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Thursday, January 08, 2009


Like most Oaklanders and others in the Bay Area, I am mourning the loss of a young man who was shot in the early hours of New Year's day. What a way to start the new year.

My heart goes out to Oscar Grant's family. Please know that many many people in the Bay Area are mourning the death of Oscar. Small comfort, I know. His life was precious and something must be done so no one else falls.

BART officials have acted with incompetence and coldness. Where were the heartfelt condolences? They acted like they just wanted to shake the blame off of themselves. I have not seen one official who looked shaken and upset by this tragedy. Yes, yes, I know ... you must look professional. But really now -- this is a tragedy. Can't you show some emotion? Most of us in this city are feeling a lot of emotion about this.

It also looks like the BART police need some anger management training. In my opinion, they did several things which escalated the problems on that platform. From the videos that I saw, it looks like the folks “in custody” were much more subdued than the BART officers. I believe that the situation didn't even require the taser gun ... never mind a real gun. And the officer who did the shooting looked downright shocked that his gun went off. What's up with that?

Plus, why hasn't BART released some kind of substantive statement? Yes, the officer who did the shooting has resigned but BART officials have gotten statements from the other officers and eyewitnesses on the platform. So ... tell us what happened.

The BART officer who shot Oscar Grant has not been questioned yet. Why? Why wasn't his statement taken right away? Again, this smells of "well, they protect their own." Plus, it seems to me like this officer is a flight risk. Shouldn't he be charged with ... negligence? Manslaughter? You can't shoot a man who's down on the ground and walk away. A crime was committed.

Was racism involved? Yes, of course. In the plain fact that we all know that black and brown people's sacred lives are devalued by authorities and in all kinds of systematic ways. They are not offered the same level of safety as whites are offered. (Although I'm starting to feel that that's on shaky ground too. When it comes to police, it often ends up with an "Us" and "Them" mentality. And, folks, I am not one to put down police in a general way. I've had some neighborhood problems and called the police. They were helpful and respectful. Which shows that the potential is there in every community for police to really be our helpers not oppressors.)

Also, this seems to be a big problem in the U.S. of A. Why? How do other countries handle crowd control? Why don't we hear about more incidents of police shooting innocent people -- in other countries? What do they do differently there? Do we need to take away their guns like the bobbies in the UK of old? I know. Ridiculous when you think of gangs with automatic weapons. But, how can we change this dangerous system?

Things You Can Do Right Now About the Oscar Grant Shooting

These actions were inspired by a list on compiled by Makani Themba-Nixon. I added to Makani's list.

Watch the videos. Don't buy into the BART officials' statements that watching the videos doesn't give you the real story. There's a lot you can pick up from the videos. Here are some places to watch videos:
YouTube [you must have to register and sign in]

Talk about this tragedy to friends and neighbors. Some people may not be aware of it. Blog about it. Make sure your blog gets the widest exposure. Please keep in mind that Oscar Grant's family has requested that we protest PEACEFULLY. I know, young folks like to get rowdy -- I did. But now's not the time. We want lots and lots of folks to listen and do something. The fires and broken glass do not help teach folks. And, yes, of course, I am definitely aware that those things might have been caused by agent provocateurs of all colors.

Write letters to editors of the Oakland Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and other newspapers covering the story.

Contact the Mayor’s office:
Mayor Ron V. Dellums
1 Frank Ogawa Plaza
3rd Floor
Oakland, CA 94612
T: (510) 238-3141
F: (510) 238-4731
Note: Mayor Dellums looked more passionate today than I've seen him since he's been in office. So, maybe there's some smidgen of hope that The Quiet Mayor might do something.

Contact the district attorney’s office:
Tom Orloff
1225 Fallon Street, Room 900
Oakland, CA 94612
Telephone: (510) 272-6222
FAX: (510) 271-5157

Contact BART -- tell them how incompetent and shady they have been; tell them what you expect them to do. For example, they should release a statement based on the information they have gathered from the other officers and eyewitnesses on the Fruitvale platform. Remind them of their own damn slogan on their website:
"The Bay Area is your home and BART is going your way. Whether you're headed to work or meeting friends, catching a flight or catching a game, BART brings the Bay Area together."
BART police
Toll-free: 877.679.7000
To call any of the persons or sections below, call this toll-free number and press the last four digits of the phone number you wish to reach.
BART Chief of Police:
Gary Gee 510.464.7022,

Internal Affairs:
Sergeant David Chlebowski 510.464.7029,

BART Board of Directors
P.O. Box 12688
Oakland, CA 94604-2688
(510) 464-6095

Note: indicate whether you're contacting the full Board or an individual Director. Their website is here.

Contact the Oakland City Council members:
To find your city council member, click here.

You might want to especially contact these council members:

Jane Brunner, voted in as new president
Phone: (510) 238-7001
Fax: (510) 238-6910

Desley Brooks
Phone: (510) 238-7006 (office) Fax: (510) 238-6910 (facsimile)

Rebecca Kaplan

Stay tuned for other actions, protests, etc., especially if you are in the Bay.

Related news
An extremely chilling piece of news reported by Judith Miller of Fox News about the New York City Police Department training their officers in the use of machine guns:
Another change, initially reported by The New York Post, is the decision to ensure that more police officers are trained to use machine guns and other heavy weapons. In mid-December, for the first time, recruits at the police academy received basic instruction in the operating systems of three types of heavy weapons. Prior to this, the testimony says, only the Police Department's Emergency Service Unit was given such training. Now it will become a standard feature at the police academy.
On a Fox program earlier today, Miller mentions that other city police departments are considering this as well. They claim that the reason for training in even heavier weapons is to protect citizens from terrorists.

But what do citizens do when the protectors become the terrorists?

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At 12:04 PM, Blogger Lola said...

The Email address for the DAs office is incorrect: it should be


Lauren S.


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