Revolution #214, October 24, 2010

Oscar Grant III—Killed by Police for Riding the Train While Black

Oakland: In the early hours of New Year’s Day, 2009, Oscar and his friends were coming home from celebrating, doing the right thing—taking public transportation. When the BART train they were on pulled into the Fruitvale Station, a transit police officer boarded it, yelling profanities and ordering 22-year-old Oscar and his friends off the train. As the hundreds of people watched and protested in horror, transit officers surrounded and detained the group of Black and brown youth, punching, yelling at and harassing them; one of them yelled “Bitch Ass Nigger” at Oscar and then another one shot him, point blank in the back as he lay, not resisting, face down on the platform.

Passengers shot videos of the murder which were shown on TV and the Internet and seen by millions. Many protests in Oakland led, for the first time in California history, to murder charges against a cop who killed on duty. The verdict? A slap on the wrist of involuntary manslaughter. The sentencing is set for November 2010, and could result in the convicted cop doing years in prison, or no time at all.

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