Racism & The Murder of Oscar Grant III

Like many of the readers here (h/t: Victor, Ilish), I’ve been following the news of the shooting death of Oscar Grant, III (photo from Facebook) in Oakland, California by a transit cop.

At the time of the shooting, Grant was unarmed, on the ground, his hands were hand-cuffed behind him.  Grant was employed as a butcher at Farmer Joe’s Marketplace in Oakland, had a young daughter, Tatiana, age 4.   Several people at the BART train station recorded the incident on their mobile phones, and witnesses reported that Grant begged officers not to shoot him, telling them he had a young daughter.

The BART cop who shot him, Johannes Mehserle, has since resigned his position, thus avoiding internal affairs investigators. And, lawyers have filed a $25 million lawsuit against the transit authority on behalf of Grant’s family.

As Grant was laid to rest today, protestors gathered at the Fruitvale BART station where he was killed to demand justice (update: the protest prompts The New York Times to take notice).

While officials at BART are suggesting that the shooting was an “accident” in which Mehserle mistook his gun for his taser, the videos taken at the scene suggest otherwise.  The BART cops move Grant from a seated (and hand-cuffed) position, place him on the ground face down, and then Mehserle reaches for his gun and shoots Grant in the back. It is not hyperbole to call this an execution. Clearly, this is an example of excessive force, and it is a nothing less than a racist murder.  And, racists are lining up to defend Mehserle’s actions.  For example, Michael Crook joined the Facebook group “Justice for Oscar Grant,” then started a discussion thread called “Quit Whining,” in which he writes:

“This was a justified shooting, and even if the officer was in error, another ape is off the streets. … This is just another family of black monkeys wanting a payday.”

I suppose the good news is that the other members of that Facebook group called out Crook for his racism.   At this point, no one knows  whether or not Mehserle held these kinds of overtly racist views.  And, to some extent it’s beside the point.    Whatever Mehserle’s individual level of racism, Grant is still dead because of racism.  The racist idea expressed by Crook that some lives are less valuable than others is one that pervades our institutions, particularly criminal justice institutions, and operates without individual racists. Institutional racism assures that some people, particuarly young black men, are continually viewed as suspects and are perpetually vulnerable to assault by police.

As I mentioned, there are multiple videos of this shooting taken by concerned passers-by.  This may persuade some that there is incontrovertible evidence of this outrageous, criminal act.  But, the institutionalized racism that creates black men as ontological suspects has already started denying the reality of this mobile phone video evidence.   In one report, there’s mention that Grant possibly had a criminal record; in another, a BART spokesman calls the video evidence is “inconclusive”; and, reports are painting Mehserle as sympathetic for a variety of reasons, including the fact that he is getting death threats.    For observers of racial politics in the U.S., this should all sound eerily similar to the kinds of strategies used in the trial of the LAPD cops accused of beating Rodney King.   As you may recall, even though there was clear, stomach-turning video of those officers brutally beating and tasering the unarmed King, defense lawyers for the cops successfully portrayed King as a “monster” and a “thug” and cast the officers as “victims” who felt threatened by him.   All the officers were acquitted of beating King, and if past is prologue, I expect Mehserle to walk without criminal prosecution.

The sort of citizen journalism and activism of cop-watch style actions are promising for addressing brutal acts such as the racist murder of Oscar Grant. Yet, the lessons of racism in the recent past are that these are important, but not sufficient in and of themselves to bring about justice.  For that, we must work much harder.  Take action.


  1. Doug

    Hi Jessie-
    Thank you for writing this article. Although I do not agree with it completely, your comments about institutionalized racism in this country is well said.
    Comparing this tragedy to Rodney King is, in my mind, comparing apples and oranges. Yes, both gentlemen were black, but Grant did not lead the police on a high-speed chase, endangering the lives of hundreds of people. Grant was not high on PCP, nor did he resist in anyway. King was tazered THREE times by the police, and he still was coming at them! Would you NOT feel threatened by a man that was high on PCP, just led you on a high speed chase, and that had been unphased by three hits from a tazer? Your claim that King was some innocent soul, struck down by the police is misleading. Do your research on the man!

    In this case, like you, I hope that former officer Mehserle is prosecuted and receives the proper consequence.

  2. Glenn

    Since you are claiming the context of institutional racism to be a determining factor in this situation, I wonder if you’d be willing to take the rest of the context into account? Apparently there were several fights/assaults taking place on this platform just before the shooting, there were people shouting “fuck the cops” and Grant was resisting arrest. It goes without saying that none of these factors mitigate the offense, but they do add context in the sense that they give you a sense of the tension of the situation and perhaps some insight into the officer’s state of mind. As well, I’m struck by the look of surprise on his face after firing. Is it possible that he thought he was firing his taser? Should we at least hear what this officer has to say before we conclude it’s a racist execution? I for one would like to hear his statement about why he shot Grant – before he goes to jail for a very long time. Something is just so crazy about how this went down, there has to be some explanation.

  3. I think it’s time to take away weapons of deadly force from traffic and beat cops. Allowing only highly trained special tactical officers to carry guns. This would stop high percentage of confrontations that end in excessive violence. This would force traffic and beat level police offices to change their methods to dealing with people. Let Oscar Grant’s death start a new era, take the guns and tasers away from traffic and beat cops.

  4. Jessie Author

    Hi there jwbe, Doug, Glenn, Concerned citizen ~ I appreciate all your comments. Doug, your characterization of King as dangerous as 12 (!) cops stood around him as he was tasered, simply replays the Simi Valley defense rhetoric over again. In my view, no prior action by King justifies the torture those cops put him through, period. To call the two cases “apples and oranges” is to deny the racist pattern in police brutality in this country in which the victims are overwhelmingly black and brown young men. Glenn, sure I’m willing to acknowledge that there were mitigating circumstances that increased tension at the scene, but nothing I’ve seen or read or heard from people who were there, suggest anything that explains away this racist murder.
    Concerned citizen, I agree and think that this is perhaps the opportunity to strip all weapons of deadly force from transit cops. Where do I sign up to support that action?

  5. Yeah right

    Concerned citizen

    Yeah if that happens then people like Oscar would be running the streets shooting everyone and everything. No one to stop them. I do not agree with the outcome, but I am sure there is more to this story than we are told. He did not just get picked out of a crowd.

  6. Jessie Author

    Would you, Yeah right, care to clarify “people like Oscar” and “them.” Your comments sounds like more of the same white racial frame. Of course, I’d care, whatever, if a white person were shot, it’s just not the usual pattern when it comes to police brutality. As a sociologist, I’m interested in the patterns of human behavior. And in case you missed it, whatever, the focus of this blog is to analyze and point out racism (hence the clever title), like that in the killing of Oscar Grant.

  7. Sociologist

    As a sociologist, one must look at the actual reasoning behind the shooting. If it actually was because the officer mistook his pistol for his tazer, then how is that racism? That is just a ridiculous mistake a person made that ended up costing a life.
    Prejudice is the attitudes and beliefs of a person in terms of race. Discrimination are the actions and behaviors of that person in terms of race. Racism is the systematic hierarchy in terms of race. Say you have 4 races A-D, A being on top respectively going down to D. If Race A discriminates against Race C, then that is racism and racial discrimination. But if Race C discriminates against Race A, then it is only classified as racial discrimination, not racism.
    If you were to classify this shooting as racism, you should first know if Johannes Mehserle truly was a prejudiced and/or discriminatory man.

  8. It seems to me that it is hard to make a case for racism on the face of what happened.

    Police brutality? Absolutely. Murder? Absolutely. I think the argument that he mistook his gun for his taser is ABSURD!

    The issue here, to me, is police training – this police officer should have been trained to NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER shoot a suspect (or witness) when he has been subdued. This guy pulled his gun in an inexcusable moment, and should be going to jail for the rest of his life.

    Nevertheless, other than the race of the parties involved, I see no evidence of racism, unless there is some indication that he killed him because he was black.

    I think you have to know the person’s intentions before you know if he was being racist.

    And by the way, I am almost certain that the guy who wrote “stop whinning” on the Facebook page was one of these people who logs onto blogs/chats and says controversial things to get attention. That’s a thing, you know.

  9. Marcos

    I agree that racism is a significant factor in the death of Oscar Grant. In the videos I’ve seen, he’s visibly less aggressive, and also visibly darker, than the other people being detained. The fact that he is the one put on the ground face down definitely points toward racism.

    I’m also confused by the growing talk of Oscar Grant’s “criminal record.” I haven’t seen any information relating to any criminal record, and yet more and more people are mentioning this as some sort of justification of Grant’s shooting. The bulk of the comments online regarding the SF Chronicle’s “Shooting Victim Remembered” article take this tack. These comments smack of racism, plain and simple.

    Still, I think your description of the video is leaning toward a bias of its own. You say that Grant was handcuffed at the time of his shooting, but I didn’t see that in the video, and the New York Times article you link to says he was handcuffed after he was shot. You also describe the shooting as an “execution,” and omit mention of Mehserle’s reaction after the shot is fired. To a lot of people, myself included, his reaction does not seem consistent with an intent to kill. He looks visibly startled, surprised by what has happened. He doesn’t look like he was expecting the results.

    I agree that racism is responsible for Grant being singled out of the group, and put face down on the platform. I also think that racism influenced Mehserle’s decision to draw a weapon (either a taser or a gun). Racism might have led Mehserle to view Grant as a greater threat, despite Grant’s actions. Or it might have made Mehserle feel like he could act with less risk of consequence. I’d even be willing to listen to the argument that Mehserle hated Black people and took an opportunity to kill one, though I think that’s more of a stretch.

    But I encourage you to try to describe the video in as objective a way as possible. It’s damning enough without distortion.

  10. Craigslist


    “I’m getting really tired of the preachers, lawyers, family and friends of Oscar Grant painting him out to be some kind of race-martyred saint! This young man who was “trying hard to turn his life around” had a criminal record, and was once again making the wrong choice. Mistakes happen and bad choices sometimes have grave consequences; this shooting is a prime example. Oscar Grant was a grown man with a daughter, who should’ve known better than to involve himself in yet more criminal behavior.

    Oscar Grant was not arbitrarily picked off the train for being a Black Man. What the TV news doesn’t show was that there were several fights breaking out all over that platform during the shooting. BART police were there to PROTECT THE GENERAL PUBLIC FROM HARM, not to deliberately kill a young man for being Black. The officer’s body language after the shooting was one of shock and surprise, not one of deliberate racial hate.

    I feel for Oscar’s family and especially his little girl, just as much as I feel for the officer’s family.

    The news said Oscar was raised by “a village” of families – what that translates to: a broken home. He became a father at age 18. By 22 he had already served time in prison. The problem goes much deeper, folks.”

  11. jwbe

    It speaks volumes that the actions of the cop are defended by some. As I already said: The human soul, somewhen, somewhere, lost.

    It is how whites deal with the death of the supposed “other”, the “other” who deserves death [citing criminal records, real or not], because whites have the power to commit murder without ever being prosecuted, they have the power to make the definitions
    The “if-game”, ‘would you be concerned if the victim where white’, without acknowledging white history toward most of all Black people, without even realizing how many innocent PoC, most of them Black, are shot by police out of the blue, commiting the “crime” of being Black and alive.
    I watched the video taken of this murder, and this it is, murder, there is no reason to use a weapon or a taser against somebody already subdued.

  12. jwbe

    What the TV news doesn’t show was that there were several fights breaking out all over that platform during the shooting. BART police were there to PROTECT THE GENERAL PUBLIC FROM HARM

    by shooting somebody who was already hand-cuffed? What had Grant to do with the fights DURING the shooting (the time he was killed).
    And do you want to say that police does have the power to execute people, just because they might have a criminal record. Do you believe that this murder is not as terrible because the person killed might have a criminal record?
    Who protects the GENERAL PUBLIC – and yes, Black people belong to the general public – from police being incapable of dealing with the responsible of their job.

    Let’s do the if-game: Imagine, police would start doing the same to white Americans what they do to Black Americans – shooting you for just being alive out of the blue. How many white deaths would it need before you would understand what it means? No, you wouldn’t say ‘get over it’ blahblah.

  13. MC

    Attempts to cast aspersion on the victim sicken me. If a man is on the ground, handcuffed, and pleading, tasing is inappropriate. If the officer doesn’t know the difference between a gun and a taser, he is not qualified to have a gun. If the reports of the video are accurate (I haven’t seen them but have no reason to dispute them) then this is a homicide, committed by the BART officer. I hope Oscar’s daughter is awarded a large monetary sum and the perp gets treated like any other murderer, even if it is “manslaugher” rather than “homicide” that sticks.

  14. Wow, I have so much to say on this topic…

    First off, Oscar Grant, was targeted by police as an African American man. Its naive to assume, that race did not play a role in his apprehension by the police. There is ample documentation, that African American men (and women) are targeted and profiled by law enforcement and disproportionately stopped, arrested, and convicted. Driving While Black (DWB) statistics are just one data window into this particular phenome.

    It doesn’t matter that Oscar Grant had a criminal record – would we be saying the same thing if it was was Keating or another white collar, white man who was shot in the back, while laying face down, with a cop standing on his shoulders? Would we be saying, wow, “white dude had gone to jail for insider trading, he was a criminal, no wonder he got shot in the back on New Year’s Day by a transit cop while handcuffed” I think not.

    And lets not forget, we have established an economic/racist system that criminalizes black men- what does it mean that we are complacent in letting more young AA men go to prison than college?

    I realize that I am ranting- so just two more points:

    The BART police have an established track record of misconduct and also have an established record of targeting folks of color. There is a culture within the BART police that makes it allowable to target youth of color and men of color. Remember, its the same police force that decided the African American man who was lynched (murdered) outside the Concord BART station had killed himself (proved untrue) despite clear evidence of assualt and has had repeated civilian complaints about misconduct.

    And this is not a random occurrence. The reality is that Black men are at the highest risk, of anyone, for being targeted by violence. Despite the portrayal as perpertrators, risk management experts will tell you that one of the most dangerous things you can do in America is be a black man.

    I cannot tell you how many dozens of times I have experienced this profiling- on a personal level. As a white woman with a foot in the black community I have had a front seat view these past ten years to being pulled, stopped on the streets, etc. over time and time again – for things that have NEVER warranted police attention when I am on my own.

    Sorry, to rant… but the idea that we should blame the victims of racist violence is, in my mind, part of reason there is such complacency around what has become a form of domestic apartheid.

  15. Oh and one more thing- as part of the white public who rides BART all the time- the murder of Oscar Grant- does not make me feel safer!

    In fact, I feel like the most danger I have ever been in on BART has been from their police force- and I have been riding BART for more than twenty years

  16. Susan

    Ive been riding BART for years and have seen black youths picking on smaller white people all the time. Why don’t you call that racism? Most of the crime that is black on white is racially motivated. Where are your complaints of racism then? This guy was probably a thug and when the facts some out they will probably whow that he and his friends were probably picking on someone or beating someone up and that they were probably white. Blacks in this country have a double standard!

  17. joe

    so let me guess…..Mr Oscar Grant III was just sitting at the train station not bothering anyone just minding his own business waiting for his train and the big bad transit police came up, handcuffed him and shot him in the back execution style? Come on people….wake up and smell the coffee! Accidents do sometimes happen and this sounds like one to me. May I take another guess? Mr Oscar Grant III had an extensive juvenile and adult criminal record but was in the process of turning his life around….how many times have we heard this story…..some may read this and say I am racist or have a tainted view of young black men but try being robbed at gun point by two young black men while waiting for your train to go home after a day at work…its scary and humiliating and degrading….I wonder what would have happened to me that night 3 yeras ago if I had refused to give up my wallet and watch…maybe my son would be in the same situation that Mr Oscar Grant III daughter is right now….I do feel for her as she is truly innocent. This is a sad, sad story all around.

  18. Joe Feagin

    Thanks to all of you for the good discussion. Zombie Mom does an important service for all of us in bringing in the racialized history of the BART police. This is not just about one officer, but about institutionalized racism that , since 1600s nationally in fact, has seen black men as “very dangerous.” Racist profiling in still central in US policing (See Bolton’s and my book Black in Blue, for much evidence)

    And Hernan Vera and I have the best and most thorough discussion of the Rodney King police killing in our White Racismbook, if you want great detail on why this was a case of extreme police malpractice. Read that and then see how the police data actually look. We spent a long time on researching that.

  19. Interesting how few “white perpetration of harassment” incidents seem to observed or shared in the various dialogues around this topic. as a female BART rider- I have been totally harassed by White men, seen big white men pick on smaller folks of all races, and generally seen sexual and other harassment of folks of all races by white men- usually young, drunk or otherwise mentally altered.

    There is also a long and trouble historical context of justifying violence against black men as potential perpetrators of violence against white folks, particularly women. I am sure someone on this board can reference some writings on how that dynamic fueled the USA’s shamefully legacy of lynchings. A particularly hideous intersection of racism and the patriarchy.

    I for one, don’t want to be defended by the BART police from the mythically and greatly amplified risk of black on white violence.

    I also think we can never forget the context of this occurrence- there are hundreds of data sources documenting the institutional racial disparities in this country…. just as data sources (FBI on thru the political spectrum) will illustrate that black on white violence/harassment is actually NOT the norm. I am troubled that these realities get lost in the discourse.

    Rant over

  20. Susan

    racism exists in this country and most of the time its black against white. if it didn’t, then why did 99% of the blacks vote for obama? grow up and take responsibility for your own actions. stop blaming whites. oscar grant was minding his own business. RIGHT!

  21. Jessie Author

    Susan, what’s your evidence that “most of the time its black against white”? The real way to “grow up and take responsibility for your own actions” is to read a book and learn something rather than repeating what you’ve heard on Rush Limbaugh’s show.

  22. Susan

    because it works like this…..there is black on white crime and its never classified as racist. oscar grant was shot. he was on that train and started a ruckus and then resisted arrest. if he hadn’t he would not have been on the ground and would have been handcuffed. now blacks are saying the shooting was racially motivated. if the situation were reversed would you say that a black cop shooting a white troublemaker with a criminal history that had started an altercation was a racist? i don’t thijk so. so….by the very nature of your accusations you are racist and guilty of reverse racism.

  23. Susan

    i would also like to point out somethin else. from an early age blacks are tought to believe that there is racism in this country and it is white against black. therefore, if a black doesn’t get into a school, get a job or if something doesn’t go their way then the person making the decision is a racist because why else would it have happened. white people get overlooked every day. we don’t get jobs, we don’t get into certain schools, we have crimes commited against us and get pulled over by the police when doing wrong. the difference here is that many of the blacksof today have been programmed to think a certain way and cannot possibly believe that their existence is their responsibility. if blacks don’t do well in school and get a good education it’s the white mans fault. if they don’t get a job it’s becaue the employer wanted someone who was white. i can go on ad infinitum but you get the picture. oakland is number 3 in violent crime in the nation. is that the white mans fault too? blacks are responsible for making their communities better and teaching their children. it is the responsibility of none other. that’s what i mean when i say “take responsibility”. stop blaming others.

  24. Ilish

    hmmmm where on any of the video accounts did Oscar resist arrest? and yes you could just be targeted being a black male. what is sad is that it has become like a right of passage for black men….it has happened to alot of men I know who where minding their own business when targeted by the police. Where is the evidence of Oscar’s criminal record? Only smaller news circuits are spreading around this tidbit of info. Also being a black man in american means your always fitting a description. What other cultures need to understand is that not everyone dysfunctional, arrogant, ignorant, violent, etc. Yes there should be more done in the black community but come on susan jobs, schools etc do discriminate from time to time. There are alot of members of the black community who are educated and have the skills but how can we put these tools to use when doors are slammed in our faces when applying for school or jobs?

  25. Amber

    wow. i am white woman, married to a young black male. my husband has been the victim of racial profiling, racism, you name it…

    hell, i have been targeted by black woman, and white men alike (these two groups seem to be the biggest offenders) and been a victim of racism myself. just for being a white woman and married to a black man.

    but in my opinion, this was not a man that was killed in a racially motivated manner. he was killed after he was resisting arrest. did he deserve to be shot? no. not at all. did he deserve to be tasered? thats debateable. was he minding his own business and protraying the image of a law abiding citizen? no.

    its obvious that this office was not jusitfied in shooting this young man. not in a million years, by any stretch of the imagination. but, officers are HUMANS. officers make MISTAKES. and as far as we know, this may or may not have been an accident. had it been a white man in the same situation, im sure that the officer would have reached for his taser. its OBVIOUS that none of the officers involved were prepared to hear a gun shot go off.

    and just one other quick point, i have yet to read about oscars other charges. what was he convicted of? what was he in trouble for in the past? how long before this incident did his other arrests take place? what involvement did he have with his community? what community events did he attend? how was he contributing to society? how did he treat his daughter? i think this would say alot about who he really was, either a convicted criminal who has been found guilty by a jury of his peers, and had decided to be a menace to society or a changed person that had found a new way of life?

    may oscar rest in peace, and may his daughter remember him for the good things he may have done. nobody deserves to die the way he did. may justice be found and serves, whatever that may be. but i do know that none of here are capable of judging anyone involved in the situation. not oscar and not the officer.

  26. Joe Feagin

    I suggest that those of you who do not think this country is fundamentally racist read half the accounts of research on this site. The DATA on racial discrimination against Black Americans in all major institutional areas are overwhelming. Our data on cases of police brutality indicate that almost ALL, ALL such incidents involve mostly white officers and blacks or Latinos as targets. Why are men of color almost ALWAYS the targets of violent police malpractice in this country?

  27. Schiffon

    I don’t care if Oscar Grant has a long history of selling crack to my mother, when did the police become the de facto judge and executioner of American citizens. Disorderly conduct does not warrant being shot in the back by law enforcement. An assault between youths doesn’t warrant being shot in the back by law enforcement.

    To those who have asserted that he must have been doing something wrong to receive the treatment he did from the police is a logical fallacy. What was Amadou Diallo doing wrong? Oh yeah, he reached for his identification, he was surely asking for it.

    It so funny, how “Whites” that believe “Blacks” have victimized them are so quick to feel justified in their prejudice. But, “Blacks” who were stolen, enslaved, tortured, raped, murdered, disenfranchised, treated as subhuman, and continue to face contemporary discrimination and the ramifications of historical injustices and institutionalized racism, for 400+ years, are supposed to get over it. GET REAL!!!!!!!

  28. Why wasn’t this great father home with his daughter that fateful night. Why? Because he was out doing what he’s been doing his whole life… Breaking the law and making life miserable for us law abiding citizens.
    Did he deserve to die? Of course not. But this was not a model citizen minding his own business. He was a criminal who got caught breaking the law.
    Good father… My ass.

  29. Deviant

    Wow. Another white cop shoots a black man. When will black people realize that it might be in their best interest, and more progressive to become cops rather than scream “DEFENSE!!!” from the other side of the court.

    Oh wait. That’s too much to ask. Us Black folk should just remain social deviants and get the golden fucking spoon fed to us every time we walk out of the house.

    You people sicken me. No honor. No courage. No drive. NO WILLPOWER. Useless sacks of human flesh that have nothing to contribute besides some salt water flowing from your ocular holes.

  30. jd

    I am not even going to read all of your comments because its the same every time; somehow the poor black guy got a raw deal, it hits national news, and blacks riot. How come whites dont riot everytime some black gang banger robs, kills, or rapes a white? So I am going to leave you with this: “Based on current rates of first incarceration, an estimated 32% of black males will enter State or Federal prison during their lifetime, compared to 17% of Hispanic males and 5.9% of white males” U.S. Bureau of Justice aviable at:http://www.ojp.gov/bjs/crimoff.htm

  31. Lou

    I would like to reiterate the earlier statements by Jessie and Joe Feagin. It really is not relevant at this time the type of life or lifestyle Mr. Grant lived, what matters is that these types of killings go much deeper, reflecting their systemic nature. This is not one isolated case or just one of a few cases, and as Joe suggests, all it takes is a little research to understand the larger patterns that exist.

    I question if some of the comments here serve as justifications (pointing out some of the “bad” things he may have done) for this type of behavior. Ask yourselves; what could he possibly be doing so wrong that justifies me being shot in the BACK?…

  32. D

    I just wanted to start off by saying I just watched the video of this and was shook to the core. A feeling like I had just witnessed a head on collision on the freeway came over me. This was an obvious perversion of justice you can add to list of many to befall African Americans throughout history. Or any minority race for that matter. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Asians, Native peoples.. the list goes on and on if you just look into a number of conflicts throughtout history. There is no question, racism = death. That being said, I’ve watched videos of violent protests and read posts by people expressing a pent up anger so intense they may want to hurt someone. Contents Under Pressure: Do Not Expose to Open Flame. The murder of Grant may be that flame. But the fact is, the resulting explosion may cause the same level of devestaion as the flame that caused it. Anger in this situation is acceptable, I felt it too, but to act on it is a sin. I write this as a bystander, an East Coast(410), God fearing, white guy with a lot on my mind. I know people who have been harmed by the police; I know people who have been helped by the police. To generalize is to lower your level of perception. As racism, is itslef, generalization. So I will pray for Grant and his family and I will pray for the officer and his as well. But I refuse to let gerneral anger rule my thoughts. The Lord will deliver a good man to a beautiful place. RIP Oscar Grant III, and God Bless.

  33. Shari

    It is curious how the possibility of a criminal record for Mr. Grant seems to be relevant. Whatever his record might be, or his family life, none of this could have been known by the officer in the moment.

    What could be known was the color of his skin.

    As others have noted, the police do not get to serve as judge and jury. As far as the comments questioning why there is no outrage when whites are killed or harassed, I would refer you to Kent Ohio and other isolated incidents where police killed white kids and people got pretty riled up.

    I say to those who suggest that Blacks fix their problems. Okay, good idea. Let’s give all black school districts in the nation the same per capita expenditure levels of the white districts and the same building fund bonds and give them a decade or so and take stock of how they’ve done. But what you are actually suggesting is that they produce the same results with about 1/3 of the resources.

    The question I wonder is whether or not the officer would have “felt as threatened” or reached for weaponry of whatever kind if Oscar Grant were white. The fact that they felt threatened by him seems directly related to his skin color and a deep history of emotional responses to “the other”. The other whites created to justify their own dominance.

    Othering is the first step. Leonard Peltier has a great phrase. He says whites always assume that an Indian is guilty of something. He pleads guilty to “aboriginal sin”. The sin of being different.

    Oscar Grant is another casualty in a very long systemic pattern of dominance, at any cost.

    As a native woman, I can tell you, armed police scare me more than black men…..alot more.

  34. Melissa

    I think we should organize a boycott of BART for the same length of time it takes them to arrest the person they employed to murder Oscar Grant. I would suspect the revenue supports the salaries of the killers they employ. Why would we continue to pay their salary when they are killing innocent citizens? I also believe BART is a government agency so why would we continue to knowingly give money to the same people who are doing nothing to ensure this murderer is locked up.

  35. Marian Costello

    Is Bill Cosby a racist because he demands responsible and self-responsible behavior by African Americans? Less than six per cent of African Americans of age sixteen have parents who are married and were so at their birth. Six per cent!!! In 1960 the figure was over 50%. Welfare, affirmative action, an entitlement society and a false culture of victimhood are responsible for the degeneration of the black family. By the by, Barack Obama is the outcome of a white family and is more caucasian than African.

  36. GDAWG

    Marian, did you take your medications today? Just asking.

    Marian, the following is a list of American entitlement programs. ” The most important examples of entitlement programs at the federal level in the United States would include Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, most Veterans’ Administration programs, federal employee and military retirement plans, unemployment compensation, food stamps, and agricultural price support programs. ” Is your point, as noted above, that these programs only hurt Black Americans? In other words, is your point that these programs are good for most Americans, just not the Black ones.?!?

    “Reverse Racism.” Is that a good example of false victim-hood? Just asking.

  37. Dr. Terence Fitzgerald

    To All Whom have contributed to the said Article:
    I normally do not like to engage in defeatist debates; especially when they have gotten out of hand and resemble more of a popular talk show that strives for ratings than facts. A majority of the above statements lack a real intellectual exchange. Simply put, I am ashamed of most of you. I am ashamed as a human being and scholar. Comments made by contributors such as Susan, Jwbe, Marian, Deviant, Zippy, and others exemplify the truth behind the thought that most Whites are recovering Racists. Some of them are at different stages of recovery. I suggest that as in Plato’s allegory, you turn around and face the sights outside of the cave.

  38. Jessie, I found some interesting information on Zabasearch.com. I live in Northern CA and have many friends in the Oakland area. Out here, most Black and Brown People know that the Napa Valley is a very Rednecky kind of place. But few people know that the Wine Country region is a Nazi and Neo-Nazi stronghold.

    Pbs did story about Jewish chicken farmers who had to battle Nazis and Klan during the 1940’s. My neighbor, who is Mexican-American, has had problems with the Police when he visits family in Sonoma. The last time I
    was in Mendecino, I received “Negro Service” in a local shop.

    Well, what do you know, JOHANASS MEHSERLE, is not only from Napa , he is German born. And a graduate of the Napa Police Force. Until they stop hiring Rednecks and Nazis as cops there will be no justice in America.

  39. Victor

    First, Jessie thanks for writing this article. The mainstream media’s coverage of this has been woefully inadequate, jumping in after the protests but ignoring the initial shooting, although footage was available on you-tube.

    I am amazed at how vapid many of the responses on this blog are. Glenn, your claim that King was on PCP is not held up by the toxicology report. King had been drinking, and officers said that they believed that he was on PCP, but lab reports do not confirm this (http://tech.mit.edu/V113/N14/king.14w.html). So, as for telling Jessie to do her research, take some of your own medicine. The police most likely felt threatened because King was black, and speeding, and the PCP defense came after. Second Glenn I agree with you that we need to hear what the officer has to say, but that does not mean that we can’t conclude that this was a racist execution. Even if the officer meant to fire his taser to “subdue” a man who was lying face down on the ground and asking his friends to calm down (http://gatheringforjustice.ning.com/). People yelling “fuck the police” does not give on the right to shoot them, (it is bizarre to even claim that it would) and I don’t know how one “resists arrest” when they are face down.

    As for whatever’s comments, as Joe Feagin points out social science research shows that it is almost always people of color being shot. Further, a bevy of social psychological research shows that both police and laypeople are more likely to shoot blacks than whites in an electronic simulation. And the justice department’s own statistics say that blacks are more than fives times as likely to be shot by police officers than whites. So, whatever, it dosen’t have to be about racism, but the historical and current evidence say that it is.

    Sociologist says, “one must look at the actual reasoning behind the shooting.” However, I would argue that as a sociologist one must look at how the social structure shapes peoples actions, regardless of their “reasoning” capacity. Another long line of social science research, stretching from the Stanford Prison experiment, claims that the social situation is a much more powerful predictor of peoples behavior than their ability to reason about right or wrong. Second, sociological theory on race has moved far away from the prejudice paradigm you sight as the basis of racism. Scholars such as Joe Feagin and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva have long argued that racism is systemic, structural, and that whites benefit from and are programmed by the system regardless of their specific feelings about people of color as individuals. Therefore, it is not necessary to know what lies in the racists cops heart of hearts to pronounce the action racist (in fact, most officers, and white people in general now know enough to lie). We must simply look at a pattern of action and see if it confirms to a structural imperative that places white life at the pinnacle, if it does (as is the case in both the killing and the subsequent defense of the officer) then that is enough to call the act racist.

    Stephen, I agree with you that officers need more training, and social science research has shown that training does slow reaction times for officers. However, Jenifer Eberhart’s (http://www.stanford.edu/~eberhard/) excellent work also shows that when “primed” with concepts stereotypically related to blackness, white people are more likely to misidentify weapons and dangerous situations. This is evidence of the way racism can structure our thoughts, regardless of our professed attitudes.

    Joe, your comment is especially telling. First, as has been pointed out in other posts IT IS IMPOSSIBLE THAT A PRIOR CRIMINAL RECORD OF ANY KIND COULD HAVE INFLUENCED THE COPS ACTIONS, BECAUSE THE COULD NOT HAVE KNOW ABOUT THAT RECORD. It is more likely that the pervasive equation of blackness with crime influenced both the targeting of this group of young men and the subsequent execution. But this sort of strait forward logic is apparently not your strong suit, given the rest of your post. You rightly lament that two black men robbed you yet, you defend the murder of a black man when you have no evidence of any wrongdoing on his part.

    Susan, contrary to your claims black students tend to have a higher opinion of what education has to offer them than white. In fact, as Deidre Royster shows in her book Race and the Invisible Hand equally qualified black and white students from the same school will end up in vastly opportunities because of racial steering by school officials. Further, as for affirmative action, historically the number one beneficiary of the policy has been white women, yet we never hear of a culture of dependency growing up around white women…The media ignores this fact and racializes the debate by painting Affirmative Action as a black/white contest over scarce resources, in reality it is no such thing.

  40. Susan

    here ya go. why aren’t the blacks that are always crying racism going after this guy? stop making excuses and playing the victim. are we really supposed to believe that that BART cop thought to himself” “”lemme see here, ive got this black guy on the ground so i think i’ll shoot him” you people are so stupid it’s beyond belief! and just so ya know, the nazi party was left in origin, not right. national socialist party is what it stood for.

  41. jwbe

    Dr. Terence Fitzgerald, you write:
    “Comments made by contributors such as Susan, Jwbe, Marian, Deviant, Zippy,
    and others exemplify the truth behind the thought that most Whites are recovering Racists.”

    Out of interest, why do you think I exemplify the truth behind the thought?

  42. Danielle

    Here is a GREAT but disturbing example of how easy is it to illustrate how people can more easily shoot/kill/execute people of color:

    Asked to make split-second decisions about whether black or white male figures in a video game were holding guns, people were more likely to conclude mistakenly that the black men were armed and to shoot them, a series of new studies reports.

    “The subjects in the studies, who were instructed to shoot only when the human targets in the game were armed, made more errors when confronted by images of black men carrying objects like cellphones or cameras than when faced with similarly unarmed white men. The participants, who in all but one study were primarily white, were also quicker to fire on black men with guns than on white men with guns. ”


    Having shot guns before and carried a concealed taser for quite some time, I am not really sure what kind of taser he had to be able to make this mistake.

  43. Danielle

    And, to address the points by Marcos and others above, white Americans still perceive black Americans to be less human and more “apelike” which has dire consequences for persons of color who are profiled, brutalized, or executed by the police and others.

    “In addition, the findings show that society is more likely to condone violence against black criminal suspects as a result of its broader inability to accept African Americans as fully human, according to the researchers.”
    An empirical article for you all:

  44. Susan

    people write what they write. it takes people with brains to decipher what to think for themselves. Dr. Fitzgerald is writing opinion and nothing else. do black people like white people in general? ask yourselves the question. i would say that the majority opinion is “no”.

  45. Kev

    Oscar Grants family has already started a lawsuit against Bart PD for $25,000,000.00 They have filed this lawsuit before any criminal charges have been filed. It seems to me that they care more about a payday then whether or not justice is served. If someone shot my son you better believe I would be camping outside the district attorney’s office until chrages were filed. To me this shows their character.

    Now as to the character of Oscar Grant. He was out partying on New Years Eve with his buddies. Maybe he did or didn’t start trouble on Bart. Maybe it was someone he was with. But the officers pulled him and his friends along with other people off the train for a reason. Now if the cops suspect you are guilty of something and you agitate them while they have you in custody how smart is that? I have been in handcuffs a few times and I just shut my mouth and did what I was told whether or not I did anything wrong. Guess what I never got stepped or stomped on or even tased. So I am going to make the logical assumption and say that he was up to no good and he was mouthing off to the cops to get the treatment he was getting. Be real if you think Grant was an innocent bystander you are stupid.

    Now what the Cop did was nothing short of stupid. I do not think the officer that shot Grant was trying to tase Grant. I believe he had his weapon drawn intentionally. I just think he was nervous and accidently pulled the trigger. He should lose his badge. He is an example of a cop who shouldnt have been a cop. But I don’t think race had anything to do with it. Now the question is do we punish for the sake of punishment and send the officer to jail for a decade for a mistake and punish his newborn child the way that Oscar Grants daughter is being punished? To grow up without a father figure? I think not. I think Oscar Grant’s family will be provided for with the money they receive in the settlement. His daughter will go to the best schools and live a happy life.

  46. Glenn

    Victor and others who commented on my post,

    I did not say Rodney King was on PCP – I didn’t even mention him, you are confusing me with another poster. What I was trying to do was highlight that institutional racism is only part of the context of the event – it wasn’t the ONLY contributor to the context. I’m not suggesting it excuses the shooting by any means. I also should clarify that I understand that racism operates in society in many ways. Separately, it appears that many who have posted on this site don’t know much about the use of force rules cops operate under. They can indeed use a Taser to subdue a subject – even if they have him pinned down already if he is resisting, in fact in some police departments, they can do it even if the subject is handcuffed. They are not required to “fight fair” and risk personal injury to themselves or others by wrestling with an uncooperative subject. Also, when a police officer orders you to do something or places you under arrest, you are required by law to comply, you do not have a legal right to resist.

    Since my original post, I saw an interview of a friend of Grant’s who was at the shooting, taped the following morning while Grant was still alive. He claimed that the cop said repeatedly after he shot Grant , “oh my god, oh my god, oh shit” and that it was clear to him that he didn’t mean to shoot Grant. This lends credence to the theory that Mehserle thought he was drawing his Taser, which he was wearing on the same side as his pistol. The scenario of Mehserle confusing his pistol and Taser seems to fit the circumstances. As dissatisfying as this might be to the folks who want to turn this into a racist “execution”, I think it’s likely this will emerge as the explanation.

    Then the question becomes, what kind of crime is it? Criminally negligent homicide? Manslaughter? I have know idea – I’ve never heard of something like this before.

  47. Seattle in Texas

    And Glenn, what do men say when they climax? “Oh god, oh god, oh shit” People are supposed to have constitutional rights that protect them from abuses committed by the government and authorities. It was a racist execution—plain and simple. And for all of you who are so concerned about his prior “criminal” history—you all have your own, you just didn’t get caught. If you did, you likely had private defense coupled with the uses of “privileged discretion” by the legal authorities being on your side…. And on the West Coast, there is nothing particularly unusual with being out at 2:00 a.m. especially on New Years…. And even if he were intoxicated or under the influence of anything for that matter, he wasn’t driving—he was taking public transit as he should have. For those of you defending the cop, guard that white privilege with all your might…enjoy your grandeur illusions of walking on water…and I say truly from the bottom of my heart—fuck your Neo-Nazi orgy you’ve got going on here—if you’re all college educated? It only re-confirms my fears of the overwhelmingly majority of the supposed “highly educated” in this nation….

  48. bigdawg10132006

    im tired of the “white” and “black” crap….t was a shooting but it looks like the police were taunted. looks like he shot them double birds. racisim? my people were cut down long before “black” folks. NATIVE AMERICAN! this is a case of excessive force, anger, poor judgement and just wrong. we cant say its racism as we DO NOT KNOW THE MOTIVES!!! should the officer be interrogated? absolutely! arrested? what does the law say? if it was a “white” or “black” thing…..was the cop truly white anyway?

  49. If there is one great thing about the information age, it is that people have cell phones with video cameras and then the internet to make sure we can all start finally standing together and say, “No MORE!”
    Good post.

  50. jd

    Dear Victor, the sociologist want-a-be,

    It is not impossible for the cops to not know about his past for a few reasons. First, police remember faces, second, the article said that the officers were there on a drug bust. Also, I find it odd that the mother said she had to hear of her sons death on the five o’clock news, but somehow her family was able to report to CNN, the actions of the officers in the shooting. Also of note to everyone, it is not impossible for him to shoot at the police as he runs away; most likely what really happened. As far as blacks being a minority and not having privileges, I have seen too many get full rides at my college based solely on their skin pigmentation and I am tired of it. If you really understood anything about psychology and sociology, you would know that as long as blacks are still six times more likely to be imprisoned than whites, they will be at least five times more likely to be shot by the police. I hope you really aren’t a sociologist, as you would be a disgrace to the profession.

  51. Dennis

    If this shooting is not a case of conscious or unconscious, intentional or unintentional RACISM will somebody please explain to me why there are virtually no incidents of black or non-white police officers shooting unarmed white men? On the other hand, white men have been shooting, maiming, killing unarmed black men (and women) since the forerunners of today’s police force began in America employing organized groups of “white” men as African slave patrollers. Some things just don’t change!

    And, I contend that black people CANNOT be “racist”… (..reactionary? yes. ..racist? no.) that would be on par with a 5 year old child being called a “pedophile” because some twisted adult had did this evil thing.

    Racism is still racism (White-Supremacy) whether it is intentional or not.

  52. victor ray


    First, the top sociologists studying criminal convictions and incarceration rates tend to argue that differential rates between whites and blacks are actually based more on the fact the criminal justices system is racist rather than differential rates of crime. The majority of people in prison are there for drug charges, and according to the Center for Disease Control, “white high school students are seven times more likely to have used cocaine, eight times more likely to have smoked crack, ten times more likely to have used LSD, and seven times more likely to have smoked heroine.”
    Further, white youth are 34% more likely to have sold drugs than their black counterparts. They are also twice as likely to binge drink, and nearly twice as likely to drive drunk. White males are also twice as likely to bring a weapon to school than black males. The research also shows that for committing the exact same crime, blacks are more likely to receive longer and harsher prison sentences. In fact, the leading researchers on incarceration have characterized the current system as almost form of modern slavery (Wacquant) but at least a violation of the basic citizenship rights of black Americans. Given the fact that whites are more likely to commit the types of crimes that you are supposing, without evidence, that Grant was a party to why aren’t unarmed white men being shot in the streets?

    Second, as I stated in my original post white women are the primary historical beneficiaries of affirmative action. Any debate on preferential treatment in academic admissions or scholarship opportunities that does not take this into account is simply being intellectually dishonest. Before we could assess, as you claim that many blacks at your school are there undeservingly, we would need systematic evidence of your school’s admission policies and their present and historical affirmative action policies. Usually, when white assert this kind of thing, it is simply prejudice and anecdote.

    As for “police remember faces” this is a silly defense. Most of the research on inter-racial faces recognition shows that people have a bias for remembering faces of the same race, so it is unlikely both statistically and empirically that this particular cop had encountered Grant before. Further, even if the cop had encountered Grant before, how does that in anyway justify the use of excessive deadly force?

    As for being a disgrace to sociology, there is a white supremacist history in the discipline that I hope to be a disgrace to, so thanks.
    I hope to follow in the tradition of sociologists like W.E.B. Du Bois and social theorists like Frantz Fanon, who had no problem pointing out the centrality of racism in the structuring of society.

  53. Joe Author

    Victor, good crime data, thanks. Can you put a url or two to those data in a brief additional comment. I have not seen those high rates for whites. I knew they were higher, but not that much higher. Wow!

  54. jd

    Dear Victor,
    Again, if you had really done any research in your life, you would know the levels of evidence. Since you dont seem to understand this, I will put it in plain English for you. Some random article posted by some random person, your “evidence,” is the lowest level of evidence, whereas my sources from the US Dept. of Justice, actually are level I or II, depending on your method used. EIther way, they are actually relevant, whereas your “evidence” is crap. You cant just pick and choose articles to justify your concerns, rather, you pick a large alalysis of multiple studies, like the DOJ, to draw the most probable results. As long as the DOJ stats hold true, as they will becuase the black population is increasing, whites will continue to have the same views as they do now. Also, the cops may not have known the man prior, however, MOST LIKELY, they reviewed his case before trying to make the bust. Thats why there were so many cops there. You should thank those cops too: they get paid next to nothing for risking their life everyday all to protect ignorant people like you from themselves.

  55. Seattle in Texas

    I appreciate Victor’s response. It holds very true to what I’ve seen in my lifetime…. But jd, you just made yourself look like a serious ass as any fine scholar or person understands the serious limitations and flaws of DOJ reports…any type of research for that matter.

    So far as I know, there was no drug bust or drug related problems either–so why don’t you stop on the racist stereotyping and perhaps stop watching C.O.P.S…. And to my understanding he was not armed in any way. But even in full blown drug and other raids where officers do draw their weapons, but people aren’t usually shot–probable cause or not…I put that last clause in there because many raids are unconstitutional and the folks are guilty until proven innocent despite supposed constitutional protections.

    I’m thinking of a situation where a man (white) was a direct threat and was armed. He said he was going to kill somebody and some children. During the time of this threat, the police pounded on his door, he threw his loaded gun out his back porch and the cops pounded the door in. The police report states that the officer told him to freeze or he would shoot. The man took steps towards the officer who made the command and the officer yelled out the command once more. At that point the man stopped and put his arms in the air. Then he was arrested by the officers and taken into custody. No stun guns, no pepper spray, etc., even used. And obviously, no deadly weapons fired off.

    Yes, there are some outstanding officers out there who are there to serve, protect, and do good, who must be commended. But there are some bad ones too and much corruption. It’s always been that way–uphold a white supremacist structure with use of domestic terrorism. jd, you and people like yourself are the real threat to this society–why don’t you lay off of Victor? You were probably the asshole high school bully too? Go take your Prozac now…and stay in your white denial and live in your psychologically warped world of what Hernan and Vera call “sincere fictions” of whiteness….

  56. DJ Sunseri

    I am a BART rider. I have on several occasions witnessed BART police treating black young men disrespectfully in stations and trains. I have complained to BART many times but of course got no response. I am not African-American by the way. I was born in the Bay Area and have lived here all my life.

    Even though BART Board of Directors continue to support their police department as professional and responsible, that is not my experience. Officers are arrogant, authoritarian and cruel. They treat the public as the enemy, not as equal citizens. The BART police force in general is abusive to the public both in demeanor and behavior. Police abuse can only last so long before citizens become hateful and angry about this.

    It was quite evident from the videos taken of Oscar Grant’s death that citizens were disgusted and angered by BART police behavior. For most people it was beyond belief but at the same time made us aware that this behavior by police is extremely common, although doesn’t result in the death of a citizen.

  57. victor ray


    Tim Wise is hardly a random person. He is one of the leading anti-racist scholar-activists in the country. His work is widely praised by people in the field, and I was sure that Prof. Feagin would know who he was, since Dr. Feagin blurbed his newest book. Forgive me for assuming the readers of this blog would be aware of his higly regarded work. Secondly, If you actually read the article you see that the section I quoted was not from Mr. Wise, but rather from the Center for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/yrbs/index.htm) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/).
    Both of these centers conduct nationally representative statistical samples and a huge body of research is published based on their data. So, this is in your words “level I or II” evidence, and I would argue potentially less biased than stats collected by the DOJ, since the DOJ has a vested interest in making themselves look like they are not part of a racist police state. However, many histories of the civil rights movement, and recent Bush administration overhauls of the DOJ make it clear that it has rarely, if ever, functioned as an unbiased data collector. Further, you say you are citing DOJ statistics and claim that it is a aggregate of many studies (for next time, just so you know, this is actually called a meta-analysis) however, you do not cite the relevant material, so it is impossible for us to know how the data was collected, analyzed, or even if it was cross-sectional, longitudinal, or as you imply a meta-analysis. I have seen these numbers cited before though, in an article arguing that both police and lay people are more likely to shoot unarmed black men. Check out Joshua Correll’s work at the University of Chicago. http://psychology.uchicago.edu/people/faculty/jcorrell.shtml

    As for your point on remembering faces, this section is even weaker than your original argument. Beat cops do not review cases before making arrests, largely because they are not carrying around case files with them. The are radioed to an area and they assess the scene. These officers were called to the area because a fight was reported, but I have read no article that claimed they actually saw Mr. Grant engaged in any wrongdoing. They were therefore racially profiling.

    Finally, you can attack me personally as much as you want, but this doesn’t strengthen your arguments or contribute to the discussion although it may make you feel better about yourself.

    And Seattle in Texas thanks for the shout-out.

  58. Grollen

    Jessie sez:
    “As a sociologist, I’m interested in the patterns of human behavior. And in case you missed it, whatever, the focus of this blog is to analyze and point out racism”

    I’m no sociologist…but isn’t it *also* racism when people automatically assume that every time a white kills a black its *because* he’s a racist?

    What about this:

    If I own a business and I deny entry to a bunch of gang-bangers who have weapons…if I’m white and those bangers are black…is that racist? You can be damn sure that the bangers will scream racism at the top of their lungs. They will scream about how they are entitled to go anywhere they want. The next morning, it’s highly likely taht my business is trashed.

    Now Jessie, As a sociologist, why are you not interested in THOSE patterns of behavior? I guess because they don’t fit neatly into your little racism folder.

  59. Joe

    Actually, the word “racism” was coined for institutional racism, systemic racism, and was applied by Hirschfeld to what the German Nazis did to the Jews–assault, kill, drive them out of businesses, housing. Ty, have whites been victimized across all major institutional areas of the US, for hundreds of years, by blacks? I think not. So, blacks are NOT racist in the original and systemic-racism meaning. Only when you use racism (Lite) like whites have watered it down to, that is prejudice and individual stuff, can you even make this white -washed argument.

  60. ty

    Joe, OK, I’ll give you ALL of that. But, I said “racist”, not “racism”. Blacks can be, and are “racists”, in every meaning of the word, as are whites, jews, mexicans, etc.

    Not sure what your last sentence means with the white-washed comment. I’m black BTW.

  61. adia

    Wow, I stay away for a couple of weeks and look what I miss. The racist vitriol on some of these comments sure makes me look forward to Jan 20–you know, ’cause now that we have a black president it proves racism in America is dead…right?

  62. Jessie

    Ty, if you use racism in its original meaning (it was coined by Magnus Hirschfeld in the 1930s for German killings and attacks on Jews–that is, institutionalized), before US whites watered it down to mean just any bigotry, it means institutionalized racism. So, blacks are “racist” only if they discriminate against whites on a large scale in US institutions– like in the workplace. They do not, so blacks are not racist. Only if you redefine racism from its original meaning, which is racism-lite ( and whites did that change of meaning to protect whites’ racism by forcing everyone to be called “racist”) can you call any group of color “racist.” More accurate, then, is that anybody can be prejudiced, or bigoted, but only the dominant group in power can be racist. Words should be used accurately, that is my argument.

  63. Why am I in the South?

    I see no changes, all I see is racist faces
    Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races
    We under I wonder what it take to make this
    one better place, let’s erase the wait state
    Take the evil out the people they’ll be acting right
    Cause both black and white are smokin crack tonight
    And only time we deal is when we kill each other
    It takes skill to be real, time to heal each other
    And though it seems heaven-sent
    We ain’t ready, to have a black President, huh
    It ain’t a secret don’t conceal the fact
    The penitentiary’s packed, and it’s filled with blacks
    I wake up in the morning and I ask myself
    Is life worth living should I blast myself
    I’m tired of being poor and even worse I’m black
    My stomach hurts so I’m lookin for a purse to snatch
    Cops give a damn about a ne-gro
    Pull a trigger kill a nigger he’s a hero
    Mo’ nigga mo’ nigga mo’ niggaz
    I’d rather be dead than a po’ nigga
    Let the Lord judge the criminals
    If I die, I wonder if heaven got a ghetto–2Pac

    masamba, why judge before u have been judged? why is that people always bring up other peoples rap sheets to justify the person whose really at fault?matters to damn what he did in the past. if he was that much of a threat take him to jail and let him deal with the consequences. what if it was your son or daughter you would be furious. but since its not u can sit in your computer chair and make racist remarks because little suzy and johnny is off in the best colleges safe and protected by the same fucking cops sworn to protect and serve all people. why weren’t the white kids on the train handled the same way? people like u always ask why do niggers think everythings racist, look if the shoe fits dumbass then it must be true. sorry the truth hurts sometimes

  64. justice

    I seriously doubt that this cop intentionally shot this man. It seems from what has been observed at the scene, that tensions/adrenaline were running high, and this was likely a deadly and tragic split second decision that somehow went terribly wrong. I think it is unfair to presume racism from the get-go just because the cop was white – I mean – no cop deliberately ruins his whole future like this- wakes up one morning and says ” today I’m going to shoot an unarmed suspect “…it’s likely a very unfortunate accident. We don’t know all
    the facts yet. While it is possible this was intentional,
    it really is not likely, in my opinion. Before we
    make presumptions about this officer, and accuse him of murder based on his skin color, let’s get all the facts. Or maybe some people believe that white skin automatically makes a person racist? That kind of racial profiling is very offensive . Or maybe racial profiling is acceptable if the race being profiled is caucasion? Surely not. Let’s give this cop the benefit of a trial before we convict him based solely on his white skin. It may be that he simply is not cut out to be a cop. In the meantime, let’s not let the race baiters use this as an excuse to foment hatred between the races- M artin would not approve.

  65. GDAWG

    Tough guy was hiding in the Lake Tahoe area because of death threats. Ahh? Okay. But on the other hand:
    “Murder charges were filed because at this point, what I feel the evidence indicates is an unlawful killing done by an intentional act, and from the evidence we have, there’s nothing that would mitigate that to something lower than a murder

  66. Joe

    Justice, the problem with the deep white racial frame in the US and elsewhere is that it is often unconscious, which means whites (and others) can often act out of it quickly and without reflection. Racist images, ideas, emotions about Black men are very deep in the neural circuits of most whites, and thus it is easy to act quickly out of them. Just because they are unconscious and deeply imbedded does not mean they are not real or that we should not be held responsible. You may be right — the officer here is also the victim, but of the racist framing drilled into almost all our minds in this country. Still, he has a responsibility to fight that anti-black imbedded framing, as we all do, and not just act out of it routinely, like too many of us do.

  67. Enfermera

    Have you all checked out the racist comments on http://www.bartrage.com? A good majority of the posters are BART employees…masters, Shrapnel (moderator and cop), Officer Jo-Jo (cop), Operator 9 (I believe is a cop, too), BoopieJones…the list goes on. If you happen to disagree with these posters they will attack you. I will say this, I am white and I’m appauled by the comments. I have been attacked on this blog because I believe the shooting of Oscar Grant was wrong. My screen name on the board is saw1972 if you care to look.

  68. look…What happened was terrible, and the guy should go to prison for a long time for being a dumbass – but it is clear that the guy thought he had pulled his taser. (I’m not excusing his action – he shouldn’t have even pulled his taser in this situation). But the bottom line is he was not trying to kill the guy – its Fu@#’n obvious from the closest video – after he fires he looks down at his gun then at his buddy like “oh man, I just F’d up”. Grow a damn brain people – he wasn’t trying to kill the guy because he was a racist cop. He screwed up and shot the guy because he’s a pathetic, power hungry, desperate for respect cop like all the others. The sooner black people realize that everything isn’t about race, the better off they’ll be. Great source by the way using a quote from some random facebook user in your article…thats hard hitting stuff.

  69. Protesters Resist Arrest but do not get shot

    I have seen video of MANY protest, whether it is PETA or some other organization laying down in the middle of streets protesting, and many times the cops ask them to leave, or stand or to lay down, and they rarely obey the orders from the cops.

    Yet the cops find a way to handcuff and arrest protesters, often times protesters have to be dragged away, because they will not walk, or put their hands behind their backs as often requested by cops.


  70. justice

    Once you start making a generalization based on race you are opening the door to racial profiling… Please don’t feed me your quasi- scientific notions about what may or may not be “embedded” in caucasion dna ….. There is no scientific proof for it ….. Any more than there is proof for ………hmmmmm…………racism.

  71. Ty

    Jessie, by your argument then, a white “guy” can’t be a racist…only a white regime as a whole. I’m am saying that white “guys” can be racists, and IN THAT meaning of the word so can any black person. I don’t care about the root meaning of the word, and nobody else does either. My definition is what everyone else knows to be racist. People, black, white or otherwise can be racist. Are you saying that if a white guy calls me a nigger, he’s not a racist? Whatever, I know many of my black friends are just as racist against whites as any whites are against us. So don’t tell me racism doesn’t exist among blacks.

  72. my2cents

    I’ve read the comments on this page and some of them quite frankly disturbs me. I don’t feel like pointing those people out because I’m sure they are aware of what they say and how they feel.

    I am an AA female and viewed the horrific video footage of Oscar Grant’s murder. Yes the officer did look shock at the fact he discharged his gun. Truth is unless you were there, you have no room to speak on whether he was mouthing off at the cops. Even if he was, even if he had a criminal record, he didn’t deserve to be shot in the back while face down. Some of your comments are racial undertones at its finest whether you want to admit it or not. I am a college student and had a very good education growing up because honestly I believe it was where I grew up. NO you cannot blame everything on racism, but for some people to go on living life like it still doesn’t exist is stupid. NO black people aren’t the only ones who have had to endure hatred or racism at the hands of whites. But be real with yourselves, there is far more discrimination toward minorities by whites than the other way around. Using your little incidents as justification for anything holds no water what so ever.

    Everybody doesn’t have access to the means to make sure they become a “valuable citizen” to their community. Inner city schools don’t get the same kind of funding as others, yes some people are able to make it out of the so called “hood.” And others are doomed to continue the horrible cycle that they were born in. So don’t speak on something that you have no clue about. Baseball player Bobby Tolan’s son is in the hospital and more than likely will never live his dream of following in his father’s footsteps because an officer shot him in his drive way because he assumed his car was stolen. I’ve seen instances where a white man stole a cop car tried to run over cops with the car, got out the car pointing a gun at an officer, but somehow he was taken into custody with out one shot being fired. Realistically if he was black he would have been shot 50 or more times before the car moved anywhere.

    I am a pretty open minded person when it comes to all races. I don’t claim racism when every time a situation occurs, but if there wasn’t racism we wouldn’t need affirmative action to help people get their foot into jobs and schools. It’s funny how you talk about how somebody being a productive member of society by getting a job or going to school, but when they get a job or into school you complain about them getting a job over you because of their skin color. What is that you want? Please….. During the presidential campaign we saw the hatred that is still in this country by the comments and actions from people about Barack Obama being black. But the thing people failed to acknowledge is that he is half white and half black, but considering that one drop rule from back in the day he is black.

    God protect children and fools. Seeing how none of you are children, I pray that you get some sense about yourselves and let go of those ignorant ideals of yours. I’m sure none of your lives are so perfect as for you to throw stones or to judge anybody. So leave it up to the justice system and God before your ignorance destroys your lives.

  73. RJ

    Black gangs have turned Oakland into a war zone. I don’t understand why the Oakland residents can’t understand collateral damage. Despite Oscar’s refusal to cooperate with the Transit Cops, clearly they were wrong in this case. Was it an accident? Who knows. But live by the sword, die by the sword.

  74. GDAWG

    As to the post # 84, the point you note concerning other protesters ( guess who) as exampled by you, not being shoot for grossly and obviously resisting arrest compared to the seeming unending shooting of unarmed Blacks, is a very astute observation. Now I ‘d love to hear the follow-up excuses. Waiting.

  75. To everyone saying that it’s “possible” that the cop mistook his gun for a taser, thus it’s “possible” the shooting was not racist: there’s no good reason to taser someone who is handcuffed and lying on the ground. Thus even if the cop thought he was using a taser, it just means that he accidentally killed someone for racist reasons, instead of just inflicting severe pain on someone for racist reasons. whoops.

  76. Seattle in Texas

    And had the police known they were being recorded, I’m sure they would have behaved very different–they may not have even thought of drawing any weapons at all…or even made the stop??? There was no excuse and racism is the only explanation. But, in the updated post above, it sounds as though the cop who shot him is sitting with many of those he probably unjustly arrested earlier, etc. Good lord is he going to enjoy the Cali jails and prisons….

  77. Claire Renzetti

    Because of travel, work, and many other commitments, I haven’t been able to spend much time recently on Racismreview.com. I was somewhat surprised today in reading some of the comments on Jessie’s post about the BART police shooting of Oscar Grant. There is a very good article in Tuesday’s edition of USAToday that I hope readers will look at [http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20090113/column13_st1.art.htm]. The article is by DeWayne Wickham, who discusses various police shootings of unarmed black men since 1966. Wickham writes, “That Oscar Grant didn’t live long enough to see Barak Obama sworn in as this nation’s first black president is proof that the post-rcial era that Obama’s election was supposed to usher in has not arrived.” This is a point well taken, I believe, and one that we should keep in mind on Tuesday as we celebrate President Obama’s inauguration.

  78. bigdawg

    frankly, none of my black friends are 400 years old….i have never known a slave…..mpst races were slaves at one time or another and often sold to others by their own peoples. i have a biracial daughter and i want her to grow up in a world where there is no ignorance but that will never happen. i have never felt the need to harm someone because of their race. i dont feel like i should have to pay for “400 years of oppression” as i have never owned a slave and, again, never met a former slave. racism does exist and its a shame. i dont believe i could go into Compton and be welcomed with open arms even though i have never harmed another human being based upon their skin color. my people were here first and i grow extremely tired of hearing about affirmative action, oppression and 400 this and the plight of all of those so apparently less fortunate because of their history. take a look around people! whether you are white, black, asian, latino or whatever, you are living in a country with far more freedoms than most! i am seminole, part of the cherokee nation, by blood and in my chest beats a heart that will never falter or deny as such. if you want to know about oppression, slaughter, desscrimination, slavery, rape, destruction…..pick up a histoy book and read about the natives of this country and the other races that have been slaves. if we really want to bitch about it, i guess we could try to trace our roots back to Israel and all scream “Let my people go!” there is so much focus and anger on the black and white side of things that we cannot see what we all do have. its a governmental way to keep us divided just enough that we dont wake up and see what the true problem is with this nation! we have a right to change things but we choose to fight amongst one another and completely miss out one what we truly could be as a nation. races and creeds are so worried about “what they are owed” that it sows just enough hatred amd mistrust that we are divided. I think it was an accident, it was an abuse of power, but an accident just the same. he should be held accountable as someone who KILLED ANOTHER HUMAN BEING AND NOT A BLACK MAN! I am not black but i have been on the receiving end of cop attitudes as well as members of my family. as long as we have extremists on all sides, we will be divided

  79. Tired

    my2cents is right (comment 87). i think we could be friends. just so tired. more people worldwide are enslaved now than ever in history. only 4% of the africans sold into slavery (by other africans) ended up in the united states (before it was the united states). not to downplay the incident, but pretty small number. we need to move forward.

  80. cest la vie

    That’s life, all! We all have responsibilities.

    To all the black folks, don’t martyrize Grant.

    Here is a grown man, a father, with a record, going out on new years eve at a time trouble can brew any minute. He is a 22 y.o man that has a penchant for trouble. His actions showed a lack of brains to be honest. Now he leaves his daughter fatherless and his wife a widow. He could have prevented this.
    He should have stayed home with his family and watched the celebration from tv. It’s what a responsible, mature father does.

    No, he did not deserve getting shot at. But, the black communities need to step up and guide folks like Grant to be smarter and make smart choices.
    Shame on the cop, it’s been written he’s a hot head before.

    But folks, don’t martyrize Grant. He made his choice and the real people suffering are his family and the cop’s family.


  81. Sad group here. Alas the truth is: Oscar Grant killed himself. Let’s cut through the racial BS, the name calling etc. Oscar Grant had the choice NOT be on that platform, had the CHOICE not be a convicted felon, had the CHOICE not to be a CONTINUOUS FELON OFFENDER, had the choice not to be in felony possession of narcotics at the time of his death, had the choice to comply with lawful orders of police officers WHO DID NOT HAVE A CHOICE, because it was their job to be on that platform. Officer Mehserle will not serve another day in custody and it is reasonable to believe that he will seek civil tort against BPD for the way he was forced into resigning prior to being convicted in due process. WE THE PEOPLE have to understand that when WE THE PEOPLE arm police and give them powers to arrest and an unfortunate mistake takes place WE THE PEOPLE have to absorb it. Strange? Misconstrued? Racist? Take for instance Ofc. Hardy shoots at a fleeing suspect, the shot ricochets and kills the little old lady crossing the street.


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