Join Today for Our Generations Tomorrow

Summary: The people who were supposed to advocate for him let him down. The criminal justice system depends on the ignorance and silence of the public to regard people like Brian as violent criminals. We present Brian’s side of the story to break this silence. His sentence will be finalized on November 29th. 

The Story of Brian Oden

After a long day of work, Brian had begun his drive home. It was dark. As he moved toward the freeway onramp, he proceeded as usual— the light turned green. But as he moved past the light, he heard a noise. It happened so fast and didn’t make an impact that jarred his car. The next thing he realized was that he was in the middle of the freeway and pulled over. On the side of the freeway he realized his car was damaged pretty badly and felt immediate danger from incoming traffic. This moment is when a thought entered his mind: what if he had just hit a person? But could hitting a person be that quiet? He doesn’t know what hitting a person sounds like. He hyperventilated in his car, panicked and scared. He arrived home and called his police, while notifying his family — half an hour after the incident including driving time. He soon found afterward that he grazed a person on the side of his vehicle. 

According to Brian, he wasn’t sure how the man likely crossed the street without seeing the oncoming traffic. And in the black of night, Brian couldn’t see him and depended on the traffic lights instead. I can imagine myself in every step of Brian’s encounter. The confusion. The panic. The hesitation to call the police. Almost anyone who drives can imagine being in this nightmare scenario. But few can imagine themselves being charged with a felony and thrown into prison for what amounts to a traffic accident. To make matters worse, Brian has Crohn’s disease. In an overflowing prison system with strained medical resources and a COVID-19 outbreak, Brian can literally die if he goes to jail.

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Los Gatos United Against Hate
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Our Philosophy

LGARC does not restrict itself to any specific strategy or tactic. We have organized protests, endorsed candidates for town council, and collaborated with school officials on reforming curriculum in history and literature. There is, however, a common thread behind all of our actions: we mobilize members of the community to place pressure on those who occupy positions of power. Pressure can be understood both as criticism of the status quo and encouragement to change. As a result, we are willing to work with anyone as long as we see a benefit to do so. 

For instance, after sustained pressure from the local protests, the LGARC in Town Council meetings, and private conversations with Town Council members, Los Gatos’ government held three publicly held “Community Conversations” on police, affordable housing, and culture. These publicly held conversations served a critical function in legitimizing previously unspoken proposals, such as reallocating funds from Los Gatos Monte Sereno Police Department and building upon Los Gatos’ flawed affordable housing program. 

On the other hand, our philosophy of action is one that avoids strictly performative demonstrations. We are not here to virtue signal; we are here to affect genuine change in our community to leave it better than we found it. 

If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven’t even pulled the knife out much less heal the wound. They won’t even admit the knife is there.

– Malcolm X

Advocacy

  • Police reform and reallocation of funds from the police to mental health, and community safety
  • Affordable housing
  • Educational reforms in both curriculum and administrative actions to address racism and sexual abuse