Friday, July 9, 2010

fear black men (oscar grant open thread)

Oscar Grant
(February 27, 1986 -- January 1, 2009)

I'm following Average Bro's lead here in opening up the comments to your thoughts and feelings on yesterday's Oscar Grant verdict. Given the racially disproportionate rates at which police brutality continues to occur in the U.S., there's a great chance that if you're white, your feelings are different today from those of a lot of non-white people. Especially a lot of black people, who still suffer the most from police harassment and brutality, as well as the more general American fear of black people.

At "The American Prospect," Adam Serwer made an especially good point yesterday, in a piece on common white fears of black men -- how they likely played a part in Oscar Grant's death, and how the justice system ended up ignoring, yet again, the ongoing history of America's murderous fear of black men:

Today Johannes Mehserle, the former BART police officer who killed Oscar Grant while he was lying face down and handcuffed in an Oakland train station, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter -- his crime, according to the jury, was negligence in not knowing the difference between his heavy black gun and his light yellow tazer. Of the possible outcomes Mehserle was facing, involuntary manslaughter was the best he could have hoped for short of acquittal. He faces a maximum sentence of four years for the original crime, possibly more for the use of a firearm.

I want to focus for a moment on the distinction between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. To convict on the higher charge of voluntary manslaughter, the prosecution would have had to prove that Mehserle's fear of Grant and his friends was "unreasonable." It decided the crime was involuntary. In other words, Mehserle's fear? That was reasonable.

Fear is at the core of questions of justice involving the deaths of black people at the hands of the authorities in the United States of America, dating back to when Toussaint L'Overture put the fear of G-d in slaveowners by revealing that their "property" might someday rise up against them. L'Overture still has that effect on some people. Following emancipation were the days when "justice" was meted out in the South by terrorists posing as vigilantes. Even then, when such atrocities were an accepted part of black life, people inside and outside the South found ways to sympathize with the anger and fear white Southerners felt towards their black neighbors -- The New York Times editorialized in the 1890s that no "reputable or respectable negro" had ever been lynched.

Even decades after the Civil Rights era, a cop shooting an unarmed black man is barely a crime -- a 2007 ColorLines investigation of police shootings in New York City found that in 12 instances when the victim was unarmed, only one officer was found criminally liable. There hasn't been a murder conviction on a police shooting in Oakland since 1983. As Kai Wright wrote in the aftermath of the Sean Bell verdict, "American law has been sanctioning the killing of black people to mollify white fear for centuries. . . We scare the shit out of America. And that fear excuses just about any reaction it spawns." Mehserle is profoundly unlucky to be punished at all.

Times change, but the radioactive fear of black people, black men in particular, has proven to have a longer half-life than any science could have discerned. This is not a fear white people possess of black people--it is a fear all Americans possess. It makes white cops kill black cops, it makes black cops kill black men, and it whispers in the ears of white and nonwhite jurors alike that fear of an unarmed black man lying face down in the ground is not "unreasonable." All of which is to say, while it infects all of us, a few of us bear the brunt of the suffering it causes. . . . (more)

Serwer also makes this point: "What's worse is that we we don't just fear, we fear talking about it."

Will the corporate media use yesterday's verdict to talk about it?

The answer is easy -- no. But hey, look over there! Violence in the streets of Oakland! Some violence, anyway. Violence in the wake of racial injustice is what gets the attention of the white-framed media, not the injustice itself. As I write this, CNN finds the news of a basketball player's team-switch bigger news; readers have to search more carefully for a link that says, "Hundreds protest after BART verdict."

Would "thousands" have bumped the story up the page? "Hundreds of thousands"? Whatever the number, it's the protests that the white-framed corporate media focus on today as the "story" here. Not the searing injustice of yet another light sentence for the state-sponsored killer of yet another unarmed black man.

What are you thinking and feeling today? And, since this is swpd, are you seeing other common white tendencies in response to yesterday's verdict?


  1. "What are you thinking and feeling today? And, since this is swpd, are you seeing other common white tendencies in response to yesterday's verdict?"

    Yes. So many ignorant (white) commentators are screaming on online articles and forums that the cop was "just doing his job" and making excuses for his murderous act. Despicable.

    RIP Oscar Grant. Justice has not been served.

  2. As a WW, my feelings are obviously going to be different from a POC's. No matter how angry, disgusted, and sad this makes me, I would think that there is probably a visceral fear reaction that I can't know first-hand.
    Without any intention of taking away from the vileness of the institutional racism at work here, it is also true that any police who is capable of a thing like this-- shooting someone in handcuffs-- makes everyone less safe.* I realize that the job requires making split-second choices under pressure, but that's all the more reason to examine and understand the world view that will inform those decisions before going out on the streets with a gun.
    This verdict is by no means shocking, but it is horrifying and infuriating.

    * I fully acknowledge that as a WW (who is also cisgender and moderately femme), I benefit from privilege in many ways when it comes to the police. That is, I could probably get away with things a POC might not without the police taking an interest. But my point is that no one's life or death should hang on whether someone whose job is to enforce laws as they are written (that these laws are often racist themselves is yet another discussion) and keep the peace has messed up ideas about POC or any other group.

    I hope that Mr. Grant's family can find some measure of healing in the outpouring of support and protest, since they have been denied the degree of closure that justice might have brought.

  3. And, since this is swpd, are you seeing other common white tendencies in response to yesterday's verdict?

    The focus on last night's looters.

    Some lizard part of the Great White Brain leaps forth and gets white people's tongues wagging, their heads shaking, back and forth, back and forth: "Yep, that's black people, just can't resist a chance to steal something. And all for shoes? Uh huh, uh huh, no surprise there, they'll kill for shoes" etc. etc., into sickening infinity.

    White blinders, worn by people wearing white glasses too, thinking with white minds. Living white lives, in white neighborhoods, white schools, white workplaces. Watching white-framed media.


  4. island girl in a land w/o seaJuly 9, 2010 at 9:31 AM

    what am i feeling today?

    i am sad, and offer my sincerest condolences to oscar grant's family. and in doing so, i remember sean bell, anita gay and others who have been murdered by those whose job is purported to "protect and serve."

    what little faith i have had in the US justice system in its current form has been further eroded. the tenuous optimism i have tried to cultivate about the (slow) dismantling of systemic racism is waning.

    when i reflect on the indignities visited upon me by white police and other white people in positions of power (which are small, in comparison to what happened to oscar grant), i understand the rage, frustration and feelings of hopelessness felt and expressed by those who protested the verdict on 14th and broadway. such behavior is not at all "irrational"; rather, it's quite human to demand acknowledgement of one's humanity when it's been so blatantly disregarded. perhaps in those in power would be willing to listen, rather than get defensive (literally, by donning riot gear), perhaps POC and our allies wouldn't have to yell so loud.

    and as a former resident of oakland's flatlands (int'l blvd near bancroft), i am saddened that my beloved city is portrayed by white-dominated media as a "dangerous" place where POC "acting like animals" (as many commenters have stated on various news sites) run wild in the streets.

  5. I'm in a personal bubble today and not around other WP (or POC for that matter) so I can't speak for them. For myself, events like this remind me how terrifying it is to be a POC, especially a Black person, in the US. I know I can't really feel what it is like, but I try to imagine it.

    What got me the most was the defense that the officer meant to use his taser instead of his gun. The victim was lying on the ground. The officer shouldn't have been using a taser on him, either. This is a defense that says: "I didn't mean to kill a guy who was lying on the ground doing nothing to me, I only meant to hurt him really bad with a weapon that is usually non-lethal but has a potential to be lethal."

  6. What makes me so furious is that people who have been preaching nonviolent and lamenting the loss of a peaceful, sweet young man to yet another cop shoot- people who by protesting peacefully are exercising far less dangerously than the tea-partiers their right to free speech- we are supposed to believe that these people are going to RIOT! ANY MINUTE!

    And because of this, my school is closed at 4 PM today and people are leaving work early.

    Guess I'm not surprised. East Bay is full of racefail.

    ... and because of this

  7. @AE: And, since this is swpd, are you seeing other common white tendencies in response to yesterday's verdict?

    The focus on last night's looters.

    QFT. When you read the media accounts of how the police had been training for riot control for days, you can almost hear the salivation. And then the flood of breaking news updates, when the riots "finally" happened. And then the morning-after snickering about one of the targets being a Foot Locker. It almost sounds so ... orchestrated, purely for the entertainment value of syndicated newscasts.

    @Jihad Punk 77: Yes. So many ignorant (white) commentators are screaming on online articles and forums that the cop was "just doing his job" and making excuses for his murderous act. Despicable.

    QFT, again. No possible outcome of this is excusable. If a cop can't tell his Taser from his handgun, he shouldn't be on the street. And even if he was going for his Taser, I hate this idea that it's "ok" to Tase someone because it's "nonlethal". I mean, I'm glad that cops have a "nonlethal" option, but the idea is that the Taser should only be drawn when a gun would be drawn. The Taser has instead turned into a device to punish people who are guilty of "contempt of cop". When someone is face down on the ground, with their wrists encased in tempered steel, they're not going anywhere.

    I hope the family can at least get some justice out of a civil suit or an appeal. But it's such a crock. "Involuntary manslaughter" would be if he was hit by a BART train whose driver was on his cellphone or something. When somebody points a gun at someone else, that's voluntary. It may not be premeditated, but when you take your gun out of your holster, you know damn well that there's a chance you'll be shooting at someone.

  8. as a white woman, i realize that my disgust with this incident cannot match that of a POC. nonetheless i am feeling frightened that white cops like Mehserle can do what they want with little fear of repercussion. i am disgusted at other white people who brush off incidents like this, who have viewed the video containing the obvious guilt of the officer in question and still saying the officer was doing his job--no, he wasn't. Grant was cooperating. and even if he wasn't, shooting him for a minor crime, or even tasing him when the officers were not in any danger, is just further evidence of a racial disparity in power between black suspects and white officers.

    then i think of Grant's family and loved ones, about his daughter who lost her father because some asshole cop felt entitled to hurt him, to kill him. and it breaks my heart. i think of the other black families who have lost loved ones, who have similarly received no justice or closure for their losses, and i am again reminded that "post-racial" is a bullshit phrase that ignorant white people spout out every so often to make themselves feel better. it disgusts me.

  9. I feel sad. And angry. And helpless. I can't even expound beyond that right now.

  10. Check out the photo of the BART cop in this post, taken by Grant himself just before the cop killed him. Isn't that a taser in his hand? If so . . . we're supposed to believe he took it out, put it away, and then mistakenly grabbed his gun and pulled its trigger?


  11. @FilthyGrandeur re: i am disgusted at other white people who brush off incidents like this, who have viewed the video containing the obvious guilt of the officer in question and still saying the officer was doing his job--no, he wasn't."

    But the cop WAS just doing his job, which is to terrorize the non-white, working-class populace whenever they start acting too "free." In this case, even if the cop were also black, it would be an example of the system working as it was designed to work, not an example of a broken system. Police have always been tasked to protect the privileged, from the very first police forces until now.

  12. I am not surprised by this at all. In fact, it's hard to feel anything about such situations anymore because isn't this always the outcome?

    I'm sure the reactions in the White media and the White world are the usual. Watching the rage with no inkling of understanding, making excuses, shaking their heads, thinking the same thoughts they've always thought:

    "Look at THEM."

    I am trying very hard to stay away from it.

  13. Knowing Coves:

    "I don’t think anybody is surprised at the verdict. Yet the actuality of the verdict being handed down is still a visceral body blow, a reaffirmation of the white supremacist social order, another soul-draining soul-crushing reminder that some lives have value in our racist society and some lives do not. Whether you were expecting it or not, such a body blow has an impact.

    "Most white folks, however, feel no such impact and are probably conditioned to consider such responses somewhat…primitive. Some white folks go so far as to eagerly, almost cheerfully, flash their legal bona fides in normalizing the sovereignty of injustice."

  14. I'm pretty sure they handcuffed him afterward- you see the chief of BART police saying that that's common procedure at 2:30. But that's beside the point. While listening to a special covering the verdict and the people of Oakland's response done by Hard Knock Radio, it hits me that yet again justice isn't served, and that this has real life consequences, as I listen to tearful and angry people calling in to give their reactions. I really feel for family members...he was too young to go, and has left many loved ones behind. Also, that he even got convicted at all is at least heartening, considering there's a similar case where a Latino man was murdered, and the officer did not even face charges.

    Writing about how fucked up it is that he's getting away with involuntary manslaughter when he knew that his excuse was that Oscar was pulling out a gun, then tasing him would force him to shoot, I see responses on other friends' pages about how I'm trying to make this about getting "the white guy" and that the jury would know better than me about what was going on. I also see a lot of "them" and "those" and "they" when people talk about the riots but, turns out that "The trouble Thursday boiled down to a racially diverse mob of about 200 people, many bent on destruction no matter what, confronting police after the day's predominantly peaceful demonstrations ended." "Officials said the main instigators appeared to be organized "anarchist" agitators wearing black clothing and hoods. Many of the most aggressive demonstrators smashing the windows of banks and shops were white."

    Full article here.

  15. @bloglogger--

    you're right of course. when will people realize that the "job" of police officers needs to be redefined? my guess is never.

  16. “The Negro meets no resistance when on a downward course. It is only when he rises in wealth, intelligence and manly character that he brings upon himself the heavy hand of persecution.”
    Frederick Douglass

    As a nation we seem to have very short memories. Fear of the black man just didn’t start overnight, and it didn’t just happen during the course of our lifetime; like any singularity it has to have a beginning. It’s origin has been embedded in this nation’s consciousness since the Nat Turner revolt; a pathological fear that the oppressed will one day rise up and inflict vengeance upon the oppressor. During those times the white man feared miscegenation above all; he feared his saintly white women being sullied by an over-sexed bestial black buck. The white man held onto this erroneous belief/fear even as he himself raped black women without fear of reprisal.

    Fear of black male patriarchy became warped and distorted as it evolved over 400 yrs., to apply to black males in all walks of life. So lest he forgets his place, he must be contained and controlled; reminded without end that we (white men) are his superior.

    “The meaning of “white masculinity” hinged on the existence of a subordinated “black masculinity.”

    So when black males threaten this uneasy dichotomy, white males in power react the only way they know how- through means of control; this can be political, legislative- economic as well as physical. It lingers just below the surface any time there’s a white/black male confrontation. A white male in authority will not tolerate being addressed any kind of way by a black man, nor can he relinquish his fear that a black man will do him harm if he gets the chance. Therefore he fears ‘losing control’ of a situation and acts out of trepidation.

    The first response that comes to mind is to blame the victim, for there is no love lost- or empathy for non-white skin. Its obvious to most whites he brought this terrible end on himself; so neither the white policeman nor ‘his training’ is to blame. Now when it happens to a white male in the same situation (and we've seen it) then yes- naturally it’s the police officer’s fault. Heads are going to roll and laws will be changed, “to make sure this tragedy never happens again.”

  17. In my opinion, constructive violence has its place in the demand for justice. However, the media, instead of focusing on the CONSTRUCTIVE use of force (against, for example, police cars or officers.. specific symbols of the perpetrators of such injustice) they want to focus on the DESTRUCTIVE use of force (like the looting of a Foot Locker-- I think it is so telling of how the media views Black people that they are focusing on individuals looting a SNEAKER STORE of all places...)

  18. Am I surprised? No
    How am I feeling? Sad

    This is just another example of using excessive force with poc. He was face down and handcuffed, but the officer had a point to prove.
    A common white tendency I'm seeing in comments online are people blaming the cops actions on the behavior of the people on the train. It was their fault for creating such a tense atmosphere. Whatever. I guess its their fault that the cop pulled the trigger even after he struggled to pull the gun out of the holster for a few seconds. They made it soooo tense for the poor officer to the point that he didn't realize that he was holding his gun instead of a taser. Gimme a damn break. Another tendency I've noticed is to not see the cruelty of the crime because the victim wasn't white.

    It must feel great to execute a man and get off damn near scot-free knowing that in a few years you can submerge yourself back into white society without taking full responsibility for your actions. Because the life you took was somehow expendable because it belonged to a person of color.

  19. Well I understand the need to riot, though this time I didn't feel it. I was just so damned grateful the cop was charged with anything at all I shouted with glee on my way to work.

    I warned my husband that if he (the officer) was acquitted, to take anything he didn't want broken out of the living room, because I was going to stage a one woman riot with the couch cushions until my rage was vented.

    I see on message boards white people calling black people animals, but you know what after years (centuries) of pent up rage, they should be happy frustrations are being vented on a Footlocker instead of other people. (Which we know happened before and was not pretty).

    I myself would probably want to smash the window of a building. I would never harm a person in that situation that's just not me, but I can totally relate to feeling that enough is enough and I damned sure am not going to allow you to think I am going to meekly accept it. I will smash something-even if it is just my living room sofa.

    If that makes me an animal so be it-then you should be scared because I am a damned smart animal. LOL!

  20. @ Stina The SFGate article is linked from the Drudge Report, which gets a ton of traffic, and the NYT article also states that the main instigators don't seem to be local people (and are a racially-diverse group). I hope this comes out in mainstream TV reports, because it sounds like what's been happening at some of the G-# conferences over the past few years.

    Agree with the post, that black men are feared in general in a way that is disproportionate and unfair, and in this case and others, lethal. What's really scary are police who will even TAZE a person who is on the ground and not a threat to them or the public, let alone shoot him in the back.

    I am actually surprised the officer was sentenced to any jail time at all, which is pretty sad.

  21. I am sad, but not surprised. The jury split the baby. I am glad Mr. Grant's mother spoke the truth after the verdict. Her child was murdered. Justice is hardly given to black folks.

    Sadly, maybe one day, the cops will murder the adopted black son of some well-healed white family. Only then will there be a snowball's chance that the cop will be punished to the full extent of the law.

    ALL Americans condone violence against black people. We have all been conditioned to fear black people and specifically black men. I fear for my son and all POC's sons. They are targets for intraracial and interacial violence. The are not safe in the USA.

  22. "the NYT article also states that the main instigators don't seem to be local people (and are a racially-diverse group)."

    This statement makes me happy and pissed at the same time. Happy that a racially diverse group of people can come together to protest such a gross travesty of justice, but also sad, because it is almost like the media wants to point out the racial diversity of the group because somehow the fact that people of other races being involved makes the uprising more legitimate.

  23. I saw the video. The cop stepped back and then pulled his gun. I think there was enough time for him to realize his taser was in fact his gun. I'm not surprised people said the cop was just doing his job. Isn't that the same thing they said when that other cop slapped those girls around? Sickening. Very sickening. I feel frustrated.

  24. RIP Oscar Grant.

    It is precisely this type of bullshit which will have yet more "unfortunate" side effects in the decades to come.

  25. I'm not surprised by the verdict in that is was grossly unfair, though I am surprised it made it to trial at all. I'm sad and angry. It's despicable and wrong and shameful. That cop was not "just doing his job." No cop is "just doing his job" if he looks at a black man who is complying fully with the orders being given him and chooses to shoot (tase) him anyway when he's clearly not a threat. (How the heck does a trained police officer confuse his taser with his gun anyway?)

    But then, that would be the problem. Cops don't seem to protect and serve black citizens. They see dark skin and see "threat" first and "person" second. It's sick.

  26. I'm sorry for what I typed, but there are times where I'm just tired...

  27. What am I thinking? Honestly speaking, f*ck the media, especially the news media!

    I'm sick and tired of being surrounded by a media that caters to whites on a DAILY basis! I'm sick of the white owned media that makes one-dimensional, simple-to-tell, crime stories about us and not asking the questions we need to confront! How the media is handling this is a disgrace. They're, as they are always doing, are trying to make it out as if we (blacks) are the ones to fear and hate. They purposely try to demonize us for their own benefit, to make them look like (superior) people and us look like "those" people.

    As for the verdict itself I felt nothing because despite this, black people, black men especially, will still get harassed or murdered by cops, and they will likely never get anything more than a slap on the wrist as this case demonstrated. I fear one day it may happen to me. I have to live with that fear and THAT fear is reasonable simply because I'm a black man in America.

    F*ck the media, and f*ck American "justice".

  28. Such a great post... this blog has a great analysis. How ill is it that so many of us can look at the video & see how brutal & senseless this MURDER was, while at the same time others can look at it and be fooled into thinking otherwise.
    America Eats It's Young, Wake up now or get woke the f#$% up in a bad way...

  29. @ Will Capers --

    No need for an apology, man. The outrage and anger just brews and boils in your stomach for days, because there are so few spaces to safely express what you feel without things turning into an episode of When Whites Attack! And this is one of the few, so....vent away. :)

  30. @Will

    You spoke the truth, nothing to be sorry for.

    Also, this article shows that only 25% of protesters arrested after the verdict were actually from Oakland.

  31. "And, since this is swpd, are you seeing other common white tendencies in response to yesterday's verdict? "

    There is a glaring tendency of white people in power not to condemn these murderous acts by the police against Black men. Have the governor of california voice his condemnation? Any state senators? U.S. Senators? Hell no, These white leaders don't care, and have never cared. The white people who elect these state wide officials could care less about Black life. Any media mogul championing the cause of Oscar Grant? Any network anchor? I think we all know the answer. They prefer profits over truth, even more so when it’s a life they view as expendable, such as the life of a Black man.

    Now, let Brother Al Sharpton start talking about the wanton murder of Oscar Grant, and he'll be accused by the white media of playing the race card. Just once I would like to see a white motherf****er with some juice assiduously play the righteous card, and call out this racist system for what it is. Instead whites will keep silent or worse, playing the white race card. You know, being complicit with white fear, white hatred and white supremacy. Stuff white people do!

  32. At first I thought: This MUST have been an accident. He must've really thought he had his tazer in hand. Because why would even the most maddened, evil cop in the world shoot a defenseless man in cold blood...while being observed by a score of witnesses videoing it. It makes no sense.

    But then I considered; his weapon must've had a chambered round in it. That is, it's ready to go-no need to cock it. BUT no gun-savvy person would wear a gun all day with a chambered round, unless the Safety was also engaged. To fire that pistol then, you must first flick the Safety off.

    That takes a distinct, conscious act. In other words, he had to have been preparing to fire his FIREARM, not his tazer.

  33. Sam and Stina, thanks for your feedback.

    I know I shouldn't allow white media to dictate how I should feel about myself. Unfortunately, it's effective nonetheless with some other blacks.

    It's as if blacks are not supposed to react to the harsh oppressive conditions and institutions thrusted upon them. We're supposed to be nice, friendly, nonthreatening, etc. etc. Why? Because supposedly we live in a post-racial society, and we only have ourselves to freakin blame.

    *sighs and shakes his head*

  34. Regarding Will Capers' comment:

    That's it exactly! And after a while you just can't take it anymore. Because it. Never. Ends.

    It's enough to make one literally go insane. I've had panic attacks after watching the news. Crying jags.

    It never fucking ends.

  35. I think we should post and keep pressing on the point that many rioters were WP. This is the one tool the media left us with when they whitewashed this story, and we can use it. We need to use this piece of truth to to get rid of the massive lies that are used to conceal WP's racism from themselves.
    Get rid of the excuses that twist this tragedy into what appears on the front page. Get rid of the excuse that POC are 'wild' or 'hotblooded' - WP riot too. Get rid of the excuse that POC bring it on themselves - then why aren't WP being profiled by the police right now? Get rid of the excuse that we need the police need to create order out of POC who are 'delinquents' - WP from out of town probably caused more economic instability in Oakland than residents did. Get rid of the excuse that WP don't commit crimes or kill for NO REASON. These excuses are BS but they are EVERYWHERE.
    Remember Mayor Daley's 'shoot to kill' directive in Chicago after blacks rioted the night of the assassination of Dr. MLK Jr. In this messed up country, the presence of WP probably kept the police from unleashing this murder on POC who protested. Get rid of the excuse that race does not determine the behavior of WP and police and determine who lives and who dies. It does. Period.
    WP need to turn rage into some meaningful action, like showing the lies for what they are.

  36. P/T Lurker -- 2nd post on this siteJuly 9, 2010 at 11:47 PM

    In all honesty, I go through several different emotions (and in only a couple seconds) when I hear about things of this magnitude happening to yet another black male. Yes, hate is one of them. In fact, initial knee-jerk reaction is "I wish white people would just... just ******* die and leave us the hell alone." I can't help but think Marcus Garvey had the right idea and just wish there was unclaimed land on this Earth or even another dimension where either just myself or black people could retreat to where we could live and not be bothered. However, those ten seconds die out and realize that isn't the answer and feel hopeless because this **** has gone on long enough and it seems we have still gotten nowhere.

    I also think about the victim--how he could easily be my brother or cousin or friend. I think about how awful it would be to lose such wonderful, intelligent, compassionate, humorous, friendly, loyal men in my life for something as trivial as pigmentation and how they would never be remembered for any of their best attributes but only as Some Dead Nigger #0226. I imagine how the nature of the death will forever taint the lives of the victim's relatives when they have to repeat the reason for his death.

    Then, I think about the white people who just won't get the severity of this crime or even realize that it is in fact a crime. Newsflash: YES, it. is. a. CRIME! It is not only a crime against one black man, or black people but HUMANITY! If it is too difficult for a white person to feel anything for this man and his family, I implore them to imagine somebody anybody just shooting down a valued loved one in their life--for no reasons, just because. Don't worry about the specifics because that's not what matters. The point is this person is now removed from your life, how do you feel? Whatever thoughts that evokes, that is how myself and other POC are feeling when they are forced to see this in the news.

    If I had to sum up all my feelings, they would be: Resentment, Anger, Frustration, Hate, Despair, Hurt, Fear & Sorrow.

  37. @ Will Capers

    Don't apologize. Being righteously angry and justifiably upset is never cause for apology.

    Fu*ck the Justice System.

    Justice = Just Us = White Privilege

  38. I was surprised by the verdict. I thought the cop was going to get off just like with Sean Bell, Timothy Thomas, Amadou Diallo - hell call the roll - and like will probably happen with Aiyanna Jones.

    What I've noticed is that the media has chosen to keep Oscar Jones in the spotlight - but there is no more media coverage of Aiyanna Jones.

    Not even Detroit papers are covering the story of the SWAT police attacking this little girl's family in the middle of the night and killing her in the process as she slept on a couch in the living room next to her grandmother.

    She was 7 years old.

    I would like to see this story trumpeted every day until every officer who participated in that murderous debacle is put in jail. For life.

    It's days like today I want to see Glen Beck publicly hung.

  39. @Warning Point: in a photo taken by Grant himself with his cell phone before he died, Mehserle had his Taser already out. Which means he'd had to holster it and get out his gun. There was NO WAY there was a mistake.

    Belated comment on white people's reactions: my boyfriend and I are sad and furious. A lot of the other white folks we bring up Oscar Grant to either have no idea who we're talking about or wonder why we care so much.

  40. I think its about time I completely gave up on the U.S. "Justice" System.

    yeeeeep. that's all i wanna way. yeep......

  41. I don't know if it's a common white tendency, but I have been bothered by the number of people who have been defending the officer's actions.

    Not defending the verdict, but rather taking an attitude of "he made a mistake, it happens, get over it." That's pretty disturbing. Yeah he made a mistake...he made a serious fucking mistake that cost a man his life, he was negligent, he was a shit cop, and he's going to jail for it.

    I've actually seen people post that he was "convicted to prevent race riots" and I think that's a byproduct of racial tension because if the cop's gross incompetence had cost a white person his life I don't think as many people would be defending him or telling people to "get over it."

  42. The whole situation has made me sick to my stomach. This was nothing short of a lynching, and the fact that Mehserle may serve as little as two years shows just how far we really, really have to go.

    I wrote a blog post to get some of what I am feeling out (click my name). I've been getting in a few arguments with white folks over it the past couple days and have even been accused of just looking for any old excuse to badmouth white people. I'm just so fucking hurt by this whole thing.

  43. Check out this great piece on Jack & Jill politics (via my blog where I added my two cents) on the craziness of the LeBron James hype the same night the verdict came down in the trial of the cop who killed Oscar Grant. Brings home the point of this thread. There is also a link to an awesome poem at the end.

  44. i saw on yahoo's home page last night that (note this was the ONLY time i saw anything regarding the verdict on the front page) Mehserle wrote a letter before the verdict, and it's gone public. i read it in its entirety.

    i do not care how sorry that man is. i guess it should matter that he says it at all, but as i read it, it seemed like bullshit. but whatever. a deep apology and the fact that he'll apparently be haunted by oscar grant for the rest of his life is bullshit. it sort of reads like a very cliche "tormented hero" novel. so excuse me while i don't give a shit about that "apology."

  45. @FilthyGrandeur,

    Members of Grant's family agree with you:

    Grant's family took issue with the timing of the letter and the fact that it was not addressed to the family.

    "This was a letter that was purposefully designed to influence the judge as well as the jurors to bring about what he got. Sadly to say, we're not buying it as a letter of apology to us and the public does not believe it, as we don't," Grant's uncle Cephus Johnson said.

    Here's a copy of Mehserle's handwritten white apologetic.

  46. Sorry, wrong link to the (PDF) letter, which appears here.

  47. I've been thinking about the fortune of not having to worry about what my wife and kids would do if this were to happen to me. I imagine that is a weight so many father's of color must carry.

    I've also been trying to do something ... little as it is. I've asked others to imagine that a boy or man they love has somehow gotten involved with the police. And then to view the Oscar Grant murder videos imagining that loved one in the place of Oscar Grant.

    One friend's response said so much "This is unbelievable. I can't even process it." One more bit of fortune revealed I hope.

  48. Now all of a sudden this monster wants to
    apologize".... hmmmm... could it be that he is hoping it will lead to a reduced sentence. And I do not believe for a second the letter was actually written on July 4. I believe it was written AFTER he learned of his conviction, in hopes of garnering some sympathy!

  49. If you're a police officer, and you can't tell the difference between your gun and your taser, you are a menace to society. Manslaughter my eye! That was cold blooded murder. Also, if the victim was cuffed on the ground, why did he need to be tased? Isn't mace more appropriate in such a situation?

    Also, can you imagine if it were a black officer and a white man?

  50. This will continue to happen as long as White People are so bored with their privilege that they actually have to invent things to feel afraid of.

    It's either white boredom and the thrill of the hunt, or cumulative feelings of white guilt causing them to project violent intent onto every black man they see. "I want to kill this black man so he must want to kill me back, so i had better defend myself!!!"

    Whatever. The usual lack of white empathy in the media sickens me. The prioritizing of an individual white man's feelings of being "scared" and "confused" over that of a black man's very life, over the safety of the community his "fear" has targeted for destruction... sickens me. But what else is new?

  51. If you can't tell the difference between a gun and a taser,
    If you can't tell when it's in any way necessary to taser/shoot someone and when it's not,
    If you can be the one standing there with a gun and a taser, not the one cuffed on the floor, and be the one who's 'scared',

    then you should not have a gun OR a taser, and you should sure as hell not be an officer of the law.

    Even IF he didn't mean to shoot him, and that's a bigger 'if' than I can swallow, he's still a despicable person and a terrible, terrible cop.

    And that a jury can't see that, it's just...what. The world is broken.

  52. Just a point of clarification, from a CA law student:

    The "involuntary" in "involuntary manslaughter" does not have the meaning generally given to the word. In the CA Penal Code, "voluntariness" refers to whether the alleged offender intended to cause the outcome, not whether he/she was in control. If you're reckless or criminally negligent, it's involuntary manslaughter. If you intended the outcome (death or serious harm), it can be voluntary manslaughter or murder. In other words, whether Mehserle intended to cause death or serious bodily harm with his gun, not whether he "voluntarily" decided to use force.

    So the jury must have credited Mehserle's account of events - that he mistook his gun for a taser.

    You might disagree with the jury, based on your viewing of the video. And you might fault the jury for screwing up the facts. But if they credited his testimony and drew that conclusion, involuntary manslaughter was the correct verdict.

    None of this has much to do with whether there's racial bias in law enforcement, the language of the code, or the court system.

    I'm just saying that we have juries in order to make factual decisions of this type. We may disagree, but we weren't on the jury and didn't hear all the evidence. We may also have some evidence that they were not permitted to hear (e.g. hearsay evidence and character evidence about the main actors).

    It's also important to distinguish between BART's culpability or civil liability and Mehserle's. If he was such an incompetent cop that he shouldn't be on the street, the responsibility lies with the people who decided to arm him and put him there. That question has yet to be fully resolved in the courts.


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