Thursday, January 8, 2009
Oscar Grant III Shooting Updates
Last night a few people took civil disobedience into idiot territory by clashing with the police. This was supposed to be a peaceful protest against the shooting of Mr. Grant, not an excuse to riot. I think sometimes we let our emotions get the best of us and do ourselves more harm than good. Lighting a dumpster on fire is not the way to go!
The BART Transit Board Meeting was packed this morning. The Board offered a formal apology which wasn't necessarily expected but was the right thing to do. Certain religious and civic leaders spoke out against the actions of the police using what I'd call outdated analogies to previous oppression. I don't think the Rev. Amos Brown of the Third Baptist Church bringing up Emmett Till was appropriate. One did not have anything to do with the other. He's served on the SF Board of Supervisors and should know how to negotiate better politically than that! The only words of common sense strategy-wise was the demand to bring in the offices of Attorney General and the Department of Justice to launch their own investigations into the conduct of ALL the officers on the scene. CBS5 has live streaming footage of the meeting.
Typically when there's an officer-involved shooting against citizens the District Attorney and Police Department work together to shut down any serious investigations because they provide cover for each other. I'm certain this will be disputed but we can look at the results over and over and over again and draw the same conclusions: unless you are wealthy or well-connected you are pretty much out of luck at getting an officer prosecuted.
So I find it very interesting - and telling - that Officer Mehserle quit instead of answering questions. Usually that "Blue Wall" is activated and if the officer has to respond to criminal charges they are almost always found innocent by using the imminent danger excuse. It's why there was allegedly no video footage at the Fruitvale station for the police to review. So the irony is they couldn't apply their usual spin and legal manipulations to the situation. Watching the numerous angles offered from the several citizen activists who captured the shooting on their cell phones, it's nearly impossible to determine when the officers ever had their lives in danger, but we can clearly hear Mr. Grant cooperating with the police and asking not to be harmed because he has a child.
Hearing that the officer supposedly has received death threats does nothing to address his contemptible actions. Particularly when this information is released to the press at the same time as the previous illegal activity of the victim. "Healing" is not needed but a set of actions that reflect harsh consequences for the police are. Having the one main officer involved bail out of the process to avoid accountability is not an act of courage or remorse but one of cowardice.
One caveat: Why are people so outraged by police killing Black men but remain largely inactive in stopping Black men from killing each other?