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ColorOfChange.org in Chicago: Justice for the Cook County Ten

5:17 pm in Uncategorized by Rashad Robinson

This week, I joined Chicago-area ColorOfChange.org members to deliver more than 66,000 petition signatures to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. The petition demands that State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez immediately acknowledge the innocence of 10 falsely accused Black men (known as the Cook County 10) and agree to vacate the convictions of nine who were convicted for crimes they didn’t commit.

Terrill Swift, one of the men who was coerced into falsely confessing to a crime, and his family joined us for the delivery. Please check out video from the day’s events:

Swift was paroled last year after spending 15 years in an Illinois prison for rape and murder. DNA testing performed during the original investigation indicated his innocence. Earlier this month, he told Chicago Tribune reporter Steve Mills, “If I was guilty, I would have done my time and tried to proceed with my life. But I can’t continue to walk around like a convicted felon when I didn’t do nothing. So I’m fighting it.” Read the rest of this entry →

ColorOfChange.org Petition Delivery at District Attorney Orloff’s Office

12:15 pm in Uncategorized by Rashad Robinson

Click to play video

ColorOfChange.org members gathered at the Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland Tuesday to confront District Attorney Tom Orloff over his handling of the Oscar Grant case, and to demand that he explain his decision not to charge a second BART police officer for his actions in the moments leading up to Oscar Grant’s murder.

The event was a huge success and garnered lots of good local news coverage, including reports from most of the local TV news media. Our members delivered more than 20,000 petitions — collected in less than two weeks — to Orloff’s office. This number reflects just a portion of the nearly 45,000 ColorOfChange members who have expressed outrage, demanded justice and pledged vigilance since Oscar Grant’s murder on New Year’s Day.

We sent Orloff a strong message that the public is continuing to watch his handling of this case. Orloff now has to answer the charge that he is failing to uphold California law in his refusal to bring charges against BART police officer Tony Pirone (who struck Oscar Grant in the face, apparently unprovoked, and then kneeled on Grant’s neck as the 22-year-old Hayward man was shot in the back and killed by another BART officer). Read the rest of this entry →

It’s Time to Confront District Attorney Tom Orloff on his Handling of the Oscar Grant Case

7:10 am in Uncategorized by Rashad Robinson

The Alameda County District Attorney’s handling of the Oscar Grant murder continues to disappoint anyone hoping that justice will prevail.

The most recent reason to doubt District Attorney Tom Orloff’s commitment to convicting Grant’s killer came late last month, when local TV news began echoing what most people who’d watched videos of Grant’s murder already knew: it wasn’t just one cop attacking Grant on that subway platform.

Before Grant was killed, Officer Tony Pirone punched him in the face without cause, hitting him so hard that Grant dropped to the ground. Legal scholars called it criminal. But the District Attorney had already said that he wasn’t pursuing charges against other officers, and that story didn’t change even after the damning evidence of Pirone’s role was widely broadcast.

It took two weeks and thousands of people speaking out before the DA charged Johannes Mehserle, Grant’s killer, with murder. Clearly, it will take continued public pressure to see that justice is served throughout this case. On Tuesday, those of us in the Bay Area will publicly confront District Attorney Tom Orloff with over 20,000 petitions demanding that Orloff explain his refusal to charge Pirone. It’s also time to put pressure on California’s Attorney General to keep an eye on how Orloff handles the case. The state-level observer Brown placed in Orloff’s office was inexplicably removed as soon as Mehserle was arrested.

Local news reported on the video that shows Pirone assaulting Oscar Grant late last month, but it has been on the Internet for weeks. As with the shooting, the video doesn’t leave a lot of room for explaining away Pirone’s actions. It makes it clear that with no physical provocation, he punched Oscar Grant so hard that Grant immediately went down. This is assault, and it is a crime.

Law professor Peter Keane from UC Hastings College of the Law, couldn’t have said it any clearer than when he appeared on local TV news: "If the district attorney is saying he’s not going to charge any officer except Mehserle, in my opinion he’s not doing his job."

Keane told ColorOfChange that Pirone’s lawyer’s claim — that Pirone struck Grant with his forearm in accordance with police procedure — doesn’t jibe with what he saw in the video. Read the rest of this entry →

Justice for Oscar Grant? It’s up to Jerry Brown

4:46 pm in Uncategorized by Rashad Robinson

On New Year’s Eve, Oscar Grant was executed by a transit police officer in Oakland, California. He was shot in the back while face-down on a subway platform, unarmed and posing no threat.

Twelve days later–despite several videos showing what happened–the officer who killed Grant hasn’t been arrested, charged, or even questioned. He quit the force and has refused to speak. The District Attorney has done nothing.

It’s time to demand that California Attorney General Jerry Brown take over the case and arrest Grant’s killer, and to ask that the US Department of Justice launch an independent investigation into the conduct of the local authorities.

Oscar Grant is the third man murdered by BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police in the past 17 years. All three victims were Black and none posed a serious threat. In each case, BART and county authorities have failed to hold the officers accountable.

In the previous cases, BART’s internal investigations concluded that the officers felt threatened by the victims and were justified in pulling the trigger. It’s unbelievable given the circumstances of the killings: