Do you live or work in Oakland? How are you or your place of business preparing for possible civil unrest? Let us know.
Once again, Oakland is bracing for potential civil unrest following another development in the Mehserle/Grant case. Friday is sentencing day for Johannes Mehserle, the former BART officer who was tried for the murder of Oscar Grant and convicted of involuntary manslaughter in July. The possible sentence he could receive is anywhere between five and fourteen years.
It’s been almost two years since Mehserle shot Grant (claiming he mistook his gun for a taser), unarmed on the Fruitvale Bart Platform on New Years day 2009. The jury for the trial, held in Los Angeles, had a choice between second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.
When it was announced that the all white jury went with the latter, lesser charges, tensions erupted and downtown Oakland became a battle ground between cops, angry mobs smashing things, and peaceful protesters caught in the mix. The 19th and 12th street BART stations were both shut down until the riots above ground subsided.
On Friday morning, in the Los Angeles County Superior Court the judge in the case will first decide whether to give the Mehserle a new trial, as has been requested by his defense. Assuming the judge rules against a new trial, Grant’s relatives and Mehserle will be given the opportunity to speak before the sentence is handed down.
Bay City News reports that Oakland police are coordinating with other law enforcement agencies to prepare for possible protests after former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle is sentenced in Los Angeles on Friday morning, police spokesman Jeff Thomason said today.
Thomason said the preparations for Friday are similar to the preparations that were made when the verdict was announced on July 8.
He said “major resources” will be on hand in case there are any problems.
Thomason said that so far, police have only heard of one possible protest that may be held on Friday but that protest is unconfirmed.
In addition, Oakland North reports that civic leaders are training “peacekeepers” to diffuse civil unrest in Oakland following Friday’s announcement. The peacekeepers will be “organized in teams of five or more on the day of the Mehserle sentencing. Each team will have a captain with a walkie-talkie and who will stay in communication with a central team leader, who in turn is to stay in touch with an Oakland Police Department (OPD) liaison,” they say.
In the event that BART service is affected following the Friday sentencing, there are a number of ways to stay in the loop. Check out BART’s website for a variety of ways to receive transit information from text message alerts to twitter. Advisories are always available on their website here.