Wikipedia defines police brutality as the intentional use of excessive force, usually physical, but potentially it can come in the form of verbal attacks, and psychological intimidation by a police officer. The Shooting of 22 year-old Oscar Grant of Hayward, California would fall under this definition. He had been detained and forced to lie chest down on the ground at Oakland’s Fruitvale BART Station after 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, after transit police responded to an alleged fight where no members of said fight where arrested or detained. He was surrounded and cooperative then executed with a shot to the back.
Five days later the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the officer (identified by the paper as Johannes Mehserle a two year veteran of the BART police) has as yet given a statement to investigators about what actually happened that night. The reason being is that the BART police have no civilian oversight? In fact they are the only major police agency that operates with zero oversight. There is no BART board committee that monitors the BART cops, no independent investigative agency.And sadly this is not the first time the BART police have gotten away with murder. In 1992 the almost cartoonish named officer Fred Crabtree shot and killed a 19 year old warehouse worker named Jerrold Cornelius Hall with a shot gun blast to the back of his head. All because he fit the third had description the officer received of a man who allegedly stole a $60 walk-man from a BART passenger who later disappeared without a trace. On May 28th 2001 BART police officer Dave Betancourt shot and killed an unarmed naked man named Bruce Seward after finding Seward passed out near a dumpster.
While police brutality is nothing new and has existed as long as there have been police men how many more lives must be lost before enough is enough. The Oakland police seem to be especially trigger-happy. On July 25 2008 near the exact same Fruitvale station where Oscar Grant lost his life, Officer Hector Jimenez shot and killed Mack Woodfox III (27 years-old). The officer claimed he appeared to be reaching for his waist band after a brief chase, but no gun was found on Woodfox. This was more than an isolated incident itself, it seems the same officer Jimenez and another officer shot and killed Andrew Moppin on New Year’s Eve 2007 because they believed he was reaching for his waistband. Earlier this year Oakland police shot and killed Jose Luis Buenrostro in March. According to police the 15 year old pointed a sawed off shot gun at them in and are known for gang violence not far from down the road from Fruitvale Ave.
A week prior the Oakland police shot and killed a 70 year old man who they claimed pointed a replica pistol at them. It’s not just in Oakland of course in June of 2007 West Memphis police officer Erik Sammis shot and killed 12 year old DeAuntae Farrow when the child ran by him with a toy gun. He of course was cleared of violating the child’s civil rights by the Department of Justice a few months later. We all know of the infamous cases of Sean Bell who the NYPD shot 50 times leaving his bachelor party or Abner Louima who was beaten and sodomized by the NYPD. And I don’t think I have to mention the Rodney King beating. Thank goodness, because of that incident we now live in an era when every man woman and child can record these atrocities with our personal camera phones. Already several videos of the murder of Oscar Grant have surfaced. There are supposedly more out there confiscated by the BART police to cover their tracks. Conveniently their own station cameras happen to catch nothing of value according to their spokesmen.Video or not the eyewitness accounts of the event are the same if not worse than the video. The victims own friends who were forced to sit quietly hand cuffed as their friend was shot to death, state that not only was Grant cooperating, but he was instructing them to do the same.
The question essentially here is how we as citizens of this great police state will do about this; will we allow this type of reckless behavior to continue; for what-Safety? This is not protection, this is imprisonment unless you get out of line then you are gunned down in cold blood. In October 2005 France erupted into cross country riots triggered by the murder of two unarmed teenagers by police who had chased them into a power substation. In 2008 civil unrest broke out in Greece on December 6th when 15 year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulus was shot and killed by policemen. The death of Grigoropoulus resulted in large demonstrations that quickly escalated into widespread rioting. The worst Greece has seen since 1974. Yet on Monday in Oakland where many have been brutally gunned down by the so-called law enforcement only twenty people turned out to protest. On Wednesday at 3 P.M., there will be another chance to mobilize. Though this is not a localized event, there are many of you reading this across the internet, that do not live remotely close to Oakland much less the Fruitvale station less than a mile from my home, but you can become vocal about the brutality of the police in your area, and around the world.
We can stand up now or wait until we become a country like Burma where the very act of protesting with signs and songs will end in our death or disappearance. This is a slippery slope we have been descending down since the days of the Pinkertons. Now in this new century, on the verge of a historic presidency, how much longer will we allow ourselves to be at the mercy of these monsters? How many more young men will have to die? How long will it be before it’s you or someone you know?
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