BART and the Oakland City Council’s Black Elected Officials Support Oscar Grant’s Family Call for Murder Charges After Sealed Records Release

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By JR Valrey, The People’s Minister of Information

While federal Black elected officials come to grips with the fact, that the Capitol Police, on January 6th, did nothing to quell a coordinated mass assassination attempt on them, as Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Maxine Waters have so elaborately articulated, while the Capitol was ransacked by Trump supporters, white supremacists, and law enforcement officials, Oakland is opening another front in the Neo-Civil War, by re-opening the Oscar Grant murder case, and attempting to charge another BART police officer, Anthony Pironi, with murder for his role in the incident, 11 years later. 

Last Tuesday, Bart Director Lateefa Simon and Oakland City Councilman Loren Taylor held a joint press conference, announcing that BART and the Oakland City Council endorses the family of Oscar Grant’s call for Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley to charge Anthony Pironi with murder. As momentum builds, D.A. O’Malley has since went on record saying that she will not charge Anthony Pironi with murder. The battle to lock up all the criminals involved in snuffin out Grant’s life, is far from over. And the bigger quest, for Black elected officials to use their power to hold law enforcement responsible for the mayhem, terror, and murder that the police commonly employ against the Black community, is just beginning. 

I got a chance to sit down with Oakland City Councilman Loren Taylor, who is leading the charge on behalf of the City Council, to get Anthony Pironi indicted for the murder of Oscar Grant. 

JR Valrey: What made you write a resolution in support of Oscar Grant’s family asking for the indictment of Anthony Pirone, 11 years after the murder of Oscar Grant?

Councilman Loren Taylor: When I was first approached about the effort to bring additional charges in the 11 year-old case I was, of course, very supportive of the family in their pursuit of justice, but also a little skeptical.  I thought, “Why would it be possible now if not earlier?”

I learned that BART had conducted an independent investigation separate from that of the District Attorney, but the records were sealed and not available to the public. Due to SB 1421, the records were recently made available to the family and the new information convinced them and their attorneys that bringing charges was justified.  After hearing the Coalition’s attorneys (John Burris & Charles Bonner) break down the merits of the case, I realized that this is more than just an emotional plea, but one grounded in firm legal principles. I am grateful for BART Directors Lateefah Simon and Bevan Dufty who led early on, and I am grateful for the opportunity to bring legislation through the City Council to parallel what they would be bringing to the BART Board.

JR Valrey: Was the resolution voted on Tuesday? What were the rest of the Council’s thoughts about it?

Councilman Loren Taylor: I am grateful to have been joined by the entire Oakland City Council in unanimously supporting this resolution. Councilmembers Bas, Fife, and Reid agreed to co-sponsor the legislation while the others were also supportive and voted affirmatively. I believe that our council reflects the values of Oakland for an end to the institutional racism and unjust policies that devalue Black lives and ensures the highest level of accountability for law enforcement officers.

JR Valrey: What was the importance of BART and the Oakland City Council doing a joint press conference today with the family in attendance?

Councilman Loren Taylor: By holding a joint press conference, and more importantly by passing parallel legislation, our two government bodies are calling for justice to be served, no matter how long delayed. We are making a statement that government institutions, and their leaders can no longer stay silent when atrocities are committed by those who are hired by our institutions, and given the charge to protect and serve.

JR Valrey: The Alameda County DA said she will not indict Pirone for the murder of Oscar Grant 11 years ago, what recourse does the City Council, BART, and the family have now?

Councilman Loren Taylor: Fortunately, in a meeting on Monday afternoon D.A. O’Malley agreed to meet with the Oscar Grant Coalition and their attorneys to hear their assessment of the case and critique of the DA findings, which were used as evidence for her decision to not press charges. That is the first step to re-engage with D.A. O’Malley and convince her to reconsider her decision. Other forms of recourse will be to raise this issue and the concerns to higher levels and higher authorities, including the State and Federal Attorney Generals to intervene and conduct their own reviews of the evidence.

JR Valrey: Although you were not on the City Council in 2009-2010, when this televised police murder of a young Black man was big, what made you want to take a leadership role in pushing for an indictment of Pirone last Tuesday?

Councilman Loren Taylor: As the only Black man on the Oakland Council, as someone who grew up here and is raising my young Black son here, I know that any of us Black men could have been Oscar Grant. I am committed to making sure that my son, and his kids inherit a society that’s a different place where these situations are not permitted to occur. That begins with ensuring transparency and accountability when someone steps out of line, regardless of whether or not they have a badge.

JR Valrey: With your press conference being less than a week after the Capitol was ransacked by Trump loyalists, white supremacists, and at least one former Oakland police officer, what is at stake? And what are your thoughts on today’s political climate?

Councilman Loren Taylor: We are being shown a mirror reflection of ourselves and forced to reckon with that image. We can choose to accept what we see and settle for it, or make the take the necessary steps to address the root causes that belie the actions. We as government leaders can not stand by and allow these egregious acts to become normalized. Those who surrounded Trump for 4 years enabling him, supporting him, and making excuses for him are just as much and perhaps more to blame, than he is, for creating this situation. 

As an elected leader this past week reinforces my responsibility to stand up and speak out – holding myself and others accountable for our action and our inaction.  Today’s political climate is extremely polarizing, but we must not lose ourselves or our souls on our path toward a political victory.

JR Valrey: What can people do to support this campaign?

Councilman Loren Taylor: Supporters of this campaign can sign the online petition to demand that DA O’Malley reconsider her decision and ultimately press charges.

https://act.grassrootslaw.org/sign/oscar-grant-petition/

JR Valrey: How could peep stay in tune with what you are up to?

Councilman Loren Taylor: To stay in touch we me, follow me at

  1.     Facebook – Loren Taylor, Instagram – Loren.Taylor, Twitter – @lorenmtaylor

 

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