As I stated when I first spoke out about Oscar Grant's New Year's Day killing, in Oakland, his death appeared as nothing short of an execution by police officer Johannes Mehserle. Mehserle has since been arrested for murder—which is only a start. This video is its own narrative to another obscene incident by an officer on the scene that morning. And it possibly set the stage for the shooting moments later.
Every time I watch video of this insidious event, I get chills. If you've ever seen or experienced the violent side of a cop, the YouTube clip won't surprise, as much as disgust, you. And the real life fear and shock of being on the wrong side of the badge—worn by the very person that's supposed to protect you, but who is now attacking you—is incredibly unsettling.
Cops like the ones on that BART platform deserve the full force of the law. And letting Mehserle be the sole fall guy for the whole affair won't do. But I also have no doubt that without the existence of so much cell phone video, the brutal murder of Oscar Grant would be one of those amorphous incidents where grainy reports and the notorious "blue wall" would be too much for the truth to hurdle. If there's any legacy to come from this, as far as the citizenry is concerned, it's that we're all witnesses if we're not participants. And some of us are both.
In 1990, I co-founded a magazine called URB (urb.com) in Los Angeles. URB captures an intimate view of progressive urban sounds and landscapes in print and online. Beyond my day job, I also explore the world of politics, race and culture, photography and media (new and old). pure/ROKER is designed to be a living and shared notebook of the most discussion worthy aspects. Enrichment is encouraged. Debate and disagreement unavoidable. And dissent welcomed. As always, please leave a comment if you're inspired, subscribe to my RSS or email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.