Statement by BART Board President James Fang
BART Board President James Fang issued the following statement today:
"Out of deference to the honorable Mayor of Oakland, Ronald Dellums, BART cancelled a tentatively scheduled news conference that was intended to express our deep pride and love for the City of Oakland and the Bay Area Community and to join with community leaders and city officials to call for calm and peaceful response to the upcoming verdict in the Johannes Mehserle trial.
Whatever the verdict, those of us who live and work in Oakland and who love this city must direct our energies and our emotion into constructive actions for change and progress. We must respect the small business owners in the Bay Area, and in Oakland in particular, who are working hard to make a living in these difficult economic times. Neither, BART, the City of Oakland, its residents or its businesses have control over the outcome of the People versus Mehserle trial.
While we respect the judicial process, I personally would have liked to have seen African-Americans seated on jury and I am deeply disappointed that there are none.
While we cannot control the outcome of the trial, we can change BART's future. As a result of this tragedy, BART has taken an extremely hard look at its Police department and the way we interact with the people we serve. Through hard work and especially community input, we have made progress and changes that better reflect our charge to serve the community. Some of the changes we have already made include:
- Reforming the Police Use of Force policy so that now any use of force will be reviewed
- Increasing the amount and diversity of police training
- Working to establish Citizen Oversight of the BART Police Department. In fact, a bill to establish citizen oversight was unanimously passed by the BART Board, the State Assembly & Senate
- Hiring a new Chief of Police, Kenton Rainey, who has a strong record of accomplishment in community oriented policing
We have faced many challenges in the past 18 months to rebuild public trust. While we cannot change the events of January 1, 2009, we are continuing to fulfill our commitment to make the changes required to ensure the BART Police Department lives up to the high standard our customers and the Bay Area deserve."