Violence, vandalism and looting broke out in Oakland on the evening of July 8, after a peaceful protest against the verdict from the trial of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle had ended.
(Photograph by Thomas K. Pendergast)
Mehserle, 28, faced a murder charge or manslaughter, but was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in a Los Angeles courtroom for shooting to death Oscar Grant, 22, on New Year's Day of 2009.
Mehserle is white and Grant was an African American.
He'd gone to the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland to assist another BART officer in breaking up a fight in which Grant was apparently involved. Soon after his arrival, he attempted to arrest Grant, who was lying unarmed and face down on the pavement as Mehserle and the other officer pinned him to the ground.
He then drew his service pistol and shot Grant in the back, killing him. Mehserle's defense was that he'd meant to draw his Taser but drew his pistol by mistake. The jury apparently believed him, convicting him of involuntary manslaughter, meaning essentially that he didn't intend to murder Grant but was reckless or careless enough in his actions that a man was killed because of those actions.
Although the verdict is a rare instance of a police officer being convicted at all for an on-duty killing, Grant's family and many in the crowd clearly wanted a murder conviction.
The protest against the verdict ended peacefully at 8 p.m. Soon after, a phalanx of Oakland police officers in riot gear attempted to clear Broadway at 13th Street but a crowd of angry protesters blocked them and wouldn't let them pass.
While the police were partially blocked by the large crowd of angry protesters, looters wearing Oscar Grant masks broke the windows of a FootLocker store then grabbed new shoes and ran, while several people threw bottles and other objects; so police announced that they'd declared the gathering an "unlawful assembly," demanding that the demonstrators get off the streets.
Many in the crowd refused to comply.Go here for the full story, originally posted on Examiner.com --->>>