Jan 12, 2009
On New Year’s Day, a 22-year old black man was killed by a transit cop on the subway platform in Oakland, California.
Transit police say they were trying to question people getting off a train on which a fight had been reported two stations before! But cell phone video recordings and narrations made by dozens of people who were on the platform or on trains going home after New Year’s parties, were soon posted on the internet. They showed the cops roughly herded Grant and other young black men into one part of the platform and forced them to sit or kneel, some handcuffed. After Grant put his hands up, the cops forced him from a seated position to lying face down on the platform. Grant begged for his life. Then, while one cop held Grant down with his knee to the back of his neck, Officer Mehserle stood up, drew his gun and shot him through the back.
Grant died a few hours later in the hospital. But despite all the evidence of this police murder on the internet and on cell phones the police had confiscated at the station, transit and Oakland officials did nothing for a week.
Finally, the anger of some young people boiled over. On January 7, a protest over the shooting ended with hundreds of young people showing their anger in the streets – store windows were broken and cars trashed.
State prosecutors said they would move more quickly to complete their investigation of Grant’s shooting. Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, who is black, urged people to remain calm and said he was hopeful things will change after Barak Obama takes office.
Horse manure! Police brutality and murder continue against working class and poor people, especially against black people, over 40 years after the Black Panthers, founded in Oakland, organized against it. For a period, such actions forced the police to back off. Politicians, black and white, still side with police or cover up their crimes. It will take young people ready to fight for their own security and dignity to once again make the authorities act differently.
In a system based on a small minority exploiting the huge majority, where police are used to keep us in line, it’s long past time for us to organize to protect ourselves again.