STAFF EDITORIAL: (In)justice for Grant
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It's been a whirlwind week in the Bay.

The Giants took the title, we exercised our right to vote, three-time world champion surfer Andy Irons died too young and then a peaceful protest devolved into rioting in Oakland when the minimum sentence verdict was ruled in the Oscar Grant murder trial.

Johannes Mehserle was finally sentenced for the New Years Day 2009 killing of Grant. Was the ruling fair and just? Sadly, no.

In the earliest hours of that tragic day, Mehserle allegedly reached for what he said he believed was his Taser. Instead he fired his gun.

He shot Grant who, according to bystanders, appeared to be reaching for something in his pocket. This is a threat that officers are trained to respond to.

However, other officers were already holding Grant down. Even if Mehserle was going for his gun, the question remains: did he mean to kill Grant? Absolutely not. Why would he want to? Mehserle was far too inexperienced to deal with the gravity of the situation.

Grant didn't deserve to die. Whether Mehserle intended to commit murder will never be known for sure. What we do know, however, is that were this situation racially reversed, the verdict would not be the same. Therefore, this case is indicative of a far greater racial problem that plagues society. Sure, Mehserle may not have meant to kill Grant - but he did.

If the situation were reversed, and a black BART cop shot a disorderly and resistant white man would the verdict be the same? We think not.

Mehserle has to live the rest of his life knowing he murdered an unarmed man; this punishment is greater than any jail sentence. Some assert that Mehserle deserves to have an example made of him. But who's to judge other than the justice system itself, however flawed it may be?

The Los Angeles Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant Facebook group claims the need to "(acknowledge) a need to address the bigger framework which contributed to the circumstances of his death." Yes, indeed. There is a bigger picture that must be addressed. The Coalition doesn't elaborate on this bigger framework, but does assert that Mehserle deserves the maximum eleven-year sentence. Or more.

The bottom line to this sad societal picture is that there is a problem of injustice that can't be ignored any longer. Yes, racism is still alive.







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