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Oscar Grant and Police Accountability


Protestor at Oscar Grant rally. Photo by Geoffrey King

Who polices the police? Do you or your neighbors have any say in the way your town’s cops and sheriffs do business? For more than 35 years, cities around the country have been creating civilian oversight agencies – trying to make local police and sheriffs accountable to the communities they serve.

On this edition we take a look at the police killing of Oscar Grant in Oakland, and the debate over who gets to decide when an officer has done something wrong.


Barbara Attard, civilian oversight consultant, former San Francisco Office of Citizen Complaints investigator and former Berkeley Police Review Commission Director; Marcel Diallo, artist and victim of police harassment; Rashidah Grinage, PUEBLO Executive Director; Jason Wechter, National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement Board Member; Reginald Lyles, BART consultant and former Berkeley Police Officer; Gary Gee, BART Police Chief; Jesse Sekhon, BART Police Officers Association President; Quintin Mecke, California State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s Communications Director; Greg Kaufory, attorney; Omar Osirus, Jan, and Bo, protestors; Daniel Buford, Allen Temple Baptist Church Reverend; Joyce Hicks, San Francisco Office of Citizen Complaints Director and former Oakland’s Citizens Police Review Board Director; Patrick Cacares, Oakland Citizens Police Review Board acting director; Paulette Hogan, tasered Oakland resident who filed complaint with Internal Affairs; Chris Shannon, Oakland Police Lieutenant; Cephus Johnson, Oscar Grant’s uncle; Mark Kroeker, Portland Police Chief.

For more information:

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police

Berkeley CopWatch

Berkeley Police Review Commission
Berkeley, CA

California State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano
Sacramento, CA

IndyBay –Oscar Grant coverage

Oakland Citizens’ Police Review Board
Oakland, CA

Oakland General Assembly for Justice for Oscar Grant

National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE)
Indianapolis, IN

New Year’s Movement

People United For a Better Oakland (PUEBLO)
Oakland, CA

Portland Copwatch
Portland, OR

San Francisco Office of Citizen Complaints
San Francisco, CA

Articles, Blogs, Films, Reports, Other:

NACOLE list of Civilian Oversight Agencies

US Dept of Justice Report:
Citizen Review of Police: Approaches and Implementation. March 2001

City of Berkeley Police Review Commission 2004 report

Justice for Kendra James Community Information

From Oscar Grant, Where? Seeking Structural Change

Photography by Geoffrey King of the Streets of Oakland after the Mehserle Verdict


KRS-One – Sound of the Police

Author: Kwan

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  1. Maybe you didn’t notice if/when you checked out the site, but there is no “Justice For Oscar Grant Committee” — that site has not been updated since March 2009 and was merely a placeholder for some of the members of the now-defunct group called CAPE.

    If you want more current info from grassroots activists, there is the Oakland General Assembly for Justice for Oscar Grant at — this group organized the Jan 1, 2010 anniversary events, the BART action in SF in April of this year, and the recent speak-out at 14th and Broadway on the day of the verdict. The site is updated when new events are scheduled.

    There’s also which has a broad array of coverage from Jan 2009 all the way up to the pro-Mehserle counter demo on Monday, and almost everything in between. Court documents, protests, essays, and more.

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  2. Thanks, Dave. We added these links to our show page. We appreciate the tips and additional information. Let us know what you think of the show, and please re-post to your social networks!

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  3. Re: Oscar Grant and Oakland

    Justice must be seen to be believed. Shipping such a trial out of town was an error. Some how getting a judge with a dubious record (re: the Ramparts trial a while back) and a jury not of poor Mr. Grants peers were serious deflections of justice.

    I listened to KPFA most of the day of the Messerly trial and have I believe a fair idea of what went on in Oakland that day. Of course I am aware that a number of rowdy people in cluding non Oakland people misbehaved after dark. It was the Day time events told the tale both as far as public reaction is concerned and that the trial should have been conducted. I’d say that Oakland showed itself to be both sophisticated and mature in the face of very real adversity.

    The next time we in the Bay Area face something like this must tell government that we ourselves must see that justice be done. I think that public meetings must be inaugurated where all such matters will be discussed with conclusions conveyed to our elected officials. These may be invited to speak and interact with citizens. So also with police providing they come in dress uniforms only.

    I believe such meetings should be initiated now with regard to the Messerly Sentencing. In behalf of the Grant family and the rest of us the court in LA must know know how concerned we are that we see Justice must be done.

    George Pope
    San Mateo

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  4. I am in the middle of going to court right now because of an incident that happened with some local police officers. My boyfriend and I were having an argument in my apartment and the officers were outside doing a random traffic stop. My windows were open and they heard us “yelling” and came pounding on the door to my apartment. They entered my apartment very rudely. They did not explain anything to us. They just started throwing us around and using excessive force. In the end my boyfriend and I were arrested on bogus charges as well as my mother for witnessing this horrifying event. I am lost. It is our word against their word and my boyfriend is facing three to eleven years for not doing anything wrong at all! I do not know who to tell or where to turn to. Even finding a good lawyer has been hard. I feel like there is no hope. There is no one policing the police! At least if there is, I have not heard of them. Would someone be so kind as to give me some insight?

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  5. to Jenell, I am a 49 year old woman with not so much as a speeding ticket I have NO record nor have I ever been arested in my whole adult life! So you can hopefully comprehend my total and utter HORROR at the event that I am going to tell you about that took place in virginia beach va, the city I loved and have called home for most of my entire life. On june 1st 2011 as I was driving home from a short visit to one of my freinds homes to retreive a set of keys belonging to me, I am going through a divorce from the man I have loved for 28 years “and still do”,I mentioned that so you will understand why I was taking my time rather than rushing to get back to the home We still share temporarely. I havn’t had an easy life, though thats nor here nor there, as to this event. I have always “since childhood” used music to quell my pain, fears, block out constant drunken yelling and, Hell I could go on forever but I wont, I will say the louder the better though. I love almost all types of music, on this perticular night I was JAMMIN to some Reggae, Steve & Derek Marley, two sons of the MUCH BELOVED Bob Marley, I needed the insperation and hope that I always feel while listening to Reggae and Ska. Next thing I know Im face down in the concrete parking lot at the 7-11,” I unfortunatly stoped at to get a cup of coffee,” after being physically pulled, “and believe me I had my arms wraped thru the spaces in my steering wheel and was holding on as well as screaming for dear life,” from my vehical by two out of uniform, wearing no badges, so called police officers, one of which I still have yet to so much as see his face, because I demanded to know who he was, what was hapening and why I had to get out of my vehicle when he had not so much as looked at my drivers license, “which I had handed to him,” nor had he identified himself, so I requested not only a female officer, but an officer in uniform as well, I was handcuffed while one man had his knee in my back as he used his hand to crush my head into the cement while the other man had both of his knees crushing my legcalfs and both of his hands pressig down my thighs, I think You should know that I am 5ft 5in and weigh about 115 lbs, amazing the strength you have when your SCARED! I was forced into an UNMARKED black vehicle, Still with NO EXPLANATION as to what ws going on. If it wern’t for the fact that my head, knees. right shoulder, hands and even the tops of my feet were bleeding, I would have thought someone was playing a prank on me! I have to stop here , due to my getting extremely upset again. Dearest Jenell and to anyone else who is reading my story, I must tell you that this is Only the begining of one of the most horrific nights of my life, Lets call this Part 1 and I will continue with part 2 ” there will be atleast 5 parts ” tomorrow.
    As far as insight, Im still completely BLIND SIDED, However I did ” nievely ” go to the Internal Afairs Department of Virginia Beach, to tell an Internal Afairs Seargent by the name of HOFFMAN what had been done to me, but as I was only part way thru my statement, “which I thought WAS being recorded” I was asked to just give a NARRATED VERSION of what happened, and He would tape it. I said and I will QUOTE myself ” have you lost ypur F@#kn Mind?” UNOUOTE. I flat out refused to do it that way. The details are why I was there. I did incist that he take several pictures, several because I had several scrapes, cuts,a perfect handprint bruise on my upper right thigh as well as other bruises, a head wound, and both of my wrists were swollen as well as extremely bruised. All that just to let you know that I believe you are unfortunatly correct in saying NO One is Policing the Police! My question in that same regard was ” Who do you call when you cant call 911?
    Even the lawyers here are like, If They take my case, They’ll never be able to try any other cases in this city.
    Ive decided that this is why they make movies every once in a whlie about some person who fought the system and won, its not because these incidents are RARE by any stretch of the imagination, but instead because its extremely RARE that anybody ever gets help to fight much less to beat the so called system!
    Part 2 begins with me being forced into the car. ONE LOVE & PEACE Im out

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  6. On November 16th 2010 I needed to call an ambulance for my 96 year old father.
    EMS got here and started to take Dad to the hospital. As they were working on Dad two Leavenworth City Police officers came to the door.
    I went to the door and without warning, was hit in the chest by one of the officers and knocked back into the house.
    I told him to get out of my house, and he pulled a taser and threatened me with it.
    I picked up the phone, dialed 911, and ask for a supervisor to come to the house.
    The officer said he was here for EMS, and ask them what they needed.
    They told him to stay on the front porch.
    But the officer told me I was under arrest for battery on a law enforcement officer, and obstruction.
    I said OK, I’ll get my shoes. I went into the house and put my shoes on, and he followed me in.
    I told him I needed to get my keys, and started back into the kitchen.
    He hit me again, and pulled out his handcuffs.
    I held out my hands for him, and he told me to turn around.
    I explained that I was 330 pounds and that wouldn’t work very well.
    I was told he was going to do it HIS way, and spun me around.
    He was unable to cuff me, so he told me to turn back around.
    Then he told me he really didn’t want to arrest me.
    I had to go to the hospital, where they found he hit me so hard it had bruised my sternum, and wrenched my shoulder.
    I have also been told I am suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome, and will need long term care.
    I was told four times by doctors at Shawnee Mission Medical center to find an attorney.
    The county attorney refused to act.
    Can you help?

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  7. Gatineau police officer Pierre Francois Blais charged on a record 10 counts under Police act after striking a 73 year old woman and shooting her son to death.

    OTTAWA — A Gatineau cop is facing charges under the Quebec Police Act following a shooting in 2008 in which a man was killed.

    On June 29, 2011 — one day past the three-year anniversary of David Leclair’s death and just five days after the Leclair family launched a $430,000 civil suit against the officer and the city — the province’s police ethics commissioner charged Const. Pierre-Francois Blais with 10 counts under the act.

    Though he remains on active duty, Blais was unreachable for comment Wednesday.

    “It’ll never bring David back, it never should have happened to begin with,” Leclair’s sister, Donna, told QMI Agency Wednesday. She is still pressing for a public inquiry into her brother’s death.

    A 35-year-old single father who was well-known to police, Leclair was shot three times outside his mother’s Gatineau, Que., home after Blais responded to a domestic complaint involving Leclair’s ex.

    On the day of Leclair’s death, Blais had followed him into his mother’s home, beat him with a club and pepper-sprayed him before shooting him three times outside, including once in the back. Blais said LeClair grabbed a crowbar in the confrontation but witnesses say he was unarmed.

    The officer also struck Leclair’s then 73-year-old mother, Dorothy, in the leg with his baton and, according to witnesses, threatened to shoot her and LeClair’s brother, Robert, if they intervened.

    “Personally, I would love him to have jail time, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen at this point,” Donna said.

    Blais, the son of chief justice of the Federal Court of Appeal Pierre Blais, was cleared in 2009 of any criminal wrongdoing after a provincial police investigation. He was also cleared of unlawful use of force and four other police act charges in April stemming from an unrelated domestic dispute in 2007.

    The latest charges, which stem from a formal complaint filed to the police ethics commissioner, allege Blais acted carelessly and recklessly in his dealings with Leclair, used obscene or offensive language, displayed a lack of respect or courtesy, abused his authority, and violated Leclair’s Charter right to life, liberty and security of the person.

    Blais is also charged with using excessive force against Leclair’s mother, Dorothy, along with four other charges.

    “Will this bring us closure? I don’t know, but I hope it helps … Something is better than nothing right now,” Donna said. “We’ll see how it plays out.”

    No hearing date has been set yet.

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  8. July 23, 2011
    I was stopped this evening by a police officer that had obviously been working with another officer. I heard a “beep” or noise from an officer I saw sitting on the side of the road. Its almost as if he has signaled the officer who came up on me immediately after I had the signal. Needless to say, he stopped me for dead tags. I had paid my registration on line and never received tags. I called DMV…no such luck. Went to DMV and the line was out the door. I finally wrote a letter. DMV stated I needed proof of insurance. I mailed that in and NEVER heard back from DMV. In addition, I had a MD license and now live in CA. I admit I lost my license, but I did have my passport to show my identity. The officer was rude and decided to have my car towed. I had me in a mini dress and high heels, my 3 yr old and my 16 yr old daughter and her friend with me. Finally around 10pm the two cops told me they were going to impound my car even though they clearly saw that I paid my bills. I had a copy of the bill and of my bank statement in the car in the event I did get stopped. The bad part is that the arrogant officers offered to call a cab. I told them I did not have the money. they said they could drop me off at some McDonalds I dont even know about. They said call a friend or family. I have one friend ( I just moved here and dont know anyone yet) and my family lives 6 hours north of me! So guess what! Yes, the officers had me walk home, in the dark 10m at night, with my 3 yr old and my daugher and her friend. The friend had to carry the car seat, I had the stroller so I put my son in that and the rest will be history! I contacted Diane Feinstein, will be calling Internal affairs on Monday AM, will be filing a law suit for Negligence and the Lt. Maisano who asked for the impound HAS NOT HEARD THE LAST OF ME! Where is the humanity in this country. You have a woman and children out on the streets at night in this day and age with all these whacks on the street? I called the Chief of Police and will be in his face first thing MONDAY! This gentleman has not heard the last of me. I WILL BE A THORN IN HIS SIDE. These officers endangered my life and my kids lives. Leaving us on the street to walk 5 miles to home in high heels???? STROLLER? AND COLD…I called the office where Lt. Maisano works and Srgt. Warren offered more care and concern and his boss is Lt. Maisano. Mr. Warren said he would send a police to pick me up and take me home and the police who came was Lt. Maisano. COULDNT HE HAVE JUST TAKEN ME HOME INSTEAD OF ASKING ME TO BE DROPPED OFF AT MCDONALDS??? FUNNY HOW ONE WILL REACT WHEN I HAVE CALLED HIS BOSS!!!! Doesnt matter. I wont stop until justice is served!

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  9. Yes, I’ve been dismayed at the contact that I’ve had with the Emeryville
    police, I’ve been witness to them being an obstruction to the law and
    justice rather than upkeepers of it in my last two encounters with them. They were snide, rude, untruthful and unprofessional.
    they were the problem more than the solution, they make me feel
    unsafe in my own neighborhood, And act more like para-military than
    peace officers. Yeah, the ‘Good Ol Boys’ are alive and well in Emeryville.

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  10. There are some very deep comments on this page. Thank you all for sharing your stories. It’s important that lines of communication on this troubling subject are kept open and that we keep an eye on accountability.

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  11. Civil trial January 2012 in Sacramento Please check out the web site

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  12. I got handcuffed, beaten up, choked, taunted with mace, thrown half way over a guard rail, kicked to the ground, dragged on the ground by a MBTA Transit Police Officer who pulled me over on the Mass Pike who was driving like a lunatic after I put my high beams on behind him after he passed me to get his license plate to report him. The officer said he had just worked a 20 hour shift and “didnt need to deal with some guy who cant handle a beer” (I don’t drink). The officer then proceeded to uncuff me and let me go. Since then I have received a citation for Reckless Driving (criminal) and also 6 separate civil charges that will follow me in MA for years. I currently now have no license because of the incident and everyone I call gived me the run around and I cant figure out what to do. I am afraid to pursue it but I don’t think I have a choice. I need help. Can anyone give me any advice? My phone # is 617-620-4630. Thank You.

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  13. I think that oversight is needed, because not everyone is perfect and I feel that the police make mistake and try to get away with it. If police do, do something wrong they could lose their job and that is their income, so they would try to keep public opinion out because that means the people would be watching constantly for them to screw up, or make simple mistake which raises their chances of losing their job, or being penalized.
    kyla alford

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  14. The government doesn’t want to not support the police but at the same time try to support the oversight. So with government is trying to save its but and look good and the police think their alone in fixing crime so the stick up for each other whether the partner did right or wrong, at the end of the day they only have each other back when push comes to shove. If people get the public oversight then the polices having each other’s back doesn’t work and it will turn into a very bad working environment.

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  15. I feel everyone has the right to live and disagree with what police are doing, but I feel that it should be up to the court systems to decide if the police were in the wrong or not. If it is left up to the citizens to view police’s everyday job it wouldn’t work on simple biases that they aren’t as aware of the laws and how the justice systems work, this would make a lot of extra work for the court systems. Things would also be made up just to see if they lye if they can get away with it.

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  16. Last weekend my husband I had a verbal dispute. At some point the Norfolk Police were called and although I had the visible injuries to my body, I was “asked” to stay somewhere else for the night. I cooperated and stayed with a friend. The next evening, that officer (and 3 others for reasons still unknown to me) showed up at my home. My husband and I were still having an off and on dispute through the day but there had been no physical violence between us. At one point, all 4 officers, my husband and I were standing outside talking. I was a little upset and crying lightly but talking rationally. The next thing I knew, one of the officers grabbed me around my left arm very hard, dragged me to a nearby patrol car, pushed me in to the car, yelled “you’re under arrest” then slammed the door. I sat there upset and confused as I had NO idea what was going on or why he did that. I wasn’t even patted down and still had my cell phone on me. About 5 minutes later, a different officer let me out of the patrol car and told me I was to stay away from my house for the next 72 hours (although the protective order – signed by the officer and NOT my husband) expired after 36 hours. The next morning I noticed bruises from where the one officer grabbed me around the arm and couldn’t believe it. I was ultimately NOT arrested or charged with anything. HOW IS THIS LEGAL? I feel like my civil rights were violated by false imprisonment, police officer brutality, etc. I plan on contacting the IA Dept asap but at the same time I am scared about this whole situation. I know I didn’t do anything wrong and certainly didn’t deserve what that officer did to me!! As a former law enforcement officer (of 13 years) myself, I am outraged as to the actions of this Norfolk Police Officer.

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  17. I’m not sure when our policemen and forces adopted the attitude that so many of them carry. It’s almost as if we need to go through every police force and pschologically test every policeman.
    I live in Canada where we have the RCMP which for the most part is a very good policing body. Their biggest problem in my opinion is that their training is still carried out by the old school which keeps propogating the old attitudes, the old practices.
    We need to weed out the existing policemen and the police educators who train police to believe that they are a gang working against the citizens. They need to be trained to be part of society and to realize that they work for society. They are extremely, necessarily important to a democratic community but when poorly trained, poorly suited people are put in these positions, they bring down public confidence in policing. We have too many really bad examples of this lately. I give as an example the Jakansky affair at Vancouver International Airport where four armed RCMP officers murdered an innocent man. They exhibited gang mentality and behaved like children playing with their new toys; their tazers. After killing him they attempted to fabricate information to shift the blame to Mr. Jakansky. This was one of the blackest marks ever on our national police force. This horror was followed by another when their superiors closed ranks to protect the guilty among them.
    There are too many examples of this behavior in recent years,not because the behavior is new but because so many ordinary citizens carry cameras and are willing to use them.
    The behavior by police is systemic and the only way to change it is to throw out the upper management who are only there to climb the salary and pension ladder within a sick system. Unfortunately bullies like cream always seem to rise to the top.
    Lately I’ve heard our police complain that they have to behave as social workers. Police ARE social workers and any policeman who thinks differently should find another vocation.
    Maybe part of the problem is that some become adrenalin junkies and can only feel fullfilled when aggressively taking someone down.
    Police forces need to drop the word FORCE and they need to think of themselves as the babysitters of society. I say this very seriously.
    We have for too long used police as tax collectors, bouncers and bullies and part of the blame lies with us.
    We need to change our attitude but we also need to discard the bad apples within all police departments. The rot they spread will never end until they are publicly and legally removed or imprisoned. They need to live by the same rules by which they are supposed to guide society.

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  18. Mario Case Marin was taken in to police custody 12/28/11 By Santa Ana P.D. California 5 days later he’s dead,he died at U.M.I. med brother had human right’s was his right to live taken away from wants to no the truth,will there be a cover up,by the people have the power to say who lives or who? we need to no for peace of mind.

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