A Letter to Oscar Grant

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Oscar Grant’s death on Jan. 1, 2009 forever shifted the discourse surrounding police brutality, catalyzing a nationwide movement for racial justice. Below is a letter to Oscar from Pendarvis Harshaw, KQED Arts columnist. Click here to add your own reflection.

Dear Oscar Grant,

Peace bro.

The significance of your life isn’t lost on me.

You were a human. A son, father and nephew. And unfortunately, a casualty of an American war.

Filed under police brutality somewhere between Rodney King and Mike Brown, your story stood out because social media carried the cell phone footage of you getting gunned down on a platform by a guy in uniform—by far not the first of its form.

Something that we all knew went on, but seeing the visual... man, the visual.

I saw it 10 years ago, and if I never saw it again, I’d still never forget.

It’s disgusting that your life, as well as the lives of so many others before you and after you, were cut short by law enforcement officials of all sorts. A decade later and little, if anything, has changed—including my reverence for your story. It’s a significant piece of this dark and twisted thing we call American history.