On Friday, Judge Robert Perry sentenced ex-BART policeman Johannes Mehserle to two years in prison for the 2009 shooting death of Oscar Grant. The Associated Press and San Francisco Chronicle have reported that Mehserle's sentence will have 293 days deducted for time served and good behavior. Read the full story.
UPDATE SATURDAY 1:32 p.m.
One hundred and fifty two people were arrested Friday night in Oakland during a protest over the two-year sentence given to Johannes Mehserle, a white, former BART policeman who was convicted in the shooting death of Oscar Grant, an unarmed 22-year-old black man. From the Oakland Tribune:
A day of peaceful protests over the sentencing of BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle ended in an angry march that led to a confrontation between protesters and police and 152 arrests. One officer had his holster ripped from his gun belt and another was hit by a car; his condition was unknown Friday evening.
But the scale of violence and destruction that marked previous protests did not manifest itself Friday night, although City Hall closed early as did several stores near 14th Street and Broadway...
Organizers were supposed to move the rally from downtown to deFremery Park in West Oakland. Instead, a crowd of about 100 headed toward Lake Merritt. They marched to East 17th Street and Sixth Avenue.
Some smashed the window of an AC Transit bus and tore through a construction site along the way. Shards of glass lay outside a sign store on Second Avenue.
The group intended to march to the Fruitvale BART station, where Mehserle shot Grant on Jan. 1, 2009. But they were met by a line of police in riot gear near Fifth Avenue. Police began inching toward protesters, pushing them toward officers lined up on Sixth Avenue. About 8 p.m., police announced that the gathering was an unlawful assembly and that anyone inside would be arrested.
Police said 152 arrests were made by the end of the night. Most of the arrests were for disturbing the peace and unlawful assembly. Read the full story.
BART has closed Fruitvale station. Police chief Anthony Batts announced at a press conference that they would give protesters a chance to leave before they began arresting people for unlawful assembly.
UPDATE 6:56 p.m.
Cy Musiker of KQED talks about the sentencing with Peter Keane, a law professor and dean emeritus of San Francisco's Golden Gate Law School.
Oakland's First Friday Art Murmur Going Ahead As Planned
Despite the reaction to ex-BART cop Johannes Mehserle’s sentencing this afternoon, it looks like many of Downtown Oakland’s cultural events will still be happening tonight: Florence and the Machine are still set to play their sold-out show at the Fox Theater, according to a representative from the box office, and folks from Mama Buzz and Rock Paper Scissors Collective said First Friday Art Murmur will go on as usual, though Ara Jo at Rock Paper Scissors said there will be three security guards instead of the usual two stationed around 23rd Street and Telegraph. The Uptown, which is set to host Birds and Batteries tonight, isn’t answering its phone.
KQED's Mina Kim reports from a 2:30 p.m. press conference by Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts:
Batts said "a lot" of police have been deployed. He wouldn't give specific numbers, but says they've been asked to stay out of site so as not to rile people up. There are plainclothes cops with cameras taking photos again. Helicopters and other law enforcement agencies are on standby. Batts said the police would go after any vandals and require them to reimburse anyone whose property they damage. Another update is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
BART makes preparations to carry extra passengers if needed
BART has made preparations to carry large loads of passengers out of downtown San Francisco and Oakland if crowds increase following today's sentencing in Los Angeles of former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle.
BART is extending train lengths all day to accommodate extra riders. Additionally, the 11 trains that BART always has staged in Millbrae and Daly City for the evening commute are available to be dispatched earlier than normal if required. BART personnel can watch live feeds of how many people are coming through faregates, which allows them to make the decisions on how many extra trains, if any, may be needed to carry people home.
Again, our goal is to keep stations open, trains moving and, above all, our passengers and employees safe. At this point there continue to be no signs of any major protests in downtown Oakland.
For BART service updates:
BART main website - www.bart.gov/advisories
BART mobile website - m.bart.gov
BART text messages (on-demand) - text 'BART service' to 878787 or visit www.bart.gov/sms
BART Twitter - @SFBART
BART Phone Center - 510-465-BART (2278)
BART RSS - www.bart.gov/rss
Or, consult our more detailed list of information on how to receive updates.
UPDATE 2:56 p.m.
From KGO-TV, Cephus Johnson, Oscar Grant's uncle, and John Burris, the family's attorney, react to the verdict:
UPDATE: 2:00 p.m. Oakland Attorney John Burris is representing Oscar Grant's family, a few minutes ago he said the verdict is not a just one.
"Having been involved in many cases and seeing the injustice for many African-Americans, this does not surprise me at all. It is very disappointing," Burris said.
Mina Kim reports that a crowd has gathered at city hall in downtown Oakland, but is peaceful.
Mehserle's lawyer said that the ruling was just, and reminded reporters at a press conference that his client had the right to reach for his taser and use it, KQED's Krissy Clark reports. While several people were arrested in Los Angeles outside the courtroom earlier this morning, Clark reports that the protests are peaceful overall.
UPDATE 1:55 p.m. The Associated Press and San Francisco Chronicle are confirming that Mehserle's sentence will have 293 days applied for good behavior, nearly halving it.
While the judge denied another hearing, this is far from the end of lawsuits around this case. The Chronicle reports that the U.S. Justice Department, FBI and U.S. attorney's office are investigating the case "to determine whether the evidence warrants federal prosecution."
Mehserle's partners the night of the shooting Anthony Pirone and Marysol Domenici were fired earlier this year, their appeals are pending. BART also agreed to pay $1.5 million in a civil suit to Grant's daughter who is now 6. Grant's mother, along with several of his friends who were with him when he was shot, also have civil suits pending.
UPDATE 1:00 p.m. From KTVU-TV's Rita Williams, on the scene:
Reporter Rita Williams: Judge negated jury's finding on gun enhancement charge, sentenced Mehserle strictly on involuntary manslaughter. He had option of 2, 3, or 4 years. The judge gave him the lowest term, 2 years in state prison. But he was given credit of 292 days for time served and good behavior. Grant family walked out then. Judge said he didn't ask for this case, but that "I did the best I could with this case. I understand my decision will not be well-received by many people, but just remember I did my best."
UPDATE 12:52 p.m. From KQED's Mina Kim, who is at the scene of the upcoming Justice For Oscar Grant Rally in Oakland:
About 20 people are gathering in front of City Hall. The rally's been moved up. Signs and posters and a makeshift altar are being readied. There is a black and white drawing of a smiling Oscar grant flanked by bright yellow flowers.
UPDATE 12:44 p.m. KTVU is webcasting live right now. You need a special plug-in to view it on Firefox, but I'm able to watch with no problem with the Internet Explorer browser.
"Mehserle hearing resuming. Standy for sentence. "I do pray that one day they can find it in their hearts 2 forgive me."
KGO-TV and KTU-TV have both cut into their regular programming to report on the sentence.
UPDATE 12:25 p.m.Krissy Clark spoke to Alex Alonso of the Street Gangs Resource Center. Alonso, who was in the courtroom, told her the following:
Mehserle said: "If my incarceration will bring safety and peace to my family (because of his family getting death threats) then I welcome going to jail.”
He apologized many times. He addressed only the judge during the statement and never addressed Grant’s family directly. But he sounded apologetic. He did say he wish he could bring Oscar Grant back. he did not look at Oscar Grant’s family.
Mehserle’s voice was breaking and he sounded like he was crying. He spoke for about 10 minutes.
Mehserle did take complete responsibility during his statement. He said “I shot a man, I killed a man. But it had nothing to do with racism. It had to do with Oscar Grant’s actions on the platform and my reaction to those actions.”
When Wanda Johnson, Oscar Grant's mother and everyone who spoke on behalf of the family spoke, they called it a murder. All of them asked for 14 years.
UPDATE: 12:00 p.m. A 15-minute break has been called and then the judge is going to rule.
KGO-TV is in the courtroom and Kristen Sze is tweeting reports. Her last few tweets:
Mehserle says it had nothing to do w/race. "this had to do w/grant's actions & my reaction to it."
Oscar Grant mother Wanda begged judge for 14 yrs. Mehserle: "if my incarceration would bring peace to my family i will go to jail."
Our crew in LA: Mehserle spoke for 13 min saying he wishes he could bring Oscar Grant back. But he never faced Grant's family. #
KGO says it will stream its broadcast when the sentence is handed down.
UPDATE: 11:49 a.m. About 15 minutes ago, KQED's Krissy Clark spoke with KTLA TV reporter Cheryl Getuiza, who said she had watched some of the testimony of Cephus Johnson, Oscar Grant's uncle. From Krissy Clark:
According to Getuiza, Johnson became very emotional and started to raise his voice and tremble before the bailiffs approached him. He stepped down from the podium for a moment. He said "to this day there's been no apology for what happened." He also said the case raises significant questions about the criminal justice system. Other speakers included Oscar's long-time friend, his fiancé, his sister and his mother... According Aida sheriff deputy. He also said that Mehserle made a statement. He was in a jail issued orange jump suit and spoke for about ten minutes, and was "apologetic and teary eyed."Now the lawyers on either side are making arguments about the sentencing. There is supposed to be another break before the sentencing comes down.
(To hear Cephus Johnson on Thursday's Forum program, from KQED, listen to the following at around 7:30)
UPDATE 11:17 a.m. From KTVU Twitter page: "Mehserle spoke to court for 10 minutes, broke down in tears, apologized to Grant's family." (To watch raw video footage from Mehserle's emotional interview with KTVU's Rita Williams, click here.)
UPDATE 10:59 a.m. From KGO-TV: "The judge has indicated he won't grant a new trial to Mehserle and has concerns over the gun enhancement verdict."
UPDATE 10:52 a.m. Krissy Clark, our reporter in L.A., just got access to the courtroom for a few minutes. Her report:
Oscar Grant's aunt was reading a statement at the podium, dressed in all black. She said "I don't know how to explain to my children how to resolve serious problems, because now I don't trust the police or the system." She called Mehserle "an uncaring monster."
UPDATE: 10:35 a.m. KQED's Mina Kim is in Oakland covering today's Justice for Oscar Grant Rally, scheduled to start at 2 p.m., and any community reaction to the sentencing. She reports:
Footlocker at 14th and Broadway, which sustained damage after the verdict was announced, is boarded up, as is a neighboring beauty shop. T-Mobile on the other side of the intersection also boarded up. Walgreen's is open but boarding up side windows as well. They have not decided if they will close early; they are going to wait and see.
Just a couple of people here. Two young men holding a Free Mumia Abu-Jamal sign were rapping in front of city hall. They say they have been here since 7:30 a.m. and want to make sure people don't forget Oscar Grant. They said they thought the killing was racist and that it wasn't involuntary.
10:22 a.m. From Krissy Clark, KQED's L.A. Bureau Chief, who is outside the courtroom:
The court just returned from a break. Now Oscar Grant's family will be allowed to make impact statements and Merhserle will also be allowed to make a statement if he chooses.
Earlier, a Sergeant with the L.A. Sheriff's Dept said that the courtroom was full and that one man was ejected for blurting something out. The court heard a motion from the defense for a retrial based on evidence they presented regarding the taser.
Below is an Oakland Tribune video of officials, community leaders and residents discussing their experiences at a workshop aimed at healing the pain caused by Oscar Grant's killing:
And here's a video from KGO-TV about the preparations under way in Oakland: