Monday, January 2, 2012

 2012-01-02 "Oscar Grant march marks 3rd anniversary of killing" by Victoria Colliver from "San Francisco Chronicle"
Hundreds of people marked the third anniversary of a BART police officer's killing of Oscar Grant on Sunday by marching peacefully from Oakland City Hall to the site of the shooting, the Fruitvale train station nearly 3 miles away.
The marchers, carrying signs and shouting, "We are Oscar Grant," among other chants, included many protesters involved in the Occupy Oakland movement, which has often focused as much on opposing police brutality as fighting economic inequality.
"We're all the same people out here," said Michael Haley, 33, of Vallejo, an Occupy Oakland participant who didn't want to draw a distinction between the groups. "Everyone here has woken up to the facts that the cops in this town are out of hand - really everywhere - but especially here."
"We are in solidarity with Occupy Oakland. They've supported and helped us," said Anita Wills, 65, of San Leandro, who became involved with the Oscar Grant Committee, which seeks to fight police abuse, after the unsolved killing of her grandson early last year in Oakland.

Symbolic renaming -
Many of the protesters, and Grant's family members, noted that one of the first things the Occupy activists did when they set up their encampment in Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza in October was to symbolically rename the site Oscar Grant Plaza.
"I want to thank Occupy Oakland for what you have done for Oscar Grant," said Jack Bryson, the father of two sons who were with Grant when he was killed on the Fruitvale Station platform.
Former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle shot Grant, 22, in the early hours of New Year's Day 2009 while trying to handcuff and arrest him as he lay, facedown and unarmed, on the platform. Other passengers captured the shooting on cameras and cell phones.
Mehserle said he intended to subdue Grant with a Taser but accidentally pulled and fired his pistol. After he was initially charged with murder, a jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Sentence called lenient -
Mehserle was released from a two-year prison sentence on June 13, 2011. Though the punishment was among the most serious given to a police officer for a line-of-duty killing, Grant's supporters believe it was too lenient.
"It has been a hard day for my family and myself," Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson, told the crowd as it gathered in a plaza beside the Fruitvale Station at the end of the march. "Yesterday was my birthday, so to get the news my son was killed, it was just tragic. It was just devastating."
Marcher George Cammarota, 60, of San Jose, who has attended past demonstrations over Grant's death, said such public displays send a "very clear message that this cannot and will not happen again.
"We still ask for justice," he said. "We haven't given up hope."

Michael Macor / The Chronicle
Beverly Dove of Berkeley attends a peaceful rally outside Oakland's Fruitvale BART Station to mark the third anniversary of the death of Oscar Grant, an unarmed passenger shot by a BART police officer.

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