Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Justice for Oscar Grant

Here's a terrible way to start off the New Year --

Oscar Grant III, an unarmed 22-year-old black man, was shot and killed early on New Year's morning by an officer from the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police force in Oakland.

The murder occurred just after 2 am at the Fruitvale BART station. Apparently, trains headed toward the East Bay were stopped so officers could respond to a reported fight on one of the trains. A group of young men of color were handcuffed -- without incident -- and berated by police. In the video, Grant is not one of the men handcuffed.

What makes this so shocking is that the entire incident was caught on tape. In the video posted below, Grant is seen cooperating with officers as they tackle him to the ground. While Grant lays on his stomach, an officer sitting on top of him -- for no apparent reason -- pulls out of a gun and shoots him in the back. Grant was taken to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

(The shooting occurs at 2:34)


Based on a report that cites an eyewitness account and sources close to the investigation, the officer may have accidently shot Grant, mistaking his firearm for a taser gun.

According to another reported eye witness, Grant was heard pleading for his life shortly before he was shot, saying, "Please don't tase me, please don't shoot me, I have a daughter."

BART police are still investigating, the officer involved has yet to be named publicly and Grant's family is in the beginning stages of filing a multi-million dollar civil suit.

In the mean time, here are five things you can do help:

  1. Digg the story so that the national media can pick up on it.

  2. Contact BART Director Carole Ward Allen and demand that 1) the officers involved be taken off duty without pay and charged and fully prosecuted; 2) there be an independent investigation of the shooting that includes a review of training and hiring practices; and 3) BART establish an independent residents’ review board for the police Call her at 510-464-6095 or email the BART Directors at BoardofDirectors@bart.gov

  3. Call the BART police to complain about the officers’ conduct and demand immediate action: Internal Affairs: Sergeant David Chlebowski 510.464.7029,dchlebo@bart.gov; Chief of Police: Gary Gee 510.464.7022, ggee@bart.gov

    Call them toll free at 877.679.7000 and press the last four digits of the phone number you wish to reach.

  4. Talk it up on your blogs, networks and talk radio shows (call Michael Baisden 877-6BADBOY or Rev. Al, etc. to get this on the national radar)

  5. Stay tuned for other actions, protests, etc., especially if you are in the Bay.

h/t to RaceWire for the action points.
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