Photo courtesy of Reginald James
It was a warm and cloudy January morning when I set out to capture these images.
Two weeks after BART police officer Johannes Mehserle shot Oscar Grant in his back, the air was still filled with the foul odor of injustice. The smoke from the barrel of Mehserle’s gun mixed with the scent of burning trash cans and cars set ablaze during the two uprisings had set into the concrete and on the sides of vandalized buildings like soot.
The tag on the bricks of the Pacific Law Building at 15th and Franklin in downtown Oakland spoke to me that morning. Rather; I saw my reflection in its message.
“I am… Oscar Grant!”
I wanted to capture the diversity of those who organized, protested and spoke out for justice. Shot in color, I post them in Black and White to enhance the contrasts; the contrasts of age, race and gender, and all the gray areas.
The original album caption was “Whether young or old, Black, Brown, Yellow, Red or White: We want justice.”
We were all on that platform that night. Grant’s death renewed a collective consciousness.
I am…Oscar Grant, because we are.