Saturday, November 20, 2010

Black Life is Still Cheap, Chapter II

The murder captured in this video happened last year when a Transit cop in Oakland shot and killed an unarmed man on a BART train platform. You will note that the victim, Oscar Grant III, is already face down on the platform with a cop's knee on his neck. So another cop pulls his weapon and shoots the guy in the back. The cop was white, and guess what color the victim was. Can there be any more blatant proof of why any black person in their right mind should fear the police?

Surely this kind of gross misbehavior on the part of a law enforcement should be punished, right? What kind of sentence do you think would be just? Well, the wheels of justice have turned and the killer cop, one Johannes Mehserle, has been sentenced . . . to two years. For involuntary manslaughter. A considerably harsher penalty could have been imposed had the "gun enhancement" provisions of California law been applied. But the jury found that enough evidence to support Mehserle's claim that he thought the gun he used to kill Grant was a taser. Well, excuse me if I find this hardly creditable and, if not so tragic, laughable.

This is the kind of thing that makes black people both fearful and angry. Angry enough to riot in the streets. Which is what they did in Oakland after the verdict. I deplore violence of any kind, but sometimes, just sometimes, smashing some windows seems like the only appropriate response to the endemic injustice meted out to the black people of this country.
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