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AS IT HAPPENED: Reaction to Mehserle involuntary manslaughter verdict

Johannes Mehserle, the former BART Police Officer who shot and killed unarmed passenger Oscar Grant on January 1, 2009 at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter by a Los Angeles jury.

The jury found Mehserle not guilty of the most serious charge he faced: murder. Mehserle faces five to 14 years in state prison for Grant’s killing.

These are the updates we put out as reaction rolled in and protests began after the verdict.

23:25 PDT Mostly mopup going on now, though there are still isolated reports of looting going on in Oakland.

That’s it for this live blog. Look out for a full story on the reaction to the verdict, the protests, and the rioting later.

23:00 PDT Trouble in Oakland appears to be focused on 17th and Broadway, 17th and Franklin, and 23rd and Webster now.

22:54 PDT OPD chief Anthony Batts tells the media that about 50 people have been arrested so far; he expects that number to double.

22:41 PDT A Whole Foods near Bay and Harrison Sts. in Oakland is being looted.

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums thanks police officers from neighboring agencies for their assistance, as well as the youth of Oakland.

22:26 PDT Dumpsters are being set on fire in Downtown Oakland.

Police officers from as far away as Contra Costa County are being sent to Oakland to provide mutual aid to the OPD. Dozens of CHP officers are also responding. A MUNI bus shuttled dozens of SFPD officers across the Bay Bridge.

22:16 PDT Some photos from the rioting tonight:

A police blockade on 17th and Telegraph in Oakland.

Vandalism at the Caltrans building on Webster and Grand in Oakland.

A bus used to transport detainees in Oakland.

22:05 PDT A beauty shop in Uptown Oakland is being broken into, and trashcan fires are being set.

21:50 PDT Our reporter says vandals are spraypainting the Caltrans building at Webster St and Grand Ave.

A photo of a window broken at Foot Locker earlier:

21:44 PDT Youths are shouting at rioters in Downtown Oakland, telling them to go home.

21:37 PDT BART reports 19th St Station in Oakland is closed to passengers.

21:26 PDT Police officers from multiple agencies are trying to contain the crowd at 17th and Broadway. Bottles are being thrown at police officers, who have responded by putting up a smokescreen.

21:04 PDT BART reports that trains are once again stopping at 12th St Station in Downtown Oakland.

21:00 PDT Police have started making mass arrests at 14th and Broadway. Another crowd is moving up Clay St. in Downtown Oakland.

20:50 PDT Police are preparing to make mass arrests of those still at 14th and Broadway in Downtown Oakland. A branch of the Far East National Bank near 14th and Broadway has been broken into.

BART reports that 12th Street station in Oakland is closed, with trains running through without stopping.

20:40 PDT Police are now warning those still on the streets to disperse or risk serious injury.

20:30 PDT Police have declared an unlawful assembly in Downtown Oakland. People are breaking windows and looting a Foot Locker in Downtown Oakland.

20:25 PDT Photo of police officers blocking protesters at 12th and Broadway:

20:00 PDT The rally at 14th and Broadway in Downtown Oakland is breaking up now, with a crowd of people moving down Broadway toward police headquarters. A police line is blocking them at 12th and Broadway.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley tells KTVU television that Mehserle must serve at least 85% of his sentence before being eligible for parole.

19:20 PDT A crowd of about 100 people has gathered in south Los Angeles to voice their opinions on the Mehserle verdict.

Oscar Grant Sr., the shooting victim’s grandfather, asks people not to “dishonor” Grant’s memory through violence. He says there are “good cops and bad cops.”

A photo from the small gathering at 73rd and International in East Oakland:

And a photo of the police line downtown:

19:10 PDT Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums thanks residents for protesting peacefully so far.

OPD chief Anthony Batts says that the police have not made any arrests so far. He tells the media that outside of downtown, the city is quiet, and that besides a brief spell of rock-throwing, no trouble has been reported.

Batts says that the woman who was hit by a police car declined medical assistance.

18:50 PDT Some photos from the rally at 14th and Broadway:



18:45 PDT Our reporter says a small group of protesters has gathered at 73rd and MacArthur.

Here’s a photo of police at Fruitvale BART station earlier:

18:30 PDT The crowd of several hundred gathered at 14th and Broadway continues to grow, but remains peaceful. A marching band has joined the speakers, and is now playing. Police are on every street surrounding the crowd.

BART reports that trains are on time and ridership is now light.

18:27 PDT The San Francisco Chronicle has published an editorial saying the “right verdict” was reached in the Mehserle trial. “Anything less would have been an injustice. Anything more would have required conclusions about Mehserle’s state of mind that were not sufficiently supported in trial,” the Chronicle says.

18:23 PDT Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley is “gratified” that the jury rejected the defense contention that Grant’s shooting was an accident, but disappointed by the verdict, she said.

18:20 PDT: Some quotes from residents reacting to the verdict:

“It’s time for everyone to recuperate from the damages that this has caused us and our structure and move forward, but it is a huge step a huge step backwards for people in general.” –Nuri Ndor, Oakland

“I think it was unjust, and unfortunately the city is gonna have to learn from this in a more dignified way. But unfortunately it’s gonna hurt a lot of people.” –William Battle, Oakland

18:05 PDT: BART reports that the City Center entrance to the 12th Street station in Downtown Oakland has been closed. Other entrances to the station are still open.

Our reporter says a small number of people have gathered at Youth Uprising to speak out on the verdict.

17:58 PDT: A public address system has now been set up at 14th and Broadway and people are speaking out on the verdict. Some speakers are taunting police.

17:52 PDT: A police line has now formed at 12th and Broadway. KGO-TV has aired footage from its helicopter showing a police car hitting a woman — presumably the one who is reported to be lying on the ground at 12th and Broadway.

17:40 PDT: A group of people have gathered around a young woman lying on the ground at 12th and Broadway in Downtown Oakland; police are surrounding her and a crowd has gathered around her.

17:33 PDT: Protesters have surrounded a police car at 13th and Broadway and are shouting abuse at the police officers.

17:21 PDT: The 14th and Broadway intersection in Downtown Oakland is blocked by protesters now. An AC Transit bus is stuck because of the blockage.

17:15 PDT: Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums asks residents to respond to the verdict in a “peaceful and respectful manner.”

Our reporter says a crowd of a few hundred has gathered at 14th and Broadway, with some venting their anger. Police are in the neighborhood, but keeping out of sight.

Fruitvale BART is deserted.

17:02 PDT: Governor Schwarzenegger has issued a statement urging Californians “to remain calm in light of the verdict and not to resort to violence.”

Grant’s mother Wanda Johnson says that “Grant was murdered” at a press conference in Los Angeles. “This battle is not over,” she says, as she struggles to remain composed.

16:55 PDT: BART service is reported to be extremely crowded as people try to make their way home early after the verdict.

16:45 PDT: Many downtown businesses have closed for the day, and our reporters say Downtown Oakland is deserted.


Still, police are staging downtown in the event of trouble. This photo shows police units staging at 11th and Jefferson in downtown Oakland.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Grant’s family and attorney John Burris say they are “extremely disappointed” with the verdict, but Burris tells the media that it’s better than no verdict at all.

Please follow the California Beat on Twitter at @californiabeat and @OaklandBeat for updates and reaction from the Bay Area throughout the day. Check back on our website www.californiabeat.org for the latest reporting from Los Angeles and the Bay Area. We will be following possible protests in Oakland and throughout the Bay Area.

The California Beat and The Campanil’s joint continuing coverage of the Johannes Mehserle BART Shooting trial is funded in part through Spot.Us. Visit our special trial news page and help fund this project.

One Comment »

  • PIGS SUCKS said:

    Look at this photo, total police brutality. They ain’t doing nothing wrong, those are free shoes they were just giving away at foot locker. Thats JUSTICE!!!!