OAKLAND -- Family members of Oscar Grant marked the fifth anniversary of his death Wednesday by gathering outside the BART station where a transit police officer shot and killed the 22-year-old in a tragedy that shocked the Bay Area and nation.
Grant's mother, girlfriend and 9-year-old daughter were joined in the Wednesday afternoon commemoration by extended family members and more than 200 supporters, including the filmmaker who memorialized Grant's story in an acclaimed feature film last year.
"It's still hard to accept what happened, but it makes it easier that we have this community of support," said Chantay Moore, 33, Grant's sister.
Speeches, songs and performances by rappers such as Jasiri X and Ras Ceylon mixed somber and celebratory remembrances with calls for political change and ending gun violence and police brutality against young African-American men.
"Right now, we know there's an imbalance," said Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson. "We don't want to focus just on police but on murder in general. We want to work to create peace and love and harmony."
Johnson said the protest movement that helped propel the prosecution of BART police officer Johannes Mehserle has been a national inspiration, even though many were disappointed that Mehserle served only 11 months after his 2010 conviction for involuntary manslaughter.
Along with the family-led public commemoration Wednesday afternoon, another group of protesters organized by the Occupy movement met just after the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day in downtown Oakland. Protesters burned flags and set off firecrackers, but there were only a handful of citations and no arrests or reports of violence.
Grant was killed while returning from New Year revelries in San Francisco in the early morning of Jan. 1, 2009.
Grant's uncle and other family members also commemorated the fifth anniversary on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning by retracing Grant's late-night BART trip from San Francisco to Fruitvale, where BART officers had pulled him and his friends off the train.
Johnson had a more quiet event at her home where she remembered the last night she spent with her son at her birthday celebration, eating gumbo.
Tatiana Grant, the daughter who was 4 when her father was killed, is now 9 and doing well, her family members said.
"She has a lot of friends; she's a social butterfly," Moore said. "Just like her dad. She can walk up to anybody and talk to them."
Neither the girl nor her mother have ever seen the cellphone video footage that captured Grant's slaying, nor have they seen "Fruitvale Station," the feature film about his life.
Mingling in the sidelines with Grant family members Wednesday afternoon was Ryan Coogler, the 27-year-old filmmaker whose debut film humanized Grant's story and brought it national and international attention last year.
Coogler declined to speak, not wanting to take the spotlight from the family, but said he was moved that so many people came out to remember Grant.