility for your speech acts. That includes addressing the concerns on this thread, as you obviously care enough about your reputation to attempt to gloss over your repulsive, repugnant comments to the SF Chron. Of course you decry racism, while at the same time you (at the time, high on self-righteousness) felt confident in speaking to the reporter. I see your response here as an attempt to revise the 'context' of your statement, despite the shocking lack of particulars in your so-called rebuttal.

At 10:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nia Sykes was misquoted by a newspaper eager for a sensational story that could shift attention away from the BART murder of an innocent Black man. How can people believe everything they read in the papers, don't they understand how the media distorts and misquotes for their own advantage. As the result of this misinformation, a wonderful young woman is being defamed and threatened. The Chronicle didn't care about the impact of its misquote and now people all over the web are mimicking the Chronicle's lies about Nia and worse, coming out with threats and hate. Please, please think before you jump on a bandwagon like this!

At 10:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Chronicle will be publishing Nia's letter explaining how she was misquoted on Saturday. The California Coalition for Women Prisoners will be issuing a statement regarding this misinformation and its impact on Ms. Sykes early next week.


At 11:06 PM , Blogger Ron Newman said...

Letter from Nia Sykes is here (scroll down towards bottom of page)

At 11:58 PM , Blogger Rich said...

I've added Nia Sykes' editorial letter to the original post. Additional coverage here.

At 12:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nia's letter only claims she was quoted out of context and doesn't offer any context under which her statement would be less evil. She said: "I said that the peaceful protest was "great"- not the destruction of property!" However, if she paid attention she'd see that the public has a problem with her other comment, "She should be glad she just lost her business and not her life" which is indefensible.

"I do not advocate violence at all, from police or the protesters, nor did I have any part of it." This is post facto revision of the facts and shows a shocking lack of understanding of her justification as the long winded anonymous above mentioned.

Does she think she was entrapped? "I only became aware of the woman whose shop was damaged after the reporter informed me of it." It is when informed of the consequences of the protest, that she offered her famous justification: "She should be glad she just lost her business and not her life." (I used that quote twice, because she avoided it in all responses to both sfgate and here)

As the poster above said: "in saying what you said in a major paper, you justify and make more intractable those who might have changed their minds regarding the mob violence." Furthermore, to act as if she didn't know she and others would serve as a smokescreen for violent protesters is irresponsible, which makes her comment all the worse. She doesn't just avoid responsibility, she dodges it!

At 7:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If everyone on this blog is so horrified by the cycle of violence, physical, verbal, or otherwise, why are so many of you perpetuating it with abusive language promoting hate speech? Is it so satisfying for you to pass judgment on others so you do not need to examine your own xenophobia and anger?
We are all victims, some of us more than others, but is this a competition? Can any one of us claim to never have said anything we regret in anger?
How do these comments contribute to the racial healing that we ostensibly wept for joy over on November 4? Or help erase the pain of Oscar Grant's family or the frustrations of the victims of the senseless looting?

Would any of you be willing to say these things face to face over a civil discussion?

At 1:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

By Ms. Sykes' own account, she attended the peaceful protest at the BART station, then joined a purposefully non-organized march downtown that became an angry mob.

When the angry mob started tearing into the city I live in, Ms, Sykes moved away from the destructive ones.

It was at this point she spoke to the reporter and, knowing full well what was going on that very moment, gave her infamous statement about how great it all was, and how this was the kind of noise Oakland needed to make.

Am I misreading this?

When the reporter told her about the attack on Creative African Braids, Ms. Sykes' response was "She should be glad she just lost her business and not her life." Now she says that was taken out of context. What context do you put that in to make it a reasonable thing to say?

If she feels she was misquoted she should demand an official retraction, circulated as prominently as the original piece. The Chron printing her letter airing her side is not the same thing as on official retraction.

Let's see if the Chron stands by their reporting.

The Chron was not making it about race. They were making it about Nia Sykes advocating a riot and destruction of property as the appropriate response to the killing of Oscar Grant.


At 7:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This podcast includes a long interview with Nia Sykes and her mother, Ida McCray. It's quite long, and I haven't listened to most of it.

At 10:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 12:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to school with Nia, and there is no way I can picture her advocating ANY acts of violence what so ever. I can't believe all these people!! people are truly focusing on the wrong things here.I myself happen to be at the five hour protest, which was very peaceful. By the way there were over thirty shop in that area and those places were never destroyed what about that ?All you people see on the news is the riot that as happening downtown, So let me ask you this, if the media didn't even talk about or show the peaceful protest why is it that this women who I went to school with who never picked on any body or got into any trouble possible be mis quoted? ? this does happen all the time PEOPLE? You can really tell who has some sense and who rolls with whatever you here. To me it seems like you people are too busy looking picking Nia Sykes. what about OSCAR GRANT????

At 11:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"She should be glad she just lost her business and not her life."

Not here to judge, but still waiting to hear how this comment could possibly be justified, or was it totally made up by the Chronicle's reporter for the purposes of sensationalism?

Miss Sykes has yet to retract or address it at all in her responses to the Chronicle's article and it's subsequent fallout.

Oscar Grant is dead, nothing we say will bring him back, but the actions and words of those who still live are how we transcend and evolve from such a tragedy.

Violent words create violent actions, which lead to our violent society.

At 7:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We cannot judge. We cannot know what is in another's heart. Don't take anything at face value...the shooting, the printed comments. The gun could have gone off unintentionally. The young bart officer is sentenced before a trial. Don't do the same to others by judging according to what seems to be real.


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