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.
do U.S. citizens respond to what must be a fearful
vision of the land
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.
and his lawyer Michael Rains said it was an accident.
There is a history of such accidents in the
accidents with unintentional but fatal consequences, and
the American public, the people, are almost always shocked
when these accidents happen.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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 -
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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).
is not and
never has been in that 1845 agenda.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
~Bradley ([email protected] riseup.net )
Follow the Mehserle trail at: http://www.indybay.org and
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.