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When sentencing Mehserle, judge said race is irrelevant to Oscar Grant case

December 6, 2010

Transcript of Block Report interview with Jack Bryson by Minister of Information JR broadcast Nov. 26 on Flashpoints’ National Police Terrorism Special

Oakland marches behind a banner that hundreds had signed on Nov. 5, the day killer cop Johannes Mehserle was sentenced. The photographer wrote: “As many speakers said, quoting John Burris, attorney for the family of Oscar Grant, Michael Vick got four years for shooting a dog. Johannes Mehserle got two years for shooting Oscar. To this rotten system, the life of a young Black man is worth less than a dog!” – Photo: Felix Barrett
Minister of Information JR: Right now we have on the line our guest, Jack Bryson, who many of you may know from the Justice of Oscar Grant and the Friends and Family Campaign. You may also know him as the father of two sons who were with Oscar Grant the night he was murdered on the Fruitvale BART platform on New Year’s 2009. Jack, how are you?

Jack Bryson: Oh, I’m fine. How are you, JR?

M.O.I. JR: I’m good. We’ve all heard about the sentence [of two years minus time served and time for good behavior, reducing the sentence given to killer cop Johannes Mehserle by Judge Robert Perry to about seven months] and are disappointed with the sentence. How would you and your sons … how do you feel about the sentence?

Jack: I’m not feeling that at all and … I mean … it’s not good. I couldn’t believe it. And people are telling me, what did I expect? But with a video and so much community support and the way the community rallied around this and the key witnesses and the video, I thought that for once things were going to change.

But Judge Perry made sure history repeated itself. No matter what, he wasn’t going to give us a victory.

M.O.I. JR: You were on many fronts fighting this campaign and from somebody who was on the front line, you were one of the most visible spokespeople for Oscar Grant and all his friends that were there that night, including your two sons.

You know, a lot of people were like, “We have the video. We had expert testimony.” I know your son Jackie Bryson had a lot of good things to say [when he testified powerfully at the Mehserle trial] in terms of showing that [BART Officer Tony] Pirone, Mehsherle and their whole crew was on basically some type of police gang-banging thing. How does this make you feel about the system?

Jack: We have police brutality and now we have some type of system brutality. I mean here we are: Judge Perry in that courtroom the day of the sentencing towards the end he said that race has nothing to do with this, that race played no part in his decision and race played no part in Johannes Mehsherle or the BART police officers or race played no part in this.

If race didn’t play a part in this, why was he afraid to let Blacks on the jury? You know, why was it an all-white jury selected if race had nothing to do with it? Why was he afraid to have Blacks on the jury if race didn’t play a part in it?

Why was Oscar Grant called a “nigger” three times before he was murdered? And Judge Perry says race didn’t have nothing to do with it. And then he turns around and asks the DA, did he even bring this case? He didn’t want this case.

And then he asked [Deputy District Attorney] David Stein and he told David Stein to meet with the district attorney. And now I know why he handcuffed David Stein, because he told the DA that Oakland had never even filed charges against Johannes Mehserle because Johannes Mehserle and Pirone were just doing their job.

Why was Oscar Grant called a “nigger” three times before he was murdered? And Judge Perry says race didn’t have nothing to do with it.

It was Oscar who caused his own death. It was Jackie Bryson who caused Oscar’s death. It was Michael Grier who caused Oscar’s death. It was all the young men on the platform who caused Oscar’s death, not Johannes Mehserle.

M.O.I. JR: This is what the judge said?

Jack: This is what the judge said, that Oscar caused his own death by resisting Mehserle. If he would have just listened to Mehserle, if he would not have resisted, he would be alive. It’s not Johannes Mehserle’s fault.

M.O.I. JR: Now, that’s hard to accept when people really know the facts of the case, such as yourself and myself, in terms of … I mean Oscar was listening to what the police were telling him when Oscar Grant took the picture of Johannes Mehserle pointing a taser in his face. That was one which we believe proves that this was murder because in order for Mehserle to then shoot Oscar, he had to put the taser up and pull out his gun.

A protester stops a line of cops by lying down in the I-am-Oscar-Grant position that has been a feature of every protest since Oscar Grant was murdered as he lay in that position on a BART platform on New Year’s 2009. – Photo: Felix Barrett
And for all the people who don’t know anything about what I’m talking about, they can go to sfbayview.com and see the picture, one of the last or the last picture that Oscar Grant took with his own cell phone that shows Mehserle pointing a taser at him in the beginning, later putting it up, replacing it with a gun and taking Oscar’s life.

Jack: And remember, he took out the taser twice. The first time he took it out and pointed it at Jackie. Then he put it back and took it out again and he pointed it at Oscar.

And then he put his taser back again, and then he went to hitting Jackie, handcuffed Jackie and jumped on Oscar; and he said, “Fuck this,” and shot Oscar.

M.O.I. JR: And this is after him calling him a “bitch ass nigger” three times?

Jack: Three times, while he was on the ground. And while he was on the ground, remember, we discovered that Oscar’s skull was fractured from the impact of the punches and from the impact of him being slammed to the ground.

Judge Perry said they were just doing their job. And remember this: When we were in Alameda County, all three judges believed that Johannes Mehserle intended to kill Oscar Grant. But then we get to Los Angeles, where they said we would get a fair trial, and this man [Judge Perry] did everything he could to let the [defense attorney] have his way. This is what you call fairness?

“And while he was on the ground, remember, we discovered that Oscar’s skull was fractured from the impact of the punches and from the impact of him being slammed to the ground.”

M.O.I. JR: Right, you know, this is what they call justice.

Jack: Justice, right. How do I look at my sons and the rest of the young men? I mean they’re caught up in history, they’ve witnessed history and here they are, the same type of behavior that Judge Sabo [who was overheard saying, “Yeah, and I’m going to help them fry the nigger”] performed in the case of Mumia is the same type of behavior Judge Perry performed in the Oscar Grant murder case.

M.O.I. JR: You’re right. They threw [away] the evidence and just went with whatever argument saves the police’s face.

Jack: Right. It’s the same treatment Mumia got. It’s the same thing Oscar Grant’s family and the community got.

M.O.I. JR: Now, Jack, you and me were talking earlier and you were telling me about December 3rd. What happens December 3rd?

Jack: Michael Raines is trying to get … he is getting a new trial on the gun enhancement.

M.O.I. JR: For those of you who don’t know, Michael Raines is Johannes Mehserle’s lawyer.

Jack: Correct, and what he’s trying to do is get … while he’s going for a new trial he’s trying to get Mehserle out on bail. And there’s a bail hearing December 3rd, and I believe what the judge did to us on November 5th, he’s going to grant them the bail and he could be out for two years before he has even served his prison time while they try to overturn the verdict.

M.O.I. JR: And that’s what they call justice in America.

Jack: I mean look at O.J. Simpson. I mean 33 years for something he was set up on: 33 years. Look at Michael Vick, four years for dogs.

M.O.I. JR: Well, look let me even point the contradiction out even with that. They give Michael Vick four years for killing dogs, and we all know Vick is a professional football player where they play football with a pigskin football every time they have a game. But yet he served more time than Johannes Mehserle, who murdered a Black man on tape and brutalized his friends and traumatized his friends, basically giving them issues that they have to deal with for the rest of their lives.

Jack: Right, and it’s like this: Say if I killed you and got away with it. Now your family is finding out that I’m getting out of jail. How would that make your family feel? And people seeing what I did to you and now this person who killed my friend is now getting out of jail. What happens if I cross them again?

In Oakland, youth of all colors say, “We are all Oscar Grant!” – Photo: Felix Barrett
I’ll give you something crazy: We were at the Derrick Jones rally at the Fruitvale BART station – the Derrick Jones/Oscar Grant rally at the Fruitvale BART station – and I looked and one of the police officers who participated in Oscar Grant’s murder was on the front line, Officer [unintelligible], with his riot gear on smirking.

At the same Fruitvale BART station where Oscar Grant was killed. One of the leading officers who committed perjury on the stand, Officer [unintelligible]! I don’t know his first name. He was there for the Derrick Jones rally, when BART officers lined up, setting up the walls for the protestors.

And he was removed after I starting raising questions: “Are you serious? What is this dude doing here?” He participated in a murder and then you’re letting him back on the scene where there’s high tension and you’re letting him participate in a rally.

M.O.I. JR: Who made that call and for what purpose? I think it’s definitely a question that the people need to ask.

Jack: Let me just tell you this. I had to look at him: Why is this officer holding his billy club and his gun the same way he was standing there when Oscar Grant was murdered? This officer is back at the Fruitvale Station looking at my son Jackie and Jackie is looking at him.

M.O.I. JR: For people who don’t know, Derrick Jones was a man that was murdered [three days after] Oscar Grant’s sentencing went down. He was an unarmed Black man who was murdered by the Oakland Police Department.

Jack, when you had to come back to Oakland – because I know you were in the courtroom [in Los Angeles] for [the Mehserle] sentencing – and you woke up the next morning [after you returned] and you saw what you saw on TV or in the newspaper or on the radio, what was your reaction, what was your response? What were some of the first things that went through your mind when you found out that Derrick Jones had just been killed?

Jack: When I was on the airplane flying back, I said there were two messages Judge Perry was going to send back. I said if Judge Perry gave Mehserle 14 years, OK, that would send a message to the police officers, put them on their toes. But what he did for Johannes Mehserle, he gave him practically a pass to go home because he got two years with 299 days served on a violent crime.

Now the message he sent is, “I’m going with the police officers.” So that sent a message, with the video with Oscar Grant being killed, that these police officers can continue to run this system the way they want to, judging by Judge Perry, who will make sure police officers will not go to jail.

So Judge Perry sent several messages to other judges like: We can’t lock our white people up for what they do to young Black men. That was the message that was sent.

So Judge Perry sent several messages to other judges like: We can’t lock our white people up for what they do to young Black men.

M.O.I. JR: I don’t think you could have said it more eloquently. Jack, are there any last words that you want to leave the listeners as to where this campaign is going?

Jack: Right now I’m still stung, I’m still hurt about what happened November 5th. It’s affected me real bad, so imagine how it’s affected the other men on the platform, the family members. So right now I’m hoping that we can do something to rally to get the Department of Justice. They have to get into this.

I mean, there’s no closure for the family, the friends. I mean there’s no closure for what Judge Perry did. When Johannes Mehserle goes home, what do you really think the families are going to feel? It’s like history repeating itself all over again from the 1800s to the 1500s. It’s 2010 and it’s still continuing.

M.O.I. JR: Right, only thing that has changed are the uniforms. I want to urge our Block Report listeners to get in touch with influential people that you might know in government, get you guys to pressure Barbara Lee in the Congressional Black Caucus as well as the Latino Caucus , the Asian Caucus as well as White congresspeople that we have that are around California, everybody that we can get in touch with. We need them. And let them know that they need to get [Attorney General] Eric Holder and the Obama federal government to investigate this case.

Rallying at the Fruitvale BART Station where Oscar Grant was murdered on Nov. 11, but this time also for Derrick Jones, a Black youngster bravely raises a flier in the face of white cops. Derrick, a beloved neighborhood barber known as Dee Dee, was murdered while unarmed by police on Nov. 8, three days after Oscar’s killer was sentenced. The hope and courage on this young face are a challenge to the community to keep up the protest until we’ve won a system that protects and is fair to all our children. – Photo: Felix Barrett
We also know it’s all ultimately up to the people and they’re only going to do it once we put the right amount of pressure down. And they’ll only move when there’s a certain amount of pressure on them, and they still might not do the right thing.

But let’s take this as far as we can take it, exhaust every means that we can exhaust, and then we can get back to the drawing board. And once we are all on the point where we can’t work through the system, then we can all move accordingly.

So, Mr. Bryson, I want to thank you for coming up here. I want to thank you for your courage throughout the justice for Oscar Grant campaign. I know you were an inspiration and I know you are definitely somebody who has inspired me even within the face of such a difficult catastrophe as the murder of two of your sons’ good friend right in front of your children’s eyes.

You still maintained your position on the front line, making sure this didn’t get swept under the rug. I know we didn’t get the big win, but the smaller win is that we as a community mobilized behind something for a change.

And also around the nation people know about Oscar Grant. I would say dealing with the West Coast, the West Coast didn’t have a national police terrorism case since Rodney King. People thought that LA, Oakland – their police don’t get down like Philadelphia or New York. This case proves otherwise.

And like you said before, whether it’s the 1500s or 2010, they showed their true colors and we got it out there to the world to not be duped by the fact that President Obama is Black. It still means nothing when it comes down to the Black communities who are getting terrorized at a catastrophic level.

Email POCC Minister of Information JR, Bay View associate editor, at blockreportradio@gmail.com and visit www.blockreportradio.com.

2 thoughts on “When sentencing Mehserle, judge said race is irrelevant to Oscar Grant case

  1. Hussain Taylor

    Well what are you saying?
    If his skull was fractured by the police and he lay handcuffed on the ground face down, how would anyone other than a murdering thug pull a gun and shoot another human. Let us personalize it a bit and see if you form a different, more humane posture.

    Maybe if it were you you, your son or daughter or mother, riding the train with a group of white youths who were deemed unruly and you or your relatives just happened to be on the that train. In the midst of the "unruly youths and the police response you or your son, daughter or mother is thrown to the ground, had their skull fractured, been hand cuffed placed face down and shot.

    You would have a different statement to make. Well what makes it so different when it is YOUR family? It is the same cops, same policy, same guns. It is news/shocking to have such a violent police action, in some communities, in other communities it has happened far too often, for far too long.

    No one deserves to be shot in the back and killed (BY ANYONE LET ALONE THE TRAINED POLICE) while laying on the ground, handcuffed, with a fractured skull…………..NO ONE!!!!

    We could call you, your daughter, your son or your mom names and say they caused their own death and few with disagree, particularly after the media colors the event as a crowd of unruly Youth (be they Black or White) and justify the police action that caused the death of anyone as the leader of the chaos, or resisting. Open your eyes. The test of any situation is to personalize it, how would you want to be treated? How would you want your mom, dad, daughter or son treated. Oscar was someone's son.

    Reply

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