BART Police Officers Must Be Brought to Justice
by Victoria Hungerford


Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police have demonstrated the ultimate show of police brutality: killing Oscar J. Grant III, a 22-year-old father who was shot by BART Officer Johannes Mehserle. The rather graphic video of this incident taken by a bystander shows this as an abomination to what police are supposed to do: serve and protect.

Grant and three others were suspected of starting a fight on a train. All of the involved members complied, not resisting arrest and are seen putting their hands up. The officers then begin to beat the members with their batons. Grant is then forced onto his stomach and an unidentified bald officer places his knee on Grant’s neck to further restrain him. It is easy enough to hear Grant pleading with the officers, and reports from those present stated that Grant was asking them not to taser him and that he had a 4-year-old daughter. Officer Mehserle is then seen grabbing his gun out of his holster, standing up, aiming and shooting. The BART police have claimed that the officer was having taser/gun confusion, not knowing whether he was going to shoot with his taser or his gun. The officer, in spite of this, is shown reaching for his gun holster several times. By the time Officer Morales was about to “taser” Grant, the officer still pinning Grant down by his neck would have backed off in order to avoid getting electrocuted. This implies the quite real possibility that the order to shoot was ordered by the unnamed bald officer.

Grant was unarmed, did not have any illegal contraband on him, nor was he resisting arrest. The cops then handcuffed him after he was shot brutally in the back. Officer Mehserle and the officers involved have declined to comment.

Grant’s family is now suing the BART Police Department for a wrongful death suit totaling $25 million. This is the least the BARTPD can do to compensate Grant’s family for his wrongful execution. Mehserle was on paid leave until he resigned on Wednesday Jan. 7.

According to reports, following Grant’s funeral on Jan. 8, a sea of protestors took to the streets of Oakland, setting multiple cars on fire and damaging others, including one police vehicle. Stores were vandalized in the riot and protestors were heard chanting, “No Justice, No Peace, Fuck the Police!” as well as “Pigs go home!” Tear gas was thrown onto the protestors after they tried tipping a police car which escalated the violence even further. Police chased away the protestors, forcing them deeper into downtown and ultimately ending the riot. Many stores the next day closed early in fear of riots.

BART has begun its own investigation. Whether or not the officers will be held accountable for this action is still unknown. Something must be done in order to not only bring justice to the name of Oscar Grant III, but also set an example to other police divisions throughout California and the rest of the country. Police are here for two extremely important reasons: to serve the laws of their city, state, and Constitution, and to protect the citizens. Both officers in this incident need to be arrested, put to a trial of jury by their peers and put in jail for life sentences. This shows that we will not allow police to misuse their power, their weapons, and to be able to hide behind the veil of the “law” and their police station. Police are after all, still citizens; they just chose to specialize in their trade, justice. No one is an exception to the law.