Saturday, January 17, 2009

BART shooting: are any of us safe?

Please find enclosed a video of the shooting of an unarmed man lying on the ground by police of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District. I heard about it through an article in The Nation and was pointed to a story at AlterNet.

If the shooting itself weren't poignant enough, this one little detail really gets my dander up. From The Nation article:
"Following the shooting, according to an excellent report in Alternet, BART police tried to confiscate all the videos taken by witnesses. They failed and three clips videos made it to YouTube, where they were viewed hundreds of thousands of times and eventually picked up and played by the news media, bringing the story national attention."

In my mind, this is the greater outrage than the shooting. I can almost understand the mindset of the cop who might have fired in the heat of passion. There was an angry chanting crowd who was increasing the tension for the police. What is less forgivable are actions of the police officers who were reportedly tried to confiscate tapings of the shooting. It is far harder to find a motivation for doing so that is not merely sinister. They had a much clearer head, and did something to obstruct justice for the man who was shot. I'd like to see them prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

From the AlterNet article:
"And you see another officer nudge him on the shoulder and ask, 'Why did you do that? What happened?' And the officer who shot the boy was like, 'I don’t know,' just looking at him like he couldn’t believe what he had done."

I'm pasting below two of AlterNet's requested actions that concerned citizens might undertake. I'd also ask for an investigation into the attempt to confiscate videos of the events.
2. Contact BART Director Carole Ward Allen and demand that: 1) The officers involved be taken off duty without pay and charged and fully prosecuted; 2) There be an independent investigation of the shooting that includes a review of training and hiring practices; and 3) BART establish an independent residents’ review board for the police. Call her at (510) 464-6095 or e-mail the BART board of directors at

3. Call the BART police to complain about the officers’ conduct and demand immediate action -- Internal Affairs: Sgt. David Chlebowski, (510) 464-7029,; Chief of Police Gary Gee, (510) 464-7022, Call them toll free at (877) 679-7000 and press the last four digits of the phone number you wish to reach.

Also pray for the family of the victim, Oscar Grant

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