On Oscar Grant’s Murder

10 01 2009

This is outrageous, but not anomalous -and that further compounds this tragedy.

Oscar Grant was my age – 22. His daughter is 4. Oscar Grant was, according to witnesses and friends, trying to descalate a confrontation between his friends and San Francisco BART police officers. Oscar Grant was shot, execution style, on the subway platform, surrounded by people. Oscar was unarmed and pinned to the floor before he was shot. Grant and his friends had been pulled off the train supposedly because a fight broke out – but the police had no knowledge of whether these specific men were involved in any sort of altercation. They were young, they were men, and they were black – and that was enough. If this doesn’t make your blood boil, if this doesn’t spark outrage – I’m not sure what to say to you.

This video is hard to watch. It made me want to throw up. But it’s also important to watch, to see for yourself what happened here. It is poor quality, from a cell-phone (one of the few that wasn’t confiscated by the police before the train pulled away), but this version has a voice-over narration, and points out which figure is Oscar Grant.

Like I said, this is tragic, and outrageous. And those words don’t feel like enough. Because this is another name added on to a long list of black bodies thrown aside by this system that we all contribute to – with our taxes and our complicity. And even if “justice” comes to the police officer who shot him, it won’t bring him back and it won’t actually mean that endemic racism has been thwarted, at all. Remember Sean Bell? Black men in this country are always already deemed “threatening” and “dangerous,” by virtue of being black and male. That is racism, point blank.

From this interview on Hard Knock Radio:

Davey D: I was listening to a number of speeches and old news clips that went all the way back to the murder of Bobby Hutton here in the city of Oakland and was remembering the harassment and the beat-down that Tupac Shakur got and going through just this long list of Black males who have been killed unceremoniously by the police department right here in the city all the way up to last year or the year before when everybody was down on protesting for the Jena 6 – and Gary King, 20 years old, was shot and killed in the back by an Oakland officer right here on 54th and Martin Luther King.

Many people have spoken far more eloquently than myself on Grant’s death, so I think I’m going to leave off with some of their words and thoughts.

Yolanda Pierce, at The Kitchen Table:

So the question of police brutality in the Grant case, and the many others including Sean Bell’s, are ultimately questions about value, cost, and lives – in addition to the questions of racism, violence, and bias. We built a nation based on judgments of what one human life is worth versus the worth of a different human life. We did this by annexing territories that did not belong to us; removing people from their home lands; forcing labor on certain groups and not on others; and creating states based on “fractions” of human beings. Some people were merely disposable commodities, chattel, heathen, or savage and therefore, “worthless.” Are black men in America, in 2009, still disposable commodities?

The question of the “value of our lives” is a question of fundamental human dignity and equality. I’m arguing that we have a long way to go before our rhetoric of being “created equal” catches up with our political, social, and economic practices.

From Renee, at Womanist Musings:

We teach our children that “officer friendly” is there to protect and serve, we never ask to protect and serve who.  Black lives are cheap and when men that hold hatred in their hearts are given the power to act upon their unearned privilege it often times leads to death.

How many times do we need to see police brutality to come to the determination that they have become nothing more than armed thugs pretending to be acting in the service of law and order?  Today because of the advent of technology we are able to witness some of these acts, but how many times daily are black bodies battered?  If this kind of atrocity can occur publicly with cameras rolling, what occurs in the dark alleys and the forgotten places?

There is more at Feministe as well.

And, 5 Things You Can Do Right Now, via RaceWire.




One response

17 01 2009
semi-incoherent thoughts on violence and oppression and work and sustainability « Avowed Virago

[…] the needs of survivors –> related to how DV strategy reinforces systemic violence based on race, gender, sexuality, class, ability –> relying on police to prevent violence, even as those […]

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