Grant's family calls for calm

January 8, 2009 7:43:27 PM PST
The family of the BART shooting victim is calling for calm after a night of rioting in Oakland. Protests over Oscar Grant's shooting death by a BART police officer turned into a night of riots. His family is now urging people angry about what happened to keep control.

There were tears from Grant's mother Thursday who spoke publicly for the first time.

"Oscar Grant's family does not condone violence," said family attorney John Burris at a press conference Thursday.

It was a statement meant to deter any further violence on the streets of Oakland. Violence, family members of the 22-year-old shooting victim say, they were not expecting.

"You are hurting people who have nothing to do with the situation. You are vandalizing their cars, their properties, you are breaking their windows, and they have nothing to do with it. Please stop it. Please stop it and begin to pray and ask God to let justice prevail," said the victim's mother, Wanda Johnson.

The family acknowledged many in the community are frustrated and want answers to the shooting death of Grant by a BART officer.

The incident was caught on camera by witnesses using home video cameras and cell phones.

"This is an opportunity for us as a community, we as a family, to show just how things can be properly done," said the victim's uncle, Cephus Johnson.

Grant's mother was in tears when her son's friends asked for peace in the community.

"Do it for Oscar. If you all could, just do it in a supportive way, not in a violent way," said Grant's friend, Mario Pangelina.

Burris expressed his disappointment with Wednesday night's violence.

"The message of Oscar's life and how he died is what people ought to know and what can be done about it, as opposed to some people then distorting the process through violence," said Burris.

The family has filed a claim against BART for $25 million. The transit agency has 45 days to reply.

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