OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) – Hundreds of people gathered Friday outside the Fruitvale BART Station where a police officer killed Oscar Grant seven years ago.
They demanded an end to what they call an epidemic of deaths at the hands of police.
“Unless we really get in and do something about it and talk about and discuss what’s going on, nothing will be accomplished,” said Grant’s mother Wanda Johnson.
Grant was killed in the early morning hours of New Years Day, 2009.
Cell phone video captured the young man, prone on the station platform, when Officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed him. The officer said he thought he grabbed his Taser instead of his gun.
Grant’s family says coping with his death never gets easier.
“Part of the reason for that is we have to continue to relive it through other young men and females that have suffered the same fate Oscar suffered,” said Cephus Johnson, Grant’s uncle.
Some people carried provocative signs imploring police to “stop the terror” in a debate that has boiled over following deaths at the hands of police in San Francisco, Baltimore, Chicago, Ferguson, and other locations.
“Because of that video, the world saw what happened to Oscar and began to pay more attention. And we began to see on a regular basis more recordings of heinous acts by police across the country,” said Johnson.
Young African-Americans say they plan to be extra cautious if ever confronted by police.
“A policeman could come and judge me based on how I look and act accordingly,” said 16-year-old Isaiah Martin.
BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey publicly apologized to the family, even though he wasn’t working for BART at the time of the shooting.
“Oscar Grant’s tragic death, like so many others, serves as a wake-up call for all of us in America,” he said.
Grant’s family says it’s important to keep holding these vigils as a way to keep the issue of police shootings front and center.
Members of Grant’s family were joined by activists from the Black Lives Matter movement.
Mehserle was released in June 2011, after serving 11 months of a two-year prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter.