Notes from a bitch…untitled…

I heard about the Mehserle verdict in the Oscar Grant case through Twitter.
I wasn’t surprised by the verdict or the coverage…and since others have done a fantabulous job breaking all of this down, I don’t feel the need to.
Not just yet…no, not quite yet.
I do feel the need to explore my feelings.
When I first heard about Oscar Grant’s murder…and then watched the video…my heart ached. I felt for his family and friends…for his community and all the folks left behind to mourn.
And then I though about my own.
It’s natural, I suppose, even though it feels selfish as hell.
I thought about my brother…a 40 year old black man who often rides the Metro train here in St. Louis Missouri. My brother is autistic and aphasic…he likes to make noises when he’s excited…and he’s often excited on about the Metro…and he sometimes doesn’t respond to questions or requests.
I try not to worry about my brother interacting with police officers.
So far he hasn’t had any problems, but I still worry about it…because.
What if he’d been there on that platform…my brother where Oscar Grant was…on his knees, vulnerable and unarmed, confused and frightened and at risk because.
I thought of my cousins…of young men who often go out and about on public transit.
I thought about how I’ve often heard my aunts caution them about interacting with the police…about how they should move slowly and not talk back and, if they feel they are being harassed, wait and address the incident later rather than in the moment because.
And my heart aches…it just fucking aches.
For the world we live in…for this anxiety so common that when it eases for a spell I miss it like a pain…for my cousins, who are taught the lessons of the white man’s justice when they are too damned young because they may face that shit while still so damn young…
…and for my aunts, who fret and worry and will fret and worry because.

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  1. Dena
    Posted July 14, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    I completely feel you.

  2. MishaKitty
    Posted July 14, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Very simple and yet such a beautiful and important piece. Nothing else to say except thank you for this Sharkfu.

  3. TiernaFeminista
    Posted July 14, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    I wanted to post a comment in support of you and this post. The feelings you feel are natural – and are not selfish. They should be felt by EVERYONE. We should ALL be concerned that our fellow human beings are treated this way “because.” Because of racism and other oppression. If everyone was able to relate to this incident the world would be a different place. It is a shame that you have to deal with this trauma. I am sorry.

  4. Yeltsine
    Posted July 14, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Am I the only one who thinks that the Mehserle verdict was correct? I’m generally very attuned to police brutality- especially against young black males- because I think it is a pressing issue that does not get the attention it deserves.
    However, in this particular case, there is ample evidence to suggest that Mehserle did not intend to shoot Grant, including but not limited to video footage of his reaction and the fact that he does not have a violent background of any sort. Could he be guilty of intentional murder? Absolutely, but the evidence suggests that he’s not. A tragedy, yes, but I can’t see how it is anything more than involuntary manslaughter.
    I think this is a good post, I just don’t think it’s really fair to tie it into this particular case.

  5. libdevil
    Posted July 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Even if you buy every word of the guy’s story, his excuse was that he was only trying to torture the guy with some electric shock from a Taser, rather than execute him in cold blood. Even taking him at his word that he only wanted to torture a restrained, prone, unarmed black man, how is that not felony murder? Even the generous interpretation, in which we take the officer at his word, is damning.

  6. TiernaFeminista
    Posted July 14, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Boo. Just. Boo.
    The fact is, this post isn’t about the conviction. I’d say your post is a derail. Stop it. Please?

  7. Swift
    Posted July 14, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    My heart aches with you.

  8. Sarah
    Posted July 14, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    It’s not felony murder because it doesn’t fit the legal definition of felony murder. Can we please examine our kneejerk reactions to this story so we can come to a reasonable conclusion?

  9. Emily
    Posted July 14, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Or at the very least voluntary manslaughter is needed as he was attempting to create (if you believe him) a deadly situation by using a less-lethal (but still very lethal) weapon on a unarmed, prone, handcuffed man. I think people aught to be held accountable for there actions however- no one will ever know accept the perpetrator what his intentions were, but to a certain extent, it doesn’t really matter.
    Almost every murder happens under less than ideal situations. There is always a reason, as warped as it might be to others, but that doesn’t stop what happened. We don’t give robbers that kill under the stress of being surprised, or other such situations too much lenience. He shot a restrained man in the back and killed him- he needs to be held responsible and not with the same verdict we give negligent drivers.

  10. Emily
    Posted July 14, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    opps, I just realized I participated in a de-rail. what I wanted to say was…
    The particulars of this case don’t matter. What does matter is that black men live in fear of the police and are systematically more likely to be victims of police brutality, abuse, and misunderstandings. What matters is that the police are rarely held accountable for the outcome and thus, the life of a black man in this country is deemed less valuable. What does matter is that the mothers, sisters, and daughters live with dread and anxiety for the safety of their sons, brothers,and fathers.
    Sharkfu, what you said was beautiful, sad, and true. Thank you for your words.

  11. libdevil
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Felony murder is murder during the commission of a felony. Torturing somebody is a felony. (Ok, ok, not when cops do it. Or US soldiers.) Mehserle intended to commit a violent felony. That he was too incompetent to commit the violent crime he was trying to commit was his excuse for killing Oscar Grant.
    Let me put it to you this way. If Oscar Grant had shot a helpless Officer Mehserle in the back, and explained that he only meant to torture him, Mr. Grant would be on his way to death row or life in a dehumanizing super-max facility right about now. Mehserle, on the other hand, is on his way to probation or a relatively short prison term.

  12. libdevil
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I guess I did too. I even continued it, replying again to Sarah. That comment could be deleted from the moderation queue and I wouldn’t miss it.

  13. Sarah
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Police use of a Taser is not considered a violent felony. It can be argued that it should be, but the fact is that right now, the law does not consider this to be the case. Your analogy doesn’t work.

  14. Yeltsine
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    This is a nonsensical comparison because Mehserle’s intent was not to “torture” Grant (nice weasel words) but to restrain him. Whether such restraint was justified appears to be open for debate (some witnesses claim Grant was resisting, some claim he wasn’t), but it muddies the waters enough so that labeling it a felony is clearly wrong. Thus, it is an accidental killing which is the definition of involuntary manslaughter.
    Should Mehserle be prosecuted for excessive use of force? I don’t know, but that is a completely different charge.

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