Remembering Oscar Grant, Resisting Police Brutality and Murder
--An interview with former Black Panthers Kiilu Nyasha and Emory Douglas
By Angola 3 News
Exactly one year ago, in the early hours of January 1st, 2009, twenty two year-old Oscar Grant III was murdered by white BART police officer Johannes Mehserle. Officer Mehserle shot Grant in the back as he lay face-down on the Fruitvale BART platform with white BART officer Tony Pirone's knee in Grant’s shoulder. Moments earlier, officer Pirone was overheard and recorded on video yelling at Oscar Grant, calling him a "bitch ass nigger."
The shooting of Oscar Grant was recorded my numerous BART passengers, and this video evidence is central to the District Attorney's prosecution of Johannes Mehserle for murder. After preliminary hearings, the judge ruled on June 18 that there is enough evidence to charge him with murder, and the location of the upcoming trial has since been moved to Los Angeles.
BART has hired outside organizations to conduct investigations of events surrounding the shooting and their police force overall, but as of yet has still taken no action to reprimand any of its officers for their actions that night nor Chief Gee or General Manager Dorothy Dugger for their handling of the situation after the murder. Activists continue to fight for justice for Oscar Grant.
Resisting Police Brutality and Murder
Accompanying this video interview with former Black Panther Party members Emory Douglas and Kiilu Nyasha are photographs from the SF Bay Area news website Indybay.org, which documented the January 7, 2009 rebellion in Oakland just days after Oscar Grant’s murder. As Indybay reports, at 11am that morning, “a memorial service was held for Oscar Grant at Palma Ceia Baptist Church in Oakland. In the early afternoon of January 7th, it was announced that officer Johannes Mehserle had resigned from the BART police force so he would not be forced to testify at an internal hearing.”
“Later in the day, a rally was held at the Fruitvale BART station. Protesters gathered at 3pm and by 5pm the crowd had swelled to over one thousand people…After dozens of speakers addressed the crowd for about 2 hours, a march began. Hundreds of protesters marched up International Blvd towards downtown Oakland. As the crowd passed the Lake Merritt BART area, there was a brief confrontation where a police car was attacked and a dumpster lit on fire. Within minutes, riot police arrived and shot tear gas into the crowd. The protest continued into the night…” To learn more about January 7 and the continued movement seeking justice for Oscar Grant, please visit Indybay’s page dedicated to Oscar Grant here.
Emory Douglas first served as the art director for the Black Panther Party’s newspaper, and later served as Minister of Culture until 1980. Throughout these years, Emory’s iconic artwork was published in the BPP newspaper and beyond. His artwork is featured in this video, and in the new book entitled “Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas.” Emory was interviewed in San Francisco by Angola 3 News in October 2009. Learn more about Emory here. This is the third segment of our interview to be released. Watch parts one and two below.
Kiilu Nyasha is a San Francisco-based journalist and former member of the Black Panther Party. Through the end of 2009, Kiilu hosted a weekly TV program, "Freedom Is A Constant Struggle," on SF Live, and many of her shows are archived here. Kiilu also writes for several publications, including the SF Bay View Newspaper and BlackCommentator.com. Also an accomplished radio programmer, she has worked for KPFA (Berkeley), SF Liberation Radio, Free Radio Berkeley, and KPOO in SF. To learn more and watch the archives of Kiilu's TV show, please visit her new website here. Kiilu was interviewed in San Francisco by Angola 3 News in November 2009. This is the third segment of our interview to be released. Watch parts one and two below.