January 9th, 2009
10:53 AM ET

Post-racial America? Police shootings shatter that

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/01/07/BART.shooting/art.BART.victim.jpg caption="Oscar Grant, 22, was killed January 1 in a shooting at a subway station in California's Bay Area."]

Roland Martin

It has been interesting to watch so many people talk about how America has moved from a nation fixated on race to one where we are now living in a post-racial world, courtesy of the election of President-elect Barack Obama.

There is no doubt that we crossed a huge hurdle with the election of Obama to the highest office in the land.

But that doesn't mean that the realities of race are not being played out in our communities each day.

In Oakland, a semi-riot took place last night after the funeral of Oscar Juliuss Grant III, who was gunned down during a scuffle with Bay Area Rapid Transit officers. Click here to read the Oakland Tribune story on the semi-riot.

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soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Leslie, CA

    People are TIRED, and they are reacting. Until you've walked in the shoes of a person whose life has been destroyed because of their race you shouldn't say anything because you don't know what it's like.

    Also killed was a young African American man in New Orleans shot down in the street like a dog. I suggest America wakes up "we" aren't going to stand for this any longer.

    January 9, 2009 at 7:55 pm |
  2. jim Fallbrook CA

    Hey Roland S Martin. The rumor is the officer was going for his taser and accidentally pullled out his gun. I believe it is best to wait for the investigation results. But the riots were uncalled for. It seems my fellow brothers like to use any excuse to loot, destroy property and set fire to police cars. . I am sure you probably condone their actions especially when they get away with it. The only way this incident can be considered racial is if the officer shot the man and was not provoked.

    January 9, 2009 at 5:35 pm |
  3. Fay - CA

    Incidents such as this one are good examples why some in minority communities are wary of the police – there are some good cops out there – they have a difficult and stressful job to perform, but those cops with issues and biases should be weeded out in order to prevent something like this from occurring again – as Roland points out, it happens entirely too often – what possible reason is there to shoot someone in the back when they are clearly restrained?

    January 9, 2009 at 5:30 pm |
  4. Mike in NYC

    Sure, the cop should face penalties appropriate to his culpability. However, blacks should ask themselves why cops - of all colors - look upon young black males with suspicion. Deal with the outsized problem of crime among blacks, and incidents like this one will become much less likely.

    Honestly, I'll get worked up over this when blacks acknowledge that the vast majority of interracial crimes are committed by non-whites against whites. (See "An Ugly Conspiracy of Silence," by Walter Williams, a black writer.) That's the "reality of race" in America.

    January 9, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  5. Ivan Trograncic (Threearms J. - Trogi)

    Slavery...in Democracy Era...if just one slave exist: destroy the regime! The outside picture of a regime may be beautyfull, physical-moral seems perfect...but what is reality of one child...designed by habitudes to lost his freedom as his mothers child, his fathers son and the freedom to become a simple free man ? I try to send friendly message to Richard Geere about this, because when he was in Zagreb for his movie, Tibet problem was not actual.(.they got dr K).
    What would Richard say if people come to him and give him order to let his son go with them...because he will become the new Dalai Lama ? Will You Richard let him go in that slavery? Living in that Middle Age slavery mythe was also the chineese reality under Empire.

    January 9, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  6. lampe

    There is no such thing as a semi-riot. And, is rioting, going to bring this young man home to his family? I don't think so. I think the killing of young or old people needs to stop. And, it has to stop in their own neighborhoods.

    January 9, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  7. nadine

    Even if the officer didn't mean to shoot him, why was he trying to taser him? He was face down on the ground with two other officers on him. That's no excuse. As for shooting him, that officer is guilty and should be treated like any other murderer. In the old west they'd kill a person for shooting someone in the back, it is dishonorable even in today's society. This officer resigned because he knows what he did was wrong and if you look at the 2 other officers in the video they look shocked as well, not to mention all the other unfortunate onlookers who now have to live with that memory in their minds and will be deadly afraid of the police. I understand the rioting, it got this case the media attention it needed so that this officer and police department don't try to push this mans unneccessary death under the rug. Obama being elected is a step in the right direction but we have several lifetimes of change to catch up to before we're a Post-racial America.

    January 9, 2009 at 3:02 pm |
  8. hugh ~ california

    As an army veteran who has handled firearms I can tell you, grasping a firearm made of heavy metal would feel nothing like grasping a bulky plastic taser. They are different sizes, and don't look or feel at all similar.

    In the past I have worked in and around Oakland, so I know the area, but demonizing the entire BART and Oakland Police Dept.'s is not fair, although the Oakland Police does not have the greatest track record when it comes to community relations. The rioting is inexcusable; the protestors could have done so peacefully but chose to turn violent.

    In an area of gang warfare and drug-dealers, violence in many areas of Oakland happen everyday. Oakland has worked hard to try and attract business and people to its downtown and outlying areas, but this lastest shooting and resulting riot have tarnished this community once again. No one wins when these violent events take place.

    The death of Oscar Grant is a tragedy for his family and for the Oakland community and beyond. The officer who fired the fatal shot must be totally incompetent and possibly a mental case. Whatever the facts are, something went terribly wrong that night because of the careless act of a questionable BART police officer. For the sake of the Oakland community I'm hoping we get some answers to this senseless shooting.

    January 9, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  9. mona

    this is just wrong......the police officer should be held responsible for his actions. this was an unarmed man and there is absolutely no reason to even pull his guy out on this guy.

    i can understand the anger in the black community, but rioting will not resolve the issue.

    January 9, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  10. GF, Los Angeles

    Talk radio has been making the point that it appeared the officer looked shocked after he had shot Grant. Was he reaching for his taser and instead pulled out his gun by accident?

    January 9, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  11. Jim,

    Roland- " Semi Riot" ????? It Looked like a Full blown one to me from what CNN showed last night

    January 9, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  12. Carol,

    How does rioting in the streets of Oakland – breaking the shop windows and car windows of people that had nothing to do with this .......... help the family of the murdered man? Or help with improving the relationship between cops and inner city youth?

    I don't get it. Seems to me that the rioters are just adding fuel to the fire and making the situation worse.

    January 9, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  13. Mike O'Brien

    What a despicable act.., being held down and shot in the back. Offficer may have mental problems.., you think ? I hope that CNN News keeps on this tragic murder in Oakland, California. Mike in Montana

    January 9, 2009 at 11:21 am |
  14. Cindy

    I think that we made a huge step in the right direction towards race relations when we elected Obama as president. But I don't think that it solved the problem entirely! There will always be people who hate others for their race or religion. It's always been that way.


    January 9, 2009 at 11:11 am |