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Jan. 1, 2019, marks 10 years since the murder of Oscar Grant by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle. In the lead up to this grim anniversary, a number of articles, multimedia pieces, radio programs and television news segments have been produced to commemorate the occasion. Especially moving are those that give voice to Oscar’s family and friends. But it’s rare to see significant tribute paid to the fact that were it not for the vigor and relentlessness of protesters and activists, Oscar Grant would have received little to no justice.
A young man shown on video in a physical confrontation with BART police has been acquitted of four counts of battery on a police officer, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced Thursday, Dec. 16. Jurors deliberated two days before finding Michael Smith, 22, not guilty Wednesday afternoon of the four counts. Jurors deadlocked 9-3 in favor of acquittal on two additional counts of battery on a police officer and one count of resisting arrest. Prosecutors on Friday are expected to announce whether they will dismiss the remaining charges or retry Smith.
Elaine Brown’s “A Taste of Power,” a memoir which chronicles her leadership of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense when co-founder Huey P. Newton is imprisoned, still resonates with me. The idea that a Black woman is nominated to the leadership position of the most powerful civic organization in the country at that time is still remarkable and speaks to what Kathleen Cleaver calls revolutionary imagination.
The final boxing scores were not even close. On March 26, 2016, Andre “Son Of God” Ward unanimously defeated Sullivan Barrera 119-109, 117-109, 117-108 – his debut into the light heavyweight realm of boxing an unqualified success. Oakland’s legendary Oracle Arena didn’t need a seer to predict that in point of fact, Sullivan Barrera should thank the universe that Andre Ward didn’t knock him out in the first round.
July 13 marks two years since #BlackLivesMatter was created. The #BlackLivesMatter movement has pushed to ensure that all Black lives are seen as an important part of an overall movement for social transformation. We have much to lose if we negate that all Black lives are central to the most well being for all of us. We must not rest until all of us are free.
The father of Oscar Grant III, whose shocking death at the hands of a transit police officer was memorialized in the award-winning film “Fruitvale Station” was denied damages yesterday by a federal jury. The jury found that the father – who had been in prison all of his son’s life – failed to show he had a close familial relationship with his son and failed to prove the officer intentionally harmed his son for reasons “unrelated to legitimate law-enforcement objectives.”
The SF Black Film Festival is one of the film festivals that I most look forward to in the Bay Area every year. This year it is from June 12-15 at various theaters in San Francisco. It was founded by the late Ave’ Montague, and now it’s under the direction of her son, Kali O’Ray. Every year I’ve seen great films that don’t have the promotional budgets to reach a wider audience without the help of a festival like SFBFF.
It has been five years since Oakland was set on fire during the Oakland Rebellions that were a result of the BART police murder of Oscar Grant. Los Angeles based journalist Thandisizwe Chimurenga is set to release her book, “No Doubt: The Murder(s) of Oscar Grant,” in the coming weeks. This book gives a much needed political analysis of what was at work behind the curtains of this monumental police murder case.
The Screening Room, a new local startup TV show, features up-and-coming filmmakers with interviews about their films, the filmmaking journey and future outlook. We were honored to have the lovely Sheila V. Harris as our host in a recent episode of The Screening Room. She interviewed two local filmmakers, Karen Ruiz, a native San Franciscan, and Rock Hemlock, originally from Dallas, Texas.
On Sept. 8, 1985, Oscar Grant Jr. found himself in jail for a murder he did not commit and has since been held in prison for 28 years. An innocent Grant suffered for decades the dehumanizing conditions of prison and was deprived of raising his son, Oscar Grant III. His reality took a more horrifying turn on New Year’s Day 2009, when from inside prison Grant Jr. learned the news that a police officer had deliberately killed his son on a train platform in Oakland.
On the 20th anniversary of the demise of my father, Fred Ali Batin Sr., the 18th anniversary of the Maafa Commemoration San Francisco Bay Area – the Ritual Sunday is Oct. 13, 2013; see http://maafasfbayarea.com/ – and approximately the 60th day of the hunger strike to end the inhuman conditions in California’s Security Housing Units or SHUs, I just want to pause and reflect.
Who could forget the murder of Oscar Grant by BART policeman Johannes Mehserle on a platform on Jan. 1, 2009. That murder, caught by other BART passengers on video that quickly went viral, sparked a movement for justice that led to the first conviction of a killer cop in California history. Because of the work of the Oscar Grant Foundation, an award-winning movie is telling Oscar’s story. It’s called “Fruitvale Station.”
There are not a lot of films where young Black men, throughout all of our tribulations with the police, the streets and society’s stereotypes, are able to be seen as protectors and providers for their family. “Fruitvale Station” is a great movie that people should go see, especially young Black males, because it is our story and it is told in such a delicate way, where you realize there are no angels and demons.
“Fruitvale,” the award-winning movie about the last 24 hours in the life of Oscar Grant, is set to debut in mid-June in Los Angeles. I caught up with the Bay Area’s own Ryan Coogler to talk about the film. I had some questions about why this film did not include the life and death of Lovelle Mixon and would it be able to be used as a weapon against police terrorism. Read Ryan Coogler’s answers in his own words.
On New Year's morning BART police officer Johannes Mehserle fired his gun at point blank range into Oscar Grant's back, killing him as he lay face down on the train platform, hands behind him. A preliminary hearing is now underway to determine whether Mehserle will be charged with murder or whether the charges against him will be lowered.