As millions across the nation celebrated the arrival of a New Year, and likewise await with bated breath the advent of the first African American President of the United States; another young Black man lost his life at the hands of a exceedingly over zealous, and highly irresponsible law enforcement officer in the San Francisco bay area.
In the early morning hours of January 1, 2009 after bringing in the New Year by celebrating with friends; 22 year old Oscar Grant proceeded to make his way home on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit).
It is alleged, that a verbal altercation occurred between two groups of young men. One of the groups was allegedly traveling with Mr. Grant.
Subsequently, BART police officers responded to the alleged dispute, and quickly subdued the group traveling with Mr. Grant, by having them lay face down on the mass transit platform.
According to a number of video tapes, and like minded images taken by passengers; within 29 seconds after having the situation completely under control, BART police officer Johnannes Mehserle felt compelled to draw his weapon, and subsequently shot Oscar Grant in the back as he lay on the ground completely defenseless.
Statements taken from bystanders at the scene, were that Mr. Grant was handcuffed at the time of the shooting, and the cuffs were quickly removed before the media arrived.
Furthermore, BART police officers had the unadulterated audacity to attempt to conceal this entire incident, by confiscating cell phones and cameras of passengers at the time of Mr. Grant's death.
New Years Day shooting by BART Police
BART officials consequently responded to the incident by going on the air citing that they believe the officer in question was possibly reaching for his taser, and mistakenly drew his service revolver by accident.
This contemptible explanation by BART officials is downright ludicrous, and equally flies in the face of all reason.
Law enforcement officers go through extensive training in regards to handling a myriad of weapons and potential volatile situations. Are we to believe that this particular officer truly forgot what side of his gun belt that his taser was on?
Of course not!
In fact, in 1992 a BART police officer shot Jerrold Hall (a young black man) in the back of his head, and was subsequently cleared of any wrong doing even though the alleged suspect was walking away from a potential altercation at the time of the shooting.
Nevertheless, just for argument sake, let's entertain the notion that the senseless death of Mr. Grant was an accident; (which again is completely absurd). BART is wholly responsible for the training of its officers, which in this case was completely inadequate.
Furthermore, according to by standers and countless video tapes, all of the alleged suspects were lying face down on the ground and posed absolutely no threat. The question then becomes, what possessed this officer to draw his weapon (taser or not) in the first place, which resulted in the execution of another young black life at the hands of law enforcement.
To date, more than 1 week after this horrific incident, news media continue to report that the officer in question has categorically refused to answer any questions from BART officials, or the Alameda District Attorney's office. To add insult to injury, BART officials have gone on the record citing that they cannot force officer Mehserle to answer any questions because of his union rights.
The larger question is this; does an individuals union rights, trump is person's civil rights? Or better than that, a person's human rights? On January 1st, Mr. Grant's human rights were violated during this tragic event, and it is imperative that this officer is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Officer Mehserle's reckless disregard for human life, couple with his inability to follow procedure; first by drawing a lethal weapon in a non-lethal situation; then by shooting an unarmed man in the back; and now by refusing to answer any questions, must be dealt with in the swiftest manner.
By the same token, it is imperative that we come together and cease these overtly callous acts by criminal law enforcement officers as a whole, and not simply continue to wait on a tremendously tragic event such as the death of Mr. Grant. We must refuse to simply sit by and watch the wholesale execution of our youth by these so-called guardian's of the law.
I implore you to inundate BART officials and the Alameda District Attorney's office with your letters with a call for justice for Oscar Grant, and his family; and summarily bring his murderer to trial for the enormously negligent and cowardly act of Officer Johnannes Mehserle.
Please send your corresponded to:
Bay Area Rapid Transit District
P.O. Box 12688
Oakland CA 94604-2688
Alameda District Attorney's Office
1225 Fallon Street, Room 900
Oakland, CA 94612
M. QUINN is a freelance journalist born in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Author of the books; "Removing the Veil", and RECOMPENSE "A Matter of Human Rights".
He is also the Founder of the Campaign to Remove the Veil"; which
advocates incorporating a comprehensive study of racism into the academic system of American society, and making it a prerequisite for graduation. He specializes in social, political, and historical analysis and commentary.
THE CAMPAIGN TO REMOVE THE VEIL
REMOVING THE VEIL - THE BOOK
A MATTER OF HUMAN RIGHTS
A MATTER OF HUMAN RIGHTS - THE BOOK
ADDITIONAL LITERARY WORKS' BY THE AUTHOR
All Rights reserved by the Author
© Jan 2009 By Afromerica || [TOP]
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