Hundreds attend BART board meeting

January 8, 2009 7:43:53 PM PST
The frustration and anger over the shooting death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant by BART police was overwhelming at Thursday's meeting of the Bart Board of Directors. Dozens of people stood up to condemn the shooting and demand a full investigation.

After hours of listening, one by one, Bart's board of directors apologized for Grant's death. Director Carole Ward Allen's district includes the Fruitvale BART station where Grant was killed.

"I, as many of my colleagues, wish this never happened, but it did and now we must listen to you," said Allen.

The board's first meeting since the shooting began with a moment of silence. But that silence did not last.

"We demand you jail and prosecute this killer cop, Johannes Mesherle," said Oakland resident Bakari Olatunji.

The chambers were packed as dozens gathered early to stage yet another protest, just blocks away from Wednesday night's violence which was condemned by many at Thursday's meeting.

"We sat and watched and waited for this board to make comment, to make good, make available to this community information that perhaps could have prevented some of the rage that people expressed last night," said Dereca Blackmon, co-founder of Coalition Against Police.

However, the rage was condoned by some.

"If they want to riot and tear this city up, I feel... God bless them," said one resident.

They demanded the arrest of the officer, caught on amateur video, who fired that fatal shot and resigned unexpectedly Wednesday. But most of all, they demanded answers.

"You need to watch the tapes of this hearing because your faces don't look sensitive," said Dr. Ramona Tascoe, an Oakland resident.

In the end, those directors asked for Attorney General Jerry Brown's office to also investigate the shooting.

Board member Lynette Sweet said she was in the dark, too, wanting the same information the public asked for.

"If the public is seeing it this way, I'm seeing it this way, this frustration is not going to go away until something is resolved," said Sweet.

If the attorney general does decide to get involved, that would bring the total number of investigations into the shooting up to four. In addition to making that request, the BART board also said that it plans to create subcomittee to oversee police issues at BART and hold a series of community meetings to hopefully try to calm fears on this issue.

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