Jun 24, 2010 - Issue 381
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The People and Mehserle - Represent Our Resistance - By Dr. Lenore J. Daniels, PhD - BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board

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Manifest Destiny first assumed that the United States had some unique moral virtues that other countries did not possess. Second, manifest destiny asserted that the United States

had a mission to redeem the world by spreading republican government and the American way of life around the globe. Third, manifest Destiny had a messianic dimension because it assumed a faith in American’s divinely ordained destiny. This kind of thinking could only arise…from an ethnocentric view that one’s own culture, government, race, religion, and country are superior to all others.

…We surely need to stop being the minority and become part of the majority.

-(El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, “A Worldwide Revolution”)

By the year 2050, whites in the U.S. will no longer be the dominant race. “Nearly one in five Americans (19%) will be an immigrant in 2050, compared with one in eight (12%) in 2005” (Pew Report 2008). The immigrants coming to stir up the racial demographics in the U.S. will not come from Europe. In fact, headlines at the Europe Union Times Online last May warned: “America’s quick changing racial demographics, becoming unfriendly place for White Europeans to live.” In addition to the radical racial demographics predicted for 2050, Americans, too, must wonder about the political and, most importantly, the economic change to come.

How do U.S. citizens respond to what must be a fearful vision of the land of Justice?

On June 10, 2010, the people of the United States and law enforcement officer Johannes Mehserle, appealing to the criminal justice system, have gathered around Judge Robert Perry in a Los Angeles courtroom. The victim will not be there, at least not in person. The victim, Oscar Grant, executed on January 1, 2009 on a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) platform when a .40 caliber bullet from a BART police officer entered his back, was an unarmed 22-year old Black American. Dead.

Mehserle and his lawyer Michael Rains said it was an accident. There is a history of such accidents in the U.S., accidents with unintentional but fatal consequences, and the American public, the people, are almost always shocked when these accidents happen.

Justice in the U.S. considers ways to protect the innocent. No matter how many times a weapon was not found on the lifeless Black man, law enforcement is granted the right to plead self-defense or at least suggest a mistake occurred: the Black man was to be tased rather than shot. Justice in the U.S. protects the police state and its representatives. In just the years “between 2004 and 2008, there were 45 ‘officer-involved shootings’ by Oakland cops - 80 percent of those shot were Black men” (Indybay, November 3, 2009). No officer involved in these shooting was ever prosecuted or received disciplinary action. “In the last 15 years, there have been over 2,000 police killings in the U.S. - yet there were only six cases in which murder charges were filed against police, and none resulted in convictions.”

Justice in the U.S. protects the police state and extends its protection to white Americans. The people and Mehserle is not a well-kept secret if you are Indigenous, Black or Brown in the U.S.

Justice in the U.S. will not tolerate the objection of Black Americans. The venue for the trial is not held in Alameda County where the shooting of Oscar Grant took place because all the protesting on behalf of the victim would intimidate the jury consisting of 7 whites, 4 Latino/as, and 1 East Indian (the latter 5 for the purposes of controlled racial agitation) and thus make its task uncomfortable at best. The protest for justice for the victim, the dead man, ironically, threatens the judicial process. The Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson, thinking of what is best for justice, ordered the trial to take place in Los Angeles. Not one single Black from Oakland, the dead man’s community, will serve as a juror in Los Angeles. No juror at the People and Mehserle trial will have to sit next to an angry Black while the jurors, as they say, deliberate the fate of this police officer.

Perfectly within the right of the criminal justice system is the need to redefine “victim” in a case where the dead is Indigenous, Black, or Brown and the audience is white America. An adrenaline rush caused Mehserle to panic. Law enforcement officers confronting Black youths - the American imagination never knows what to expect! Mehserle puts his taser back in its holster but a minute later, pulls out his gun. After he would have heard fellow officer Tony Pirone, ex-Marine, yells at the restrained Grant, “bitch ass nigger” - Mehserle meant to pull out his taser again. A mistake! A pre-trial motion put forth by Rains, for the narrative of justice, of course, requested that the prosecution witnesses refer to Mehserle as “Office Mehserle,” but the dead man, Oscar Grant, is not to be referred to as “victim” (Thandisizwe Chimurenga, SF BayView, June 10, 2010). Another motion “requested that Oscar Grant’s arrest report from a 2006 encounter be entered into evidence.” A portion of the report will be allowed as evidence - of what - inherent criminality?

It would seem that the dead man, shot in the back, is the victim, but this is America and that kind of statement articulates an assumption few Americans believed when hundreds of Blacks were lynched each month for years and Black towns or Black sections of towns were razed and Black citizens massacred. Even when the prisons in the U.S. swell with Black and Brown, American refuse to understand how the incarcerated are victims of a capitalist racial caste system.

In the U.S. a man is killed at the hands of a Black man; a woman is raped by a “Hispanic” man. The suspects are Muslims in a plot to kill American soldiers.

The current climate of the People and Mehserle is not so different from the eras when the People and Bull Connors, the KKK, lynch mobs of average citizens, FBI agents, and local law enforcement personnel reigned. The People and Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton are also the People and Capitalism, Manifest Destiny still.

Last week, a 14-year old Mexican boy was executed, shot in the head, on the Mexican side of the border because an American border patrol officer panicked. Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guerica, among other teens, was throwing rocks at the patrolmen, and at least one, felt threatened, danger. The patrolman, an adult, and armed for warfare, fired at a child throwing rocks.

As Head of State, President Barack Obama let stand Bush-era orders to shoot to kill U.S. citizens, anywhere, if, according to Washington Post reporter Dana Priest “strong evidence” exist that “an American is involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests.” military and intelligence officials said. “The person, for instance, has to pose “a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests.”

If supporters of justice on behalf of Oscar Grant or Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guerica or Iraqi and Afghani civilians protest, then will these citizens be perceived as posing “a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests,” particularly if these persons or interests have revealed “strong evidence” of a criminal agenda?

Shoot to kill, Wild, Wild West national policy of the U.S. Empire, assumes the perpetrators’ innocence and the innocence of any perpetrator(s) aligned with the policy. President Obama’s mild reaction, as Head of State, to Israel’s middle-of-the-night naval commando raid on the flotilla delivering food, toys, and building materials to Gaza, he regrets the 9 shot dead, but reserves” judgment apportioning blame,” Guardian, June 2010, reflects the government’s approval of Bush-era cowboy diplomacy anywhere in the world. Change is strange. That Israel has the right to defend itself with hi-tech weaponry made in the U.S.A. against rock-throwing Palestinian children and occasional rockets from Gaza is to be understood by all. In turn, cowboy diplomacy is equally reflected in the Israeli government’s narrative of its behavior off the Gaza coast: Responsibility for the dead “organizers” aboard the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish passenger vessel, rest with the “organizers” themselves. “Pro-Palestinian activists…presented “themselves as humanitarians but had come ready for a fight” (New York Times, May, 2010).

Justice is not and never has been in that 1845 agenda.

Johannes Mehserle and Oscar Grant did not just encounter each other on a particular day in a particular year. They have met before. Time and time again, the “big brothers” (SFGate, June 17, 2010), Pirones, with their guttural articulation of domestic and foreign policies towards the world’s majority populations, mentor the likes of a Mehserle and a (Marysol) Domenici. The use of force against the unarmed is not an isolated response by the Mehserles to a perceived danger. Their response and justification for murder is the premise of Manifest Destiny still very much with us today. Many Americans consciously or unconsciously believe in the even if adamantly opposed to violence and particularly when the perpetrator looks like them and waves the red, white, and blue while shouting “bitch ass nigger” in sight!

Very little has changed since the so-call “lawless” era. Besides, the U.S. has an aversion to learning from its past. That’s why history is never really taught. In its place, children are feed romantic or gothic tales. Actual history is irrelevant and whatever era in which the U.S. finds itself becomes a new frontier in the battle against “evil.”

If the American people want change, then they must change. It is the kind of change that cannot happen over night and it cannot come from a government, continuing under President Obama, to maintain and justify aggressive responses to everything it perceives as a threat to its new frontier and the continuing search for oil and other mineral resources to power up the new gadgets of this modern world.

The hundreds of Blacks, Browns, and whites calling for justice outside the L.A. Courthouse are commendable, collectively resisting the irrational fears of the many. But there is a long history of acquittals granted to perpetrators of violence against Black Americans. For the millions, liberals, conservatives, whatever political stripe or ethnicity, who envision of a white nation becoming increasingly darker - a nightmare vision that can only be held back by force, by the locking up of the powerless (as the mimicking Pirone declared: “this mother- is going to jail,”), or by the death of perceived villains, change! It is this vision of terror that is “a continuing and imminent threat” to all Americans.

Rather than profits and power, accumulate life before Mother Nature decides that she has seen enough of the irrationality of Manifest Destiny! The People and Mehserle is ultimate death for all!

See: “Hundreds Demand Justice for Oscar Grant Outside L.A. Courthouse”

by ~Bradley ([email protected] riseup.net )

Also: Follow the Mehserle trail at: http://www.indybay.org and at:

http://www.sfbayview.com.

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has been a writer for over thirty years of commentary, resistance criticism and cultural theory, and short stories with a Marxist sensibility to the impact of cultural narrative violence and its antithesis, resistance narratives. With entrenched dedication to justice and equality, she has served as a coordinator of student and community resistance projects that encourage the Black Feminist idea of an equalitarian community and facilitator of student-teacher communities behind the walls of academia for the last twenty years. Dr. Daniels holds a PhD in Modern American Literatures, with a specialty in Cultural Theory (race, gender, class narratives) from Loyola University, Chicago. Click here to contact Dr. Daniels.

 

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