Thursday, January 08, 2009
This is a story of how one bullet instantly and simultaneously ends one life and jacks-up another on a BART platform in Oakland California, on New Year’s Day. The riot that occurred in the aftermath is a footnote. Yeah, people are pissed, and for once they took their anger out of their neighborhood and to City Hall - well, almost. The police stopped the protesters a few blocks short, as they moved toward the city center, so that is where the shit hit the fan – cars burned, tear gas unleashed, people arrested, people injured.
As I write this I can hear the helicopters that I ignored last night. Right now, the Oakland Police are ‘dispersing’ the area around City Hall. So what the hell happened to spark this?
The short version captured on a cell phone shows a white BART police officer, Johannes Mehserle, rendering aid to fellow officers holding a young black male antagonist (Oscar Grant). Grant was laying on his stomach in-the-grasp, at the Fruitvale Station. Suddenly the white officer un-holsters his gun and points it down at the back of Grant, and shoots, killing him. WTF!
The other officers look shocked, as does the firing officer. Grant had no weapon, although he appears to be uncooperative while being handcuffed. He does not appear to be a deadly threat to anyone. So, white BART policeman has some serious explaining to do toward his upcoming manslaughter vs. 2nd degree murder debate.
This issue cuts particularly close to me as, just last weekend, I found myself in a heated discussion with two OPD officers because one of them got close to clipping me with her cruiser while I was on a bike ride. Their guns did not faze me a bit, but perhaps they should have. After New Years, maybe I was closer to catching some lead than I thought with those cops. What I know is that anger makes you stupid, and if you happen to be packing, well, get ready to go to jail for a long time. Officer Mehserle is going to have the rest of his life to consider if dying, along with his helpless victim, would have been a more desirable result of his actions.
James C. Collier
Link: Huffington Post/Neal Rodriquez
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