Monday, August 31, 2009

What's Going on with the Oscar Grant Case?

The following post is from James Rucker, executive director of members gathered at the Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland Tuesday to confront District Attorney Tom Orloff over his handling of the Oscar Grant case, and to demand that he explain his decision not to charge a second BART police officer for his actions in the moments leading up to Oscar Grant's murder.

The event was a huge success and garnered lots of good local news coverage, including reports from most of the local TV news media. Our members delivered more than 20,000 petitions -- collected in less than two weeks -- to Orloff's office. This number reflects just a portion of the nearly 45,000 ColorOfChange members who have expressed outrage, demanded justice and pledged vigilance since Oscar Grant's murder on New Year's Day.

We sent Orloff a strong message that the public is continuing to watch his handling of this case. Orloff now has to answer the charge that he is failing to uphold California law in his refusal to bring charges against BART police officer Tony Pirone (who struck Oscar Grant in the face, apparently unprovoked, and then kneeled on Grant's neck as the 22-year-old Hayward man was shot in the back and killed by another BART officer). We're deeply concerned about what Orloff's lack of action against Pirone says about his commitment to pursuing justice throughout the case, and we think it's essential that people who care about justice for Oscar Grant continue to demand accountability.

Our effort was supported by Dereca Blackmon, a leader of the Oakland-based Coalition Against Police Execution. Dereca and I addressed the crowd before joining ColorOfChange members to carry the stacks of petitions into the courthouse and up to the ninth-floor, where the District Attorney's staffers accepted them without much comment. We're still waiting for a public response from Orloff.