Oscar Grant: The Intersection of Occupy & Trayvon

Not many people outside of the Bay Area know the name Oscar Grant. When Occupy Oakland happened, the Occupiers made frequent references to Grant, including naming their encampment Oscar Grant Plaza. At the May Day takeover of the Oakland city hall, we asked a few people who Oscar Grant was — they showed a complete ignorance of the actual facts of the case, which is probably one reason they are involved with Occupy.

This man said that Grant was ‘assassinated’.

This woman claims Grant was intentionally shot in the head.

So, who was Oscar Grant and why are his shooting and the response to it one of the keys to understanding the Oakland powder keg? And how was the Oscar Grant story a template of sorts for understanding the Trayvon Martin  controversy?

Here’s Wikipedia’s summary:

Oscar Grant was fatally shot by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009. Responding to reports of a fight on a crowded Bay Area Rapid Transit train returning from San Francisco BART Police officers detained Oscar Grant and several other passengers on the platform at the Fruitvale BART Station. Officer Johannes Mehserle and another officer were restraining Grant, who was prostrate and allegedly resisting arrest. Officer Mehserle stood and, according to witnesses, said “Get back, I’m gonna tase him.” Then Mehserle drew his gun and shot Grant once in the back; Mehserle appeared stunned, put his hands to his head and exclaimed “Oh my God!”

I’ve researched this case extensively and it’s obvious to me that Mehserle accidently shot Grant while he thought he was going to tase him. Mehserle was using a borrowed taser and an unfamiliar holster. For a detailed explanation of this, check this article.

Further, it makes no sense whatsoever that Mehserle would simply shoot Grant in the back for no reason. It makes NO sense and makes even less sense with witnesses around, including passengers and other BART cops.

So why do Mehserle’s accusers say he shot Grant in the back? They claim that he was so racist that he pulled the trigger because Grant was black and knew that a white man can kill a black man without any fear of reprisals.

Sound anything like the Trayvon Martin case to you?

This is literally craziness. It’s seeing a world that simply does not exist; an America that is so completely, totally racist that black youths are gunned down by white people on a constant basis. It ignores the easily verifiable statistics about the murder rates for black youths and who does most of the killings; namely other black youths. It ignores the all statistics, all facts, all reason and relies on nothing but blind, ignorant, stupid mythology that has been intentionally created by the likes of Al Sharpton and Rinku Sen.

With no evidence that shot Grant on purpose, what did prosecutors do? If you follow the way political charged cases involving race are handled, you know the answer: they prosecuted Mehserle. Maybe they hoped that it would calm things down, despite the facts of the cast. Maybe

Sound anything like the Trayvon Martin case to you?

Here’s a letter that Mehserle wrote, attempting to apologize. See if you can empathize with both Mr. Mehserle and Oscar Grant’s family.

July 4, 2010

Mike – Please try to get this message to the public:

I don’t know what the jury in this case is going to decide, but I hope those who hate me and those who understand that I never intended to shoot Oscar Grant will listen to this message.

I have and will continue to live every day of my life knowing Mr. Grant should not have been shot. I know a daughter has lost a father and a mother has lost a son. It saddens me to know my actions cost Mr. Grant his life, no words can express how truly sorry I am.

I hoped to talk to Ms. Johnson and Ms. Mesa in the days following this terrible event, but death threats toward my newly-born son, my friends and family resulted in no communication occuring [sic]. I hope the day will come when anger will give way to a dialogue.

For now, and forever I will live, breathe, sleep, and not sleep with the memory of Mr. Grant screaming “You shot me” and me putting my hands on the bullet wound thinking the pressure would help while I kept telling him “You’ll be okay.” I tried to tell myself that maybe this shot will not be so serious, but I recall how sick I felt when Mr. Grant stopped talking, closed his eyes and seemed to change his breathing.

I don’t expect I can convince some individuals how sorry I am for the death of Mr. Grant, but I would not feel right if I didn’t explain my thoughts as I wait for a decision by the jury.

-Johannes Mehserle 7-4-2010

The letter was rejected by Grant’s family and mocked. 

Sound anything like the Trayvon Martin case to you?

The Wikipedia article on the Grant case explains what happened next.

On July 8, 2010, the jury returned its verdict: Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and not guilty of second degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. Initial protests against the ruling were peacefully organized; looting, arson, destruction of property, and small riots broke out after dark. Nearly 80 people were eventually arrested.

I’m not sure about the Wikipedia editor who put the ‘small riot’ in that paragraph. Here’s what happened and it isn’t small:

Police deployed in Oakland in riot gear yesterdayand shops boarded up their windows in anticipation of a repeat of the rioting that took place in the immediate aftermath of Grant’s shooting. Up to a thousand protesters took to the streets last night and early today, some wearing masks with images of Grant’s face. A banner was unfurled proclaiming “Oakland Says Guilty’.

Rioters, some dressed in black and wearing black masks, smashed shop and car windows, helped themselves to goods ranging from jewelry to groceries and trainers, and attacked police lines. Journalists were also attacked.

Sound like Occupy to you?

Here’s some video of the riots :

So to sum up : what a flipping mess. Resentment and falsehoods trump reason in Oakland. Chaos ensues. Pray for Sanford.


  1. Even granting that Mehserle shooting Grant was “an accident”, he still deserved to be charged, with manslaughter if nothing else.

    You don’t get to just say “oops, sorry” after you pull out a gun and shoot someone. Either you’re shooting someone on purpose or you have severely fucked up. And as a rabid second amendment supporter, you just don’t get to fuck up like that with guns.

  2. @perlhaqr: You obviously know nothing about the Grant shooting. The only reason Mr. Mehserle was charged, tried, convicted and imprisoned was because he is white, and Oscar Grant was black. Period. The cowards on the Oakland and Los Angeles bench are sick, depraved “judges” who care only about themselves. Mr. Mehserle was railroaded from the beginning. This case should never have been tried in criminal court. It’s only because evil people threatened the District Attorney that the case was even presented. The Oakland Police Department had corrupt detectives (Tony Jones and Brian Madeiros) file an erroneous criminal complaint, and had a radical liberal judge sign it. The sick depraved animals, both black and white, of the Bay Area hounded Mr. Mehserle, and threatened him and his family with physical harm. There was never a chance for any real justice for Mr. Mehserle. Just a liberal agenda that was satisfied, brought on by crazed mobs.


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