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Mayor: Oakland is ready for Mehserle jail release protests

A large banner reading "Oakland Says Guilty" was hung from a stoplight in Downtown Oakland during a gathering after the verdict in the Johannes Mehserle trial. (CALIFORNIA BEAT PHOTO)

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said Thursday that her city was prepared to handle possible protests organized in response to the Monday release of former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle from a Los Angeles County Jail.

In a written statement, Quan said, “Although we expect peaceful gatherings, we do not anticipate nor will we tolerate vandalism or violence. The Oakland Police Department is prepared to respond if personal safety or property are at risk.”

On Friday, the Oakland Police Department said it was also prepared to respond to any reports of civil disobedience by placing extra officers on duty beginning Sunday and coordinating a mutual aid response strategy with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol and neighboring police agencies.

Several community groups said during a Friday morning press conference at Fruitvale BART station in East Oakland — the site where Mehserle shot and killed unarmed train passenger Oscar Grant on January 1, 2009 — they would organize additional demonstrations protesting the former police officer’s release.

A Los Angeles judge ordered that Mehserle should be released on Monday after serving just over 11 months of a two-year involuntary manslaughter sentence. A court hearing that was scheduled for the same day, expected to have been on the subject of Mehserle’s release, was canceled.

Representatives from The Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant group said they would hold a 3 p.m. protest on Sunday at the train station to call attention to the case and Mehserle’s early release.

Additional protests organized by several Los Angeles community groups were scheduled for late Sunday night into early Monday morning at the Men’s Jail in Downtown Los Angeles, the facility where Mehserle is being held.

A series of protests following key rulings and decisions in the racially-charged case erupted into violent rioting and looting of Oakland businesses.

Dozens of businesses in Oakland’s Downtown and Uptown areas suffered extensive vandalism as a result of the unrest. Business owners took precautions by boarding up storefront windows and doors with plywood, effectively turning the city’s urban core into a shuttered ghost town.

Quan and other city officials said they recognized the importance of the case, but hoped that any future protests would not elevate to violence.

“This issue has deeply touched people in our community, and we will continue, as we have in the past, to respect peaceful expression,” she said in the statement.

Beat reporter Steven Luo and the Beat News Service contributed reporting from Los Angeles. Contact the Beat at news@californiabeat.org.

3 Comments »

  • FesterNScab said:

    Here we go again! More destruction because the black man was oppressed! No Justice, No Peace! The perfect mantra for those who feel it’s open season on everybody because of the retarded actions of one white turd.

  • white dude said:

    yeah why do you need to taze someone with three other cops holding them face down knee in their neck and hand cuffed ? must have been a jury of retards to buy his story.oink if you hate freedom ! being innocent until proved guilty. This is incompatible with the concept of “crime prevention.” Crime prevention, which is politically popular under democratic mob-moron rule, requires law enforcement to go after criminals before they have committed a crime. Which means innocent people will always be the target of law enforcement. Going after the guilty means one has to wait until after there has been a crime. Politicians, always pandering to the unthinking masses, are always quick to tout “crime prevention” because it sounds like it protects people.

  • Geoffrey Burton said:

    People have to realize that may be incidence where polic are accidently killed…..however, there are two sets of laws on the books. I feel sorry for black police officers whose family members were the victim of white supremist activities during the period from 1700 thru 1979. The fathers of current white polic oficers stood by while other white officers slaughtered blacks and in some cases hung them from trees.More police officers will die around the country in the years to follow.I suggest we should just turn our cheeks like whites do all the time.