Ex-Oakland BART police officer Johannes Mehserle was sentenced today to only two years in prison for the cold-blooded killing of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old African American man.
Demonstrators protest Mehserle verdict,
Oakland, Calif., Nov. 5.
The sentence is another crime against Grant and his family. In Oakland, Los Angeles and elsewhere protests are taking place against this travesty of “justice.”
After the sentence was announced, Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, said, “Nothing, he got nothing!” Grant’s grandfather, Oscar Grant Sr. said: “Knowing how the judicial system in this country works, I was not surprised. Two years is just a slap in the face.”
It is yet another example of the racist crimes perpetrated daily by the police and the entire capitalist system against oppressed youth, especially Black and Latino.
On New Years Day 2009, Mehserle shot Grant in the back. Grant was executed while restrained, laying on his stomach and being held down by other officers. Videos of the murder were circulated widely on the Internet, showing Mehserle’s unquestionable guilt.
Due to the massive outpouring of people demanding justice, Mehserle was charged with murder—the first time in decades that an officer in California was charged in an on-duty murder. But the authorities moved the trial away from Oakland and to Los Angeles, an attempt to dampen the struggle and to get Mehserle acquitted.
In July, a jury found killer cop Mehserle guilty of involuntary manslaughter, the lowest possible crime for which he could have been convicted.
Now, Mehserle, a cop who executed an unarmed Black man at close range, is getting a mere slap on the wrist. Yet any other person (who is not a cop) would be sent to prison for 25 years to life, or even get the death penalty. This proves that there is no justice in the U.S. “justice” system for people of color, the poor and the working-class as a whole.
Prison for Mehserle was not the desired outcome for the government, the cops and their apologists, however. They did not want charges to be brought against Mehserle. Nor did they want a conviction of any sort.
The only reason Mehserle is in prison today is because of the militant response of the people to Grant’s murder. An organized movement arose and the capitalist state could not ignore it. They were forced to file murder charges. Then, they were forced to find him guilty, even though the verdict was an outrage. Now, they have to send him to prison.
Mehserle’s light sentence is an outrage and in no way represents true justice. But the fact that Mehserle is going to prison at all should be attributed to the people fighting back in the streets.
The Party for Socialism and Liberation has been involved in the struggle since the beginning and we will continue to demand real justice for Oscar Grant.
Let’s keep up the fight. Remember Oscar Grant! Jail all killer cops! Stop police brutality and racist murders of poor and oppressed people!