By Eva Barrows
Ten years after Oscar Grant was shot and killed by BART police at Oakland’s Fruitvale Station, Henrietta Burroughs speaks with in-studio guests about the impact of Grant’s death then and now. Minister Keith Muhammad, a representative of Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, was instrumental in organizing community protest after the shooting joined the show. Beatrice X. Johnson and Grant’s Uncle Bobby both joined the conversation, giving personal accounts of Grant and their connection to the community response.
Uncle Bobby recalls sending a text to Grant about an hour before he was killed because he felt drawn to reach out to his nephew. If it wasn’t for the message of love Uncle Bobby sent, he feels that his reaction after the killing would have been destructive instead of the loving community based one he had. Although Beatrice Johnson didn’t know Grant, she later married Uncle Bobby, she was an activist and accompanied Grant’s mother to court and attended Grant’s funeral. Johnson wants black children to be able to grow up and reach a full life span.
In response to the shooting, activists who were already meeting about police brutality, murder, and mass incarceration, were driven to action by this instance of injustice. Minister Keith Muhammad helped organize government representatives and community members to participate at rallies and town hall meetings. People across the nation were galvanized by the BART passenger videos showing the moments that led up to and after the shooting.
Ten years later, new laws are going into effect in California to curb deadly force by police officers and make access to body camera footage more available. The show’s guests point out that laws have helped cover up the nature of police-involved shootings in the past. Family members looking for answers have a hard time accessing the truth. The panel agrees police officer accountability is the solution to changing the current status quo. Find more details about Oscar Grant’s family, community reaction and the push for change on this episode of Talking with Henrietta.