Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Grant me Freedom

Riding a train, you think ‘I am just on my way home’. It happens to be in San Francisco, you think ‘this is progressive city & I am in a safe neighborhood’. Then one evening you step off the train, to find a gunman shouting in your face. You get back on the train and think ‘damb I almost got shot or died’. Then the gunman gets on the train, grabs your friend and tells you to come along. Fearing for your life you go, you watch your friend get tied to a hand rail then the gunman knocks you to the ground and with two of his friends ties your hands behind your back. While you are on the ground and the gunman and his friends stand over you, they shoot you in the back, the bullet bounces back and punctures your lung and you die. Your name is Oscar Grant and you were killed on New Years day, 2009. The gunmen were the Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority (BART). They killed you and they would have gotten away with it, but for a number of cell phone and video cameras which captured your murder.
On July Ninth, 2010- the Gunman, Johannes Mehserle, was convicted of ‘involuntary manslaughter’ and was sentenced to the minimum possible punishment. A maximum of 14 years, for shooting and killing an unarmed, faced-down in-the-cement, handcuffed man, in the back. If Oscar Grant were a business professional, White or otherwise privileged would the officer have gotten a minimum sentence? No.
The people of Oakland rioted, because this was murder. A similar situation happened in Eugene in 2008, to Ian VanOrnum, a college student who was not shot, but tazed in the back, while faced-down on the ground with multiple officers standing over him. The murder of Oscar Grant could happen to any of us and unless we record it very well, the officers will get away. The assumed innocence and protective role of the police grants them immunity for assault, murder and the privilage to violate the laws they are theoretically enforcing. Meaning that they are the single most significant violent threat to citizens. It may well be that there are more shootings by police than robbers in the United States. This is difficult to tell however, since “No comprehensive accounting for all of the nation's 17,000 police department exists” says Common Dreams, which makes is difficult to determine if, for instance- the Police kill more people than so-called ‘criminals’.

PS: The Insurgent strongly recommends the reading of ‘Our Enemies in Blue- Police and Power in America’ by Kristian Williams, printed by South End Press-2007 as an examination of the police’s role in society. At least google the book and read it’s bio. Seriously.

No comments: