Friday, May 11, 2012

We Were Denied Our Rights! Oscar Grant's Family reacts to killer's appeal to overturn conviction

"We were denied our rights!"

Cephus Uncle Bobby Johnson, uncle of Oscar Grant, tells The Final Call after learning after-the-fact that Johannes Mehserle, the former cop who killed his nephew, asked a court Wednesday to overturn his involuntary manslaughter conviction.

I spoke to Mr. Johnson while he and several Grant family members were on their way to a press conference in front of the Alameda County District Attorney's Office this morning.

According to Beatrice X, an activist, also Mr. Johnson's wife, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley told the family that officials had an obligation to inform them of the hearing and that she was going to get to the bottom of who dropped the ball.  Also according to Beatrice X, the family is supposed to meet with Ms. O'Malley next week.

I phoned Ms. O'Malley's office for confirmation and to find out just what happened here.

"We're hurt.  I'm angered," Mr. Johnson said.

Where does the Grant family go from here?  Hopefully finding someone in the State of California to investigate how their victims' rights were violated, he said.

Lawyers for Mr. Mehserle said letting the conviction stand would subject officers to increased prosecution for mistakes, according to reports. According to media reports, an attorney for Mr. Mehserle stated, "All he did was make an error...We cannot put them at risk for criminal sanctions for something that amounted to police error."

But Mr. Mehserle's so-called error cost Oscar Grant, an unarmed, subdued Black, male transit rider his life, and that can never be brought back, I Am Oscar Grant activists say.

"We had a right to be informed about the hearing and to be present and we weren't.  We've traveled back and forth, miles and miles, to Los Angeles to attend court hearings during this trial and when a hearing's right next door to my house, they don't notify us! We are going to take action," Mr. Johnson said.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

From Pain to Power - My Latest FCN Cover Story

I had been speaking with some of the mothers for several weeks for our new cover story and am still in awe over their strength  courage, and by their beauty.  The beauty in how they care for each other and other mothers whose children have just been killed reflects a sisterhood I feel only God could sustain.  A recurring theme in their interviews is how their relationships with God got them through the initial murders of their babies and through one day at a time, He is helping them turn their pain into power.  

I interviewed Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mother, Wanda Johnson, Oscar Grant's mother, Enola Causey, Donnie Causey, Jr.'s mother, Theresa Williamson, Nicole Williamson's mother, Valerie Bell, Sean Bell's mother, Denika Chatman, Kenneth Harding, Jr.'s mother, Vicky Lindsey, Lionel Whiteside's mother, LaWanda Hawkins, Reginald Hawkins' mother, and Sis. Beatrice X, our very own Muslim activist in the Stop the Killing movement.  

Producing this article brought tears to my eyes, just as I cried when I'd heard these, our babies had been murdered.  But by the time I'd typed their last sentiments, I was encouraged by their empowerment.  Their babies have been physically murdered but their spirits live on. Their lives will not be in vain by their mothers and fathers efforts to save other children.  

And as Ms. Fulton told me, "God is still in control."