Oscar Grant's family calls BART board member's comments 'racist', demands removal

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The family of Oscar Grant is demanding BART board member Debra Allen be removed from her seat after being accused of saying racist comments during a recent board meeting.

"We can no longer be ashamed to say you're racist," said Cephus Johnson, the uncle of Oscar Grant, who was killed by BART police in 2009 on New Year's Day.

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"What she said was racist...Grant was murdered," said Johnson.

The rally held by Johnson and the families of Nia Wilson and Sahleem Tindle Tuesday was in response to a board meeting where Allen was quoting comments made about BART police.

"BART PD murders people...that's not true," said Allen. "Statements made like this at a time of such turmoil and unrest I can only guess are politically motivated."

Johnson told ABC7 Allen's comments were disgraceful.

"She needs to leave BART," Johnson said. "As long as people like that exist there will be no peace."

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The family of Nia Wilson, an 18-year-old black teenager who was stabbed by a white man at an Oakland BART station wants the same outcome.

"It's very traumatizing to see people slaughtered by people who are supposed to protect us," said Nia's sister, Letifah Wilson.

The family of Sahleem Tindle, a black man killed by BART police back in January of 2018 shared the same pain.

"When you shoot someone three times in the back with their hands raised and they were complying with the officer's demands, what else would you call it?" said Yolanda Reed Banks, Tindle's mother.

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ABC7 reached out to Allen for an interview, but was sent the following statement:

"Calling my defense of the police racist in the face of such accusations does a grave disservice to those officers who work hard every day to respect and serve the commuting public. Police need to be held accountable for their mistakes, but police shouldn't be made political scapegoats by elected officials with their own personal agendas."

The families want BART police to be defunded where a portion of the funds be allocated to help the black community. One example mentioned was free ridership programs used for low-income minority populations. Although, the BART Board of Directors have already announced the 2021 police budget will not be reduced.
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