Saturday, November 6, 2010
COP THAT KILLED OSCAR GRANT MAY ONLY DO SIX MONTHS IN PRISON
Riots in Oakland following Mehserle sentence: 150 arrests
Live blog: Cops pour in to Oakland to try to stop looting
By Kristin Bender
Posted: 07/08/2010 03:53:29 PM PDT
Updated: 07/08/2010 10:54:33 PM PDT
10:45 p.m. More businesses hit by violence
Graffiti on an empty building on the corner of 22nd and Broadway says "Oakland is our amusement park tonight!" A man at 23rd and Valdez was arrested because he had a gun. Two banks have had their windows smashed at 21st and Broadway. At Ozumo, someone smashed a window and there are broken bottles around the restaurant. )Oakland Acura at 24th and Harrison had its windows broken.
10:20 p.m. More than 60 police officers being brought in from Contra Costa County
Hundreds of police officers from Berkeley, Fremont, Hayward, San Francisco and other departments have been on hand today and tonight helping Oakland police with the protests, violence and looting in downtown. Now, at least 60 police officers from Contra Costa County are being brought in to assist. The crowd of a couple dozen is now at Grand Avenue and Telegraph near a Taco Bell. Oakland police are reporting that BART has closed the 19th Street station because of civil unrest.
10:05 p.m. Stores being looted on Broadway
The crowd just broke into the Oakland Coin and Jewelry Exchange and raided the place, and police are actively moving in. Oaksterdam at 19th and Broadway had its windows broken. Police threw flash bang grenades and are moving in with bean bag guns. JC Jewelry at 19th and Broadway had its metal gate ripped off and there is shattered glass everywhere and all the case inside are broken. People are breaking into the Sears store at 20th and Broadway using the metal bats to break the display window, stripping the mannequins of their clothes. Mannequins were set on fire. More flash grenades went off. All of the windows along Telegraph in the Sears are smashed. They were trying to get through the door, but there are security gates behind it.There was a pretty large mob and one man with a metal pipe smashing the winds.
The crowd is about 100 people now. At 19th and Broadway, police have established a police line and there are at least four fires in Dumpsters in the middle of the street. At times you can see cops with guns facing off with a line of people armed with cameras. The streetlights have been turned on and off sporadically over the last 20 minutes.
9:46 p.m. Garbage can set afire, thrown down 19th Street BART station stairs
Garbage cans have been set afire at 19th Street and thrown down the stairs of the BART station there.
Three Dumpsters are on fire on 19th Street, and they're being pulled out into the middle of the street by people wearing masks. Police have established a perimeter around the area and appear ready to move in on protesters.
9:40 p.m. Problems in downtown continue
Police have used a flash bang grenade, sending dozens of people running at 17th Street and Telegraph Avenue. It lightly charred the hood of a media van. An officer had a bottle thrown at him. Police are still moving the crowd down 17th Street from Broadway. The police are in an organized walk away from the protesters, with people surging forward.
Police are orderly, facing forward, stepping away from people. Protesters are being emboldened by this and have retaken 17th and Broadway.
"I just hope it doesn't get any worse that what it's been so far. This certainly is not peace or justice for Oscar," said Councilmember Larry Reid shortly after police cleared 14th Street and Broadway. "And I was hoping people would pay attention to what Oscar Grant's family asked folks to do — to exercise their constitutional rights but do it in a way that didn't cause property damage or any physical harm to anyone."
The Sheriff's Office is bringing in buses to take away people who've been arrested.
9:25 p.m. Close to 400 people are on downtown streets, crowd is moving up 15th toward Webster
Police have arrested dozens of people for fighting with officers, possession of weapons and on other charges. Prominent Oakland Attorney Walter Riley was one of them. It appeared he didn't comply quickly enough with police orders.
There is a crowd of people shouting "Justice for Oscar Grant" on the street. Police are swarming around the Lionel Wilson building. CHP cars had their windows taped, but people smashed the windows on one car with bricks, breaking the windshield. People are chanting: "Whose street? Our street!"
Police have beanbag shotguns, but they have not used them.
9 p.m. Windows smashed, looting going on in downtown
People are smashing windows and police are not stopping the looting or window smashing in the area of 14th and 15th and Broadway. A massive number of CHP officers are on the scene.
Police are pushing people north on Broadway. Police are forming a line at Broadway and 14th Street facing east. There is a crowd corralled in Frank Ogawa Plaza.
Lauren Whitehead, 26, of Oakland is yelling at people with black masks who are setting fire to shoe boxes in the street. The Foot Locker at 14th and Broadway had its windows smashed earlier and people pulled shoes, T-shirts and other items from the store.
"It's hard for me to watch somebody walk from window to window to window and knock it out with a hammer. It's hard for me to watch someone start a fire in the middle of a street I walk down every day, because it doesn't help," she said.
One man who ran out of the Foot Locker came out with two different size sneakers then ran back and asked someone to get him a size 8.
Stephen Allen, 22, got caught up in a mob that broke through the gate of the Foot Locker, looting the store of shoes and sportswear. Allen was upset.
"Before the sun went down I was happy with everything," the West Oakland resident said. "It's no longer about Oscar Grant. The people who went in there and came out with shoes. That's not about Oscar Grant anymore. What we had before the sun went down, that was justice. This is just pure stupidity."
8:40 p.m. Shoe store being looted, police declare unlawful assembly
Police declared unlawful assembly at 13th and Broadway and are ordering the area cleared. They are going to clear the area with force and are threatening the use of chemical agents.
The Foot Locker on Broadway has had its windows smashed, and looters are pulling shoes, T-shirts and other items from the store. Hangers and shoe boxes are all over the ground at 14th and Broadway.
Windows at the Rite-Aid store at 14th and Broadway have been cracked. The Far East National Bank has also had its window broken.
About 100 police officers are coming up Broadway to help quell the situation. Police are donning masks and helmets. and saying that people who stay are risking serious injuries. People in the crowd are donning tear gas masks.
There is a man on ground with a video camera. Witnesses say at least four police officers swarmed around him and pressed his face to the ground before handcuffing him and dragging him away.
There are people out with signs that say "killer cops." Demonstrators are taking cell phone pictures and video.
Police have re-established a line at 14th and Broadway, as five protesters have lined up and are locking arms as if they're not going to move. Police are redeploying a riot line.
Two men who started a game of chess nearly three hours ago are still playing the game in the middle of a crosswalk.
8:30 p.m. Bottles, cans being thrown, three arrested
Police have now arrested three people, including two for fighting with police and one for throwing a Molotov cocktail. Police have started taking away cans and bottles from people who were tossing them at officers at the intersection of 13th and Broadway.
Someone has broken a window at the Subway shop at 1312 Broadway.
People fled up Broadway toward 14th, but calm was restored.
8:20 p.m. Protesters and police begin to clash
At 12th Street, south of Broadway there are a handful of people wearing bandannas on their faces. There are protesters approaching police skirmish lines in that area. One officer gently shoved back a protester who was getting too close to the line. They are chanting "no justice, no peace.'' There are about 200 protesters up against the line, which includes about 60 police officers.
8:05 p.m. Police make some arrests in downtown as official event ends peacefully
Police have arrested two people for fighting with officers and they also detained a handful of others for being on roof near 12th and Broadway. Police thought they might drop items onto the street. A few people have thrown bottles at police. Meanwhile, the music has ended and many people are leaving the area.
7:45 p.m. Mayor Dellums thanks people for peaceful protests- so far
Mayor Ron Dellums and Chief Anthony Batts commended Oakland residents for what have been overwhelmingly peaceful protests.
''Up to this moment, while passionate and very aggressively talking about the need for justice, people have done so in a manner that is peaceful,' Dellums said. He added, "I want to compliment people for their passion for justice but also their passion for peace."
7:40 p.m. Department of Justice to do independent review
Alejandro Miyar, a spokesman for the Department of Justice (DOJ) said the office has been closely monitoring the state's investigation and prosecution. "The Civil Rights Division, the U.S. attorney's office, and the FBI have an open investigation into the fatal shooting and, at the conclusion of the state prosecution, will conduct an independent review of the facts and circumstances to determine whether the evidence warrants federal prosecution."
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, (D-Oakland) said her office has been in touch with the DOJ and has been "reassured that they are moving forward and conducting a thorough and independent review of the verdict." "No verdict can ever replace the loss of a son, a father and a friend. Our condolences continue to go out to the family of Oscar Grant during this trying time,'' she said in a statement.
7:30 p.m. People react differently in downtown
On Broadway between 13th and 14th there are still 500 to 800 people gathered. When one young man started shouting that the crowd should riot he was quickly quieted by Oakland resident Brenda Appleby. "Maybe the verdict is wrong,'' Appleby said. "But this is my community and my town. We have to stop talking about (the shooting) like it just hurt us black people. We need to stop looking at just color. This is about what happened to human being."
Meanwhile, an officer with the Alameda County probation department, who asked that his name not be printed for fear of losing his job, was not pleased with the verdict. I feel like (the verdict) was a slap on the wrist (for Mehserle). I don't trust the system and I work for the system."
7 p.m. Oscar Grant's grandfather speaks out for peace, update on public transit
Police are blocking Broadway at 12th Street; 12th Street at Telegraph Avenue; 13th and Broadway; and 14th and Franklin. Meanwhile, people are playing music about 20 feet from the police line at 12th and Broadway.
Oscar Grant Sr., 64, of Hayward, the grandfather of Oscar Grant III, is downtown. He urged the crowd to stay peaceful no matter how angry they are.
"Don't come out here to fight," he said. "Don't dishonor my grandson's death by coming out here and tearing up Oakland. ... I know the verdict was wrong, but let's not tear up Oakland for it."
Meanwhile, the Broadway entrance to the 12th Street/Oakland City Center BART station is closed, according to BART officials. The other entrances are still open. That particular entrance has been closed at the recommendation of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office because of crowding, BART spokesman Jim Allison said. Trains are running on time, he said.
AC Transit has diverted buses around downtown Oakland, but AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson said they are still running full service.
The Fruitvale BART station is quiet. About 20 Alameda County sheriff's deputies have relieved Oakland police officers who were guarding the station. The station is largely empty. A rider getting off a train at the Fruitvale station complimented the efforts to keep protests calm.
"The leadership of young people of color has worked very hard for a peaceful demonstration," said Lea Arellano, a resident of the Fruitvale district. "I want to celebrate the discipline, the commitment and the illustration of peace that is present here at the BART station. We disagree with the verdict, but still there is peace."
6:45 p.m. Stage set up, at least 1,000 gathered in downtown
At 14th and Broadway, demonstrators have set up a stage blocking the intersection. There are 500 to 800 people in downtown. People are holding signs that say "Justice for Oscar Grant," "Jail all racist cops" and "All lives are worthy, no to police brutality and murder."
Lauren Sage is down there and said: "Police brutality affects all of us, and when we stand up for it, it's for all of us."
6:40 p.m. BART reports no delays
No delays reported, and ridership is relatively light. Police Chief Anthony Batts will update the media about the situation downtown at 7 p.m.
6:35 p.m. Banner hung in downtown
Protesters strung a huge banner from a light pole at 14th and Broadway that reads "Oakland says guilty" and "Murder (expletive) the police" in large block letters.
6:30 p.m. Places to speak out peacefully
Looking for a place to speak out? Five community centers are open for people to express themselves. Go to www.oaklandnet.com to learn more.
6:25 p.m. Groups with bandannas over their faces gathering in downtown
There are 300 to 500 people in downtown.
At least four groups of four to five people are at 14th Street and Broadway with bandannas over their faces. They are sending text messages with the bandannas over their faces and then removing them. A few minutes ago, there was a tense standoff between police in riot gear and protesters at 12th Street and Broadway. Then some Oakland women got between the protesters and police and calmed down the crowd, telling them violence is not an appropriate form of protest.
"As parents we have got to get out here and show our children how to do this the right way," said Sheila Rischer, a 40-year-old longshoreman from Oakland. "This is my responsibility," she said of why she got between the police and protesters. "Let's do it the right way and be positive." Her efforts worked, at least for the moment, as the crowd dispersed and moved back toward 14th Street and Broadway where the peaceful rally continued.
6:15 p.m. Men set down chess board in crosswalk to promote peace
Oakland residents Yafeu K. Tyhimba, 41, and Keba Konte, 43, put down a chess board in the crosswalk at 14th Street and Broadway and began playing a game against each other. "It's a thinking man's game,'' Konte said. "And that's what we need to be doing tonight."
6:10 p.m. Streets closed but no arrests so far, reporters monitoring the situation
Broadway is shut down in both directions from 6th to 19th streets. The following streets are also closed to traffic: 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th streets. Police Chief Anthony Batts said that "we don't have any arrests, we don't have any indications of any problems," adding that a rally downtown has been peaceful.
"We're respecting everybody's right to assemble. We're respecting freedom of speech," City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan said. In reaction to the verdict, she said: "I'm grateful for a guilty verdict. Now, the magnitude of what that verdict means depends on the
Mayor Ron Dellums said at a news conference that the Oakland community had "waited with baited breath" for the verdict. "They've come to this moment with pain, with passion, with anger with fear and also with hope."
At 13th and Broadway, many gathered to express their opinions.
"So many community groups have made the point that violence is not justice," said the Rev. Dr. H. James Hopkins, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist. "So justice needs to have nonviolent measures. It's hard to see those videos and to think that today's verdict was justice. So we agree with the mayor when he said that the journey to justice doesn't end here."
Oakland Voices Community Correspondents are on the streets getting Mehserle verdict reaction:
6 p.m. BART releases statement
BART released a statement with Board President James Fang noting how BART's response to the Grant shooting included revamping transit police training, doing audits of the Police Department, and getting a state law passed to allow BART to establish a police auditor position to investigate complaints against transit police officers.
5:40 p.m. Sitution heating up in downtown Oakland
A girl was either run over by a police car or hit by a bottle at 11th and Broadway. She declined medical attention. The incident happened when an AC Transit bus was trapped by a crowd and police were attempting to free the bus. Police in riot gear have blocked off the intersection of 11th and Broadway.
The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary is calling for a rally at 14th an Broadway to ask:
1. for the maximum sentence for Mehserle,
2. that former BART officers Tony Pirone and Marysol Domenici be jailed,
3. that the BART police are disarmed and disbanded,
4. that massive funding is provided to Oakland for education and jobs for Oakland's black, Latino, Asian, and poor and working-class white youth,
5. police and immigration officials to stop racial profiling of Latino, black, Asian, and other minority youth with and without papers,
6. Oakland Mayor Dellums and other governmental authorities in Oakland to declare that this verdict does not render justice to Oscar Grant and to act on the demands of the movement.
5:30 p.m. Oakland mayor speaks, small fire started at police station
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums spoke to the media after the verdict. He said he would stand with the family of Oscar Grant III if they were not satisfied with the verdict and wanted to explore other options for getting justice for their son, such as through federal channels. Dellums said people have a constitutional right to express themselves, their anger, their pain, but he hoped they would do it in a manner that is respectful to Oscar Grant III, his family and to the community and would "show the nation that we can handle adversity."
Meanwhile, someone set a fire in a shrub in front of the Oakland Police Department at 7th and Broadway. Flames shot seven feet into the air before it was put out by authorities. No one has been arrested.
5:20 p.m. Mother of Oscar Grant and family attorney speak, governor issues statement
It was peaceful outside the Los Angeles courthouse after the verdict was read. There was a strong police presence inside and outside the courthouse before and after the verdict was read.
Wanda Johnson, Oscar Grant III's mother, was not going to speak after the verdict but changed her mind. "My son was murdered, and the laws did not hold the officer accountable. He was murdered. He was murdered. He was murdered," said an emotional and crying Johnson. "God will not fail us or let us down, and I will trust in Him."
John Burris, attorney for the family, said he is disappointed with the verdict.
"The verdict is not a true representation of what happened to Oscar Grant or what the officers' actions were that night," he said. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement regarding the verdict, saying "I encourage Californians to remain calm in light of the verdict and not to resort to violence. I have spoken to Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and have assured him we are well prepared to assist in maintaining order."
5 p.m. Grant's sister-in-law reacts
Yolanda Nesa, who identifies herself as Oscar Grant's sister-in-law, is outside Oakland City Hall. "This is not justice, they rushed everything," she said of the jury's decision. The mood at Frank H. Ogawa plaza is calm, but it seems as though people are waiting for something to happen.
4:50 p.m. Mehserle could face up to 14 years in prison
The jury has convicted Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter and found that he used a gun during the shooting of Oscar Grant III. He could face two to four years in prison for the involuntary manslaughter conviction and an additional 10 years for the gun enhancement. He will be sentenced Aug. 6. He will not be ineligible for probation. Mehserle will also be forced to serve 85 percent of his eventual sentence, a much higher standard than most crimes.
4:30 p.m. At Fruitvale BART and in front of Oakland City Hall
At Fruitvale BART, it is crowded but calm. Four Oakland police officers are stationed at the entrances and metal gates are up. People reacted to the verdict. "Ah, so he's doing time? He should be doing time. If it was someone else on the street we wouldn't have to wait for this verdict. Justice is served,'' said Pe'i Sevaaetasi of Oakland.
Nicholas Kleeb of Alameda said "All and all I believe the jury did their job,'' he said.
At Frank O'gawa Plaza there is calm as well, though shortly after the conviction was announced, one woman screamed about the injustice of the verdict, while another woman had a more optimistic response, noting the jury brought back a rare verdict against a police officer for shooting a black man.
4:20 p.m. Mehserle being taken into custody
Former BART officer has been free on $3 million bail. Will be sentenced Aug. 6.
All quiet at BART headquarters in downtown Oakland.
4:05 p.m. Mehserle guilty of involuntary manslaughter
Verdict in the Johanne Mehserle case just announced in Los Angeles. Could get two to 14 years in prison.
3:55 p.m. Grant's mother arrives
Oscar Grant's mother, Wanda Grant, has arrived in the courtroom.
3:45 p.m. Media, family and friends of Mehserle in courtroom
Relatives, friends and news reporters have been allowed in the courtroom.
3:30 p.m. City asks residents/merchants to prepare for possible violence
Police are advising residents to park cars in garages or a secure location if possible. Many streets in downtown are being closed off.
Residents and merchants should remove or secure large trash cans that are on the street. To report crimes in process, call 911 or 510-777-3211 from a cell phone. To report any suspicious activity to Oakland police by calling the nonemergency number: 510-777-3333. Updates will be posted on Oaklandnet.com and on twitter: Oaklandpoliceca. Check back at www.insidebayarea.com for updates.
PG&E has temporarily closed two customer service offices, at 1919 Webster St. and 6537 Foothill Blvd. in Oakland. Customers who do business at these locations should call 1-800-PGE-5000 with questions.
3:15 p.m. Verdict in Mehserle case reached
After 6 1/2 hours of deliberations Wednesday and today, the Los Angeles jury of eight women and four men have reached a verdict in the murder case against Johannes Mehserle in the Jan. 1, 2009, shooting death of Oscar Grant III. The verdict is expected to be read about 4 p.m.
At least 200 and as many as 300 Oakland police officers, Alameda County Sheriff's deputies and other law enforcement have been called to the streets of Oakland in case of protests, riots and violence, police said. Metal barriers are going up around the Eastmont substation on MacArthur as a precaution, police said. City hall, Alameda County Superior Court, University of California and major downtown employers, including Kaiser in downtown, have sent employees home early for their own safety. Freeways out of Oakland are jammed as people rush to pick up children and get home before the commute rush begins.
Oakland police will only be responding to violent crimes and crimes in progress as officers will be focused on keep calm in the city. The jury reached a verdict after deliberating part of Wednesday and today.
Mehserle faces one of the following:
Second-degree murder: Mehserle knew the actions he was taking could cause a death but took those actions any way.
Voluntary manslaughter: Mehserle acted in the heat of passion or Mehserle believed his life was in danger but used too much force in defending himself.
Involuntary manslaughter: Mehserle committed an act that posed a high risk of death or great injury because of the way the act was committed. Or, Mehserle's actions could be found by a reasonable person to be reckless.
The 28-year-old former BART police officer was facing first-degree murder, but last week a judge declared that jurors would not be allowed to consider that option.
The unarmed Grant was shot and killed while he was facedown on the Fruitvale BART platform.