Oscar Grant

January 14, 2009

Like Claire's recent post about the violence in Gaza, you might be wondering, what does Oscar Grant have to do with Asian America? Well, besides also being outraged at the shooting and non- or delayed responses from authorities, I feel like this is a story that affects all of us. At the protests last week and today, there were many Asian Americans present. Grant's death has touched us all in some way. And living in an area where you hear of police killings every few months, it's unfortunately an issue that's embedded in our city and culture. Grant's death is only bringing this issue to light, one that you would be blind not to notice if you lived here. 

BART's police chief, Gary Gee, is Asian American. One of the three people charged from last week's protest that turned into a so-called riot is Asian American. And many, many of the 300 or so shops that were damaged from last Wednesday are owned by Asian Americans, from nail salons to restaurants. In fact, most of the businesses damaged were small shops owned by people of color -- with the exception of a McDonald's. People have been calling this a Rodney King part II. 

In many ways, I understand why people are angry and want to smash things. But I feel for the businesses that are basically innocent. In fact, many of the owners interviewed say they support the protesters and are also angry at the shooting. But in the larger scheme of things, I think there are a few things to remember -- that overall, the hundreds and up to thousands of protesters were peaceful, and that the focus should remain on Grant's case and making sure there is a thorough investigation. And the focus should also remain on the issue of police killings and brutality. Oscar Grant's case is unique because so many people have viewed his shooting online. But for every Oscar Grant, there is unfortunately many other people who are shot and killed without a cell phone camera as a witness. That's why this case has garnered so much attention, and hopefully it will shed light on an issue that's usually swept under the rug.

I'm curious if those not from the San Francisco Bay Area have heard of Oscar Grant or have seen the videos online? 


Momo Chang

Senior Contributing Editor

Momo Chang is the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media, and freelances for magazines, online publications, and weeklies. Her writings focus on Asian American communities, communities of color, and youth culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Her stories range from uncovering working conditions in nail salons, to stories about “invisible minorities” like Tongan youth and Iu Mien farmers. She has freelances The New York Times, WIRED, and East Bay Express, among other publications.



Momo, I enjoy reading your post and for the most part the way you view todays social climate in your writings are deep. You remind me of a not to radical Yuri Kochiyama.I saw this event take place on you tube and im not at all surprised. From the brutal murder of Fred Hampton to Oscar Grant police brutality has been a perenial social vice in the African American community. I understand that most police officers are honost, but those that abuse their power destroy the image of Law Enforcement period. I agree with you, an injustice to one is an injustice to all. Take CareTake Care
thanks for this, momo. we're reaping the whirlwind on national, state, and local policies that ignore need and encourage violence and injustice. i hope these protests turn into lasting action that changes the role of the oakland police, and doesn't just punish one officer of the BART police.
Yes. I've seen the videos.
There is no justice! However I feel that the protesters who smashed cars and people's business should also be sent to jail. I get mad at injustice everyday, but I do not cause harm to someone's business. Our family owns a small shop and we work hard to support the local community. Who gives anyone the right to burn another person's property. I hope who ever is arrested will go to jail on both sides of this issue.
Well, the public jumped into conclusion rather turned violents. I think it is the responsible of the DA, BART, and justice dept to probe this case. I would say it is wrong for the public to participate and make things worse, discrupt the city, damage business owners have nothing to do w/ the incident. I mean, imagine if someone from White, Latino, Native American, Arab, Asian Pacific, or any ethnic group put out a protest because something went wrong or right. Hey, the city is going to be a mess. We live in a civilized society. I think the African American learned and used this strategy from Martin Luther King, Robney King, to gain attention, revenage, ask for justice or equal treatment. I understand but that's not the right way for civilized people. Plus, it is none of our business to make things worse and confuse. Imagine how this protest going to add salt and pepper to the investigation and outcome as far as charging the individual involved. Even the BART director, Ms. Sweet, an African American, requested to have Gary Gee and general manager to resign. She caused internal bias and pointing fingers. I think, in general, I have the perception African American band together for any reason. That's going to make us divide but not logical, peaceful, and let the legal process do its job.
I'm a Bay Area native living in Chicago, and while I should have heard about Oscar Grant while I was home at New Year's, it wasn't until I back in chicago and read Adriel Luis' Blog about the aftermath of the riots that I learned what was going on.This week for my college newspaper I'm going to writing an article about the changes our society is making/receiving news, and I hope to use the Inauguration and the the Grant tragedy as an example.
Oakland: Politics, Pork and JusticeState Attorney General Jerry Brown Oakland’s got on the NPR about a week ago and made an appeal for Oaklander’s to stand down and let the system work (he assured us Oscar Grant’s family would get justice). Even white soccer mom’s like myself flipped off our radios and went home and looked up the time and date of the next rally. Jerry, put down the doobie! You lived in Oakland long enough to know what all those young people, and even us middle aged middle class moms know, the Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff wouldn’t know justice if it poked him in the eye. Now even if DA Orloff and his staff could recognize and deliver justice; they most certainly are not in the habit of giving it out to young black men who get murdered by the police.District Attorney Tom Orloff has never successfully prosecuted police for violence against community members. “Off the record” everyone agrees that DA Orloff runs the most arrogant and incompetent government agencies in all of Alameda County and perhaps the State. In fact police and criminals are united in their low opinion of Mr. Orloff and his staff’s ability.So how does Orloff survive and thrive, the old fashioned way he’s a seasoned bureaucrat a career preservationist. He sucks down a huge salary and doles out high paying county jobs every local politician’s sons, daughters, wives, cousins, uncles, mistresses and perhaps the odd pet. Pete Stark’s boy Jeffry “presides” over the Grand Jury, Orloff has employed Lockyer’s and Panetta’s kin as well. Judges may also impose on Orloff to employ their friends and family as well. Tom Orloff doesn’t deal in justice he deals in political influence; so no politician will ever call him to task for incompetence. We have no justice the DA runs a publicly funded employment agency to politicians and fat cat family members.In 2006 the then Grand Jury Foreman, a retired Sheriff’s Deputy, Mr. Boyer rushed out a shamelessly biased negative report on the Alameda County Medical Center. The report was strikingly similar to the public criticisms made of the Medical Center by the then Sherriff Charlie Plummer. The report was so damaging so factually flawed that the entire Authority Board of the Medical Center signed a written rebuke to the report.So, you say, why the press doesn’t look into this? The East Bay Express wrote whole articles about Dellum’s wife’s influence but a whole hen house of politician’s relatives doesn’t merit mention? And what about “Chip Johnson” the Don Perata’s mouthpiece at the San Francisco Chronicle, he’s all over the nepotism, corruption and incompetence at City Hall. Orloff makes ex-city manager Deborah Elderly look like a rank amateur but the silence is deafening, do they not know? Do they not care? What’s up? Well, actually the whole bag of snark with dates and data was provided to an East Bay Express reporter. The reporter told the source that the East Bay Express was “not comfortable” writing about the DA. Maybe Chip’s uncomfortable too, Chip doesn’t like to get too analytical about Oakland’s political machine or any of Don Perata’s friends or family.So, what does this mean for Oscar Grant and Oakland? After years of uninterrupted pork and politics at the District Attorney’s office can Orloff and his staff do what they have never done before and give Oscar’s Grant’s family and Oakland what they want and need?
what good my dude you will be miss by everone and my self adjrian rice your dude
My Rage is just too much too handle! I just found out about Oscars death by my brother. I usually do not watch the news and now you can see why. I don't know how this supposed "police officer" is not in jail, what he did was cold-blooded murder!They make it sound like he didn't need to resign (he needed to go to jail!. Oh and to top that off, he has the rest of the officers support. How does the chief of police expect people not to jump to conclusion it is only obvious to half the world that there was no need for that gun going off. I hope he is punished to the full extent of the law. Not only for the Grant family but also for the rest of us that want to beleive there is some justice to beleive in. I really don't want to beleive that just because you are a cop you can get away with anything! I really hope that this man is punished, and feels pain and remorse for the rest of his life for robbing that beautiful little girl of a father.