by N. Zahra
Basics Issue #12 (Jan/Feb 2009)
On New Year’s Eve, after responding to reports of a ‘fight’ on a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train, BART police detained the train, forcibly removing several young men from the train, most of them black, as bystanders watched. The men were lined up or seated along the platform and some were hand-cuffed. Oscar Grant, 22 year-old father of a four-year old, was not one of them. As he attempted to diffuse the situation, he was detained, placed face down on the platform, and then executed by one of the cops, Johannes Mehserle. Bystanders and even police were shocked. Several video-phones captured the incident, subsequently sharing the footage on the internet. Several organizations in the community called for a demonstration in response to this murder and some 600 protestors showed up to voice their outrage. The city’s mayor, Ron Dellums, cited for his civil rights credentials, did nothing to stop the police abuse of protestors who were justifiably outraged by police actions. Over a hundred protestors were arrested at the protests.
As one protestor declared, “I’ve got the mentality of my parents who were Black Panthers, I’m tired of talking….Let’s take a stand today, because tomorrow ain’t promised!’”