For Immediate Release:
Contact: Laura Magnani (415) 565-0201, ex 11 Cell (510) 684-7254
Quaker Group: Verdict In Oscar Grant Killing Won’t End Struggle For Justice
SAN FRANCISCO (July 9, 2010) - The American Friends Service Committee, (AFSC) a Quaker organization dedicated to peace, justice and human dignity, is dismayed by the involuntary manslaughter verdict in the trial of transit police officer Johannes Mehserle for the killing of Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day 2009, as he lay unarmed, face down on a Oakland subway platform of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system.
“We continue to be angry and grieve over the killing of Oscar Grant. We are dismayed that police are not held to a higher standard and too often are convicted of lesser charges for lethal acts which should never have happened,” said Laura Magnani, Interim Regional Director for the AFSC’s Pacific Mountain region, which includes Oakland. “What message is being sent to youth by this verdict? One could be that to be young and black or brown is to be a target for police in Oakland.”
King Downing, program analyst for the Healing Justice program of the national AFSC, said, “This verdict is symbolic of the lack of law and justice so prevalent in this country. There is one standard for youth of color and another for police officers.”
Tony Coleman, who heads the region’s youth and justice work, has been in close contact with the Grant family throughout this ordeal and has been organizing youth for the AFSC for over a decade.
He said, “We need to remember how far we have come through all the community organizing that has been done since Oscar’s death.” It includes:
Youth have turned out by the hundreds to testify at BART Board meetings.
BART has recognized that an independent review process is essential, though the details are still being worked out and vigilance is needed to ensure true independence.
A number of BART police officers connected to the incident are no longer on the force.
The chief of BART police has been replaced.
Oakland recognized this killing was a murder and charges were filed by the District Attorney.
“The struggle is hardly over,” Coleman emphasized. “We have already proved that we can mobilize the community, without resorting to violence. People are increasingly united, calling for real accountability. We will not stop until the police serve all people in the community with respect and equality.”
A Speak Out is scheduled for 6 p.m. on the day of the verdict for the public to express their views. People will gather at 14th and Broadway, San Francisco, to make their views known and to plan for the road ahead.
# # #
The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.