Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pondering justice for Oscar Grant...

There are no words to express my sorrow upon reading of the BART shooting incident and the death of Oscar Grant. With the news that the police officer who shot and killed Mr. Grant has been arrested comes little relief and even less satisfaction.

It is impossible for me to approach this from a distance. I have a brother, cousins and friends…when I hear that an unarmed black man was shot point blank in the back by a police officer in a BART station I think of them and what they mean to me and that there, but for fate or destiny or something I will never really understand, go me and mine.

Bill Cosby speaks of the need for the black community to move beyond our victim mentality but it is the victimized reality that’s anything but easy to move beyond.

I do not know how to define justice for Oscar Grant.

I just don’t know.

Even if the police officer is convicted and sentenced…even if Mr. Grant’s family wins a settlement…and even if changes are implemented and trainings are instituted, justice remains an elusive concept.

There’s part of me that thinks we would all benefit from embracing the inadequacy of words like justice in cases like this. I wonder if more of us would work to better our society if we were forced to wrapping our arms around that inadequacy and immersing ourselves in the unimaginable frustration of it. And I think that we would all do well to sit back and get the fact that no march, no conviction and no settlement will provide “justice” for Oscar Grant.

We need to feel that shit down in our bones.

To own it.

To dive our hands into it…let it mark our flesh and seep into our system until we writhe in agony over the relentless reality of it.

And as bitterness fills our mouths…as we spit with rage and disgust…as our fists clench at our side, maybe we’d take a step toward prevention.

Because I just don’t know how to define justice for Oscar Grant, but something has got to change.

Before we lose another Oscar Grant.

Before, even though we know there are no quick cure for this disease.


Have mercy, there is so little satisfaction in the after...


Unknown said...

Unarmed, Oscar Grant was executed.

There can be no justice in this instance..none.

So what do we do now? Other than cry and scream?

J9 said...

I don't know what to do either., and I live near Oakland. In fact I was there on the day of the riots, at the hospital visiting my dad. I would love to find an outlet for the anger and hostility and sadness. Today it is sadness that I feel.

AOB said...

All of society is victimized by this abuse of authority. The scary truth is, Oscar is each and every one of us.

There is no possible way for 'justice' to be served in this case, only the revenge of the so called justice system upon the perpetrator(s). While a monetary award may make sure the baby goes to college, nothing can ever bring back this man and nothing can ever be said to his grieving family to ever make this hurt go away.

Somehow his widow will go on, but at what price? How do you get out of bed the next day?

May God Bless and keep the family. How heartbreaking.

Miss Trudy said...

One wonders when enough is enough. Black and Latino men are always in the crosshairs of the criminal justice system in more ways than one. It's not only being the ones most victimized by police brutality and profiling. Just look at prison statistics and rates of punishment for misdemeanors when it comes to men of color. Hell, women of color too! At least this police officer will have to pay his debt to society. We can't say the same about other police officers charged with such crimes. Sadly, police officers who engage in these behaviors tar the rest of the institution, create great pain and distress, dehumanize citizens and contribute to the growing distrust between communities and law enforcement.

Anonymous said...

What I like about living in the age of YouTube is how it makes politicians accountable for whatever hateful or stupid things that they say. Before, a jerk like ex-Republican senator George Allen could deny he called an Indian-American journalist a macaca (a racist slur for "monkey") and claim it wasn't true or he was "misquoted". It's a invaluable counterpoint to propaganda machines like Fox News and it equalizes the playing field. Therefore, no matter what the police say, the YouTube video of Oscar Grant's murder proves conclusively that a crime was committed, and a young African-American man died for nothing. One video negates a thousand lies. Whether you think Oscar Grant's death was an execution or a horrible accident, I know it shouldn't have happened at all, but it did, and it keeps on happening. But they can't call African-Americans "paranoid" anymore.

Anonymous said...

No words, no actions, no settlement, no conviction can ever bring justice to Oscar Grant. He was murdered in cold blood by those sworn to protect the people, while he lay face down, unarmed. He was surrounded by white police intent on "putting him in his place" when he was executed. There is no justice to be had.

Goddess keep his family safe, and comfort them through this pain.

dinthebeast said...

At least the DA seems to be trying to do the right thing, for whatever good that will do. I love Oakland, and have called it home for 25 years, but we have our problems. The prosecution of police officers for actions they commit while on duty is kind of rare, but Oakland has a long and checkered history of it. There was the "riders" trial a few years ago (where I believe they all got off except for one who ran away) and before that there was the Oakland Housing Authority Police, who were pulling the same style of abuse as what the "riders" were accused of. Only in the case of the OHAP, the OPD set them up, busted them, and shut them down. I'm not a huge fan of the OPD (although I certainly respect the difficulty of the job they are trying to do) but I've always respected the fact that they would take down a rogue organization like the OHAP when it was the right thing to do. Cops don't catch other cops very often. So there's no real justice to be had when someone is dead and gone, and so what is left to do to calm the anger and the hurt we are left with? It bothers me a little that some of us had to do damage to our community (that is us, folks, we are hurting us when we do that), but I empathize with the feelings that drove them to it. I guess score a feeble point for technology, because from what I read, the video evidence is driving the murder charge. And the murder charge might keep this from getting even uglier.
-Doug in Oakland

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