By Christin Ayers

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Nearly 10 years after a BART police officer shot and killed Oscar Grant on a station platform in 2009, Grant’s family is fighting to change the name of Fruitvale Station, where he died.

Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, said that while BART officials have commissioned a mural honoring Grant, they have so far declined to consider renaming the station Oscar Grant Fruitvale.

“We’re finally moving forward with the mural and we’re grateful,” said Johnson. But she is still hopeful that BART will take their tribute a step further and name the station after her son.

Johnson said she found a recent Facebook post by District One BART Director Debora Allen about their efforts “disheartening. ”

On her page, Allen questioned why approval of the mural “did not appear on a board agenda” and asked “Should BART ever memorialize or name stations after individuals?”

A flurry of responses followed, including one stating “Oscar Grant is not a hero, but a thug. He doesn’t deserve any honor.”

Another post read, “Shame on [Grant] and shame on BART for caving to a grieving family.”

“[Allen] should not have even put that on her Facebook page and try to incite the crowd,” said Johnson.

Riders at Fruitvale Station supported the idea of renaming the BART station. John and Joanne Donivan met Grant when he was a butcher’s apprentice at Farmer Joe’s market in Oakland.

“He was a hell of a guy,” said John.

Joanne said Grant deserves to have a mural and to have the station named after him.

“I get off BART and every time I pass that area, I bless his soul.”

Emmett Collins, who was playing the saxophone at the station said Grant deserves more than just “a picture” to honor him.

“Rename it,” he said. “We should honor him that way.”

Christin Ayers

  1. Deepest respect for his grieving family. The pain never goes away. I strongly support the mural, and think it is an absolutely appropriate tribute to Oscar, but I do not support renaming Fruitvale – or any Bart station after any victims of violence. Nothing will bring Oscar back, and the mural will serve as a important reminder. But there have been many lives lost to senseless violence and police brutality. Are we going to eventually attach names to every station? What happens after we run out? When there is another murder? Do we hyphenate to add names? Rename with the more recent victim?
    Moreover stations are identifiers for travelers, so the whole proposed name wouldn’t be on the BART guides and maps (will it?). A BART station reflects a stop, a street, a neighborhood destination – it identifies a destination, it’s a word map. Are tourists supposed to know or be reminded where people have been murdered? Seems like it would be confusing to change a station name – unless they change Fruitvale Ave to Oscar Grant Ave, it doesnt make logistic sense.

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