Day of Blogging For Justice: Stop Taser Torture (2009)

Today, just like last year, there are bloggers all over the world dedicated to posting today to raise awareness to an issue that is overlooked: taser torture. In this virtual medium it’s great that we can come together to raise awareness to what I consider to be government sanctioned murder. There are blogs out there who chronicle countless daily news stories which involves a loss of life at the hands of police officers by the use of tasers; a supposed non-lethal weapon employed by police departments here in the United States and abroad.

The one incident I’d like to focus on today to highlight this problem, involves the gentleman pictured at the beginning of this post – Oscar Grant. You do remember him, don’t you? Sure, I know not very many people are talking about him these days and he may be a distant memory for some. But just to remind you, he was the young man killed by a police officer at a train station in Oakland California. Yeah, his murder was caught on tape and spread across the internet like wild fire. Remember him now? Uh-huh, it happened last New Year’s Eve; yes, it has almost been a year – hard to believe, right?

Well I read recently that the trial of the officer in question, Johannes Mehserle, has been moved to Los Angeles for fear of the threats of violence, and the pre-trial publicity of the case. If you remember, there were riots out in Oakland for a day or so after the incident where Grant was killed by said officer. OK, so I know you’re wondering what the hell does this have to do with taser torture, right? I mean surely Oscar Grant didn’t die because several thousand volts of electricity was purposely sent through his body by a police officer, no? Well, the accused police officer, in his defense, is alleging that he was reaching for his taser and accidentally drew his gun; a defense that is plausible I might add, although some may not agree.

You see, with taser being considered as a “non-lethal” weapon, it was easy for this officer to consider using this in a manner so as to gain control of a situation. Never mind the fact that there have been at least 50 taser related deaths this year at the hands of police officers here in America alone; 21 of the victims were African American males But, none of this is important, because, well, tasers are non-lethal. And guess what? Oscar Grant isn’t even mentioned as one of these victims, but indirectly he is.

Had the police officer actually used his taser on Oscar Grant, there’s a chance he may be be alive today as opposed to being shot at point blank range with a service revolver which was mistaken for a taser. Maybe Grant may have been luckier than the 450 people who have died from taser use in North America  by police to date. Maybe if tasers were seen as a lethal weapon more caution would be taken in applying them to civilians?

The real question is: how much longer will we allow taser use by the police to continue at the rate that it has, all the while being responsible for the loss of lives before something is done? Do we need more Oscar Grant-like cases before this becomes a serious enough issue? What needs to happen is a Congressional hearing on the subject. If you’re interested in making this happen, do yourself and the love of humanity a favor and help by signing the petition below as has been done by 2000 other people.