152 Arrested In Oakland Demonstration
Two Years Not Enough, Say Protesters
Businesses Brace As Night Falls Over Oakland Demonstration
Community Members Express Disappointment At Mehserle Sentence
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums Urges Nonviolent Protest
8:45 AM: As you already know, the city of Oakland’s hunkering down, waiting to see how Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert Perry sentences BART cop Johannes Mehserle in his manslaughter conviction for the killing of Oscar Grant Fruitvale station in Oakland on Jan. 1, 2009. The hearing just began, and
we will be streaming KRON4′s coverage live, above, and will be updating frequently. Disappointingly, KRON’s gone off the air and back to some of their usual quality daytime programming, but KTVU has a nice livestream here. No one’s broadcasting live, but if/when that changes we’ll get that up for you. If you live or work in Oakland, please do let us know how the city’s reacting.
According to reports, most Oakland stores are open for business as usual, as are institutions like UC’s Oakland offices, which sent a memo to employees saying that Oakland police has “advised downtown businesses to remain open Friday afternoon, and we plan to follow their suggestion.”
According to reports, protesters will remain in the City Hall area until 6 PM, after which they are expected to move to Defremery Park on 18th and Adeline from 6:30-10 PM.
9 AM: As we wait for the decision, let’s look at what everyone else is saying:
Johannes Mehserle sentencing puts Oakland on alert reports the Chron. “Many downtown merchants” they say “were boarding up windows. Others had decorated their shops with photos of Grant, an attempt to placate potential vandals. Some offices will be closed some or all of today, including the state Board of Equalization office on Clay Street, which will shut at noon. Some retailers also said they plan to take the day off – including Foot Locker on Broadway, which was looted after an earlier rally.”
Mehserle sentence will set precedent says the Ex. “Those seeking the maximum punishment of 14 years for former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle may be disappointed when a judge hands down his sentence today” they say, in a piece that focuses on the legal issues more than it does on the situation in Oakland.
Community Protests KTVU’s Shameless Fawning Over Mehserle says an IndyBay report. “The Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant held a protest Monday, November 1st at KTVU headquarters in Oakland. At issue was the station’s shamelessly biased coverage and use of the airwaves to advocate on behalf of former BART police officer and convicted killer Johannes Mehserle, on the eve of his sentencing in this Friday, November 5th.” That’s interesting, did you think the interview was biased?
Oakland braces for Mehserle sentencing says KALW. “The California Bank & Trust and the U.S. Bank on 20th Street have both boarded up their windows, as have a few buildings on Broadway and San Pablo Avenue, as well as OPD’s Internal Affairs office on the north end of Frank Ogawa Plaza.”
Oakland businesses take no chances for Mehserle sentencing reports California Beat, which has a photoset of businesses getting plywood up over windows.
Judge has tough call in Calif transit killing case says the Associated Press, which reminds us that Judge Perry first consider a defense motion for a new trial then listen to statements from Grants family and friends, as well as from Mehserle himself. Lita Gomez said her sister Sophina Mesa, the mother of Grant’s 6-year-old daughter, will share a letter she recently wrote to the judge, they report.
10:30 AM: According to reports from broadcast TV and sources in the courtroom, Judge Robert Perry has said that he was “troubled” by the jury’s verdict while hearing arguments for a new trial by the Mehserle defense.
According to KRON4, the judge appeared to discount the defense arguments, which centered around a need for a new trial due to new evidence in the case and issues with how the jury in the original trial was instructed, but conceded that he was “troubled.”
Youthradio, tweeting from the courtroom, says that today’s hearing will go like this: Judge Perry will rule on the defense motions for a new trial. If he doesn’t rule that a new trial is required, then Oscar Grant’s family and friends will speak (this is called “victim impact”), then the court will take a break, then Judge Perry will read his sentence for Johannes Mehserle.
12:26 PM: Reports are coming in that the sentencing is forthcoming, as, after a break, court has reconvened.
Oakland police is reportedly on standby, and BART says that they are “standing by to carry large loads of passengers out of downtown SF and Oakland by keeping trains long all day. Additionally, the 11 trains that we always have staged for the evening commute in Millbrae and Daly City are available to be dispatched earlier than normal if required.”
According to BART, “our goal is to keep stations open, trains moving and above all, our passengers and employees safe.” They say that at this time, there are no signs of protests in downtown Oakland.
12:36 PM: As we wait, here’s a quick coverage roundup:
Mehserle Sentencing Unfolds in Tense LA Courtroom [Bay Citizen]
Mehserle Sentencing Hearing Underway; Defense Asks For New Trial [AP via CBS5]
City prepares for Mehserle sentencing [Oakland Tribune]
Judge Expresses Concern Over Gun Enhancement Charge [Bay Citizen]
Scenes from Downtown Oakland in Lead Up to Expected Mesherle Sentencing, 11/5/10: photos [IndyBay]
12:43 PM: According to the Oakland police, no crowds are reported in Downtown Oakland.
Broadcast reports seem to concur, with ABC7′s Cecilia Vega confirming that for many downtown shops are “business as usual.” However, Vega notes, there’s a considerable police presence downtown.
Oakland From an Appeal pal in Oakland, “all there is around here are signs saying “NO PARKING” on 12th Street. It seems a little weird that in order to prevent you from getting your car window broken, they’ll tow you.”
12:50 PM: Reports from ABC7 and youthradio say that two people, one of whom was identified as a friend of Oscar Grant’s, have “stormed out” of the courtroom. We still don’t have any word on the sentence.
12:54 PM: From downtown Oakland: “Quiet, not much activity to report: a lot of cops on foot patrol, people putting up the obligatory Oscar Grant posters.”
1 PM: The crowd outside the LA courthouse continues to grow, as does the police presence.
1:01 PM: We’re getting word that Johannes Mehserle has received a 2 year sentence, with credit for the
180 146 days already served.
Judge Richard Perry reportedly dismissed the “gun enhancement” in this case, and there’ll be a new trial for that.
1:13 PM: Oakland PD is tweeting that the sentence was “2 years in State Prison with 292 days of credit for time served.”
It seems like everyone’s reporting different numbers on the credit for time served, we’ll figure this one out.
1:18: SF Weekly points out that this is the lightest sentence that could have been handed down.
1:21 PM: According to KTVU’s reporter who was in the courtroom, Rita Williams, she says “there’s some discussion about the gun enhancement,” and that the judge the evidence was “fundamentally insufficient” to support assertions that Mehserle intended to use his gun.
1:26 PM: John Burris, speaking for Grant’s family is addressing the crowd at the courthouse, saying that the sentence is “very disappointing” but that he’s not surprised.
“A small step was made” he said, that Mehserle’s prosecution even happened in the first place. But was critical of this judge’s decision and analysis, saying that he “completely accepted the argument of the defense.”
“It was a miscarriage of justice to say that the person responsible can get away with it by saying it was a mistake, when evidence says it wasn’t a mistake” said Burris.
“From the family’s point of view, you can take it that Oscar Grant’s life was not worth too much” Burris said, as he compared Mehserle’s sentence to that of Michael Vick. “there are no winners here, from our point of view” he says, before saying “Mehserle was a winner here.”
1:36 PM: Disappointingly, KRON’s gone off the air and back to some of their usual quality daytime programming, but KTVU has a nice livestream here.
1:40 PM: We’re getting reports that Oakland stores and businesses are closing and sending employees home. However, no civil unrest has been reported in Oakland. As a reminder, The day to honor Oscar Grant demonstration, is slated to begin in the Oakland City Hall area at 2 PM, and are expected to move to Defremery Park on 18th and Adeline from 6:30-10 PM.
1:44 PM: “I’m at Oakland City Hall, about 40 people gathering outside. A calm group, with mellow music playing and a large banner being signed saying “Justice for Oscar Grant’” a reader reports. If you’re at the scene and see anything, you can IM us any time or text us 6619-APPEAL (that’s 661-927-7325)
1:52 PM: Appeal commenter Nina reacts, saying
“My uncle had a gun in his car. He never fired it, much less killed anyone with it, yet he’s serving the full 10 years in prison for the “gun enhancement” part of his crime (selling drugs). The drug sales charges were all thrown out.
“The Mesherle judge threw out the “gun enhancement” charge even though he killed someone. That’s not right. The double standard is inexcusable, but not unexpected. Mesherle shouldn’t have gotten a slap on the wrist because he was a cop, but something tells me he’ll be paying for his crime in prison.”
Do you think that’s what happened, that he got less of a sentence because he’s a police officer?
1:57 PM: The Chron’s released a report, which I’m sure they’ll update as time goes on:
Mehserle gets the minimum – 2 years [Chron] The sentencing is not the final word on Grant’s death. The U.S. Justice Department has said that its civil rights division, along with the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI, will investigate the shooting “to determine whether the evidence warrants federal prosecution.”
The crowd at Oakland City Hall’s reportedly growing, but so far is peaceful, by all reports.
2:27 PM: According to an Appeal pal who works at the Oakland Federal building, it’s been closed and all employees have been sent home. “Lots of cops all over,” they say.
2:29 PM: Oakland police are increasing their presence, according to youthradio, OPD just told “all Parking Enforcement cars to come back to base.”
2:37 PM: Here’s the initial report from Bay City News
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge sentenced former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle to two years in state prison today for involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of unarmed passenger Oscar Grant III.
A jury convicted him of involuntary manslaughter, with a gun enhancement, July 8 for the shooting death of Grant at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland on Jan. 1, 2009.
Mehserle, 28, resigned from BART a week after he shot Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward man. The former officer says he mistakenly used his gun instead of his Taser.
Mehserle could have faced anything from probation up to 14 years in state prison.
Before Perry sentenced Mehserle, he first ruled on a motion by Mehserle’s lawyer, Michael Rains, asking that Mehserle be granted a new trial. That motion was denied.
Oakland police Chief Anthony Batts has said his department is prepared for any unrest that might occur following Mehserle’s sentencing.
The trial was moved to Los Angeles due to concerns about the extensive media coverage in the Bay Area.
2:44 PM: OPD chief Anthony Batts says that there are about 175 people gathered at Oakland City Hall for the planned gathering, and emphasizes that there are police on the ground and in the air across the city.
He says that they’re IDing anarchists and “following them” in the crowd, and that police are photographing all disturbances, should they occur, to use in prosecution.
“We’ll do whatever we need to do to ensure our city is not damaged” he said.
When asked where police would draw the line between peaceful protest and actual offenses, Batts cracked a smile, saying, “spray painting, anything like what happened when the Giants won.”
He refuses to say the number of Oakland police officers on the streets, saying that not all of them are uniformed, and that officers will “seek to surgically remove those who are troublemakers” within any protests.
3:57 PM: So far, so good, in Oakland. From one reader: “BART was fine. There was just a large police presence near 12th St. BART in Ogawa Plaza area,” which is where the preplanned protest is taking place.
Another reader says they “work on Franklin Street between 17th and 19th (In Oakland) and I do not see any scary activity.”
This is all good news! In the words of BART don’t lie, “Keep your shit together Oakland.”
4:06 PM: The above video of Oakland residents’ reactions to the sentence from Youth Radio. Here’s a roundup of the most recent coverage:
Johannes Mehserle Sentence ‘Sends Wrong Message,’ Lawyer Says [Weekly] Lawyer Jim Chanin “referred to today’s sentence as ‘inadequate … I think it sends the wrong message at the wrong time to people who are looking to the law to provide justice in this country.’”
Scenes After Johannes Mehserle Sentencing [SFist]
Protesters massing in Oakland as businesses close [Chron] “‘The whole system is guilty!’ a group of about 20 people chanted near the corner of 14th Street and Broadway, as hundreds of other demonstrators streamed into the area and to nearby City Hall. Many wore ‘Justice for Oscar Grant’ T-shirts.”
Johannes Mehserle sentenced to two years in prison [ABC7]
Mehserle gets two years, Oakland braces for reaction [SFBG] “‘We will provide a place for people to express their emotion. Civil disobedience is absolutely called for. We will continue to organize and mobilize. The nation has said, ‘No more!’,’ Kat Brooks, an organizer with the Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant, told the Guardian”
4:20 PM: We’re getting reports of “hundreds” of people gathered outside Oakland City Hall, but so far all remains peaceful. We’re told there are “helicopters everywhere,” lots of police all over the area.
4:34 PM: At a press conferencing happening now, OPD chief Anthony Batts says that there are about 250 people gathered in front of Oakland City Hall, but that all is going well.
We’re waiting to see what happens after darkness” he says, acknowledging that it’s after dark that protests become disruptive.
He says that in the crowd today they’ve identified 16 people who were responsible for damage during the demonstrations in July, after the verdict was announced, and that they’re keeping their eyes on those people.
They’ll have another press conference at 6:30, and we’ll stream that one, too, if we can.
5:05 PM: From a reader: “I am in the middle of (Oakland), there are several helicopters circling and the (area is) seriously CALM. All the stores have closed but I am still open, waiting for my last clients if they dare to come into town.Otherwise from what I can see, from 12th Street and Broadway, the City is calm.”
5:46 PM: Things remain calm in Oakland. About 300 folks are gathered outside City Hall, and, according to Chris Roberts, who’s on the scene more are arriving, slowly. “Feels resigned more than angry” he says.
“Monterey county sheriffs chilling out at 17th St say ‘nothing here yet, just people saying stuff. We want to go home, too.’”
5:53 PM: We’d gotten some reoprts of “military police” deployed in Oakland, but Roberts has cleared that up: it’s Santa Clara sheriff’s deputies who are clad in, he says “green fatigues.”
5:55 PM: “it’s calm,” Roberts says to a white haired (white) man passing out leaflets. “Wait until after dark,” the man responded.
Roberts says that so far he’s seen Alameda, Monterey and Santa Clara county sheriffs. Sunnyvale, Oakland cops. He’s not seen and SFPD officers as of yet.
6:14 PM: You guys, I don’t want to jinx it, but it looks like we might be OK tonight. Reports have protesters leaving the area quietly and peacefully, as the demonstration comes to a close.
6:17 PM: There was an unconfirmed report that someone threw a brick through a window at the Paramount theater, but that was not true. So far, Oakland PD says they have no reports of violence. They’re going to do another press conference at 6:30, and I am hoping that at it, they tell us we can all knock off for the day.
6:25 PM: Perhaps I did jinx it, as Roberts says the protest is “heating up now,” and that the street’s been blocked off at 14th and Broadway by about 500, Roberts says, youth marching down the street.
6:34 PM: From Roberts: About 50 deputies standing in front of the Walgreens standing around doing nothing” as the march proceeds down Broadway.
“Oakland PD cruisers whizz by heading in the same direction. A jazzy uptempo band sax and drums and guitar has set up at 14th and Broadway” Roberts says.
He reports that members of the march “smashed the side view mirror of a black SUV.” Roberts spoke with the owners, a black couple, who were happy but not furious. “they were just looking for an excuse to…you know,” the woman said to Roberts.
6:42 PM: The demonstrations reportedly headed to Fruitvale BART. “OPD has an armored truck that just sped past,” reports Roberts, who is following the marchers.
Police are standing in a line, blocking the protesters at East 10th and 2nd, right in front of Laney College, in an attempt to get them to turn back.
6:57 PM: From Roberts: “‘We going back or what?’ One cop says to another.”
“Cops formed a box, two lines on either end of St. near Laney College, crowd knocked over fencing and went towards Lake Merritt instead. Two lines of helmeted officers now containing nothing.”
“Lake Merritt cleared. Cops moving, they don’t know were. Helicopters overhead to the east, 20 cop cars stopped at a stoplight.”
7:07 PM: Police are performing what Roberts says is a “weird sort of witch hunt for mischief makers,” via patrol cars and with a helicopter with a spotlight.
7:12 PM: BART has closed the Fruitvale station “due to a civil disturbance.”
7:15 PM: Things are tense, but, keeping perspective, this is still far less damage and craziness than we saw in San Francisco Monday night after our team won a freakin’ BASEBALL GAME, you know?
The police have maybe 100 protesters boxed in in what’s basically a residential area of Oakland, and are trying to get them to disperse. There’s a helicopter above, shining a spotlight on the group.
7:20 PM: A reader texts: “Left Fruitvale BART just as it was shut down. No civil disturbance as of yet, saw 20 strong police force stream in and swat vehicles around. Seems like anticipation rather than action.”
Roberts reports that police are still in a “riot line” (that’s the term for the formation, we’re not saying this is a riot!) at 17th and 7th but nothing going on here, there’s also a standoff and 6th and 17th.”
7:26 PM: BART spokesperson Linton Johnson says that there are extra BART police on hand tonight, and that they hope that the Fruitvale BART Station closure is only temporary.
There have been no incidents at any BART stations, and the Fruitvale Station was closed as a precaution, as our reader above suspected. He did not have any timeline on when it would reopen.
7:33 PM: Police Chief Anthony Batts is speaking at a press conference as I type — he says that the agreement they had with the protesters was that the march would head one way, but that they headed in the opposite direction, eastbound down 14th.
One police officer has been hit by a car, which Batts believes was accidental. He also confirmed reports we’ve been hearing that another officer had his gun forcibly taken from him, and, Batts says, pointed at him by someone who was then arrested. He says there have been some unconfirmed reports of broken windows and vehicle damage.
“Is it out of control? No.” Batts said, before saying that since the officer had his gun taken from him, it’s an illegal assembly, so they are preparing to move in and arrest anyone who doesn’t disperse.
7:41 PM: Roberts reports that “the 30 or so protesters on the far side of two riot lines are now being read the riot act. They’re telling media to leave or be arrested. Now they’re telling anyone left that they’re under arrest and to not resist. “stay calm you will not be hurt in any way. This has been declared a crime scene you are all under arrest’”
7:48 PM: Here’s some pictures from earlier tonight, including one of the Oakland police armored car Roberts marveled at above.
8 PM: “Firefighters just brought a gurney through” Roberts reports. He’s trying to figure out why, of course.
Looking at the protest area, a residential neighborhood around 6th avenue near East 17th and 18th streets, about 47 people, KRON4 says, are currently handcuffed, presumably to be arrested.
“Cops outnumber onlookers” Roberts reports “Probably 3 cops for every two civilians.”
8:07 PM: “The people who did shit,” an onlooker tells Roberts, “already jumped over fences onto roofs and got away.”
8:17 PM: Fruitvale BART has reopened. Oakland police continue to make arrests, in a relatively peaceful fashion, and to load protesters onto a bus as they chant “We are all Oscar Grant.”
8:28 PM: “Mehserle’s 2-year sentence falls short of justice” is the headline to the editorial that will appear on page A-12 of tomorrow’s SF Chronicle.
“A bare minimum sentence of two years for the police killing of unarmed Oscar Grant falls short of fairness and justice,” it begins, saying that “Mehserle’s action was a crime, more than an error in judgment or an accident.” It is quite elegant! Read the whole thing here.
8:48 PM: “The protest is over” KRON4 is reporting, it’s just the arrests that are happening at this point. According to an Oakland police spokesperson, they expect to book at least 100 protesters tonight, but according to all reports from broadcast media and our folks on the scene, we’re close to the end of things.
9:05 PM: The Chron’s published their report of tonight’s events, saying that “protesters smashed about a dozen car windshields” on their march from downtown to the residential area where things ended up tonight.
9:40 PM: Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts is speaking at a press conference, wrapping up the night, as I type. Here’s what he’s saying.
Batts says that the officer who was struck by the car, as we reported earlier, just sustained soft tissue damage and will be OK — another officer was felled by dehydration at 7th and East 18th St.
The officer who had his holster and gun taken from him had it happen at 6th Ave and East 18th St.
Batts expresses his disappointment, “again” he says, that people “wanted to march through this city and tear it up.” Multiple rocks, bottles, and missiles were thrown, says Batts, seven different locations were damages, fences were ripped up, and trash was thrown.
Between 100 and 150 people have or will be been arrested on charges including illegal assembly and disturbing the peace.
“We did not give people the opportunity to leave after we gave the dispersal order” Batts said, mentioning something that appeared top be a topic of some controversy on Twitter. He says that this was done purposely, to send a message that this cannot be done in the city of Oakland.
Suspects that were arrested will be released from Santa Rita after being processed, and by the sheer number of suspects Batts expects that this might take as long as tomorrow afternoon.
There were 37 total calls for service city-wide, no major calls, and a high police presence will remain in Oakland throughout the night.
That’s it, folks — I don’t expect to update again tonight, at least, I hope not to. Thanks for reading.