By Jamilah Hoffman
Johannes Mehserle, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer filmed shooting Oscar Grant in the back on New Year's Day, was arrested on January 13th, one day before a planned protest in Oakland. Mehserle was arrested in Nevada and charged with murder. He currently is being held without bail.
Mehserle’s cold blooded execution of Oscar Grant at a BART station in Oakland was captured by several people on video, and quickly spread over the internet. Throughout this country, and the world, countless people were outraged at the murder of yet another young Black man at the hands of the police. People in Oakland and throughout the San Francisco area have rallied almost daily demanding justice for Oscar Grant. And finally, more than two weeks after a cop shot a man to death in full view of numerous witnesses, the District Attorney in Oakland charged Mehserle.
There has been an epidemic of police murders and shootings of Black youth in this country. As the original Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime stated, the hateful, murderous stance of the police has been reinforced by the climate of ignorance, bigotry and intolerance of the Bush Regime. Since the New Year began, some of the more outrageous incidents of police shootings have included Oscar Grant in Oakland; Robbie Tolan in Houston, and Adolph Grimes in New Orleans.
Tolan, who was stopped by police on suspicion of driving a stolen car (it was his own) in the driveway of his parent’s home, was shot when he rose his body up from the ground to ask why the police were harassing his mother. A bullet remains in his liver.
Grimes was shot and killed on New Year’s Day in New Orleans, where he had returned to celebrate the holiday with his family. Sitting in his car in his grandmother’s driveway, he was shot 14 times, 12 in the back.
The culture of intolerance and ignorance that swelled under Bush has shown no evidence of its slowing down under an Obama administration. The hope that an Obama election would usher in a “post-racial” society was shattered in the shots of New Years Day. Reading various blog comments regarding these shootings, a line that comes out is that it isn’t for a president to make statements on such issues, that he has “bigger” things to deal with like the economy. But what kind of leadership remains silent when such atrocities occur at the hands of those that are supposed to “serve and protect?” And how many innocent people must die before the illusion fades away that Obama has not ushered in a brand new day, but sits on top of the same old empire?