Oscar Grant: 1st Unarmed Black Man Police Killed in 2009 - Next?
THE YEAR 2009 STARTED WITH A BANG that ended the life of 22-year-old African American man in the California Bay Area. Oscar Grant’s shooting death was captured on the video footage below. He was killed by police in what some people are calling cold blooded murder. (Read the whole story here. Report by KTVU San Francisco, Jan. 5, 2009)
I received the following account of Grant’s death in my email today along with the video footage.
BART-Police who patrol the Bay Area's subway system entered the train to break up a fight. They pulled a number of young African American men from the train, and lined them up in a seating position against the concrete wall of the train station. Two police officers pulled Mr. Grant from his seating position, and he raised both his hands as though to show his complete surrender. Nevertheless the unarmed, handcuffed young man was stretched out on the ground by two officers while a third officer (a two-year veteran) pulled his gun, pointed it at his helpless cative, and killed young Grant with a single gunshot. Commuters were horrified at the violence, and the other young men who police had removed from the train with Grant were terrified, believing it would be their turns next.
Videos to this horrific shooting:
When the story first broke there were stories about the police snatching people's cell phones and video cameras. Witnesses to the shooting were being hushed up or discredited. But apparently, the police didn't get all of the cameras. The person who filmed this footage is said to be too frightened to be identified because the police really enforce the “don't snitch” rule in that community.
There was a press conference today about a 25 million dollar lawsuit, but no amount of money brings back a life. More information will be provided as it is made available.
UPDATE - 1/8/09 - Riots erupt in Oakland after slain father laid to rest
RIOT VIDEO FOOTAGE is at this link:
(CNN) -- Protests erupted shortly after a young man killed by a subway police officer was laid to rest in Oakland on Wednesday night, according to local media and iReporters.
Oscar Grant, 22, was killed January 1 in a shooting at a subway station in California's Bay Area.
The Oakland Police Department made 105 arrests, including a mass arrest of about 80 people at 11 p.m., said Officer Jeff Thomason. The charges include inciting a riot, vandalism, assault on a police officer and unlawful assembly, he said.
One officer was injured, but not seriously, Thomason said.
While Grant's family is suing the taxpayers for having such "law officers" as these, this writer hopes they will not forget to actually sue the individual Bay Area Rapid Transit Police who participated in Grant’s death. As long as individual police officers have the understanding that to kill a black or brown man equals a paid suspension, this might continue throughout the year, as it did in 2008 and previous years.
It is good that many citizens carry cellphones equipped with video cameras, and some people carry digital camcorders. If citizens had not captured Oscar Grant’s shooting death on video, his family might never know what happened to him. Perhaps they would be told that Grant presented a threat to the officers in some way, but the video clearly shows his hands up in surrender. If there was film to record Larry Neal’s death (my brother) in the Memphis/Shelby County Jail on August 1, 2003, his family has never been allowed to see it. Neither has there been any accountability whatsoever as to why this lifelong mentally ill heart patient was secretly arrested for 18 days while his family and social worker were repeatedly and falsely told by police that Larry was not incarcerated, thereby keeping Larry from his vital psychiatric and heart drugs.
The truth is that the system may offer some excuse why Grant was held down and shot to death by law officers, or try to explain to the world how our eyes cannot be trusted. With my mentally ill brother’ death, no one even bothered to create an excuse or give any records or accountability whatsoever. Shelby County Jail does not feel like trying to explain Larry's secret arrest and death, and that is just fine with the U.S. Justice Department, the federal agency charged with protecting the civil rights of institutionalized persons. The wrongful deaths of African American men, and perhaps mentally ill persons of any race, are deemed unworthy of the investigative effort given to Michael Vick’s dogs.
Congratulations to the citizens for having their cameras ready to shoot this important footage. Hopefully, our incoming Attorney General, Eric Holder, Jr., will demand that the nation's police departments, the USDOJ, and America's penal system CHANGE. See information about Mr. Holder here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Holder
I am particularly pleased that Mr. Holder represented the NFL during its dog fighting investigation against Michael Vick. The Attorney General of the United States of America should certainly agree that people's deaths deserve similar effort. I want Mr. Holder to know that I was impressed with the accountability demanded for Michael Vick's dogs and stand expecting that some of the zeal for justice will one day spill over to investigating my unfortunate brother's death and abuses to other mental ill citizens as well as healthy prisoners and citizens like Oscar Grant, who are too frequently killed by police during arrest attempts. Michael Vick's dogs inspired the poem featured below as well as the name for our family's justice quest regarding the wrongful death of Larry Neal - Dog Justice.
Dogs became our theme for Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill ("AIMI") because animal protection laws have been strengthened in America, while many citizens are still "dogged out." Members of AIMI advocate for equal justice, an end to the death penalty, and for mental illness to be decriminalized in our country. We understand the fact that incarcerating mental patients and non-violent offenders is very profitable to private prison investors, but to mistreat sick Americans or any citizens to benefit stock portfolios is wrong. Currently, 1.25 million persons with mental dysfunctions are imprisoned in the U.S.A. rather than treated in hospitals and community care. Furthermore, 2/3 of the 2.3 million prisoners in America are non-violent offenders, pushing our prison budget over $50 billion annually. The estimated cost reaches $185 billion when adding the cost of law enforcement officers, court costs, lawyers for the indigent, jail while awaiting trial, psychological examinations when ordered, and other costs.
The wrongful death of Oscar Grant now joins his name with Sean Bell, Larry Neal, Sean LeVert, and many others. By now, fallen citizens may have enough names for their own wall, like the Viet Nam veterans. It is too late to help Oscar, but please help Jeremy Smith, a schizophrenic young man of color who was subjected to four years in solitary confinement and now faces four more years in solitary confinement (in the "hole") for merely hitting another mental patient, but causing no bodily harm. In fact, our courts are so harsh that Jeremy was sentenced to EIGHT YEARS IMPRISONMENT for that offense.
Replace punishment with treatment for sick citizens!
We hope for positive CHANGE under Mr. Holder as Attorney General, and increased accountability regarding police violence to men of color and to all citizens. Equal justice is important to everyone, as noted by Rev. Martin Luther King, whose birthday we will soon celebrate.
This writer was very displeased to learn that Rev. King's final address, "I've been to the Mountaintop" had been fraudulently edited in 18 of the 20 online printed versions of that famous speech which she checked. Key phrases having to do with "illegal injunctions" and "dogs and water hoses" were omitted from Rev. King's most quoted paragraph of the speech. Please see the link below:
MLK's Final Speech Fraudulently Edited to Change History
The best way not to need to re-write history as seems to be the case with Rev. King's final speech online, fabricate false accounts of citizen's deaths, or violate trample the law by falsifying or withholding public records, as happened in my brother's jailhouse death, is to do just as Rev. King admonished in his final public address on April 3, 1968. Rev. King advised America to "just be true to what you said on paper."
DOG JUSTICE ©
Too bad you weren't a dog, my brother
In my heart, I cried
Many more people would care about you
And wonder why you died
You had no spots or floppy ears
You never fetched a ball
Instead, you were a human being
But poor, black, and flawed
You died in jail for mental illness
I know down in my heart
Your death would be investigated
If only you could bark
Dog deaths get swift justice
Their abusers are sent to jail
Poor Mama would have closure now
If you'd had a wagging tail
But you were made in God's image
And some day, I have no doubt
The mentally ill and American dogs
Will have at least equal clout
by Mary Neal
(all rights reserved)
Oscar Grant's tragedy was updated in the following articles:
Oscar Grant's Family's $50 Million Suit - Cost of Police Violence
Trial coverage at:
Oscar Grant Shooting: Johannes Mehserles Murder Trial
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Author's Page: http://www.care2.com/c2c/people/profile.html?pid=513396753
Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill