Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson says the hole made by the bullet that killed Oscar Grant on Jan. 1, 2009 is still on the platform at BART’s Fruitvale Station.It marks the loss of a son, grandson, nephew, father, partner and friend.That loss, captured on video by witnesses, subsequently outraged the Oakland community and galvanized a movement of protests that led to the arrest and conviction of former BART officer Johannes Mehserle in 2010.
Held on Jan. 1 at Fruitvale Station each year since Grant’s death, a vigil where all are asked to wear white clothes brings the family and community together, Cephus Johnson said.
The community is invited to the vigil from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., which will include performances by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Candice Antique, Young, Gifted and Black and other special guests.
“For me, the vigil is a good feeling,” said Grant’s grandmother, Bonnie Johnson.
“When he was alive, Oscar was loveable and helpful. He would come over and volunteer to help his grandfather and me.”
Grant’s friends will come to the vigil and then adjourn to the cemetery where Grant is buried to spend some quiet time there, Cephus Johnson said.
“The vigil is a remembrance of Oscar in spirit and a reminder to the community of Oakland (that) a lot of people made a lot of sacrifices for Oscar,” said Grant’s aunt, Beatrice Johnson.
“People were arrested, beat up, even risked parole violations so that the first officer in the state of California (would be) indicted for an on-duty shooting in 207 years. And there hasn’t been another officer indicted since.”
Key to this movement were members of Palma Ceia Baptist Church in Hayward, Nation of Islam Mosque No. 26B and members of the Local 10 Longshoreman’s Union who shut down Bay Area ports in protest at great cost to the state in 2010.
Recently, an anonymous commuter has joined the family’s push to change Fruitvale Station’s name to Oscar Grant Station by altering the maps on BART trains and printing up fake flyers.
It shows how much people are touched by Grant’s death even eight years later.
“Oscar could have been anybody’s son, and his murder brought people together,” Cephus Johnson said.