Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old black father of a 4-year-old, was shot by Bay Area Rapid Transit police on New Year's Day. The video is here, warning, *trigger*:
New Video of Bart Shooting Is Clearest Yet
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the story is here.
Possibilities for action are here.
And here is my letter to the BART board of directors, Chief Gee of the Oakland police and Sergeant Chlebowski of BART:
Dear Director Ward Allen, Board of Directors at BART, Sergeant Chlebowski and Chief Gee,
As an American citizen living abroad, I was horrified to hear about the shooting of Oscar Grant on New Year's Day. Unfortunately, having been born and raised in the States (near Washington, D.C.), despite having been born years after the Civil Rights Act was passed, I was not surprised.
I tried to believe it was an accident. I WANTED to believe it was an accident and that, as Linton Johnson told CNN, the officer was devastated. I tried to picture a scenario where the accused was unrestrained, fighting, trying to run away - was in some way posing a threat.
Then I saw the video. And my horror and rage went incandescent. It is painfully clear that he was sitting against the wall, first pleading his case with a police officer - as is clear from his body language. Then, a police officer comes from off camera, apparently telling him to stand up, which he does. At which point, his standing up becomes an excuse for TWO OFFICERS to put him on the ground, one restraining him at his head in some way.
The second officer, *WITH MR GRANT FACE DOWN ON THE GROUND*, pulls his weapon - and please don't pretend that he confused it with a Taser, because, as any many police officers with a district or state have publicly stated, they feel VERY different - and calmly removes the safety and pulls the trigger (thus negating any theory that he thought it WAS a taser).
It was obvious to me that Mr Grant didn't pose a threat. Officer Mehserle needs to be tried for first degree murder. As TwoStrayDogs says over at Shakesville:
"I watched the train-window video several times with several of my colleagues; we're all members of a major northern CA PD. No, we don't know what was being said, or what closeup details were missed in this incident. However, all of us looked at each other and said, "Oh, Jesus." Suspect was down, under reasonable control, two officers pinning him by his arms and shoulders with the third officer near his lower back. There was no "Taser mixup." You don't draw and fire a 50,000 volt device at danger-close proximity to other officers involved in a melee. The chances of hitting your partner(s) are too great. He drew his weapon deliberately, took aim, and discharged that weapon. You can also see the surprise in his partners when they jump up after having the round slam into the suspect inches from their faces and torsos. I have no idea what that shooter was thinking, but the video sure looks like an execution."
Not only he, but also his colleagues, none of whom said, "WTF are you DOING?" need to be tried for murder and as accomplices to murder. Nothing else would qualify as justice.
I would also like to see police officers getting more than *72* hours of training in when to draw their weapons and how to use them. They should get 100s, if not 1000s of hours of training in how to cope in a crisis situation. It MUST become second nature, like breathing. This is what they deal with ALL THE TIME. In addition to trying them, you MUST examine their training.
Clearly, in standard police procedure, all the suspects would have been patted down for weapons. What I don't understand is, if they were seen as threats, WHY OFFICER MEHSERLE DIDN'T DRAW...
There's nothing here to exonerate him, and the officers are further damned by their attempts to confiscate all cameras and mobile phones to hide the evidence.
After eight years of wanting to burn my passport, I finally felt proud to be an American again after we elected an African-American as president in November.
Please do the right thing here. Please, let me continue to be proud to be an American again.
I've spent too long being ashamed.