No Justice! No Peace!: More Writings on Oscar Grant
When the System Murders and Protects It’s Murderers: It’s Right to Rebel
By Eric Ribellarsi
The verdict for Oscar Grant’s murder, a 23 year old Black father who was murdered by the police for the crime of sitting down on the floor of the subway, has just been announced. Oscar Grant’s murderer, who instructed another cop to “step back” pulled his gun and shot Oscar Grant in a cold calculated murder, as five different people video taped it, even catching on video another cop calling Oscar Grant a “bitch ass nigger.” The verdict, however? Involuntary manslaughter, with a sentence of 2-4 years. How the fuck does handcuffing someone, telling your pig friends to step back, and then shooting them in the back equate to “involuntary manslaughter?” This is outrageous.
Already, we are being told to be grateful that he was convicted of anything at all. What kind of terms are those, and what kind of a framework is that, where we have to accept the racist police will permanently be able to terrorize and murder people with the highest possible verdict “involuntary manslaughter” with two years in prison. This kind of argument covers for a violent system that is determined to carry-out systemic violence against people of color. It covers for a system that argues that if its racist lynch mob police are subjected to the rule of law, “their hands will be tied.”
Sean Bell, Robbie Tolan, Amadou Diallo, Joe Torres… these are just a few of the names we here every few months that Oscar Grant will now be joining. More of our brothers murdered with no penalty for the police. More of our brothers murdered by the police for having a weddings while Black, going to jack in the box while Black, taking out your wallet to show to the cops who requested it while Black, or being drowned in the river by racist police for being a Chicano man coming home from a bar. And in every single one of these cases, the police were let off. They were acquitted, or in the case of Joe Torres, they were told to pay his family one dollar.
How long are we going to take this? Running up to the verdict for this trial NGOs agencies ran campaigns targeted at Black youth, telling them in savvy ways that when this verdict comes down, they better not riot. They say “these people who rebel aren’t from Oakland” or “riots will only make the community worse off.” Many supposedly radical people have also parroted this tone. And today, the police have clamped down and already began to arrest people at early protests. It is very likely that more rebellions and riots are on the way from what we saw when Oscar Grant was first murdered. Let’s be clear, when people rebel against injustice, it’s right on.
Discussing the relationship between revolutionaries in China and the Chinese people during a rebellion, Mao once said:
The present upsurge of the peasant movement is a colossal event. In a very short time, in China’s central, southern and northern provinces, several hundred million peasants will rise like a mighty storm, like a hurricane, a force so swift and violent that no power, however great, will be able to hold it back. They will smash all the trammels that bind them and rush forward along the road to liberation. They will sweep all the imperialists, warlords, corrupt officials, local tyrants and evil gentry into their graves. Every revolutionary party and every revolutionary comrade will be put to the test, to be accepted or rejected as they decide. There are three alternatives. To march at their head and lead them? To trail behind them, gesticulating and criticizing? Or to stand in their way and oppose them? Every Chinese is free to choose, but events will force you to make the choice quickly.
Reports are coming in that riots are beginning, what will be the stand of progressive and revolutionary people now? Don’t we have a responsibility to stand with these rebellions?
Still No Justice for Oscar Grant: White Cop Who Murdered Grant Gets Involuntary Manslaughter
Los Angeles, CA – Over a year ago, on New Year’s Day 2009, Oscar Grant, a young African-American man with a four-year old daughter, was murdered by a police officer. He was shot in the back as he lay on his chest on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) platform in Oakland, California.
Today, a verdict was finally reached. The jury, which included zero African-Americans, found the white officer, Johannes Mehserle, guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Instead of voluntary manslaughter, or second-degree murder – two conviction options presented to the jury – Mehserle gets the same conviction you would get if you accidentally hit someone with your car. This is not a just verdict for the cold-blooded shooting of an unarmed man.
The shooting of Grant was captured on cell phone cameras and circulated on the internet and the footages clearly show Grant face down on the platform, not resisting arrest, posing no threat. Officer Mehserle claimed throughout his trial that he accidentally mistook his pistol for his taser.
Protests erupted in Oakland when news of Grant’s death spread. Oscar Grant is a symbol for the oppression of African-Americans and the struggle to resist that oppression. Protests spread again as people who were hoping for justice heard that Mehserle got off the hook.
The officer’s defense tried to paint the murder as a simple accident, an honest mistake. But this is only one tragic example out of many of police harassment and brutality towards African-Americans. The facts are that a white cop pulled a gun on an unarmed black man – a train passenger lying on his chest on the train platform in the early morning hours. The cold hard facts are that even in the year 2010, with an African-American president in the White House, the oppression against the African-American community continues. As do the injustices. Those who hoped there would be justice for Oscar Grant are both saddened and outraged by the verdict.