On Monday, June 13, 2011, the state of California released killer cop Johannes Mehserle from the Los Angeles County Jail. The former Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) cop was given a "slap on the wrist" conviction of involuntary manslaughter in July 2010 for the brutal murder of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old African.
On January 1, 2009, Mehserle shot Grant in his back by Mehserle while laying handcuffed face down on the BART platform at the Fruitvale station in Oakland while a group of his friends and numerous BART passengers witnessed. The execution of Grant was caught on multiple cell phone and video cameras and uploaded to YouTube for the entire world to see what is a common occurrence facing African people.
Even though the police kill African people on a regular basis, Mehserle is the first cop in California history who has ever been convicted of murder. The police killings of African men in Oakland — including those of Casper Banjo, Derrick Jones, Raheim Brown, Jody "Mack" Woodfox, Gary King Jr. and even Lil' Bobby Hutton — occurred without the benefit of cameras, and in each of these cases, the State justified itself.
Because his murder was seen on video around the world, Oscar Grant has come to symbolize the ongoing reality of police terror in our oppressed African communities. This imposed terror is part of the U.S. war of counterinsurgency being carried out against the African community to put down our ability to resist colonial conditions. The police is its front line of offense.
While the resistance and outcry coming from the African community and our allies made it impossible for the State to outright justify the murder of Oscar Grant, the State did make every attempt to ensure that Mehserle was given the least amount of time possible.
The State moved the trial to Los Angeles and made certain that it selected a nearly all-white jury. This jury and the judge presiding argued that Mehserle had mistaken his gun for his Taser, and ruled the execution involuntary manslaughter.
Mehserle did just 11 months of a two-year sentence in a special cell in LA County and was released after receiving "good time." It should be noted that Mehserle got less time than actor Wesley Snipes who received a three-year sentence for not paying his taxes.
Mehserle did less time than Michael Vick did for dog fighting and Vick did a plea deal. This is a statement that the State values the lives of dogs more than the lives of Africans.
It makes clear that for all the talk of bringing democracy around the world, the white ruling class in the U.S. has a dictatorship, which means nothing more than rule without regard to law. When it doesn't fit them, they completely disregard the law or change it.
The struggle for justice not over
When Mehserle was released, he was escorted "through the back door" of the jail in the early hours of the morning to avoid Grant's family, public protest and media cameras that were organizing to address him later that morning.
Several hundred mostly young African people rallied at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland on Sunday, June 12, the day before Mehserle's release, marching from the station to downtown for a second rally. Uhuru Movement members participated.
We stand solidly behind the demand for justice for Oscar Grant and further federal and civil lawsuits. However, there will be many more Oscar Grants until we overturn a system that was born at our expense and that uses police violence to keep us in this relationship the holds our community in poverty as it requires all of our work to create wealth for someone else.
The people are tired of protest movements alone. African people must get organized in our own interests to get power in our own hands. It is our powerlessness that makes us vulnerable.
This is why the African People's Socialist Party is organizing a Freedom Summer Project in St. Petersburg, Florida from July 9 to August 9. This process will bring Africans from all over the U.S. and elsewhere to learn to organize, learn to struggle and learn to win.
This Summer Project that is being held in the "City of Resistance" will provide ideological training for organizers and activists and also give them hands on experience in organizing for Black Power on the ground. Register today at www.uhurusummerproject.org
Our struggle for justice for Oscar Grant must occur within the context of building African self-determination and political power over our own lives. True justice will come when the system that is based on our exploitation and oppression is finally brought down once and for all.
Justice for Oscar Grant!
Reparations to all Victims of Police Terror!
Build Freedom Summer! Struggle and Win!