As Oakland awaits this Friday’s sentencing of Johannes Mehserle, civic leaders and residents alike are working together to keep the city’s reaction peaceful. The former BART police officer was convicted in July of involuntary manslaughter in the January, 2009, shooting death of Oscar Grant. In the wake of Grant’s death, as well as of Mehserle’s conviction this summer, protests in downtown Oakland turned violent.
On Thursday, the Oakland City Attorney’s Office announced it was suing four people for their alleged role in the looting and vandalism that followed the protests after the Johannes Mehserle verdict on July 8, 2010.
As the Giants hosted the San Diego Padres on October 3, a long white banner peeked above the right field wall of AT&T Park. The sign, attached to the rigging of a yacht anchored in what Giants fans call “McCovey Cove,” did not support either team. Instead, the banner spelled out a political message in black block letters: Free Johannes Mehserle. Strung along the base of the boat was another banner listing a website, Justice4Johannes.com.
Wearing a white tank top spotted with blood, Susan Harman, a 69-year-old former school principal and resident of Oakland, told a crowd of reporters that she was a victim of police aggression during the protests following the July 8 Johannes Mehserle verdict. The tank top she was wearing was the same one she had on that night when, she said, while peacefully protesting she was pushed down, hit on the head with a baton and arrested.
As the Oakland Police Department works to identify the people involved in the property damage and looting during the protest following the Johannes Mehserle verdict, one anarchist, who came from out of state and was arrested that night, speaks about anarchists’ role in the Oakland riot and the “grassroots global civil war.”
The Oakland Police Department has released photos of people allegedly looting and destroying property during the protests following last week’s verdict in the 2009 shooting death of Oscar Grant. They published 15 photos on the department website in the hopes that citizens will come forward to identify those in the photos.
Johannes Mehserle won’t be sentenced until later this year, but his involuntary manslaughter conviction could mean he faces up to 14 years in a state prison. Because the notoriety of his crime, the ex-BART police officer could be gravely at risk among other prisoners, but the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has a system to protect high-profile inmates like Mehserle.
As Oakland awaits next month’s sentencing of Johannes Mehserle, the BART police officer convicted last Thursday of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant, authorities, community groups and onlookers congratulated each other on the mostly non-violent protests that followed the verdict last Thursday. Joint planning among city, police and community groups helped keep the peace, they say.
As the sun set behind City Hall and the City of Oakland’s official rally came to an end on Thursday night, a few people in black hoodies began weaving throughout the crowd, pulling bandanas up over their faces. What had been a peaceful afternoon demonstration was about to become a chaotic night during which a few violent protesters, mostly people from other cities, vandalized the downtown.