"We could not even get six hours of deliberation. My son was murdered! He was murdered! He was murdered!” – Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant.
On July 8, 2010, after less than six hours of deliberation, a jury in Los Angeles found former Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) cop Johannes Mehserle guilty of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter for the murder of 22-year-old African Oscar Grant. Mehserle was indicted on murder charges and could have bee sentenced to life in prison.
Oscar Grant was shot by Mehserle, who is white, at point blank range during the early morning hours of January 1, 2009, after having been made to lie on his stomach in submission on the Fruitvale BART Station platform in Oakland, California.
The murder of African people by the police is an all too common occurrence in the U.S. government’s undeclared war on the African community, which faces the colonial policy of police containment on a daily basis.
The murder of Oscar Grant was only highlighted because it was caught on video by BART passengers for the world to see.
The historic resistance of the African community of Oakland forced the arrest of Mehserle, the first time in history that a cop has been put on trial for murder in the state of California for killing an African.
Immediately, the state worked overtime to ensure that Mehserle, if convicted, would face minimal jail time, or no jail time at all, which deepens the individual white people’s allegiance to white state power.
The state succeeded first in moving the trial three hundred miles away from Oakland to the City of Los Angeles to lessen the impact of the resistance of the African community on trial.
Next, the defense was able to dismiss all potential African jurors due to either their affinity with the case of Oscar Grant or their experience with being targeted by the police or “racial profiling.”
And the fact that it is a rarity when the best interest of the African is on the prosecutor’s side in the colonial court room. And that the O.J. Simpson trial taught the State some lessons in regard to black jurors.
In the end, the jury who made the decision to give Mehserle a mere slap on the wrist for the crime of murder was made up of seven whites and five “Latinos.” Four of the jurors were reported to have police among their friends and family.
The conviction on the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter should be of no surprise in a system that treats the murder of African people by the police as a commonplace and necessary occurrence in the containment of our criminalized, terrorized, and colonially occupied community.
And, although Mehserle’s less than B-Rated tear-jerking movie performance from the witness stand, claiming he thought he had pulled his tazer, the less than enthusiastic prosecutors did show Mehserle’s handling a tazer moments before the shooting.
In addition, it was demonstrated how difficult it would be to accidentally discharge the service pistol used to murder Oscar Grant. They are also saying here that it is absolutely okay to pull, shoot and kill an African with the deadly tazer gun.
In preparation for the potential rebellion the state set up “Operation Verdict” in Oakland, mobilizing police agencies from throughout the Bay Area and putting the National Guard on alert.
The city of Oakland and police department held a press conference, collaborating with local non profits or NGO’s to put forward the reactionary message of ‘violence is not justice,” further criminalizing the African community by condemning the potential African resistance and sanctioning the states colonial violence and containment that maintains the relationship between the white ruling class and neo-colonial government and oppressed African and Mexican working class.
In spite of neocolonial Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, who is the darling of the white left in the Bay Area, expressions of pride in how crowds gathered peacefully initially following the verdict, the people had no right to freedom of speech and assembly, since the rally was cordoned off within two blocks of the downtown area by thousands of police in riot gear and rows of police cars, and helicopters overhead to ensure the farcical “freedom of speech” was contained and that no unsanctioned expressions of outrage could occur.
The fact is that the African community throughout Oakland was put on lockdown with twelve passenger vans of Oakland police patrolling the MacArthur corridor in front of the Uhuru House, the center of African resistance in Oakland where the support demonstrations for Lovelle Mixon were launched from following Mixon’s shooting and killing four armed Oakland cops.
The media looked hard for a story that would justify the military style presence of the police; however, the fact is that when darkness fell in downtown Oakland a handful of people smashed windows, set fires and looted a Foot Locker store.
The police had corralled hundreds of people and later declared “an unlawful assembly,” putting on gas masks and taking out clubs to ensure that the police state was in full effect. So obviously, the people understand that, under this type of military show of force, those who fight and run away live to fight another day.
While the struggle for justice for Oscar Grant continues, the Uhuru Movement calls for the following demands:
1. Justice and reparations to the family of Oscar Grant and all victims of police violence from BART and the city of Oakland
2. End the city of Oakland’s public policy of police containment of the African community carried out therough police chief Anthony Batt’s war on “gangs, guns and drugs” and his recently imposed gang injunctions.
3. Economic development for the African and Mexican communities.
We call on the coummunmity to:
1. Support the right of the African community to resist the state violence.
2. Join the Uhuru Movement
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!