On the early morning of Jan. 1, 2009, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police pulled several young Black men off a train supposedly for fighting. Oscar Grant was lying face down on the platform with his hands cuffed behind his back when Officer Mehserle pulled out his gun and shot him in the back, killing him. The initial reaction of the authorities was for Oakland Police Department (OPD) to say they have no jurisdiction, because the incident took place at a BART station. BART failed to even take a statement from their own officers. Instead, they claimed they didn?t know what happened, because the cameras pointing at the platform supposedly only transferred images to the agent on duty, that they did not record.
There were, however, videos taken by other passengers. The lack of response by anyone in authority angered many. Thousands came out on Jan. 9 to the Fruitvale BART station shutting it down for hours, then marching to city hall. Following is a statement from one of the CCWP participants. ?Editors
I was a part of the first Oscar Grant Protest on January 9, 09 with other members of the organization. Hundreds of people gathered at the Fruitvale BART station where Oscar Grant, 22-years-old and a father of a young child, was killed, execution style on Jan 1. I wanted to support the community outrage against police brutality. It was about Oscar Grant, but it was about many other acts of police brutality. Some held signs saying ?I am Oscar Grant.?
The reason this incident was different than many others was because home videos of the shooting were posted widely and shocked most viewers. The BART train was full of people who witnessed the murder and spoke out about it.
Different people spoke at the demonstration at the station. For example mothers, whose sons have been killed by police, who have seen no justice, have not seen any police held accountable, demanded action be taken this time.
Up until that day BART did not even try to get a statement from officer Mehserle about what happened. Rather than give an accounting of his actions, Mehserle resigned his BART position that day.
It was an emotional day. Not just mothers but schoolmates, people of all ages were there: young people, student unions, parents, organizations from all over the Bay Area and lots of media were present. (Although the major media only reported the destruction of property that happened after the protesters left the station, and not the peaceful protest that lasted over 5 hours.)
Since that day there have many protests, and not just in Oakland. Officer Mehserle was finally arrested and charged with murder, although a second officer, the one who threw the first vicious punch at Oscar Grant, has not yet been charged or disciplined in any way.