Skip to main content

This originally appeared at http://www.revcom.us/... It is reprinted with permission.

Early New Year’s morning phones in Hayward and Oakland were ringing: "Wake up, wake up. Something’s happened to the boys." Calls were going back and forth between the families of 22-year-old Oscar Grant and his friends—families so close all the women were called "aunties." The youth had gone to San Francisco to celebrate. "What the hell had happened?"

The hellish, heart-tearing news soon came. Oscar, their lifelong friend, the one they had played baseball with, gone camping and swimming with, was dead. Shot in the back by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle.

The police murder, caught on cell phone videos, has shocked people. In its wake, the system—the police, their lawyers, the District Attorney, the City of Oakland, BART, and the media—have spun all kinds of explanations: the killer-cop was a poorly trained rookie; he meant to go for his taser; he was scared; he’s a lone racist; it was a terrible, unexplainable mistake.

But the events of January 1 show that these "explanations" are lies designed to cover up the truth: the killing of Oscar Grant was not a mistake or an accident, it was cold-blooded murder. It wasn’t an isolated act by one rogue cop; it was the culmination of an orgy of brutality by a whole gang of police against a crew of Black youth that included racial profiling and slurs, threats with tasers, assaults, and illegal detention.

The system didn’t treat the cops’ actions on January 1 as intolerable exceptions to what they’re supposed to do; instead, the system’s institutions moved to cover up and legitimize this violence and let all the cops but one go free. All this—and the whole nationwide epidemic of police brutality and murder—point to the cold truth that brutalizing, terrorizing, and yes murdering oppressed people—especially Black people—is what the police are supposed to do—not to "protect and serve," but to keep people down.

New Year’s Eve—Gearing Up for Suppression

At about 2 am, the BART train operator supposedly radioed that there was a fight on the train. She didn’t see any individual involved, and many would question how bad a fight it could have been: no "victims" ever came forward and no fighters were ever identified by any witness. Some said there had been a short shoving match which was quickly broken up. Everyone agrees: the atmosphere inside the train packed with revelers was calm when it pulled into the Fruitvale station, located in a mainly Black and Latino proletarian neighborhood in Oakland.

BART cop Tony Pirone, an ex-Marine, was on the platform and he immediately began targeting Black and Latino youth—although he had no description of anyone in the reported "fight." When four of Oscar’s friends get off, Pirone let three of them leave but grabbed one. Then, yelling and cursing, Pirone banged on the train window and pointed his taser at two young Black men—Oscar and his friend Michael—and ordered them off the train.

As soon as Michael and Oscar stepped off the train, they were hammered. Pirone lunged at Michael, grabbed him by his dreadlocks, and slammed his head, face down, on the concrete, leaving a large cut on the bridge of his nose. Michael’s friends started to yell, "why are you doing that?" "What did we do?" Then Pirone grabbed Oscar and hustled him to a wall. Soon other cops came and threatened more youth with their tasers, yelling the "N" word at the young men, calling them "motherfuckers."

When three of Oscar’s other friends got off the train they too were held against the side of the train by Officer Marysol Domenici who thrust a taser at each one, tapping one between the eyes with it.

Another video clip, not shown on TV until weeks after the murder, shows Pirone suddenly stride by Michael, who was handcuffed and lying on the cement, across the platform toward Oscar, hitting him hard in the face, causing his head to snap back.

Oscar fell to a sitting position and put his hands up in submission gesture. One video shows that Pirone then aimed his taser at all three youth in front of him. Although no media has reported it, the video then shows Mehserle striking the youth seated next to Oscar about three times and then handcuffing him. Oscar rises to his knees, protesting.

Pirone then pushed Oscar’s face to the pavement, still threatening to tase him. Mehserle straddled Oscar’s back, pulling his arms back. Pirone dug his knee into Oscar’s neck. People on the train started to shout, "that’s fucked up. Let him go!" Witnesses heard Oscar cry out in pain and tell Pirone, "I have a four-year-old daughter, don’t tase me."

Oscar and his friends were fully in "police control," not resisting. The video shows Oscar lying face down on the ground with both hands behind his back, barely moving, if at all.

But Pirone and Mehserle didn’t stop, they escalated. Pirone claims he heard Mehserle say to him "Tony, get away. Back up," a chilling statement pointing to a cold, calculated decision. With Pirone still on Oscar, Mehserle wrenches his gun from its holster and shoots Oscar Grant at close range—in the back.

Cold-Blooded Murder, Cold-Blooded Cover-Up

Mehserle’s attorneys suggest he was going for his taser and made a horrible mistake, while some media "experts" have speculated about how stressed Mehserle must have been. This is absurd. The X26 taser issued to BART cops is plastic and weighs seven ounces. The Sig Sauer that killed Grant is metal and weighs 30 ounces unloaded—more than four times as much as the taser, and feels completely different.

Videos also show that neither Mehserle nor any of the other six police were "stressed out," horrified, or regretful about having murdered Oscar. As Oscar’s friends, still handcuffed, yelled for the police to help Oscar, the cops told them to "shut the fuck up" and said if they weren’t silent, they wouldn’t call an ambulance. No cop moved to administer first aid. Instead a video clip shows them flipping Oscar over, jerking him up and down, handcuffing him, and leaving him to bleed out on the platform.

The cops weren’t in shock or disarray: they immediately began a cover up. No cop radioed that a shooting had occurred. Pirone ordered the train operator to leave the BART station, taking all the witnesses away (instead of getting their names). As the train departed, Domenici ran after people, threatening them and trying to grab their phone cameras.

After the shooting, five of Oscar’s friends were detained in the BART police station for more than five hours. Sources close to the families say that the youth heard BART police laughing, saying, "We got a good one tonight."

All this points to the reality that such brutality is ROUTINE for these pigs, including trying to cover it up afterward, and that murdering one of the people can be a cause for laughter and celebration.

What about the "higher-ups," BART officials, the City of Oakland, the courts? BART officials express sorrow for the killing, yet their own "investigation" made no recommendations, they’ve reprimanded none of their police, and they claim there’s no BART surveillance video showing what happened, despite the fact that BART trains and stations all have cameras in them. BART’s Police Chief Gee wrote a memo to his troops, explaining how to send money to Mehserle while he was in jail.

Oakland’s DA didn’t arrest Mehserle for nearly two weeks (and then only because people rebelled); Pirone—who initiated the brutality that led to murder and could have been charged with felony murder—has not even been arrested. Nor have any of the other cops. And in its first "prosecution" brief, the DA reiterates the police’s version of events, including repeating Pirone’s claim that Mehserle thought Oscar was going for his waistband (and possibly a gun). Oscar Grant was unarmed.

All the police violence leading to Oscar’s murder has been treated as normal, "no big deal," by the authorities and media. And in this system, police violence IS routine and systemic. Take Oscar and his friends: "These youth are used to being accosted by the police" said one of the aunties, "it’s been going on since they were 13 years old." (Another mother showed Revolution pictures of the wounds her son received after a beating by Hayward Police several years ago, which broke teeth: he had to be treated in the hospital, including for severe taser burns on his back.)

This system is showing that it will do everything it can to protect the ability of its police to brutalize, terrorize and murder the people. Enough is enough!

There is a real need for continued and increased protest, and independent journalistic investigation into the murder and its cover-up. We cannot allow this kind of blatant murder to be "routinized," excused, or tolerated.

On March 22, Revolution Books and the Bay Area Revolution Club are holding a People’s Tribunal on the Murder of Oscar Grant and the Nationwide Epidemic of Police Brutality that will indict Oscar Grant’s killer and "the whole damn system."

The next day, March 23, is Mehserle’s preliminary hearing.

Both are key junctures in this battle, and big outpourings of people are needed at both.

Links to videos of the events leading up to, and the murder of Oscar Grant are available at

****************************

http://www.revcom.us/...

PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL
The Murder of Oscar Grant and the Nationwide Epidemic of Police Brutality and Murder

Hear relatives of victims of police murder, journalists, legal experts, arrested activists, and others present testimony, evidence and analysis of  Oscar Grant’s murder—what happened and why; the nationwide epidemic of police brutality and murder;  racism, national oppression and the targeting of Black, Latino and other youth of color; and the systemic roots of this epidemic.

JUSTICE FOR OSCAR GRANT! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! NO MORE STOLEN LIVES!
THE WHOLE DAMN SYSTEM IS GUILTY!

Initiators:  Bay Area Revolution Club 510-725-8754 bayarearevolutionclub@gmail.com
Revolution Books 510-848-1196 www.revolutionbooks.org

Sunday, March 22nd, 2-6pm
Where:  Calvin Simmons Middle School Cafeteria
2101 35th Ave, Oakland (south of Fruitvale Avenue, east of Foothill Boulevard. Enter 35th Avenue Gate for parking lot.)

**********************

Demonstrate: Justice for Oscar Grant

Preliminary Hearing for Oscar Grant’s killer, BART Cop Johannes Mesherle

(This hearing will determine what charges, if any, Mesherle will be facing and whether he will be tried, including for murder)  

Monday, March 23, 8:00 am
Alameda County Courthouse – 125 Fallon Street – Downtown Oakland
Thousands shot, tazed, or beat to death - A system that greases its wheels with police brutality
ENOUGH WITH ALL THIS!!!  WE NEED A REVOLUTION! and the whole world is waiting for you to act.

Bay Area Revolution Club 510-725-8754 bayarearevolutionclub@gmail.com

Originally posted to ken17762003 on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 01:25 PM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar? (4+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    pengiep, totallynext, JonBarleycorn, Adept2u
    Hidden by:
    oaktownadam

    Because the author didn't post one.

    Rec this diary up. This is important.

    If you don't stand for something, you'll stand for anything.

    by Keith Pickering on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 01:36:08 PM PDT

  •  can't believe this isn't getting more attention (6+ / 0-)

    at least here.  The videos were dispositive.

    •  Videos do not show (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oldpunk

      what was going on inside the officer's head.
       Maybe it was cold blooded murder, maybe it was something less sinister.  We don't know for a fact until all the evidence comes out at trial.  
       I thought progressives believed in allowing people to defend themselves.  And don't give me "but Oscar Grant wasn't allowed to defend himself" as an excuse to be a virtual lynch mob in the other direction.  A lynch mob is a lynch mob.

      My Karma just ran over your Dogma

      by FoundingFatherDAR on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 02:42:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I dunno what evidence you need... (3+ / 0-)

        He is not resisting.  He has not demonstrated any proclivity for resisting.  He has been compliant.  He is being submissive.  He is being controlled by two officers.  

        The officer gets up... and shoots him in the back at point blank range.  Even if he thought he was going for a taser, his actions wouldn't make sense.  

        The more that comes out about this case, the worse it looks for the officer that killed the guy. That's a really bad sign.

        I'm not jumping on any bandwagons here.  This is just flat out wrong.

    •  The issue is getting attention, the diarist is (0+ / 0-)

      not credible.

      No, a "people's tribunal" is not a serious attempt at dealing with this tragedy.

      "We will now proceed to construct the socialist order."

      by 7November on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 03:06:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What if it really was accidental? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FoundingFatherDAR, oldpunk, pyegar

    It's possible that Mesherle thought he had grabbed the tazer.  I don't know what really happened that night, but that's my point, none of know what happened, what thoughts, emotions, and actions led to a bullet ending a life that night.  You're going to hold a tribunal, and you already know what the verdict will be.  That's not how our justice system works.

    •  Unfortunately, in many of these cases... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil

      it takes the civil action to uncover the facts.

      Heaven knows this matter would involve some extensive discovery.

      Wonders are many, but none so wonderful as man.

      by Morgan Sandlin on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 01:50:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It is very hard... (4+ / 0-)

      to call accidental here.  At least when I see the videos there doesn't appear to be justification for any weapon to have been used on Mr. Grant.  And, so far no evidence of any has been provided.  Pulling out a tazer or a pistol or even a night stick wasn't justified because there was no resistance.

      This makes about as much sense as Mike Huckabee on mescaline. - Prodigal 2-6-2008

      by Tonedevil on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 02:01:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Did you read the diary? (6+ / 0-)

      A taser weighs 7 ounces, a gun 30 ounces. You really think someone can't tell the difference?

      Not to mention, what was the reason for tazing someone already compliant and on the ground?

      In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria. Ben Franklin

      by nokkonwud on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 02:07:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In a split second, with adrenaline rush maybe not (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        oldpunk

        A taser weighs 7 ounces, a gun 30 ounces. You really think someone can't tell the difference?

        My Karma just ran over your Dogma

        by FoundingFatherDAR on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 02:43:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  BART policy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil

          and many other police agencies, too, is that the Taser should be mounted on the opposite hip from the gun, so that you must cross-draw it.

          This is to cut down on officers drawing their guns in the heat of the moment, thinking it was a taser.

          Nevermind that Grant was already face down, with an officer's knee on his neck. He was in no position to resist. And even so, Tasers have a "cattle prod" mode, as opposed to the longer-range dart-method, which it would appear Meserle intended to use.

          We'll see what happens at the trial, but I just don't see any justification for this killing.

    •  Oscar Grant was compiant (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil

      There was no call for any use of force, not when Pirone knocked him out with the right cross to the jaw and jumped on his neck not any of it.  There was no justification for any of it.

      F-Tha NSA comin straight from the underground. Record this bitches!

      by Adept2u on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 02:53:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Let's hope the family has counsel that has (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, debedb, Empower Ink, rogerdaddy

    serious experience in police misconduct/violation of civil rights litigation rather than someone who just wants to get in front of cameras.

    Wonders are many, but none so wonderful as man.

    by Morgan Sandlin on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 01:38:36 PM PDT

  •  This was a tragedy (9+ / 0-)

    But

    Revolution Books is not the most credible source on this issue or any other.

    They are the outlet for the Revolutionary Communist Party, the arm of the Communist Party that follows the official doctrine that voting and elections are just sops to the masses who need to over throw the system by violence to achieve the just revolution.

    That sort of stuff worked in 1969, but this is now.

    For example....

    Oakland’s DA didn’t arrest Mehserle for nearly two weeks (and then only because people rebelled);

    Like a only people's rebellion convinced the D.A. to arrest this officer.  Perhaps it was because the D.A.'s office wanted to actually investigate before filing charges, and given the outrageous nature of what happened maybe it was appropriate caution to actually get the charing done properly to avoid another Rodney King fiasco.

    Or, this is choice.....

    ....holding a People’s Tribunal

    Ya know, I don't want to throw cold water on your "people's tribunal", but the very term is a joke.

    "We will now proceed to construct the socialist order."

    by 7November on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 02:00:43 PM PDT

    •  Yeah I seriously doubt (0+ / 0-)

      in a city the size and diverstity of San Francisco, the cops are "yelling the "N" word" as they round up suspects.  That has got to be fiction.

      •  Not S.F. "Fruitvale station in Oakland" (5+ / 0-)

        "a mainly Black and Latino proletarian neighborhood"

        If you think this HAS to be fiction, you don't know Oakland.  

        To be human is to choose: THE OUTER LIMITS - Feasibility Study

        by denig on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 02:22:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I used to go in and out of that station every day (5+ / 0-)

          Might the BART police have been yelling epithets.  It would not surprise me at all.

          I simply, and politely suggest that the book store that is an outlet of the RCPUSA is hardly a credible source running around proclaiming "people's tribunals."

          No question this office shot this guy, unarmed, in front of witnesses.  I have no doubt it will be investigated and tried in the system.  But no, i have no idea what was in that officer's mind, or what motivated his actions.  If I had been standing there 6 feet away I'd have a better idea, but I wasn't.

          I have guesses, but guesses aren't worth the bytes to store them.

          "We will now proceed to construct the socialist order."

          by 7November on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 02:27:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Your points are well taken n/t (0+ / 0-)

            To be human is to choose: THE OUTER LIMITS - Feasibility Study

            by denig on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 05:32:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Is it Necessary to Be In the "Officer's Mind" (0+ / 0-)

            in order for the DA to bring charges.  What I (and most black people) don't get is the double standard.  If you or I or anyone (besides a police officer) where to shoot someone in what appears to be cold-blood; arrest/charges are swift and without hesitation (especially when witnesses are present).  Sure, in most instances the accused are given the opportunity to post Bail, but, the point is there is none of the "we have to wait until all the facts come out" bullcrap that Police Departments from LA to NY throw up when they violate the civil rights of citizens.  Again, if you or I had been captured on video committing a homicide in the manner that this BART officer was, the law enforcement community (AND the public) would seek our immediate arrest and detainment.  The only waiting we would be afforded is the time it takes for the DA to bring us to trial, at which, with the luck of a decent attorney, our case could then be heard.

            Sure law enforcement have difficult jobs that are fraught with intense, stressful moments.  That's why I am all for paying a MUCH higher salary to all police officers across the board, if only to be able to hold them to a MUCH higher standard; which would include having continual training in minority relations.  Because this seems to be an area wherein police officers around the country are failing citizens, often with drastic outcomes.  (When was the last time you heard of an instance where the police killed a caucasian citizen in this manner; yet, this is a continual issue that black men [primarily] face in their communities across America).

            So, I just don't get the "we have to wait to be told what our lying eyes didn't see" logic.  Average citizens should not be held to a higher standard than trained police officers --period--

      •  Oakland is not SF. Not even close. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil
      •  Sorry even cops in Oakland can be racists (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil

        You obviously have not been around the area very much. I have heard cops use the N word myself.

  •  Thanks for keeping the story alive (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, FuddGate, oaktownadam

    Cold blooded scum scucking execution, and I'm for more than just Mehserle going to the big house Pirone needs to go, as well as all those other officers who stood around while Oscars life ebbed on that platform.

    F-Tha NSA comin straight from the underground. Record this bitches!

    by Adept2u on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 02:50:40 PM PDT

  •  I always defend the police and resist (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deaniac20

    the far left's tendency to attack the good men and women  of law enforcementwho have to protect us day in and day out from savage, animalistic, violent criminals. But if the victim's version of the story is correct the police officer should face criminal charges. However, I reject the knee-jerk hostility that many people have to the police.

    •  And therein lies the problem that Law Enforcement (0+ / 0-)

      refuses to confront.  If they would simply confront and deal with instances of police brutality (especially those caught on video) instead of closing ranks, or stonewalling, or most unfortunate of all -- covering them up; then "many people" would not have such a knee-jerk hostility toward the police.

      It's becoming a very corrosive, vicious cycle that is perpetuated between the police and minority communities; which can only be solved by law enforcement.  Citizens appreciate the professionalism, necessary training, mental and physical stress that we require of our police protectors; yet, due to their own actions they are turning the public against them to "save' and/or "protect" the rotten apples amongst them.  It makes no sense.  No one deserves the treatment and fate of Oscar Grant.  Upon detainment this young man (whether he had committed a crime or not [which from reports it seems he had not]) had the right to remain silent......That right to remain silent, which officers Mehserle and Pirone did not grant Mr. Grant is NOT a "Far Left" premise, but a civil right that most of us take for granted.

      Even the most drug-infested, crime-ridden community deserves basic civil rights, under the greatest democracy in the world.  It seems along with everything else we demand of law enforcement, Bill of Rights 101 needs to be added to the list.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site