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Commentary: The Murder of Oscar Grant III and the Black Liberation Struggle

By George McKinney

2009 began with an important reminder for young African-American males: Your life cannot be taken for granted.

Transit police murdered Oscar Grant on New Year's Day in Oakland, CA. There is no disputing the video recordings and dozens of witnesses: he was killed in cold-blood. Lying flat on his stomach, he was unaware of what was about to happen to him. Mr. Grant was a son, a father, a co-worker and a friend. Yet, on that day, he became a new symbol for the struggle for Black freedom in America.

Most African-American men have had encounters with the police. It is a fact of life – just ask any group of Black men. For generations, our brethren have died at the hands of the sheriff, lynched by mobs of white people, and killed in wars that made “the man” – in other words, the American Empire, stronger. In the 1600s, the police were responsible for catching African slaves. Today, trained in many techniques of submission, the three BART officers quickly subdued Mr. Grant. When police officer Johannes Mehserle shot Mr. Grant in the back, all of us recognized that evil pattern. We lament that on the eve of having an African-American in the White House, little has changed for the masses of Black people in America.

Over 40 years ago in Oakland, CA, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense declared “We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of black people.” For their bold stand against police violence, dozens of Black Panther leaders across the U.S. were hunted down and killed.

In this day and age we continue the struggle for national liberation and human equality.

Oscar Grant... you, too, will not die in vain.

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