Thursday, January 8, 2009
A night sky full of helicopters.
In the early morning hours of New Year's Day, a BART police officer shot and killed Oscar Grant III, a butcher from Hayward, at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, one stop south of the Lake Merritt station near my house. Someone captured the incident on a cell phone camera. Grant was already face down and his hands behind his back when he was shot. The officer has made no statement, but yesterday resigned. A week later, BART police have made no statement, but ask for calm.
Last night, I came home from Fremont on BART at about 6:00 pm to discover there was a protest in progress. It started at the Fruitvale station and marched north, past my apartment building near Lake Merritt and finished farther north, near downtown Oakland. Mayor Dellums joined the march and gave a speech asking for calm. A group of protesters, who allegedly organized at Revolution Books in Berkeley, broke away from the main protest later in the evening at about 8:00 and began randomly attacking property downtown, near the BART station one stop north of my neighborhood, including storefronts and parked cars.
I do not qualify as an eyewitness to any of this. I just live here. Coming off BART at dusk to see a night sky full of helicopters and police blocking off streets does not give people at ground level the feeling that the authorities are there to protect the public.