Thirteen days after the murder of Oscar Grant on New Year's Eve, the police officer who killed him has finally been arrested and charged with murder.1 Even the District Attorney admitted it was only because of massive public pressure that he moved so aggressively, pressure that included more than 20,000 of you speaking up.2
That's why it's so important for each of us to commit to staying involved. Johannes Mehserle's arrest is important, but it's only the first step. In cases like this, history has repeatedly shown that as soon as the public eye turns away the prospect of justice fades.
We need you, and so does Oscar Grant's family. Making sure the prosecution does its job and pushing for much-needed reforms will continue to require your voice.
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In 14 years as Alameda County District Attorney, Tom Orloff had never before charged a police officer for an on-duty shooting. And when asked, several legal experts were unable to come up with any examples of officer-involved shootings becoming murder cases in California.3
But over 20,000 of you, along with citizens and organizers in the Bay Area, made it impossible for Orloff to ignore Oscar Grant's murder. He said that "because of the intense public interest I think more resources were put into wrapping this up than would be put in in other situations."4 Orloff made it clear that due to your efforts, he poured investigative resources into this case that his record tells us he never would have otherwise.
We've exposed a chink in the armor of a system that protects trigger-happy cops instead of regular folks. Now there's a real opportunity to create systemic changes that would introduce transparency and accountability to police forces across California, and especially to the BART Police Department. We need to keep the pressure on Tom Orloff to make sure he keeps devoting time and energy to Mehserle's prosecution.
Help honor the memory of Oscar Grant and others who have fallen victim to police violence. Please sign up to stay involved in pushing for justice in this case and for real accountability for police. Join us:
Thanks and Peace,
-- James, Gabriel, Clarissa, William, Dani, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
January 16th, 2008
1. "Behind murder charge against ex-BART officer," San Francisco Chronicle, 1-15-2009
2. "Highlights Of DA Tom Orloff's Wednesday News Conference On Murder Charge," KTVU, 1-14-2009
3. See reference 1.
4. See reference 2.