Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Black man, was murdered early in the morning on New Year’s Eve Day 2009. Johannes Mehserle, a BART cop, shot Grant in the back as he lay facedown on the BART platform. Hundreds of people witnessed the murder. By the next day, tens of thousands had viewed the videos of Grant’s murder posted on YouTube. People across the country were outraged. People’s anger was inflamed by the silence and refusal of the cops and city officials to respond – to arrest Mehserle and denounce Grant’s execution.
The murder of Oscar Grant has come to represent much of what is wrong in this society. It has come to represent the brutality of the police in many of our communities today. His murder has come to represent the attitude of many police and officials of this society toward young men in poor neighborhoods – especially young Black and Brown men.
The violence in many of our communities is epidemic. Up and down the Bay, from San Jose, to Hayward, Oakland, Richmond and Vallejo many people are afraid to step out of their homes. Children can no longer play freely in their neighborhoods. Every week another young person meets a tragic end in the streets – at the hands of another young person or the cops. The police, who are supposedly there to maintain the peace, are often the greater force to fear. We cannot tolerate this situation any longer!
We Cannot Wait Silently For The Verdict
The officials moved Mehserele’s trial to Los Angeles, where he was tried before a judge with a reputation for letting killer cops go. The jury, which excluded all African-Americans, issued a verdict of involuntary manslaughter! The judge is supposed to announce Mehserle’s sentence in early November. We cannot sit passively by while the judge waits us out. We cannot remain silent in the face of these injustices. How many more young people will fall at the hands of the police before we raise our voices and begin to take action?
We have a choice in the face of this assault on our lives. We have a choice to stand together and raise our voices and show our strength and say we will not allow the murder of Oscar Grant to be forgotten. We will not allow the police to get away with murder. We will not allow the dreams and hopes for a decent life to be stripped from the children and youth. We can stand together strong and proud and claim our future from those who would deny us. We can begin to come together to reclaim our lives and our neighborhoods.
The ILWU, International Longshoreman’s Union, along with other unions, organizations and individuals have called on all of us to come together at Noon on Saturday, October 23 in Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland to say loud and clear that we will not tolerate the police violence. We will not stand by while our young people are brutalized by this society. It is our duty and obligation to take a stand. Oscar Grant is all of us! What happened to him could and will happen to any one of us, if we do not stop this violence.