Protest highlights tensions brought by Mehserle trial
on October 26, 2009
October 22nd was a National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, a nation-wide initiative to draw attention to the lives that have been lost at the hands of law enforcement officers. Here in Oakland, the protest came at a time of great tension- only a week earlier, an Alameda County judge moved the murder of trial of Johannes Mehserle, the BART police officer who shot and killed Oscar Grant on New Years Day.
It remains to be seen where the trial will be moved to, but protesters on Thursday made one thing clear: wherever it goes, they’re ready to follow.
“Wherever they go, we’re gonna be there. Are we gonna be there?” asked Tony Coleman of the community group OneFam, drawing cheers and yells from the crowd of about one hundred people.
Other protesters compared the Mehserle trial to the case of the officers who beat down Rodney King in 1992, a case whose venue was also removed from the community where the incident occurred. In the judge’s decision last week, he said that if the trial stayed in Oakland, jurors would be biased because they may be fearful of violence erupting if they were to acquit Mehserle. Protesters on Thursday made that threat seem even more pertinent.
“We are the ones who are gonna get justice,” said Ronald Cruz, an organizer with BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), a civil-rights activist group. “I wanna see everybody down here when the verdict comes down.”
The protest Thursday included a number of speakers making a call to action on Mehserle’s trial, as well as the mothers and families of other victims of police brutality cases. After the speakers, a group of about fifty demonstrators marched from City Hall to the OPD Police Station and back holding signs and calling out pleas of justice for Oscar Grant.
In the next week, judge Morris Jacobson is expected to receive a short list of potential locations that could host Mehserle’s trial. Then he will decide where Mehserle’s proceedings will be held- and how far protesters will have to travel to witness them.
Read our past coverage of the Johannes Mehserle trial on Oakland North here.
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