My thoughts on the film Fruitvale Station and the Oscar Grant shooting

So back when it was still in the theaters, I saw the movie Fruitvale Station. For those that still aren’t aware of the movie and what it’s about, it’s an attempt to document the final living days of Oscar Grant, who died after being shot by BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police in the early morning hours of 2009 January 1.

Without spoiling the plot too much, the movie makes no bones about Oscar’s checkered past and criminal history. But at the same time, Oscar is portrayed as someone who was just about to get his life back together when it was tragically ended. During a period in which my mom and I would go to the theater every weekend (sometimes twice in the same weekend), I had picked this one almost out of mere curiosity, going by the Wikipedia article linked above accessed from my mom’s Android phone (if you want to get technical, I believe this version of the article was either the exact version I was looking at or very close to it). I didn’t write down nor do I remember what our other choices were, but I don’t regret this choice one bit.

I know there are some who will happily dismiss this movie, and even walk out or eject the DVD the moment they see the first scene with Oscar in prison. And they will have no idea what they missed. Suffice it to say that in my particular case, I saw quite a bit of myself in the portrayal of Oscar on the screen. And a lot of people should; for a majority of people, it’s not getting arrested for drug dealing that brings the dark spot in their lives, but something else like losing a job or losing a bunch of friends all at once.

Part of the purpose of our corrections system is to rehabilitate. If we as a society do not allow those sentenced to prison to prepare for their eventual release and become productive members of society, we may as well just put revolving doors on the front of the prisons because the prisoners will wind up going back to crime yet again. The film shows Oscar’s efforts to become a law-abiding and productive member of society during the final days of his life. We will never know if he could have been successful.

What I find particularly unjust is that the officer who shot Oscar, Johannes Mehserle, would serve less than a year after being sentenced to a mere two years. Even though he has a conviction on his record which will keep him from securing employment in law enforcement, two years is way too lenient, before factoring in the sentence reductions that allowed his release in less than a year. The maximum for involuntary manslaughter in this case was four years (one article said six years), but that charge gives Mr. Mehserle the benefit of the doubt and says this was an accident.

Based on what I have seen so far, I don’t think this was an accident. It would take a lot to convince me that this was voluntary manslaughter, and not second-degree murder. I recognize that the jury saw it differently, but at the same time I must say in as many words I think the jury got it wrong.

Thankfully, the civil courts are seeing things differently and awarding the survivors sums in excess of $1 million (Oscar’s daughter got $1.5 million and his mother $1.3 million; the case brought by his father is still pending).

Two badge-heavy cops plus one mentally handicapped teen…

…equals an outrage waiting to happen.

My faith in and respect for law enforcement does increase, slowly, over time. But, it decreases rapidly right back to near-zero when stories like this one from Infowars involving a mentally handicapped teen get brought to my attention.

From the article:

Dayton police tasered, pepper-sprayed and beat a mentally handicapped teen [Jesse Kersey] and then charged him with assault. What did the disabled boy do to deserve this onslaught? The police officer [Officer Willie Hooper] “mistook” his speech impediment for a sign of “disrespect”.

As mentioned in this Courthouse News Service article, all charges against Jesse were dismissed. However, Officer Hooper, and another officer, John Howard, are named as co-defendants in a civil suit brought against the city by Jesse’s mother, Pamela Ford, for many torts including false arrest, assualt, battery, and civil conspiracy.

It’s bad enough when a mentally handicapped person is the victim of police brutality, as in this case. However, to be beaten up by the cops and then charged with assault on top of that? I can’t imagine what these maniacs with badges were thinking.

I’m glad the criminal court judge presiding over the case aganist Jesse had some sense. So in a rather rare move for this blog, I will commend the judge (unnamed in either the Infowars post or the Courthouse News Service story) for an excellent job of dispensing justice, by dismissing the obviously trumped-up charges against Jesse. I’m hoping the judge and jury responsible for the civil suit against the city of Dayton, Ohio, have the same good sense of justice.

I’m also hoping that Officers Hooper and Howard, and any other officers responsible for the initial incident unnamed by the sources linked above, find a new career completely removed from law enforcement. If we’re going to throw the book at common citizens who commit egregious acts of assault and false arrest, we need to do the same to cops who overstep their authority.

Mayhem at the Jefferson Memorial

There are some law enforcement agencies I just don’t expect to be seen in a bad PR light, that I honestly would trust to do a decent job. And the US Park Police was on that list. I emphasize was, because I watched this YouTube video:

A report at has a bit more information on exactly what’s going on here, and some of the background information. Some of the other stories about this mention an Adam Kokesh as one of the protesters. Most disturbing are these two facts, quoted from the WTOP story, taken together:

The officers remain on regular duty during the investigation, said Schlosser.


The videos [of the incident] show protesters being forcefully restrained, and in at least one case driven to the ground.

But there’s more to it than the usual First Amendment and police brutality issues: starting at 2:16 in the video one of the officers confronts the camera man taking this video and tells him “you’re not allowed to video record in here” and “if you continue to record you will be arrested.” It’s suspicious that it would suddenly become not allowed to record video in the face of a police brutality incident. The cops had to walk past several people taking video to make these arrests; it was not like some of the video cameras were exactly small (one was huge, of the size I’d expect an ENG camera rig to be). And obviously, someone holding a flip phone with the back of the phone aimed at the action is not looking for how many bars of signal they get inside the memorial.

Why are these officers still on their regular beat after this, when it’s documented on video that they exhibited needless brutality?

It’s time for the US Park Police to clean up their act. And I don’t mean litter patrol.

Additionally, I find it ironic I’m writing this on Memorial Day. I am grateful for the job our soldiers do, and I hope their efforts in defending our country and our freedoms was not in vain.

[Edit 2023-08-13: Modernize YouTube link]

Knocking down granny: unacceptable police brutality

How do scum like this get a badge and gun?

Stephen’s blog at and Infowars both report on an incident involving Virginia Dotson, an 84-year old Alzheimer’s patient. Warning: the video is very disturbing to anyone with any sense of decency.

I am grateful that the woman wasn’t injured. I hope the officer that used what I can only describe as egregiously excessive force are fired; hopefully, he/she (I can’t really tell gender from the video) will be spending the rest of his/her life in retail, fast food, and manual labor hell.

What’s unfortunately likely to happen: suspension with pay while investigation is pending, desk duty for a few months until the people forget about this, and back on the streets.

And we wonder why some people don’t trust cops.