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Oakland residents prepare for verdict in racially charged police shooting

Oakland residents prepared for a verdict in the Johannes Mehserle shooting trial Tuesday with a mixture of apprehension and hope that the city’s historically disempowered youth would express themselves peacefully.

With the case now in the hands of the jury, a law enforcement incident command post has risen beneath a tangle of freeway overpasses next to the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge, complete with satellite-dish adorned tractor trailers labeled "emergency services."

City officials and some other downtown agencies and businesses say they will urge downtown workers to go home before the verdict is read, largely to avoid traffic tangles as community groups have announced plans to gather in the heart of downtown to express reactions to any outcome.

For weeks, community organizations, religious leaders and public officials here have worked to create a forum for youth to voice their anger in constructive ways to avoid a replay of the violence that erupted in the wake of Oscar Grant’s killing a year and a half ago.

A public service video prepared by Youth UpRising has gone viral, spreading the message that “violence is not justice.” In it, a host of youth activists, rappers, a poet and even an Oakland police captain express the dismay they felt when they watched a grainy cellphone video of Mehserle, then a Bay Area Rapid Transit officer, shooting Grant in the back as he lay face down on the platform of the Fruitvale transit station, unarmed and restrained.

Those testimonials are followed by others calling for constructive ways to express outrage. “Our primary concern has been the young people in Oakland, making sure we can help them figure out ways to channel their energy in positive ways and really understand the power that they have,” said Jacky Johnson, outreach and events manager for Youth UpRising, an East Oakland organization which serves 13- to 24-year-olds.

Last week, the group held a forum to teach youth about historical movements for social change and educate them about the criminal justice process.

Apprehension was nevertheless palpable Tuesday.

In one stretch of downtown Oakland hard hit by an evening of rioting after the shooting, businesses displayed a combination of plywood, burglar bars and posters calling for “Justice for Oscar Grant.”

Mimi Le, who owns a tailor shop on downtown’s 17th Street, still carries photos in her digital camera of the damage her business sustained that evening.

She since added a second set of burglar bars to her store, yet her fear of unrest Tuesday came with a dose of optimism that violence will be averted.

Scattered among the posters calling for justice was a newer one that first appeared last week and echoes the sentiments many wish to convey: a red heart with yellow wings that proclaims “Love Not Blood.”

Gertha Hays, the owner of Diva’s Boutique, displayed both posters on her store Tuesday, and pledged to remain present after a verdict. Like many in the community, she believes that only a second-degree murder charge would provide a just outcome to what “looked like murder to me.”

The jury is considering that charge along with both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.

Jury deliberations were postponed Tuesday after a juror called in sick. Another juror has a previously scheduled vacation, so the court will seat an alternate when court proceedings resume Wednesday.

--Maria L. LaGanga in Oakland and Lee Romney in San Francisco


Comments () | Archives (15)

"Mimi Le, who owns a tailor shop on downtown’s 17th Street, still carries photos in her digital camera of the damage her business sustained that evening."

So protesters are going to express their outrage at this racism by trashing Asian-owned businesses? These aren't social agents of change, they're criminals, and that's who'll be out again if this verdict isn't to their "liking."

Oakland's youths will express themselves as they have done traditionally: rioting, looting and arson.

this is gonna make the LA riots look like Ghandi organized it.......and I effin love it!

Mehserle MUST, MUST, MUST be convicted of 2nd-degree murder.

I don't know why people, mostly the police stereotype a protesting populous (Youth especially), saying things such as “they will riot no matter what the outcome”. I guess we enter into argument stereotypes about the police: they will respond with heavy handed and liberty depriving police tactics, uncalled for and reckless use of force, integrity lacking actions by officers, all while in the end covering up their wrong doings and protecting their own under the guise of “ongoing investigations” and “officers showed a incredible amount of restraint” type rhetoric.




so if he is found guilty, are the white people going to riot?

The video I saw made the cop look guilty. Maybe not deliberate murder, but murder thru negligence or incompetence, certainly.

That said, Oakland & Richmond have suffered a few hundred murders since then, some of cops, with no protests or fears of riots. Most of the murder victims are black or Hispanic youth, as are most of the murderers.

So where are the riots for them? Oakland/Richmond only care if the killer is white, as do the rest of the hypocritical, lefty, PC mafia. The killer could be a cop, but not white & the media silence is obvious. No, Al, Jesse, the ACLU & the rest of the emotionally unstable PC hypocrites are consistent in their selective outrage, always toward white, Christian males.

Anybody rioting after this decision comes down should be shot on sight. This trial is not an excuse to grab yourself a TV or cause chaos.

How many people think that "the city's historically disempowered youth" are secretly hoping for a "not guilty" verdict just so they can riot? You KNOW they want to...

what does that mean - stocking up on bottles and gasoline?
reasonable folks understand what happened - simple negligence and an accidental shooting without malice
ask yourself when the last time you behaved in such a manner as the BART riders did - to behave in such a manner and then expect and demand a perfect outcome is not reasonable and shows a failure to understand cause and effect

I think, Joe, what you mean to say is that Oakland's youths will express themselves as LA's basketball fans have made a tradition of doing: rioting, looting and arson. Now pat yourself on the back.

I wonder if Obama and Holder will get caught up in the moment and begin rioting/looting...This will be very interesting...They should probably relieve those two of their power and authority until 48 hours after the verdict is announced, just as a cool down period...

Honestly, it's amazing what causes people sink their teeth into...I really don't care either way...although, it sounds like manslaughter if anything...If I were a betting person, I'd bet on Not Guilty...Is Vegas taking odds...I should find out...

What we are witnessing here is not something that is extraordinary. Imam Jamil Al Ameen(aka H. Rap Brown) who was convicted of two(2) counts of murder of police officers(through the judge's disallowing of 100 pieces of defense evidence) once said;" people don't cause revolutions, conditions do".

The conditions prevailing in this country are the culprit. The people are simply responding to those conditions. Those who have become fed-up with "business as usual" are not going to take it lying down anymore.

The people have lost any illusions of the government working for them. Black folks have always known this truth. It is the "sheltered minority whites"(and those who impersonate them) that are just now coming to accept this reality.

1 1/2 years ago it was Oscar Grant, next it will be Little Billy Whiteboy(who dresses black and listens to black music). Don't you get it?

Malcolm X remarked when Kennedy was murdered "the chickens have come home to roost". Meaning the violence that white america turned a blind eye to when prepetuated against blacks came to their door step.

If you side with wrong you subject yourself to the dictates of wrong.

nuf said.....

the tv,s are to bulky now, so dont riot ,obama the man I voted for and im white is the person to go after and kick him out of office..............


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