Digital News Report– A protest turned violent on Wednesday night in Oakland, leading to 105 arrests by the Oakland Police Department. The protestors was in response to the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant, who was shot in the back by a police officer as he lay face down on the platform in a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station. Amateur video of the incident has circulated around Bay Area news stations, showing Grant lying down, seemingly cooperative, as a police officer draws a gun and fires into his back.
The protest started peacefully at around 3:00pm, with many laying face down and wearing signs on their back stating, “don’t shoot me.” About 500 people gathered at the Fruitvale station, the site of the fatal shooting and demanded that criminal charges be brought against BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, who fired the shot.
As the evening progressed, the group began to grow more boisterous. Some protestors smashed car windshields and storefront windows. One officer was injured and footage from KTVU shows one protester jumping on the hood of a police car as another protestor pushes a flaming dumpster up against it. Police began to fear for their own safety and chose to use chemical agents to subdue the remaining crowd of around 150 people, This escalated the violence and police began arresting people at around 8:30pm.
Officer Mehserle submitted his resignation on Wednesday, the day he was scheduled to make a statement regarding the incident. Instead of showing up for his interview with the police internal affairs investigators, the officer’s attorney and the president of BART’s police union handed in a resignation letter on his behalf.
Amnesty International has called the shooting a “clear cut abuse of power.” Dalia Hashad, director of Amnesty International USA’s identity-based discrimination program, released a statement saying, “when an unarmed man is shot in the back after police put him face down on the ground, it is the time for authorities to demand action, not patience… Whatever the final investigation reveals, the bottom line is that there is never justification to shoot an unarmed person, especially one who is restrained. It is an obvious violation of the most basic human rights standards.”
Almost 700 people attended funeral services for Oscar Grant on Wednesday at the Hayward church to pay their respects. Grant leaves behind a four year old daughter