This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
On June 12, 2011, a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon, a diverse crowd of people gathered outside the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, California to protest the release from prison of BART police officer, Johannes Mehserle, who shot Oscar Grant III January 1, 2009 at the Fruitvale BART Station. Mehserle was released Monday at exactly 12:01 a.m. after serving eleven months of his two year sentence. The jury determined that Mehserle, 29, was guilty of involuntary manslaughter and using a firearm in the commission of a crime. Mehserle could have faced a maximum of fourteen years in prison but in his eternal wisdom, Judge Robert Perry sentenced him to two years, which is the minimum sentence for his conviction. On the day of sentencing, Judge Perry threw out the gun enhancement charge, declaring to the jury and courtroom that he was “troubled by the jury’s findings". At the time of the shooting, Grant was lying on the ground of the BART station face down, with his arms behind his back and he was surrounded by at least three other officers. The incident was captured on the video feature of many cell phone cameras. The BART police handled the situation by closing the doors of the train, moving it on to the next station, and unjustly confiscating peoples’ cell phones, so that the video could not be released to the public. Fortunately, with the many forms of modern technology that humans now have at their disposal, it is almost impossible to hide the truth of the misdeeds of our public officials, such as our police officers, politicians, and religious personalities. The video was leaked onto YouTube and within a few hours, the video had gone “viral”. Mehserle has insisted since the beginning that he did not intentionally shoot Oscar Grant. He claims that he mistook his service weapon, a Glock pistol, for his X26 Taser. This is very odd because those two items are very different and it would not be easy to mistake the sleek grip of a hand-gun for the bulkier feel of a Taser. The manual for the Taser X26 reports that the weapon weighs seven ounces, while the average weight of a Glock pistol is at a minimum over twenty ounces. The really strange and therefore suspicious fact is that most police issued Glocks are a very dark color, usually midnight black, while the Taser X26 has bright yellow markings on its surface and also has a two-digit LED screen. The difference between the two weapons is a vast chasm where Oscar Grant’s blood pooled and immediately stained Mehserle’s defense of mistaking the weapons in “the heat of the moment”. Regardless of what was happening, Mehserle was a trained officer that should have been able to keep his wits about him in this type of situation. It is
true that there were many passengers on the train at the time of the shooting, but none were on the platform. Three officers shown on the video backed him up and there is no way of knowing how many other officers were in the station at the time. Grant was face down, arms behind his back, possibly handcuffed when Mehserle "accidentally" pulled the trigger. The injustice of the case brought protesters to the street even before the trial, conviction, and release. Downtown Oakland erupted in chaos and anarchy the night after the shooting occurred and other violent protests took place throughout the past two years in Oakland. On Sunday, as protestors gathered at the Fruitvale BART station, almost a hundred officers watched the crowd for any signs of trouble. As the Police Helicopters flew through the air, a dozen police motorcycles readied themselves to escort the protest marchers down International Boulevard to the Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland and the protesters blocked off the corner of Broadway and 14th. Many stores closed early and some even boarded their doors and windows to protect against the damage they had suffered from previous protests. The only business open in the immediate area was Pizza Man, who did a brisk trade with the hungry protesters. At least ten unmarked units were present, along with many patrol cars. Undercover police officers floated through the crowd at the rally, obvious with their noticeable ear pieces stuck deep within their ears. The police expected the worst, even as the speakers and family members asked for peace and nonviolence during the march. The rally and March did end peacefully, with only one arrest made. The people made their voice heard and demanded justice for Oscar Grant legitimately. A family from Stockton, California also spoke to the crowd Sunday afternoon. Their son, James Rivera, Jr. was shot and killed by Stockton Police Officers Eric Azarvand, a fourteen-year department veteran; Gregory Dunn, who has been with the department for eight years and San Joaquin County Sheriff's Deputy John T. Nesbitt, who has eleven years at the San Joaquin Sheriff's Department. Rivera, 16, of Stockton, had already escaped from the San Joaquin County Juvenile Hall, where he was being held on felony charges. While on the run, Rivera was suspected of committing new crimes and when the Stockton Police spotted him in North Stockton driving a minivan, the police and Rivera became entangled in a high speed chase. The officers intentionally caused a collision and Rivera lost control of the van. It slammed into the garage of a residence, which the police quickly surrounded, and when the van began to reverse out of the hole in the garage, the officers opened fire into the back of the vehicle. James Rivera, Jr. was struck many times and died because the police officers said that they “feared for their lives”. Neighbors of the house where the shooting took place claimed that the
officers had an M16 assault rifle with armor piercing bullets at the scene. Stockton Police Department spokesman Pete Smith denied that armor piercing bullets were used. "There's absolutely no validity to that," said Smith. "An M-16 rifle was not fired at that vehicle or used at that scene." This incident and many more throughout the State of California has certainly brought to light the Gestapo tactics employed by the police. The Central Valley is an area where many shootings have occurred, with little or no repercussions for the officers. An organizational speaker at the protest rally was quoted as saying “they operate by being blue by day and white by night”, implying that the police sponsored and participated in violence against innocent citizens. The family of James Rivera, Jr and the family of Oscar Grant III have both filed civil lawsuits against the police, in an effort to find Justice that has been denied to them so far. I do believe the shooting of Oscar Grant was an accident; there was no premeditation on the part of Mehserle and I sincerely doubt that he went to work that night, New Year’s Eve, with the intention of killing a young black male, but the tragedy of this story is the immediate lies and the cover-up. Mehserle had his pistol out because that is what officers are trained to do. I am not sure why the safety of his pistol was not engaged at the time of the shooting or even why he had his finger on the trigger because when you are pointing a gun at someone, you never touch the trigger unless you intend to use it. An innocent person shot by the police is not new. Despite what color you are, if you are poor or just happen to make a horrible, stupid mistake, there is constant, continuous police harassment. A sad truth is that some, but not all, of the police are not there to help, as they claim, but rather to judge whether or not you belong in the system. Once in the system, certain aspects of your life are basically ruined. You can overcome it sometimes, but many folks climb to the top, only to slide right back down, a product of their environment. I am white, but throughout my life, most of my friends are people of color. I grew up in Stockton, where the police are notorious for shooting first and asking questions later. I have witnessed horrible things the police have done to my friends. An old roommate of mine in West Oakland was once pulled over at a liquor store and he exited out of his car before he realized the police were there. A woman police officer ran over to him with her gun pointed at him, screaming that he needed to get back in his car or she would shoot him. She then dragged him out of his car, pulled down his pants and boxers in the middle of rush hour traffic on College Avenue, informing him at the same time that he was lucky that she was not a rookie because she would have probably shot him and added she would have been justified.
I happen to carry a KA-Bar knife that hangs from my belt. I wear this knife every day; it is sort of a good luck charm and in California, it is completely legal to carry as long as it is in full view, which is how I have always carried it. My wearing it sort of tests any police officer who sees me as to whether or not my civil rights will be upheld. One day a while ago, I stepped outside of my house to speak to several Stockton Police Officers who were there because of a possible domestic incident. Walking toward the four police officers, I voiced a greeting but before I was through with the sentence, they had pulled their guns out and told me to put my hands in the air. The police then detained me, taking the knife, and cuffing my hands behind my back, all the while informing me that they could have shot me right then and there and that they would have been completely justified. My mother was a witness that I had done nothing wrong, nor had I even reached for the knife. I argued with the officers about this and they all insisted that shooting me would have been within their rights of deadly force, even though the knife was legal and not in any way concealed. This incident astonished me and proved that the mentality of the police is twisted and maliciously deformed when it comes to the rights of the innocent citizens that they are here to "Serve and Protect". I do not find it surprising that many Police Departments have removed the decal on their patrol cars that used to say “to Protect and Serve” because that is no longer their intention. In that, at least they are being honest.
Andrew N. Farrens June 15, 2011
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.