Fruitvale Station- A movie about the tragic murder of Oscar Grant on New Years in 2009 by BART officer Johannes Mehserle held a private screening last night in Oakland. Oscar Grant is shown as a man misunderstood, involved in crime trying to get his life together, but loved his family and his daughter. This incident caused outrage when the Youtube video of Oscar being shot on the Fruitvale Platform in the back not resisting police.
There were many misconceptions of this case and although some of this movie is fictionalized, will spark discussion on the underline issues still prevalent in our society today. Like the murder of Trayvon Martin, the outrage was mainly racial. Johannes Mehserle is white.
The outrage when Mehserle was only convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and not 2nd degree murder exploded into the streets of downtown Oakland with looting, fires, and Oakland PD/Alameda Co Sheriffs Deputies in riot gear. (sound familiar? Occupy protest?)
While walking the red carpet last night Mayor Jean Quan made sure that everyone knew it was a BART cop who shot Grant, not Oakland PD. Why? Because Oakland PD has been plagued with problems for many years, and recently hired Chief William Bratton to give them ideas on how they can solve some of those problems. They have been under the monitoring of a federal judge since 2003 because of past law enforcement abuses including the unnecessary drawing of guns, extortion and framing arrested individuals that is so egregious that the department may be put into receivership by the federal courts.
According to a September 11, 2011 article in the Bay Citizen, just a little over a month prior to the infamous Tuesday assault on Occupy Oakland, the federal judge overseeing the police department lambasted their conduct:
In a hearing that exposed the breadth of the problems facing Oakland, a federal judge blasted the Oakland Police Department Thursday for failing to make court-ordered changes designed to reduce police misconduct and abuse.
Before a courtroom full of city leaders and police department brass, U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson highlighted a series of issues that “indicate to me the city and the department still don’t get it.”
Let’s put aside all the problems Oakland PD has had even keeping a police chief even recently going through 3 in a matter of days. Police Chief Howard Jordan announced his retirement, and the assistant police chief was supposed to interim until the city could find a permanent one, but then decided to put another long time Oakland PD officer as the interim.
Fruitvale Station is the BART platform Oscar Grant died on. Oscar wasn’t a saint. He had his problems like many kids in the bay area raised in Oakland. He seemed to be trying to get his life together when he died, and moved his family out of Oakland to a nearby city with less crime.
Johannes Mehserle, the BART cop, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and received a 2 year sentence with time served. He remained in custody after his arrest. The trial was moved from the bay area to L.A. He was free in 72 days. The jury also added an enhancement for the gun, but the judge threw that out before sentencing.
Oscar Grant’s family got a $1.3 Million Dollar settlement from BART in 2011.