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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Police State and Prisons | Racial Justice
No Justice No BART Takes the Truth to the Trains, 7/16/09: photos and PDFs
No Justice No BART (NJNB) demonstrated in Oakland on July 16th because over six months have passed since the murder of Oscar Grant III and BART has yet to tell the truth about what happened on January 1st and to date not a single employee has been held accountable by BART for their role in the murder nor for their attempts to cover up the truth. In this single action, NJNB activists informed thousands of people about what happened on the Fruitvale BART platform moments before Oscar Grant was murdered and the lies told by Police Chief Gary Gee shortly thereafter.
[Below: Jack Bryson, to left, and other activists distributed fliers and talked with passers-by in Frank Ogawa Plaza. Still others boarded trains to take the informational campaign to the BART system itself.]
BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger hired Meyers Nave on February 11th to conducting a second investigation into the events of January 1st, after BART Police Chief Gary Gee's internal affairs division apparently failed to do an adequate job. The thoroughness of this second investigation is questionable as well because Meyers Nave has yet to interview a single one of Oscar Grant's friends who were on the platform with him when he was murdered. Meyers Nave is being paid $250,000 for their services yet has not released their report that was due in May, some of which was promised to be made public.
On April 23rd, BART hired another firm, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) to conduct a supposed "top to bottom" review of BART's police department. Their review is scheduled to take approximately four months, to be completed by this Fall, at a cost of $127,000. NOBLE's awkwardness with the public and NOBLE's suburban-oriented, fear of crime online survey about BART police are not encouraging signs and no promises have been made regarding the release of any information to the public once the review is complete.
The BART Board of Directors created the BART Police Department Review Committee (made up of Board members) in January which has done nothing of note except to approve the hiring of Meyers Nave and NOBLE. The committee also set up a police oversight subcommittee (made up of Board members, BART's General Manager, BART police, ex-police, and two community members) which has been tasked with shaping a new supposedly more independent model for oversight of BART police, outside of the police chief and general manager who have done nothing but cover up for the actions of their officers on January 1st. This subcommittee has only held two truly public meetings (in May), preferring instead to meet on weekdays during business hours when it is difficult for anyone besides themselves to attend. In late June the subcommittee began switching meeting days from Mondays to Wednesdays, sometimes with less than two days notice. There appears to be subcommittee consensus on an oversight plan, but if the public will be involved in the final approval of what is supposed to be a civilian oversight plan remains an open question.
Not only has the public largely been shut out of BART police investigatory and oversight processes, but the BART Board itself is often denied relevant information by General Manager Dorothy Dugger. For instance, BART police on January 1st basically stole on false pretenses a high quality video from a passenger who was present on the Fruitvale platform when Oscar Grant was murdered. That video, never released to the public, was later shown during the Mehserle preliminary hearing, yet Police Chief Gary Gee, who had the video in his possession all along, never bothered to share this video with the BART Board when he was defending his officers in press conferences, claiming their actions that night were professional and according to BART protocol. In a related example of the BART Board being kept in the dark, BART had a lawyer present during the preliminary hearing, but that lawyer reported to Dorothy Dugger. She, in turn, neglected to inform the Board about what the police officer testimony/perjury and the high quality video revealed inside the courtroom (based on personal conversations with several Board members during and after the hearing). The Meyers Nave report was commissioned to be released to Dorothy Dugger and not the full Board. It is unknown to whom NOBLE is contracted to release their review. Dorothy Dugger has shown herself to be adverse to releasing information and the BART Board has been negligent in demanding facts.
The corporate media has not done a much better job, with only a single known report on the racial slur yelled by BART police officer Tony Pirone no more than thirty seconds before Johannes Mehserle shot Oscar Grant in the back. Likewise, almost no attention had been paid in corporate news reports to the violent behavior of Tony Pirone on January 1st nor to the many lies exposed by county prosecutor David Stein and the stolen video during the preliminary hearing. Not surprisingly, the general public is largely unaware of many of the most basic known facts surrounding the murder of Oscar Grant.
And so No Justice No BART began a new informational campaign on the BART system itself. Walking past the gauntlet of BART police assigned to guard all entrances to the 12st Street station from the protest, activists boarded trains on the Fremont line, headed south, and began handing out fliers and discussing the issues with passengers. As expected, most passengers were aware of the murder of Oscar Grant, but very few if any knew about the facts revealed during the preliminary hearing. Many were receptive to taking fliers about Tony Pirone's use of racist language and wanted to discuss it further. Some of the activists disembarked at the Fruitvale station where more fliers were handed out and a "Disband BART Police" banner was unfurled both on the platform and inside the pay-gate area below. Other activists rode the first train all the way to Fremont, distributing fliers from the lead car to the tail end of the train before turning around and heading back to Oakland. In all, nearly 4,000 fliers were handed out and NJNB activists felt the demonstration was a success with the number of people informed who now are in abhorrence of the lack of accountability at BART.
It was the first underground station targeted by NJNB, so all of the police standing around the fare gates at various station entrances may not have known what to expect.
Note the new BART shoulder patch -- the word BART is nowhere to be found.
Download PDF (1.1mb)
(2-sided full page PDF)
Justice Delayed is Justice Denied
Yes, this is for real. "BITCH ASS NIGGER" are some of the last words Oscar Grant III heard before he was
murdered by BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle on January 1st, 2009. Court transcripts now show
that BART Police confiscated high quality video from a passenger the night of the murder. The video
captured BART Officer Tony Pirone's own assaults on Oscar and his racist slur. Despite having viewed this
confiscated video, Police Chief Gee exonerated Tony Pirone using the words on the front of this flyer. To
date, not a single person at BART has been held accountable for their roles in the murder or their attempts to cover-up the truth!
Download PDF (1.4mb)
(2-sided quarter page PDF)
- BART Police Officer Tony Pirone (Fruitvale station platform, January 1st, 2009)
“All of the other officers... followed protocol and performed their duties in a professional manner.”
- BART Police Chief Gary Gee (press conference, January 12th, 2009)