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Street near Fruitvale BART named for Oscar Grant

Mural of slain Oakland man also unveiled over weekend

New street signage honors Oscar Grant.
Photo by Adam L Brinklow

BART officially unveiled new signage on Saturday, naming a street near Fruitvale BART after slain Oakland resident Oscar Grant, as well as a finished mural of him on the side of the station.

22-year-old Grant died on New Year’s Day 2009 after now-former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle shot him on the platform at the Fruitvale station. A jury convicted Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter in 2010 for killing Grant.

BART has, for years, wrestled with the question of how to memorialize Grant at the station. The recently completed mural, which depicts a smiling grant and a white dove, began in March, painted by Oakland artist Senay Dennis, who works under the name Refa One.

The newly christened Oscar Grant III Way, a short byway south of the station mostly used for drop-offs and parking, previously had no name.

The city of Oakland resolved to name the street for Grant in January, only to discover that, in fact, BART owned the land rather than the city; it took additional months for the transit agency to push the naming through.

KQED reports that Grant’s family, as well as representatives from BART and the city, attended a Saturday ceremony revealing the memorial works.

BART Board Member Lateefah Simon said, “It’s extremely radical to have the government agency responsible for the death of a young man honor him in this way.”

Wanda Johnson, Grant’s mother, wants BART to rename the entire Fruitvale Station after Grant; however, the board has not been amenable to her request in the past. All existing BART stations are named for nearby streets, communities, or airports.