Friday, January 16, 2009

Police Shooting in Oakland

The killing of a young 22 year old African-American male in the Oakland Bart Station on Jan 1st was a tragedy of unprecedented proportion. When you look at the video of the shooting, you cannot but put your hands up in dismay and think that this was a premeditated murder where outrage was justified. According to the examiner, the police tried to confiscate video phones. Nice try – Doesn't just about everyone have a video phone these days?

There were over 100 arrests as riots broke out and vandalism spread throughout the city. Windows were smashed causing thousands of dollars in damage to shopkeepers. The next day, many shopkeepers boarded up their windows for fear of more vandalism.

An officer identified as Johannes Mehserle shot the 22-year-old on a BART station platform after responding to reports of men fighting on a train. Officers had pulled Grant and a few other men out of the train. The victim was lying face down on the platform when he was shot.

The shooting and events leading up to it were captured on amateur videos that have been broadcast on television.

Several days later transit officer Johannes Mehserle was arrested and charged with murder. Did the police arrest Johannes because of the video and public outcry? - Apparently so. But is there more to this story? Again - apparently so.

I never once thought that this was a case of police brutality on some defenseless African-American as much of the media and activist groups purport, nor did I think that the police officer was somehow callous in his disregard for human life. The first impression of the video is why did the police officer take the gun out of his holster in the first place? It is my contention that the police officer was a rookie with only two years on the force and his gun went off accidentally. Of course, this is speculation. I have a hard time believing that a cop would just pull out his gun and shoot an unarmed man.

However what is really disturbing is how activist groups exploit this tragedy. Instead of waiting for the wheels of justice to determine this officer's guilt or innocence, groups like and the Coalition Against Police Executions, (CAPE) brought in people from outside Oakland. On Ruckus' website, they claimed their purpose was to stop police executions, but the "police execution" logo was removed from their website. The people from these groups may have been responsible for much of the vandalism that occurred in the city. This shooting was an excuse to vandalize property. Peaceful protests are fine, but when it results in vandalism and riots, that is the definition of anarchy.



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