Activists demand civilian oversight of BART following shooting of unarmed passenger

Photo: SF

One year after the shooting of Oscar Grant by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, activists are still demanding justice.

And the battle still wages onward in Sacramento.

This Tuesday is an Assembly Hearing on BART Civilian Oversight. The Public Safety Committee will be hearing two bills to create a civilian oversight body for the BART Police Department. While the bills have the same stated purpose, they have one drastic difference: power.

Assembly Hearing on BART Civilian Oversight
Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) will be chairing a hearing at the Assembly Committee on Public Safety on two bills to create a civilian oversight body for the BART Police Department, AB 312 (Ammiano) and AB 1586 (Swanson).
When: Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Time: 9 am
Where: State Capitol, Room 126 - Sacramento
Read AB 312
Read AB 1586
Let Sandre Swanson know you "Support Civilian Oversight of BART"
Contact other members of the Public Safety Committee.
San Francisco Assembly Member Tom Ammiano and Senator Leland Yee called for Public Oversight of BART. The bill may have passed back in April, but the BART Board of Directors tried to derail the legislation.

Although the shooting occurred in Oakland, Assembly Member Sandre Swanson, -- who was visibly silent following the Oscar Grant shooting -- was not a co-sponsor of the bill. Months later, Swanson authored AB 1586, but later withdrew the BART oversight bill

BART held a series of meetings around the formation of an oversight committee, unanimously passing a plan that would've allowed a Citizen Police Review Panel and police auditor -- hired by BART's Board of Directors -- to give oversight and recommend disciplinary actions. The board, with a two-thirds majority, would also be able to override a decision by BART's general manager and police chief.

Out of these meetings, AB 1586 was born. The bill was initially supported by members of the Oscar Grant family and Oakland National of Islam Minister Keith Muhammad, until that "controversial amendment" removed the power of the publicly elected to provide oversight was removed.

It is still disputed as to "watered down" the BART oversight bill by striking the text; Swanson or BART officials.

Following the shooting, three widely attended trips to the Capitol, Caravan for Justice, were held. Activists planned to "wake up lawmakers."

Although AB 312 is supported by the City of Berkeley, the City of Oakland, the California Teachers Association, 100 Black Men of the Bay Area, it is being actively opposed by Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC), the statewide union for rank-and-file police officers.

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