Grant was a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who was shot and killed by former BART officer Johannes Mehserle on New Years Day, 2009. He was on the Fruitvale BART station platform when he was shot.
The film, 'Fruitvale,' is being called one of Sundance's stand out films of this year. It was directed by Oakland native Ryan Coogler and produced by Forest Whitaker. The film follows Grant through the last 24 hours of his life.
Grant’s shooting made national news because Grant was African American and Mehserle was white. It sparked several protests and riots in Oakland, Calif. about police brutality towards the African American community.
Youth Radio followed Grant’s case and created an online magazine, embedded below, documenting the 19 months following the shooting of Oscar Grant.
As the shooting of a black teenager in Florida continues to spark national dialogue, we asked Youth Radio participants, Noah Martin-Rubin, Rayana Godfrey, Myles Bess, Tiaja Harris, Evan YT Childress, and Sayre Quevedo, how they are relating their own experiences to Trayvon Martin’s story.Read more...
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The following originally aired on KCBS.
By: Bianca Brooks
I remember elementary school mornings reciting the Pledge of Allegiance saying, “Liberty and justice for all.” But lately I wonder who is the justice system working for?
I arrived in Oakland from Atlanta in 2010 and saw Oscar Grant on city walls and windows, but his story was a mystery to me. I saw videos of this unarmed man being shot in a BART station by a police officer. The officer spent only a year in a private cell, and I wondered if he served time for Grant’s death, or embarrassing California’s justice system.
I had the same feelings when Casey Anthony was acquitted on charges of murdering her daughter. I imagined if my family was murdered --who would pay the price?
I grew up believing cops would protect me, and good guys always win, but these cases are changing my mind. I wanted to believe in America’s judicial system, but I’m growing up in a world where
instead of jail time, criminals get book deals and Lifetime movies. No doubt it’ll take more time and money the US doesn’t have to reform the justice system, but if we don’t how can I honestly recite “justice for all”-- in a “justice for who” nation?
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On New Year’s Day 2009, 22-year-old Oscar Grant was shot and killed by former transit officer Johannes Mehserle on the platform of Fruitvale BART station in Oakland. Video of the shooting, recorded on cell phone by bystanders, spread virally, sparking protests in Oakland and gaining national attention. After a jury trial in Los Angeles last summer, Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and received the minimum sentence of two years in state prison. Mehserle returned back to court on June 1st and Judge Robert Perry ruled that Mehserle will be released on Monday. He has served 11 months of his two year sentence.
Tracy Bell-borden, community activist of Onyx, an Oakland group that has been organizing ongoing protests related to the case, says Mehserle’s release is the beginning of a new chapter. “We have been waiting for this because the civil lawsuit is just starting.”
The shooting stirred up racial tensions in the city, reigniting Oakland's long history of tension between its police force and the community. Mehersle, a white man, was videotaped from multiple angles, shooting Grant, a black man. The incident was followed by violent protests and looting in downtown Oakland.
Onyx is putting together a peace rally this Sunday at Fruitvale Bart Station at 3pm.
Karina Vargas, who testified on the first day of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle's preliminary hearing, returned to the scene of the shooting for the first time in this interview.
UPDATE- Full, uncut video from defense attorney Michael Rains' reaction to the denial of Mehserle's bail.
LOS ANGELES--The motion for bail for former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle has been denied. The defense attorney for Mehserle asked that his client be freed on a pending appeal of the involuntary manslaughter conviction for the 2009 shooting death of passenger Oscar Grant. When denying bail, Judge Robert Perry stated that "this court sincerely believes that the decision will not be reversed." The former BART police officer was sentenced to two years in prison last month, with credit for time already served.
The hearing took place in the same LA courtroom where the trial was held.
Youth Radio’s Haldun Morgan reports from the scene on 6th Avenue between 16th and 17th streets in Oakland Friday night as police surround about 150 people most of whom were protesting the 2 year minimum sentence for BART policeman Johannes Mehserle in the shooting of Oscar Grant.
*Audio is on the scene reporting Friday night with slideshow of day time protests.
LOS ANGELES-- Two years. That is the sentence to be faced by disgraced former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle who was convicted on July 8th of the involuntary manslaughter of BART passenger Oscar Grant. To put things in perspective let’s compare and contrast a few numbers.
673: That’s the number of days from the shooting until the sentencing was handed down.
146: Number of days that Johannes Mehserle actually served in jail so far.
292: Number of days he is being credited with serving, as per Judge Perry's discretion.
438: The number of days, barring early release, that Mehserle will serve in state prison once the credit is applied to his sentence.
5113: The maximum number of days that the harshest sentence possible would have kept Mehserle behind bars.
After the sentencing hearing Alex Alonzo of StreetGangs.com, who has been one of the pool journalists covering the trial since day one, noted that those convicted on involuntary manslaughter charges usually serve only half the time. If so, the math may see Johannes Mehserle serving less than a year in prison.
Outside the court house Oscar Grant's uncle, Cephus "Bobby" Johnson, expressed resentment at the sentencing in no uncertain terms. At one point he made the comparison to the sentence given out for football star Michael Vick's abuse of dogs- Vick was sentenced to four years- while the man who killed his nephew was sentenced to just two.
Aliyah Fahey: I think Johannes Mehserle should definitely do prison time. I honestly don’t believe he purposely killed Oscar Grant. I think he was nervous. I think he should definitely get time though because he took someone’s life... intentionally or not. He should have known the difference between a taser gun and a handgun. Even though it was an accident, his mistake affected a lot of people, like his family, friends and the community. Other officers should learn from Mehserle’s mistake and do more training or something that would prevent this from happening again.
Myles Bess: I feel that Johannes Mehserle deserves prison time because I feel murder is wrong in any form no matter what name you put on it. I do feel that race was a factor in the incident and that if Oscar Grant had been white there wouldn’t be this much commotion, meaning the protestors, the riots and the postponement of the trial. I think that Johannes may have actually pulled the gun out by accident but he should have known that it wasn’t his gun. If it feels and looks the same, the tasing company should take some of the blame for designing a taser that is similar in design to a .40 caliber gun. If Johannes Mehserle doesn’t get the maximum sentence then people will be frustrated no matter what because Oscar Grant is still dead.
Claire Gilbert: Johannes Mehserle should have been convicted of more than just involuntary manslaughter. I can understand that there was some confusion around what happened, but with all of the evidence I think some of that confusion should be cleared up. It’s obvious from the videos taken on the BART platform that the police officers were out of line. All the officers were beating on these men sitting quietly against a wall. Even if these men had been fighting on BART, they listened and followed the cops’ instructions without a fight. There was no reason for the violence the cops showed. Grant did not seem to be causing any trouble for the cops when two officers put him on his stomach and basically sat on top of him. The cops were abusing their power when they beat on all of the men and Johannes Mehserle committed murder when he shot Oscar Grant. Overall, I think police brutality is a big problem in the Bay Area and probably in the rest of the country or world. This horrible event should bring to light the police brutality that is going unnoticed and Johannes Mehserle should be sent to prison, not just for justice for Oscar Grant, but also as a message to the rest of the police force that this abuse of power will not go unnoticed or unpunished.