On the Case of Oscar Grant

For those of you catching up, here are some facts:

The emotions and opinions relating to this tragedy, of course, vary widely.

It appears we can agree on one thing. This is a sad story.

And here’s what gets me:  all these people show up to protest a wrongful death, but when the news is printed that the murder rate of Black young people, murdered by other Black young people,  is skyrocketing…? Nothing. Silence.

I heard somewhere (I believe it was Harper’s Index) that when it comes to human empathy and number of deaths, our empathy literally drops off a cliff when the number of death goes from 1 to 2.

We cannot comprehend 90- or 100-some murders. We don’t understand death tolls of hundreds of thousands (say, in the Middle East).

So we pick one.

And all of the confusion, all of the anger, all of the “What’s Going On”? is funneled into an unorganized, barely united display of violence on one night in one city.

I am aware of the vast differences between the death of Oscar Grant and the beating of Rodney King, and I’m not going to opine on the factors of racism here today.

But what have we learned? What good, what change came from the uprising in LA almost twenty years ago? And before that, what was learned from the Watts riots in the Sixties?

Who are we helping here? And who are we hurting?

What is the cause?

* * *

UPDATE: I grappled a bit with the comment below. I tried to email the person who put it in, but to no avail (the email address was most likely fake*).

I’m going to venture a guess that this is a cut-and-paste put on many blogs which deal with this story. Anyway, I guess I’m just telling y’all this because normally I remove spam or spam-ish comments…but I’m going to let this one ride.

I do not in any way support violent demonstrations. I’m a love-y girl, generally a pacifist, it’s just how I roll. I do hope that if there is an organized demonstration in San Francisco, that it will be peaceful, and hopefully have goals.

We are aware of the tragedy. It’s been picked up by the New York Times. Every San Francisco Bay Area blogger has weighed in. It’s all over the news.

My question is: what do we do now?

The only reasonable motivation I’ve yet heard is a call for public/civil oversight of the BART Police Department (the Oakland PD and SFPD both have oversight on behalf of the public).

If we’re talking about racially motivated police brutality and homicide, let’s talk about that. Screaming about it and bashing up our neighbor’s mom-and-pop shops is not changing policy. We can express anger, we can express our want, our desperation for change. And we can do it in a way that works for us, as a community, rather than against us.

So, on that note, I’m off to do a bit of research (read: Googling) into community-based, non-profit organizations in Oakland and SF that deal with this kind-of stuff. If you have suggestions, by all means.

xx – Holden

* Just to be clear, I never reveal identities or the email addresses of those who comment here.

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3 Responses to “On the Case of Oscar Grant”

  1. Bobby Says:

    San Francisco- Demonstration Against Police Murder of Oscar Grant

    Tonight’s events in Oakland made it clear to everyone that police murders will not go without reprisal. The burning cars and smashed windows of the evening’s conflict showed that the people of the Bay Area will not forget Oscar. The kids know what’s up. We are not interested in passive, impotent and utterly ineffectual displays of disapproval. The Mayor’s calls for calm fell upon deaf ears. We will not remain calm when a young father has been executed by the police, because to them, a passive youth is an easy target. We will not lie down and be shot in the back.

    Today we heard the news that Officer Johannes Mehserle resigned from the police force. This is no consolation.

    The problem is bigger than Oakland. The relationship between officer and civilian is perverse: an unelected authority enacting an unencumbered power of life and death over a population.

    Last month, San Francisco saw a confrontational solidarity action against the murder of a young man on the other side of the world, yet there has been no response to the murder of a young man on the other side of the bay.

    On Monday, January 12 at 5pm meet at the Civic Center BART station for a demonstration against the police murder of Oscar Grant.

    The young people of Oakland have refused to take this lightly. Let’s show them that they are not alone.

  2. beckyluz Says:

    What are the vast differences between Oscar Grant and Rodney King that you say you are so aware of?

  3. anon Says:

    for one thing, rodney king is still alive…vast difference indeed

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