Thursday, January 08, 2009

Acting White: Angry White Dude Loses Two Lives

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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Anonymous said...

That truly is a tragedy.

Here in Atlanta we've had a somewhat similar event: Violence leading to public outcry. In our story, though, the victim was a bartender and the shooters were criminals. It has led to a number of protests, vigils and calls upon the city to do something about the violence.

My take away is that people are getting fed up with thug-ism, in all it's forms.

Anonymous said...

Black on Black violence has got to I am shocked and appalled at the level of violence that we direct toward each other... Now can I be outraged at this shooting?

Anonymous said...

both of you have got to be kidding me... only when it comes to black folks does apples and oranges get mixed in the bunch this way.

black on black crime has nothing to do with an officer of the law shooting an unamrmed subdued person in the back as he lay on his stomach... police brutality and black on black crime.. white on white crime.... or whatever are two different issues, two different subjects. now all of a sudden it doesn't matter what the cop did cause mookie shot ray ray on the block the other day? now all of a sudden black life is just up for anyone to snatch away?

no other race of people would even consider such a dumb ass argument!

intelligent people know how to compartmentalize such topics and discuss each of them with their proper due - not attempt to use one to dismiss the significance of the other.

my god get a grip!

Anonymous said...

bbgcmac, I was trying for sarcasm, to make the same sort of point.

Anonymous said...

The film looked to me as if the officer was scared and nervous and planned to threaten the man with his gun. Because he was scared, he held it improperly and it went off. He was wrong to have drawn it and will pay for the rest of his life.

But I'm not sure that the "protesters" didn't become mindless rioters at some point. What did breaking the store windows of the African-American woman who did hair weaves have to do with anything except the fun of acting out?

Anonymous said...

I saw this on DemocracyNow! It is amazing how everything is captured on cellphones these days; perhaps the mobile will become a greater driving force to check police brutality.

Anonymous said...

You can bet you ass that if the cop had been black there would have been no riot and excuses would have been made for him by everyone black including Mr. Collier but since he is white the riots are "understood".
Talk about racism!

SoulFinger said...

To the Anonymous posters, really please get a better grasp of life in general and contribute more to the dialogue than this hate venom you spew all to well.

This situation would have been protested even more so if the cop were black, simply because, he would have been expected to know and be heave better "but for the grace of god, go I" example in New york when the groom was killed and constant complaints of police brutality in New Orleans police - I blame the mentality of us vs them as oppose to true protect and serve it varies where one can empathize with a community or not

And historically speaking the law and it's enforcement agents aren't always fair and just, and are quite susceptible to human foibles and prejudices, besides not a city policeman but a private transit cop with human emotions.

There is a long history of antagonism between authority and those relegated to the margins as less than deserving of what the privileged class are are accustom to, especially when a group of loud celebratory young men might be perceived as threatening do to other past instances with similar or close results.

I don't know if black youth are a magnet for this type of encounter but it is happing far to often in the pass year or two, and god forbid more than likely to happen again and again and again .... to what end?

For me when you take on the responsibility to represent the law and have the power to take a life or save it and others, more is expected of you than what the average citizen may do, that person is expected to do the right thing at all times or relinquish the authority given if found in capable of doing the hard choices to taking a life, that person is not an criminal so being reckless is not an option nor an executioner dealing out cinematic justice in the wild frontier.

This man took a life for no reason what so ever, and if found guilty must pay for his criminal act and penance for dishonoring all other law enforcement personal who know what is expected of them and lessening the stature to the public at large, which is equally as devastating for us all

Anonymous said...

Please spare me the knackered and dead canard of hate this hate that spread hates this.

I just give my opinion on here so shoot me.

Anonymous said...

I still new to the US but what I do find interesting...

1. The number of cases of black Americans being shot "by accident" by police compared to white Americans.

2. How people want to turn this into a black-on-black or "poor cop" story each time. The policeman shot a guy that was on the ground who was unarmed and posing no threat. The policeman picked his job and should stick to doing it the proper way.

We judge what we see. A guy is on the ground and no threat and not armed. He is black. A cop pulls out his gun and shoots the guy point blank - dead. Which part of "this is fucked up" do people not understand?

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know what any sane person of color thinks of the vulgar comments made by jay z and young jeeze at one of the inaugural celebrations last night?

And black people wonder why white people could still harbor any hints of racism................

Mr. Collier I know it's off subject but it begs to be discussed. said...

This is sad really... No denying a wrong took place. The Police Officer is done. At one point in the video in the front it did look like the cops were outnumbered... that would make them nervous but, reinforcements did come. To me this cops is in real trouble because of his actions and a young man also lost his life. In a way they both lost their lives with that gun shot.

It's good to see that at least some real honest debate is taking place... it shows that not all people of the same race are taking racial positions on this shooting.

Reading all these comments tells me America still has some hope after all.