Day 12 - Last Words: Oscar Grant III

Day 12 - Last Words: Oscar Grant III

"You shot me. You shot me."

Oscar Grant III, 1982-2009

In the early morning of January 1, 2009, after reports of a fight on a Bay Area Rapid Transit train, Officer Johannes Mehserle restrained Oscar Grant on the platform of the Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California. While attempting to restrain Grant, Mehserle said, "I'm going to taze him. I'm going to taze him." He stood up, unholstered his gun, and shot Grant in the back. Oscar Grant died the following day at Highland Hospital in Oakland. His last words are taken from a witness statement.

At the officer's bail hearing, his attorney claimed that Mehserle shot Grant because he mistakenly deployed his gun instead of his taser. In the preliminary hearing, Judge C. Don Clay concluded that the officer had not drawn his gun by mistake. At the trial, the jury found Mehserle guilty of involuntary manslaughter and not-guilty of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter charges. In January 2010 and June 2011 Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) agreed to pay a total of $2.8 million to settle lawsuits filed by relatives of Oscar Grant III. In 2013 director Ryan Coogler released a film based on the events leading to the death of Oscar Grant titled Fruitvale Station. 

Sources: San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News 

“What happened to the civil rights movement is an indictment of America and Americans, and an enduring monument … to the breathtaking cowardice of this sovereign people.”
— James Baldwin, “Black Power” 1968

Baldwin said,                  
              Breathtaking cowardice.
Breath-taking:                  
              the officer who shot Oscar Grant
              took away his ability to breathe. 
Taking: 
              the officer couldn’t take a second to
              check that his taser wasn’t his gun. 
King:                  
              not Malcolm. King. 
Baldwin said,
              Breathtaking cowardice of this
              sovereign people. 
Sovereign:
              adj. possessing supreme and
              boundless power. n. monarch.

Lord, I have broken the words apart again and again on my tongue and in my head, but I cannot understand. Why have the kings become the cowards? Why do those with the most power fear those with the least? Why do the sovereign, who have everything, take from those who have nothing? Help me to trust you when I do not understand. But more than that: Help the cowards to understand what they fear, so the bullets will stop. Amen.
Day 13 - First Steps: Speak

Day 13 - First Steps: Speak

Day 11 - First Steps: Listen

Day 11 - First Steps: Listen