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Friday, January 09, 2009

Open letter to Sharpton, Jackson, NAACP, Sen. Boxer, Sen. Feinstein, and the media

This letter is to those mentioned in my post What can you do to prevent another Grant, Bell, Diallo, or other police murder?

This letter will be sent to all those named in that post. If you know of other organizations that should receive this, let me know. If you wish to copy and modify this letter for your own use to these individuals, please do.

    To whom it may concern,

    I am Michael Vass, President of M V Consulting, Inc. and author of Black Entertainment USA. Recently I became aware of the death of Oscar Grant at a BART station in California. This death came at the hands of police - while he laid face down on the ground defenseless, possibly handcuffed, with an officer holding him in place as he was shot in the back - and was video taped and witnesses by a large group of individuals on New Year's Day of 2009.

    This news story has been seemingly dismissed by the major news media. I was lucky to notice a 30 second news video by ABC News, that I have not seen since, on January 5th. The national news media has not covered this story beyond that to my knowledge.

    The lack of coverage has angered me greatly. I wrote about this tragic event on my blog, and several others that I write for. And I am constantly being made aware that my blog posts of this news event is the first that many people are hearing of this event. Yet in watching the national news coverage I have seen no end to the coverage of the Caylee Anthony case for a almost a year now, discussion on the death of Heath Ledger for a year, and other stories of similar nature. In fact I believe it is easier to know the clothes that Beyonce wore yesterday, how Jennifer Aniston feels about Angelina Jolie, and the new address of Michael Jackson than details in this case.

    This is an outrage. The news media has failed America, and the Black community. It is their responsibility to make all law enforcement responsible to the public and to make the public aware of such events. Their job is to represent us when it is not possible for us to be aware of facts across the nation and the world. Their job is to help shed light on events that violate our rights and prevent the abuse of the system. That is not happening.

    It is a fact that some news media have made factual errors in their reporting of the case. One such instance is the fact that reports say that only 2 videos of the incident exist. I found in 15 seconds multiple videos of the event from several angles and of lengths from 1 minute to nearly 5 minutes. I have provided some of that additional video on my site. Another fact was the initial statement of the BART police stating that video from the station itself was unavailable, which turns out to be erroneous.

    Already we can see that facts are being occluded. Add to this that the internal investigation by police has run into a roadblock. Officer Johannes Mehserle, who fatally shot Oscar Grant while he laid face down, possibly handcuffed, with at least one officer holding him down with a knee on his neck, in his back, resigned. As such I believe that the internal investigation cannot go forward as Mehserle is no longer a police officer. Thus the Oakland D.A. must be motivated to investigate and bring up charges for any justice to go forward.

    At the same time Police Chief Gary Gee and others have begun to postulate excuses on how or why this event happened. The most popular excuse is that Johannes Mehserle meant to reach for his taser. A taser is not the same weight, shape, or trigger as a police issue 9mm gun. The time, as seen in several video angles of the event, he took to draw and fire reveal he had ample time to recognize and visually sight the gun in his hands. And beyond all that, there was no imminent life-threatening need to draw any weapon. And that is proven by the 5 or 6 other officers on the scene never drawing or motioning towards any of their weapons at any point in this event.

    And I believe that this is a pattern that needs to end. We have seen that more often each year tragic events like this are happening across the nation. Black men killed in a hail of dozens of bullets, beaten by hordes of police officers, abused in police stations, and on and on. More often than not, virtually in each case, the officer responsible never served a day in jail, rarely was fined or disciplined in any manner.

    I believe these are connected. If we say nothing, do nothing, then we say to all police officers across the nation that the - in my opinion - outright cold-blooded murder of African Americans is socially acceptable and will not be punished.

    Thus I ask you to provide your political and media strength to this issue. The nation needs to be aware of what happened. This should never have happened. This should not go unpunished.

    I look forward to your support and the media attention you can bring to this tragic event.


    Michael Vass
    President - M V Consulting, Inc.

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