Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.
By: Denise Tejada
It was Los Angeles' turn to organize a protest to support Oscar Grant's family. Last Monday, more than 60 Grant supporters gathered outside the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
Former BART police officer, Johannes Mehserle, is on trial there for the murder of Oscar Grant.
Even before you saw the faces of the protestors in Los Angeles, you saw the face of Oscar Grant - it was big, emblazoned across a banner. But there was something I noticed immediately: the date of Grant's death was wrong. It wasn't January 1, 2010. Oscar Grant died on January 1, 2009.
The typo reflects a disconnect between Oakland, where the shooting occurred and the case began, and Los Angeles, where the case moved after a court ruled Mehserle couldn't receive a fair trail in the Bay Area.
I've been covering the Oscar Grant case since before it became a national story. It has riveted the community of Oakland, where thousands rallied to have Johannes Mehserle fired from his job. He resigned. They rallied for a murder charge against Mehserle. They demanded justice for Oscar Grant. Mehserle was charged with murder.
Some of the gatherings turned violent in Oakland. One night, protesters smashed car windows, flipped over police cars, and vandalized numerous businesses throughout downtown Oakland.
You could feel the anger and the frustration that night. Business owners described the scene as a "battlefield." It was almost as if protesters didn't fear getting arrested. The L.A. protest couldn't have felt any more different.
The Los Angeles protesters shouted loudly and chanted "Justice for Oscar Grant," but many of the folks I spoke with didn't know the details about the case. They knew the headlines from the news, but they didn't know about how the incident galvanized protests across Oakland. They didn't know what the case means to the Oakland community.
Oakland has been at the center of alleged police brutality cases before. But none has ever been caught on cell phone video. The difference with the Grant case is that BART passengers caught the entire incident on tape. The video became a rallying cry. And unlike Los Angeles--where the car is king--most residents in Oakland have had some experience taking public transportation. In a way, the daily commute became a reminder of an unimaginable horror: the shooting of an unarmed man on a BART platform. Was it accidental? Was it intentional?
The chants, the banners, the "I am Oscar Grant" t-shirts were on full display in Los Angeles last week, but there was one thing missing: the emotion.
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