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Oakland lawmakers want BART to name street after Oscar Grant

Unnamed road sits on west side of Fruitvale Station, where Grant died in 2009

Protestors Continue To Demonstrate Against Police Shooting Of Oscar Grant Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Oakland lawmakers want a short, unnamed street adjacent to the Fruitvale BART Station named after Oscar Grant, the Oakland man fatally shot by a BART police officer on the station platform 10 years ago.

“First and foremost, we are here to honor the life of Oscar Grant,” Oakland City Councilperson Rebecca Kaplan said while introducing the naming measure at Tuesday’s meeting of the city’s Life Enrichment Committee.

Former Oakland Councilperson Desley Brooks introduced the measure in December, advocating that the city should dub the short street between 33rd and 35th avenues “Oscar Grant Way.”

According to the resolution, “Rev. Wanda Johnson first approached the City of Oakland in 2009 to inquire about the process of renaming the Unnamed Road [...] in honor of her son [...] Oscar Grant.”

However, Kaplan said Tuesday that it turns out BART owns the street rather than Oakland, and therefore the BART Board of Directors will have to back the christening.

BART Board of Directors member Lateefah Simon told council members that she would press the full board to approve the plan.

“As the only African American director, whatever the responsibility is I will take it,” said Simon at the Tuesday hearing, adding, “We are ten years too late.”

Bevan Dufty, president of the board, also appeared Tuesday to announce he is “100 percent in support” of the measure and would take it up when the BART Board meets next on February 14.

“Every day I think about Oscar Grant,” Dufty told the committee, comparing Grant to slain San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk.

The Fruitvale Village sign next to Fruitvale BART station. Eric Fredericks

Grant, a 22-year-old Oakland man, died on New Year’s Day in 2009 after BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle shot him in the back while Grant was restrained and lying facedown on the platform at Fruitvale.

Horrifying footage of the shooting captured by other people in the station appeared on social media almost immediately, provoking nationwide protests.

In 2010 a jury convicted Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter but acquitted him of murder charges, resulting in a two-year sentence. BART settled a wrongful death suit with Grant’s family in 2011 for $2.8 million.

On Tuesday the Oakland City Council committee voted unanimously in favor of the measure formally petitioning BART to name the street for Grant. The full city council will take the matter up next.

Five of BART’s nine directors will have to back the measure for the naming to take place.