Oscar Grant's death marked with vigil in Oakland

A vigil was held at Oakland's Fruitvale BART station marking the 5th anniversary of the death of Oscar Grant.
January 1, 2014 6:42:42 PM PST
A series of events on Wednesday marked a painful anniversary involving a BART passenger. Oscar Grant was shot and killed five years ago by BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle on the platform at the Fruitvale BART station. On this New Year's Day, family and friends are celebrating his life.

The crowd was peaceful, respectful and somewhat smaller, but they were as fired up as ever, calling for an end to tensions between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Leading that charge was the mother of Oscar Grant who says the pain of losing her son will never go away.

"We thank you for coming out on the five-year anniversary of my son..." said Wanda Johnson, Grant's mother.

Johnson spoke to supporters at the rally to honor her son and asked that everyone do more to spread the message of love. She also spoke about a pain she says only a mother can know.

"No one knows the pain. No one knows the hurt. No one knows the suffering that goes on behind each of our closed doors," said Wanda.

In the early hours of January 1st 2009, Grant, who was unarmed and lying face down on the Fruitvale BART Station platform, was shot in the back by BART Officer Johannes Mehserle.

Mehserle says he thought he had pulled out his Taser and accidentally shot Grant. The incident was captured on cellphone video and seven months later, Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. The verdict would incite protest and ignite the flames of anger and charges of racial injustice across Oakland.

"Today, we have the community out because they've come to know Oscar. He was a human being, trying to make it through life who happened to be murdered on a platform that was caught on video," said Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson, Grant's uncle.

And that murder played out in the Hollywood movie "Fruitvale Station", which depicts the night of Grant's death. Its director, Ryan Coogler, briefly attended Wednesday's rally, but did not speak.

Five years after Grant was killed, the size of crowds have become smaller and those attending the rally are no longer screaming but rather, letting signs speak for them. The woman who knew Grant best is leading by example, saying her faith is stronger than her anger.

"God is working a miracle and in that miracle, he's teaching me how to love," said Wanda.

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