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Protesters Mark Oscar Grant's Birthday

Posted: 10:23 pm PST February 27, 2009Updated: 11:06 pm PST February 27, 2009

Chanting "Justice for Oscar Grant," about a hundred protesters marched through Hayward to city hall on Friday in memory of the man shot to death on New Year's Day by a BART police officer. Grant would have turned 23 on Friday.

The demonstration was relatively peaceful. But there was a bit of confusion about where the protesters were allowed to march. A few young men tried to confront police in riot gear, but organizers moved in to calm the situation. "We just want this to be a non-violent rally, we want to celebrate today," said Oscar Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson. Past protests in Oakland have turned violent with businesses and cars getting damaged.

Johnson used the event to reflect on her son's life. "All the home runs that he hit, all the balls he caught. This is a day of celebration. And we just want to celebrate his life," she said. Johnson said she was the one who urged her son to take BART on New Year's morning.

Other relatives expressed a different view at today's event. "This is not just, we need justice here," said Mario Pangelina. "I don't know what's going on with the system. I don't trust police. I don't feel safe."

When the march concluded, light blue ballons were released into the air. Grant's relatives said blue was Grant's favorite color.

Former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle is charged with murder for killing Grant. He is due back in court next month. Protesters are urging people to turn out for a demonstration outside the courthouse.

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