A mural of slain Oakland resident Oscar Grant is in progress on the side of the Fruitvale BART Station where a police officer fatally wounded Grant over ten years ago.
Grant was 22 years old when former BART PD cop Johannes Mehserle fatally shot him on New Year’s Day 2009, as Grant was lying facedown and restrained on the platform.
The mural was originally planned for the tenth anniversary of Grant’s death, but faced delays, in part, because of debate over its design and content.
BART secured Oakland artist Senay Dennis, better known as Refa One, for the project.
Dennis previously completed large-scale mural projects in San Francisco (an image of George Washington Carver on the side of George Washington Carver Elementary School) and Sacramento (a visual interpretation of the Maya Angelou poem Still I Rise).
Dennis recently finished a work in West Oakland, a depiction of Black Panther Party co-founder Huey Newton at 14th and Peralta.
According to his artist’s bio, Dennis classifies himself as “a hip hop calligrapher, muralist, illustrator, activist, and educator” whose work “promotes culture as a vehicle for radical political and social change.”
As KQED reported last year, the mural project never formally appeared as an agenda item at a BART Board of Directors meeting because its budget of $30,000 falls below the $150,000 threshold for costs that require a full board vote.
Last December, BART Director Debora Allen asked her Facebook followers about what they thought of the mural and of a parallel proposal to rename the station for Grant, citing the relative dearth of public debate by BART Board members as her motivation.
Allen later deleted the question after it yielded a stream of racist comments from the public. Grant’s family and fellow BART Director Bevan Dufty criticized Allen, saying she should have anticipated the problems.