Friday, July 9, 2010
"Slapped in the face"
Justice was not served yesterday.
Oscar Grant was murdered, and if the BART officers on the Fruitvale station platform with Mehserle that New Year’s morning were black or brown youth instead of cops, they would be charged as accessories top murder. There would be no question of intent or state of mind. There wouldn’t even be any need for videotape. As Oscar Grant’s weeping mother pointed out after the verdict, this verdict was further evidence of the lack of equality in America.
Grant’s uncle, Cephus Johnson, delivered a great speech as well, and made a point of not blaming the jury, even though they clearly did not deliberate long enough (not even a full day). Johnson blamed the “system.” He’s right. The jury was not allowed to hear relevant evidence about Mehserle’s background, even though Judge Robert Perry allowed irrelevant information about the victim’s background to be introduced during the trial. But still, the video evidence, mixed with common sense, should have been sufficient. The witness testimony provided during the trial also proved that Grant was not a threat to any of the officers who needed to be tased, and also that tasing Grant was the exact wrong procedure in that situation anyway.
I remember reading in a parenting book that, allegedly, boys obsess over the rules, irregardless of each others’ feelings, whereas girls obsess over each feelings, irregardless of the rules. Even though I believe in nurturing more than nature, this verdict does support that theory. The jury was two-thirds female, and their decision wreaked of their having taken all parties’ feelings into account (even though the defendant and his families’ feelings shouldn’t matter at all). The jury also had no blacks on it, and their decision also wreaked of racism, classism, and most importantly, ignorance. Johnson was just being diplomatic. The jury screwed this up, even though they probably thought that they were being fair, and some jurors may never understand why.
That is how deep the inequality goes. Far too many Americans don’t even see it.
If the BART train hadn’t stayed at the station and kept its doors open, allowing passengers to videotape Grant’s murder, this would have been another case of “justifiable homicide” by East Bay cops. Just like Gary King, Brownie Polk, Parnell Smith, Jerry Amaro, and Casper Banjo. They might have even called Grant a “suspected rapist” the same way they did to Smith and Lovelle Mixon.
It was comedy to see Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums hiding out in fear at OES HQ all night long. Really? You didn’t have the balls to stay at City Hall, where your office is? You didn’t even need to go out into the plaza, you could’ve stayed hidden in City Hall. You were really afraid of the “calm, respectful, peaceful” protest that you helped organize, even with all the paid snitches in the crowd. That’s not leadership, that’s pussy.
Shortly before riot police began “compressing” the crowd as night fell, news reports said that the Dept. of Justice will review the Grant shooting and prosecution of the Mehserle case. Maybe we can thank Dellums for that. Maybe not. I do know that I am very proud of Oakland. We represented: calmly, articulately, passionately, freely, peacefully, and when pushed, forcefully.
Cephus Johnson said he was “disappointed.” Anyone with a conscience should be. He’ll get his chance to appeal to his “higher moral authority” on August 6 when he and his sister get to file their “Victim’s Impact Statement” during Mehserle’s sentencing.