On Oscar Grant



[Note: I wrote the following post the day after Johannes Mehserle, the BART police officer who shot and killed 22-year-old Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale metro station in Oakland, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter (which is a lesser charge than murder or voluntary manslaughter). A quick rundown of facts: Grant was facedown, handcuffed on the ground and being held down by several other officers when Mehserle pulled out his gun and shot Grant in the back of the head. The melee was caught on video. Mehserle claimed he thought he was pulling out his Taser and that he pulled out his pistol by accident.

This verdict was handed down about a month after a seven-year-old black girl was killed during a raid on her home by Detroit police officers. I was feeling raw and I'm sure I made some grammatical errors, and it's rather ineloquent. But it's how I felt at the time and how I still feel. Frustrated and not quite sure what the next step is. All I know is, things like this---i.e., black and brown people dying because of the use of excessive force by law enforcement, hell, black and brown officers being gunned down by fellow officers---happen far too often. I want to come up with a solution but I'm just not sure what the answer is yet.
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Sigh. I don’t have any hate in my heart for this man [Johannes Mehserle]. The circumstances that led to Oscar Grant’s death are bigger than Grant, the people on the BART platform, and bigger than Johannes Mehserle.

The circumstances that led to police officers killing Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, and many more Black people is bigger than those individuals.

It has to do with a deeply rooted fear of The Other, and it’s not just a white/black thing. It’s an American condition that’s leading to lives lost or irreparably damaged.

I don’t know. I don’t know what to do to prevent something like this from happening again. I don’t know exactly what to do to mobilize, organize, take some kind of action that is actually helpful, and not just reactionary venting online and with my friends on the phone.

I know I need to do something more. Certainly don’t want to be an armchair revolutionary but I just don’t know what.

I’m sorry. I’m rambling. It’s just…everyone, all of these families need more. We (I) need to do more. I just don’t know what.