Vigil and rally held to honor Oscar Grant

January 1, 2010 11:49:01 PM PST
BART says this New Years was the smoothest ever - a far cry from last New Year's Day when a BART police officer shot Oscar Grant and killed him on the Fruitvale station platform. A vigil and rally were held at the Fruitvale station on Friday.

There were fireworks and then civility, as tens of thousands of New Years revelers boarded BART trains to exit San Francisco.

"No arrests, hardly any incidents, it was smooth sailing for BART this New Year's Eve. What a difference a year makes," said BART Chief Spokesperson Linton Johnson.

It was last New Years that BART police detained several passengers following reports of a fight. Oscar Grant was shot to death by BART officer Johannes Mehserle on the Fruitvale station platform. Home video fueled the outrage. Mehserle's attorney claims the former officer mistakenly fired his pistol instead of his Taser. But Oscar Grant's relatives are determined to keep the case in the public's eye. Overnight, a huge banner that said "Justice for OG" appeared in swathes of fabric on a hillside in Bernal Heights.

"To me that just shows that this is much bigger than us," said Oscar Grant's Uncle Cephus Johnson.

Oscar Grants' uncle and other family members organized a New Year's Day rally at the Fruitvale BART station.

"We are all here to pay our respect to the life and legacy of Oscar Grant," said BART Director Carol Ward Allen.

BART Director Carol Ward Allen presented flowers to the family -- and the reaction:

"It's nice BART came here today to stand with the family. We wish they would have done that last year. Nobody got killed last night. And it's not thanks to the people at BART that happened -- it's because of Oscar Grant," said Oakland City Councilmember Desley Brooks.

The two hour vigil just outside the platform where Oscar Grant was shot brought out several hundred community members. They looked ahead to 2010 and a trial in Los Angeles County.

"We were excited that it got moved to Los Angeles. The demographics are similar to Oakland and we believe that is the fairest place that it could have been moved in order for us to secure the justice that we want," said Johnson.

The rally will continue at Humanist Hall in Oakland on Friday night.