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The Murder of Oscar Grant Demands Justice in Alameda County
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, sisters and brothers who stand for justice
On January 1, 2009 Oscar Grant III, a young, productive father rode BART as he and his friends celebrated the coming New Year. Never in their minds were they prepared for what they would face. BART police, having authority of law, chose to violate the most basic precept of law, that declares a citizen is entitled to a fair trial, to face their accusers, to be tried by a jury of their peers, and that we should live with the presumption of innocence, that allegations must be proven beyond reasonable doubt for any crime for which we are charged. These rights are basic to every American citizen.
On January 1, 2009 Oscar Grant III was not given his right as a citizen of God, nor as a citizen of America to face his accusers. He was not given a fair trial. He was not given a trial by a jury of his peers. He was not given the presumption of innocence. He was not charged with any crime to be proven beyond reasonable doubt. He was not given the treatment that American citizens are provided and certainly he was not given his God given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The defense attorney’s for Johannes Mehserle, the officer clearly responsible for shooting Oscar Grant III, an unarmed, unaccused passenger on BART on January 1 robbed Oscar of his life after responding to the racially charged epithets hurled at Oscar by BART officer Anthony Pirone.
The defense attorney has filed a motion for change of venue that suggests that his client cannot get a fair trial in Alameda County because historically Black activism has organized people to fight police brutality. It is shameful that Johannes Mehserle would allege that justice cannot be attained because in this community there are men and women of integrity he dare to stand up against injustice. As a peace officer, Johannes Mehserle and his attorney should stand with those who stand for justice.
It is shameful that Johannes Mehserle would allow his attorney to argue that because Blacks and others, have organized themselves to stand for justice that justice cannot be served in Alameda County. Injustice in Alameda County was not produced by Black activism. Black activism was born out of the injustice of those who, under the banner of law, became for many poor citizens, like Oscar Grant III, victims of a police officer taking the law into his own hands becoming judge, jury and executioner on the street.
It is shameful that Johannes Mehserle would allow or instruct his attorney to argue that his client’s problem is not multiple videotapes and witnesses; his failure to report his actions to BART authority and the District Attorney; but that the difficulty of his trial is the citizens in Alameda County could not serve fairly on a jury. How can this be assumed without questioning any member of a jury pool honestly and openly?
It is shameful that Johannes Mehserle would allow his attorney to argue that historically, Oakland, having the rich and proud history of the Black Panther Party, the Pullman Porters, the Nation of Islam, Black Mayors, Black City Officials, Black County, State and Federal elected officials, all fighters for Justice cannot speak responsibly, with truth for justice in the murder of Oscar Grant III. How can it be assumed in law that having concerned elected officials and citizens would taint a jury pool; and yet no jury pool has been polled openly and honestly?
It is shameful that Johannes Mehserle has instructed or permitted his attorney to ignore the merits of his case and seek to play a race card, a liberal card, a socialist card, a religious tradition card to convince judges that his client cannot get a fair trial in Alameda County. How can it be argued that a fair jury cannot be found when the court has yet to call and interview potential jurors?
We stand with the district attorney to declare ourselves friends of justice. We demand that this trial remain in Alameda County; that the people of Alameda County may participate in our citizenship rights to protect justice in our county.
It is a shameful, travesty of justice, and a perversion of truth that Johannes Mehserle has allowed his attorney to pander to the fears of the judge and hurled revisionists history of Black activism to frighten the public into agreement that Johannes Mehserle cannot get a fair trial in Alameda County.
In closing, we take personal offense that Johannes Mehserle has instructed or permitted his attorney to include in his arguments the false statements, diversionary tactics, smear campaign, and racist innuendo as the basis for his defense, as he attempts to try community leadership in the court of public opinion. Black elected officials, activists and supporters of justice did not kill Oscar Grant III. Johannes Mehserle did. Let his trial begin and end in Alameda County, the place where his grievious act occurred.
We stand firmly on the side of justice. We are, in fact, the friends of justice. We stand with the family of Oscar Grant to secure justice for the murder of our son, father, neighbor and friend, Oscar Grant III. Keep this trial in Alameda County. I AM OSCAR GRANT! I WANT JUSTICE!