Emeute à Oakland après la clémence de la sentence contre Mehserle – 5 novembre 2010

Oakland residents awaken to broken windows, debris


6 11 2010

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Looking out her front window in a usually quiet residential neighborhood in this city, Deanna Goldstein’s knees began to shake.

More than 100 protesters were hemmed in by police in riot gear. A trash can was blazing on the street.

« I came home early from downtown to get away from the craziness, but the craziness came to me, » she said.

In the past, the violent protests over a white transit officer’s slaying of an unarmed black man trashed downtown Oakland businesses. But after Johannes Mehserle on Friday received the minimum two-year sentence for slaying Oscar Grant, angry demonstrators marched into residential areas near Lake Merritt for the first time, putting innocent people in harm’s way.

Police arrested 152 protesters, including seven juveniles, on suspicion of crimes including vandalism, unlawful assembly and disturbing the peace.

Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason said 56 of those arrested were from outside the city. Investigators will be reviewing video and photographs of protesters damaging property to help prosecutors file charges, he said.

A « Justice for Oscar Grant » community meeting was scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday at a church in Oakland, although police said they were not anticipating more violence.

« But we’re prepared for it, just in case, » said Sgt. Bobby Hookfin. Hookfin did not elaborate on what those preparations were.

Residents who woke up to broken car windows and littered streets were left asking why protesters chose their neighborhood and how it became engulfed in violence.

Nai Saelee, 28, said she was shocked to see that her neighborhood, made up of mostly one- and two-story homes and low-rise apartment complexes, was affected.

The school teacher was kept from getting to her house by a police cordon, and later found the front windshield of her car damaged.

« I’m glad I wasn’t here, » she said outside her home Saturday, as Oakland City trash collectors made their way through the area picking up debris.

The arrests began around 8 p.m. on Friday after officers were pelted with rocks and bottles. One officer had his gun taken from him in a fight and another was hit by a car and suffered what police described as a non-life-threatening injury, Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said.

He said the violence was confined to a « small number of people » and most protesters remained peaceful. There were no additional reports of unrest overnight.

« People do not have a right to tear this city up, » Batts said in a statement. « Oakland already has a lot of pain, and it’s not fair. This city has been torn up too many times. »

The Mehserle case drew comparisons to the 1991 videotaped beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers, which inflamed a racial divide and led to rioting.

The shooting of Grant by Mehserle on a train station platform on New Year’s Day 2009 was captured on cell phone video taken by bystanders and widely broadcast on television and the Internet.

Police arrested more than 100 people during protests in January following the incident in which windows of downtown Oakland businesses were smashed, trash cans and cars were set on fire and police were pelted with bottles.

A jury in July convicted Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter, prompting another round of protests that resulted in arrests and looting and trashing of stores along the city’s wide downtown streets.

Hookfin said the damage from Friday’s protests was far less than the destruction following the verdict in July.

Prosecutors had sought a second-degree murder conviction against Mehserle, who has contended he mistakenly shot Grant with his gun, instead of his Taser.

Grant’s uncle, Cephus Johnson, said he was heartened to see what he characterized as mostly peaceful protests for his nephew.

« What I was told was that it was really more positive than negative, » he said. « It brings smiles not just to my face but the (entire) family’s face to know that this is a movement that people are committed to. »

Associated Press writers Terence Chea and Terry Collins contributed to this report. Thanawala reported from San Francisco.

Oakland, California Sees Violent Riots After Johannes Mehserle Verdict


November 6th, 2010.
Former Oakland Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer Johannes Mehserle was sentenced Friday evening to two years in prison for the shooting death of unarmed civilian Oscar Grant on a train platform in 2009, prompting rallies across the city. While most were peaceful, one group broke away from the protests and formed a mob, which terrorized suburban areas of Oakland through the night.

Hundreds gathered downtown to protest the two year (minus time served) sentence that will see Mehserle serving about a year behind bars. Until 6:00 PM, police say that everything went smoothly. The scene at the rallies was described by SF Gate as being “sad”, not angry.

But then a group of around 200 left the rallies and moved from the downtown area, heading into residential areas near Lake Merritt in East Oakland. While there they marched through the streets, smashed windshields and car windows, lit garbage cans on fire, trampled flowerbeds, threw things at police and broke through private and business fences.

At one point a member of the angry mob grabbed a gun from the holster of a police officer while others jumped on top of cars and taxis. At that point the demonstration was officially labeled an illegal gathering and while half of those gathered fled, hundreds of officers arrested 100 people.

It is always tragic to hear of mob mentality coming from otherwise peaceful protests. Those who stayed downtown were obviously trying to relay the message that they disapprove of the actions of the legal system. Many feel that the former BART officer was given much too lenient of a sentence for such an act.

But those who amassed in the streets and destroyed property took part in a violent, pointless riot. The same thing happened in July, and it is disgusting. What is it they have proven? Only that they are so ridiculously stupid that they would destroy the property of other innocent civilians for no reason other than a chance to do so. How pathetic…how does that honor the memory of Oscar Grant? How does that call for a change in the city’s legal system? All it does is generate bad press for their cause.

Oscar Grant was killed after a fight was reported on an Oakland train early on New Years morning in 2009. He was being restrained on a  platform by  Mehserle and another officer, appearing in footage taken from several people present to be resisting arrest.

However,  Mehserle is then seen standing, drawing his gun and shooting Grant point blank in the back. He has been convicted of manslaughter, but protesters have reacted in anger to the verdict, saying that the death was an obvious execution.

Controversy was further sparked when it was found that Grant had been unarmed, and was already mostly restrained at the time of the shooting. There is still some question as to why Johannes Mehserle would shoot in the first place.

Violence After Sentence in Oakland Killing


November 5, 2010

AKLAND — Protesters vandalized storefronts and clashed with the police here on Friday night after a white former transit police officer was given what they considered to be a light sentence for the killing an unarmed black man. But protests initially seemed less violent than others that have surrounded the controversial case.

The authorities said one officer was hit by a car — perhaps by a police vehicle — and another officer’s gun was stolen and turned on him. That protester was arrested, Police Chief Anthony W. Batts said, and a police police spokesman said 152 people had been arrested.  “You have a very aggressive crowd,” Chief Batts said.

The demonstrations started after Judge Robert Perry of Superior Court in Los Angeles sentenced the former officer, Johannes Mehserle, to two years in state prison. But the judge dismissed a component of the charges that would have led to more prison time.

With time already served, Mr. Mehserle could be released from prison as early as next year. He was convicted in July of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Oscar Grant III, who was shot while lying face down on New Year’s Day 2009. He had been removed from a Bay Area Rapid Transit train after a fight, and Mr. Mehserle said that he had mistaken his gun for a Taser. He was acquitted of the more serious charge of second-degree murder.

The jury found that Mr. Mehserle was eligible for additional prison time because he had used a gun in the crime. But Judge Perry rejected that finding.

The shooting and subsequent verdict drew an angry reaction from Mr. Grant’s family, who thought Mr. Mehserle should have been convicted of murder, and sparked riots in Oakland.

The crowd on Friday initially assembled for a peaceful rally in front of Oakland City Hall, which had closed early, as had many businesses. But after the rally wrapped up, several hundred of the protesters began to roam downtown Oakland, vandalizing vehicles and businesses.

In Oakland, tensions between the city’s sizable black population and its police force are longstanding, even though the city has a black mayor and police chief. The mayor, Ron Dellums, had pleaded for calm, and police officers were out in force, with days off canceled and police helicopters hovering overhead.

But frustrations seemed present nonetheless. At the rally, Michael Johnson, a 26-year-old graduate student and medical case manager, said the sentence was a part of historic inequality.

“I’m indignant today,” Mr. Johnson said.

Malia Wollan contributed reporting.

~ par Alain Bertho sur 7 novembre 2010.

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