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Rest in Peace, Mr. Grant

Grant did everything that the ACLU Racial Profiling Tool Kit would advise someone to do

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OK, happy New Year! But not so much for everybody — namely one Oscar Grant from our sister working class city of Oakland, Calif. Have you had the opportunity to witness misconduct on behalf of law enforcement with your own two eyes? As if the Rodney King beating from nearly two decades ago were not enough proof that some officers are in the wrong profession and maybe need to be incarcerated themselves … some — certainly not all. Don’t be alarmed, some crooked agents secretly agree with me.

Again some will say, Oakland is not in The 25360, why is this important to us? Well, abuse of the badge is all of our business, and I challenge each reader to find the Oscar Grant murder online and view it at your own discretion. It is not entertaining, but more so blood-boiling and infuriating to view.

To recap, the scene was set on New Years Eve 2008 in Oakland at the Bay Area Rapid Transport (B.A.R.T.) station — something like an above-ground subway train for those unfamiliar. Well, Oakland is a hyphy city and young folks were celebrating and doing their thing most likely to the discomfort of law enforcement at least — at most they were causing a public disturbance, but no harmful violence was reported. Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old resident of Hayward, Calif., was questioned by police with three of his friends and on the video that was recorded by two separate camera phones, he shows zero, nada and including no signs of physical resistance to law enforcement — what is most easily seen are his gestures of plea. Grant was immediately subdued by multiple officers, when one of the officers inexplicably drew his firearm and a round was let off, injuring and eventually killing the young man. Rest In Peace, Mr. Grant. I was not there physically, so I can speak with limitation but my eyes don’t need any persuasion or much explanation for this case.

Historical reference tells me that there are multiple justifications that will potentially come from law enforcement officials to excuse this disgusting murder. For example officers have said, “I felt my life was in danger …” “He was going for a gun…” “He did not comply with directives, and I gave a verbal warning.” See the ironic part about all of this is that sometimes the officers tell the truth, but it is no mystery as to why the hip-hop communities, people of color and youth in general have had such a terrible relationship with law enforcement — especially … especially in light of Mr. Grant’s murder which was all caught on tape. I see this as a major problem because I know two things: 1) Not all police abuse the badge and 2) hip-hop, people of color and youth are not based on criminal foundations — at all. So, we cannot condemn all law enforcement because that blanket leaves us all cold and we cannot allow crooked, inept or cowardly people to rock the badge and commit acts like the inhumane, unprovoked execution of Mr. Grant. That is unacceptable, inexcusable and only forgivable for those who apologize. I mean, Grant did everything that the ACLU Racial Profiling Tool Kit would advise someone to do — other than speak. And if people are getting murdered by law enforcement for verbal intercourse, let’s just reinvent Nazi Germany or re-live the days of my mother’s mother in our own United States where men, women and children were murdered based on skin color and other ridiculous measures of so-called humanity.

If it happened in Oakland, it can happen in Tac-Town, Olympia, Lakewood … name a city. It can and has happened here. From the video I saw, I can’t recommend much else than what Mr. Grant did to comply … I will say, to our brothers and sisters of Oakland, “Don’t destroy your city … Lift it up!” Mr. Grant’s story is a repeated one, not an anomaly, and it is the responsibility and privilege of REAL HIP-HOP cats and community members to stand and be counted as those who will not be commandeered by any public official. You have to KNOW it and OWN it … the badges, the officers, the public officials … they work for us! But you have to KNOW and BELIEVE that — and act accordingly. Real talk … my ancestors didn’t suffer through generations of inhumanity so I could bow down like subordinates … what about you? 

Peace & Love


Jose S. Gutierrez Jr. is an editor, writer and producer. A graduate of Washington State University and student at The Evergreen State College, he writes and edits the Pacific Northwest section of OZONE Magazine and hosts and produces Live From I-5 Radio (since ’89) every Friday at 3 p.m. on KAOS 89.3 FM ( in Olympia. He writes a weekly hip-hop column in the music section on the Weekly Volcano’s Web site.

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