Color of Change/2

Dear Valjeanne,

It wasn’t just one cop attacking Oscar Grant on New Year’s Eve. A new video shows that before Grant was killed, officer Tony Pirone punched him in the face without cause, hitting him so hard that he dropped to the ground. Experts have called it criminal. So why has the District Attorney said he’s not pursuing charges?

It took two weeks and thousands of people speaking out before the DA charged Oscar Grant’s killer with murder. Clearly, it will take continued public pressure to see that justice is served throughout this case. This is a moment to demand accountability, and your voice is critical.

Please take a moment to click the link below. By adding your voice, you’ll help us publicly confront District Attorney Tom Orloff, and put pressure on California’s Attorney General to keep an eye on how Orloff handles the case. It only takes a second. And please ask your friends and family to do the same.

Local news reported on the video showing Pirone assaulting Oscar Grant last week,1,2 but it has been on the Internet for weeks.3 As with the shooting, the video doesn’t leave a lot of room for explaining away Pirone’s actions. It makes it clear that with no physical provocation, he punched Oscar Grant so hard that Grant immediately went down. This is assault, and it is a crime.

Unfortunately, it appears that Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff is once again falling asleep at the wheel. First, he took two long weeks to make the decision to file charges against Oscar Grant’s murderer. Then he declared that he was “not actively pursuing”4 charges against other officers, even though he had access to all the video we’ve seen, BART’s internal investigative report, and the evidence collected under his own investigation.

Law professor Peter Keane from UC Hastings College of the Law, couldn’t have said it any clearer: “If the district attorney is saying he’s not going to charge any officer except Mehserle, in my opinion he’s not doing his job.”5

Orloff’s inaction further calls into question his commitment to justice for Oscar Grant. Given Alameda County’s terrible record of prosecuting police abuses, we cannot simply trust that Orloff’s office has the will to pursue justice wherever it leads.

That’s why we’re asking the California Attorney General to once again place an observer in the Alameda County District Attorney’s office for the duration of any prosecutions related to Oscar Grant’s murder. And we want to hear Orloff tell the public how not seeking charges against Pirone could possibly be in the interest of justice.

Please join our call for justice, and ask your friends and family to do the same. It only takes a minute:

Thanks and Peace,

— James, Gabriel, Clarissa, William, Dani, and the rest of the team
January 28th, 2009


1. “BART SHOOTING: Rita Williams Reports On Footage Showing Grant Punched Before Being Shot,” KTVU, 1-23-09

2. “Video shows another BART cop hitting passenger,” San Francisco Chronicle, 1-25-09

3. “When Assault Becomes Murder,” Injustice in Seattle, 01-11-09

4. “Highlights Of DA Tom Orloff’s Wednesday News Conference On Murder Charge,” KTVU, 1-14-09


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