In the early hours of January 1st, 2009, BART police officer, Johannes Mehserle shot and killed 22-year-old Oscar Grant in Oakland, California. The horrific video of the murder, which was caught on numerous cell phone cameras, shows Grant as he is shot in the back, laying defenseless on the floor with his arms handcuffed behind his back. Spread throughout the internet and replayed by local television stations, the video of the death sent shockwaves throughout the nation and led thousands to take to the streets in protest against his killing.
While those unfamiliar with police abuse may have seen Oscar Grant’s killing as an isolated case – for black America, it is an all to familiar incident. Added to an ongoing list of hundreds of black and brown men who have been killed by police officers since 2000, police shootings are becoming increasingly commonplace throughout the US. The killing of innocent victims is just one of many racist tactics used by local police departments to intimidate and suppress dissent in communities of color.
In Oakland, the masses who took to the streets in protest of Oscar Grant’s killing and the light sentence rewarded to his killer, have worked tirelessly to keep his name alive. More recently Occupy Oakland went as far as to rename their headquarters to “Oscar Grant Plaza”. Building from the momentum of the 2009 and 2010 Oscar Grant mobilizations, Oakland has been able to lead the occupy movement by successfully shutting down Oakland’s ports and leading protests against police repression.
Below are photos I took while in Oakland on January 1st, 2012. To mark the third anniversary of Grant’s murder, hundreds of Oakland residents marched from Oscar Grant plaza towards the Fruitvale BART station where he was murdered. As radical struggle moves forward, the people of Oakland have proven that Oscar Grant’s legacy will live on.