Metro Stories: Oscar Grant

A chilly Friday morning on the Orange Line en route to the Red Line.

Just caught the bus.

Soon as I enter the bus, I see a young "conscious" dude of color wearing a black Oscar Grant T-shirt. In my head, I'm raising my fist with him.

Matter of fact, I was heading to an Oscar Grant-related event: The sentencing of the officer who delivered a fatal shot to the unarmed, young black father named Oscar Grant.

If you don't know who Oscar Grant is, I wrote an article about who he is and the trial and the importance of all of it here.

In progress, the young dude was having a conversation with a young black woman just across from him. I imagined that the conversation probably started with him explaining to her his T-shirt and why justice was needed for Oscar Grant.

She talked about how her godbrother was sentenced to life after having attained a third strike to his record. "He's gone for life at age 21" she said. She said that the first two things he did was just "stuff he did as a kid at age 13." Apparently, her godbrother was guilty by association. The police accused him of attempting to assault a police officer --- for her, she saw from the point of view of her godbrother and thought the logic of the police suspicious at best.

The guy with the Oscar Grant T-shirt could only shake his head in a knowing disbelief. A "knowing disbelief" meaning he's probably heard this story several times before but with other people and so "knows" the story, and a "disbelief" at the injustice still being blatantly carried out.

He made a poignant observation: Rich people who stole money were rarely ever prosecuted or stigmatized for white collar crimes, poor people were the ones always getting harrassed by the cops, and the final grain of salt to the slug, as taxpayers, they were subsizidizing the cops for such harrassment.

She began talking about her own experiences with the police. She talked about how officers demeaningly called her "Hollywood" when they saw her or asked her if she got her welfare check or would routinely tell her that she wouldn't be anything. Button-pushing, no doubt. Psychologists would call those "acts of microaggression." "Micro-aggression" meaning everyday actions carried out by someone, anyone, in this case, police officers, that communicate a hostility and demeaning of a person but are somewhat difficult to respond to.

Explaining the importance of microaggression, I'll take from the TV Show the Wire, a quote from the smartest cop, Lester Freamon, and a reformed cop, Carver, "It all matters."

Later in the day, I went to the courthouse where that officer was being sentenced. The demonstrators were chanting in front of LAPD and LA Sherriff's Department personnel "guilty, guilty, the whole damn system is filthy, filthy."

In a justice system that saw black professional football players like Michael Vick go to jail for 4 years for killing dogs...

In a justice system that saw a football player for shooting himself in the foot for 2 years...

...the officer who shot away the life of a young black man, who in Michel Foucauldian lingo "liberally exercised his technology handed to him as a means to control the body and backed by the state", received what will amount to...7 months.

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