Who’s watching the watchers?

By Elizabeth Ballinger.
If the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer charged a few days ago with the New Year’s Eve murder of 22-year-old Oscar Grant is found guilty, it will be a miracle of civilian justice. Grant and another black man were taken out of the BART train, reportedly, for starting a fight. Grant, unarmed, was told to get on the ground. With another officer kneeling at Grant’s neck, the officer in question shot Grant. Grant died with his hands bound behind his back. If the video taken by a bystander’s cell phone hadn’t circulated to millions of people over the internet, perhaps Oakland protesters wouldn’t have had so much support. A similar incident a couple years ago in Chicago occurred when a black man involved in criminal activity surrendered to white police, and held at gun point, begged them not to kill him. “I have a child,” he was believed to have said before being shot several times. The police officer was found not guilty of murder charges. Is it a matter of race? Racial tensions, particularly between white police and the black population, have lingered in the Chicago and Oakland areas. Would those police officers have shot the rowdy men if they were white? Would the police officer in Chicago have gotten off scot-free if he had shot a white man? Racism seems an undeniable ingredient in many police brutality incidents. This is not news. Police in the