Looting and vandalism have nothing to do with honest protest…

Many of the hometown crowd thought it was murder when a Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) cop shot and killed a young black man in the wee hours of this past New Year’s Day, but an all-white jury called it involuntary manslaughter and so in reaction some looted stores and engaged in vandalism in Oakland, Ca. last night.

Excuse me. Am I missing something here? I don’t see the relationship between the two. You think an injustice was committed so in protest you commit one yourself.

Somehow I actually think that those who loot stores just want the merchandise and see the so-called protest angle as an excuse.

To be sure, there do seem to be continuing race problems in Oakland. And even seemingly law-abiding black citizens often tell their stories on radio talk shows of being stopped by police for apparently no reason — they call it “driving while black”.

In the incident in question, one Oscar Grant was riding on BART and was involved or got caught up in some kind of fracas on the train.

He was detained by police but was said to resist. However, at the time of his shooting he was pinned down on the ground.

Transit cop Johannes Mehserle claims he thought he was grabbing his taser gun but mistakenly grabbed his service weapon and accidentally and fatally shot Grant.

Grant ‘s history with the law indicates he was no angel, but of course that does not mean that he can lawfully be murdered.

Some sage black people are advising young black men (or anyone) that when you deal with police the thing to do is to cooperate. Even if they are treating you badly, you will at least survive.

More than one black person I heard on KGO Radio last night claimed that the rules are different between white kids and black kids. They claim white kids can get away with more.

I also heard from someone near and dear to me who lives in the Bay Area that the BART cops kind of act like Nazis toward just about anyone they come into contact with (actually that is my interpretation of what this person said).

While I have read some of the coverage on the story over these past months, I am not steeped in the details.

From what I have gathered, though, BART has a continuing problem of rowdy, mostly black, riders in the Oakland area. There is tension between the BART cops and that crowd. One BART officer, not the defendant in the shooting trial, but the one who originally detained Grant, the victim, yelled the N word several times that night.

My conjecture is that Mehserle got caught up in the moment and really did not realize what he was doing (some earlier statements by him had indicated that he knew he had drawn his gun). I think the verdict was probably correct. I understand he’s looking at a sentence between 5 to 14 years.

I think there is a large contingent of black people in Oakland who although they feel racism still persists, in the words of Rodney King, they think: “Why can’t we just all just get along?”

They implore the younger set to behave themselves and not break the law and to bear up to some continuing injustices, while working to set things right, and not risk jail and pre-mature death.

They also claim that some of the violence is the result of outside agitators.

But this vandalism and looting — I watched in on TV each summer in the 60s as black ghettos erupted in riots all over the nation.

Civil rights has been a long struggle and it may not be over yet, even though we now have a black president, but somehow I don’t think looting and vandalism have any connection with righting wrongs.

In fact, I think it only serves to perpetuate the problem and anyone caught ought to face the full consequences under the law.


In kind of a strange twist, the trial was held in Los Angeles after a request for change of venue and before a jury with no blacks on it. That has some in the black commuity suspicious. But then again a black jury in LA apparently let OJ Simpson get away with murder. Two wrongs, of course, would not make a right.


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