Oscar Grant was a resident of Hayward attending Mt. Eden High School at one point. Eventually Grant became a stereotype of just another young black man with a record in Alameda County. What started out as a new years BART ride home turned into a Bay Area wide disappointment in the system.
For those who don’t recall Oscar Grant was unarmed and shot in the back “accidently” by BART officer Johannes Mehserle New Years morning 2009.The past 18 months have been a rollercoaster of events and emotions following that early morning at Fruitvale BART station.
The events following Thursday afternoon’s announcement that the Mehserle trial had a verdict resonated around the Bay Area. There was a conflict of actions. Thousands fled the city of Oakland early in anticipation of rioting and looting. While hundreds more headed into Oakland to prepare for a protest, some for rioting. Hundreds gathered around the court house and when the verdict of involuntary manslaughter was announced and outcry of detest and anger was felt through the crowds.
Many people immediately stepped up in front of the crowd preaching peace and praying for a civil protest through the streets. Oscar Grants aunt, Yolanda spoke with tears “This is not justice, what am I going to tell my niece when she gets older.” These feelings of deep sadness spread across the state.
Protesters were present not only out on the streets of Oakland but out by the court house in Los Angeles where the court case took place.
Oakland was prepared for this inevitable conclusion to the Mehserle trial, weeks before a verdict was reached it was known that the police would get notice of the verdict in advance to prepare and notify local business if any action would need to be taken. A little before 3 p.m. Thursday business and city services around the Oakland area were notified that a verdict had been reached and should close up shop early. Many businesses didn’t want to risk it and decided to board up their shop windows. This may have seemed extreme but considering the damage caused after the Oscar Grant shooting that was caused by peaceful protesters who soon turned into violent rioters.
By 4 p.m. Thursday Broadway started to fill will protesters holding signs and flyers some wearing signs on the back of their shirts that said “don’t shoot me”. The energy of the crowd though angered was relatively calm. Many local groups had organized various opportunities for the public to express themselves in a non violent way in front of an audience. Stages and microphones were open for speakers.
As the evening began the number of people grew but still remained peaceful, it wasn’t until after nightfall when people who were mad or simply needed a reason to vent their anger took to the streets in a violent way. A footlocker and beauty supply store was broken into and looters were present. People were throwing things at the riot police who showed up just before night fall.
The police did quickly squelch the disturbance arresting just under 100 people. But the damage has been done and police were having difficulties dispersing the crowds after the violent outburst.
The streets of Oakland are now left with a mess to clean up and many business owners who didn’t board up their windows will have wish they did. Those who boarded their windows are surely relieved.
It is highly unlikely that the anger and uprising of the public from last night is over with. IN less than a month on August 6 Mehserle will have a hearing to determine his sentencing. There is speculation on whether or not the court will attach a higher sentence due to the use of a gun in the crime. Mehserle could serve any where from 4 years to 14 years.
Friday, August 6 Oakland may have another protest on its hands if Mehserle is not sentenced to the public’s liking. Till then things seem to be calm in Oakland during the daylight hours.
—-Stay tuned for more news updates