Oakland Committee Supports Bid to Rename Street After Oscar Grant

The Oakland City Council on Tuesday will consider a motion urging that a street adjacent to the Fruitvale BART station be renamed for Oscar Grant, who was fatally shot at the station by former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle in the early morning hours of Jan. 1, 2009.

A resolution co-authored by City Council President Rebecca Kaplan and former Councilmember Desley Brooks to rename the unnamed road adjacent to the West side of the Fruitvale BART Station between 33rd to 35th Avenues to "Oscar Grant Way" was passed by the council's Life Enrichment Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Councilmembers Lynette McElhaney and Loren Taylor were added as co-sponsors of the resolution.

Mehserle was charged with murder for the shooting death of Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward man who worked as a butcher at an Oakland grocery store, at the Fruitvale station at about 2 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2009, after Mehserle and other BART officers responded to reports of a fight on a train.

Grant was on parole for two prior felony convictions but he was unarmed at the time.

In a highly-publicized trial that was moved to Los Angeles County because of concerns about whether he could get a fair trial in Alameda County, Mehserle admitted that he shot and killed Grant but said he had meant to use his Taser on Grant and fired his service gun by mistake.

He was convicted of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to two years in prison but was released early because of credits he had accumulated.

At Tuesday's committee meeting, Kaplan said, "We are here today to honor a life that was tragically cut short at the Fruitvale BART station. The activism of the family and the community sparked an international movement."

Kaplan said, "We need to honor the life of Oscar Grant, the activism his death has sparked, and we need to continue to fight for a world where black men and boys are not targets of these types of killings."

Kaplan said that until recently she thought the city owned the street and could rename it but it was determined that's it's actually on BART property and it will be up to the transit agency's board to make the final decision on changing the name.

BART Board President Bevan Dufty said, "I want to thank Oscar's mother (Wanda Johnson) for working with me and I want to apologize to the community, and to take accountability for the delays that have occurred in naming this road."

Dufty said, "I am 100 percent in support and am committed to working with my colleague Lateefah Simon to correct this at the upcoming BART board meeting on February 14."

Simon said, "We are ten years too late. I apologize to the community. The BART Board will move mountains to name this street after Oscar Grant."

Johnson said, "I would first like to thank God and to the BART directors for carrying this forward. I am so grateful today that you all see that Oscar's life lost was not in vain."

Johnson said, "His death has sparked a movement. One of the atonements is for BART to name the street after my son, Oscar Grant. Thank you for seeing this injustice and not ignoring it but acting."

Copyright BAYCN - Bay City News
Contact Us