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BART verdict: Marchers, extra police pour into downtown Oakland

July 8, 2010 |  6:56 pm

Johannes MehserleHundreds of people have gathered in downtown Oakland near 14th Street and Broadway, angered that a former BART officer was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter instead of a more severe second-degree murder conviction.

The crowd is tense, holding up signs decrying the verdict, and some holding up pieces of paper with the photo of Oscar J. Grant III, the  unarmed black man who was fatally shot by white BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland.

But there are no reports of violence, according to local television reports. Workers in downtown Oakland cleared out late this afternoon, hoping to avoid a possible disturbance. Oakland police were on the scene in riot gear. 

Additional police officers were coming in from other cities, including Hayward and Fremont. Merchants boarded up their storefronts earlier this afternoon.

Oakland police and city leaders have feared the possibility of violence following the verdict. In June, the city Police Department simulated a riot to help officers prepare for unrest. Meeting areas were planned to be set up for residents to peacefully express their feelings about the verdict. And preachers have agreed to urge calm.

-- Rong-Gong Lin II

Photo: Johannes Mehserle. Credit: Associated Press