Thursday, July 8, 2010

After the verdict, between the flashpoints.


Johannes Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the killing of unarmed Oscar Grant on New Year's morning 2009. Another cop had his knee on Grant's shoulder as Grant was face down on the BART platform after being arrested for being disorderly after New Year's Eve. Mehserle drew his gun and shot Grant in the back.

Mehserle said in the trial he thought Grant was armed. Grant wasn't.

He said he thought he had his taser in his hand. The weapons are on different holsters, have different weights and fire differently.

In the heat of passion, Mehserle murdered Grant. It wasn't pre-meditated, but a competent prosecution could have brought this one in, made twelve jurors understand this was a crime in the heat of passion, voluntary manslaughter. The state did not put forward a competent prosecution. I don't blame the jury.

A competent prosecution couldn't bring Oscar Grant back to life, but they could have saved some major property damage in Oakland this evening.

Because Mehserle was found guilty, because he could get fourteen years, I don't believe Oakland will be in flames tonight. That doesn't mean I don't think there will be fires.

One crowd is gathering in downtown Oakland, near 14th Street and Broadway. Some might think I risked life and limb because I went there to get the tabloid headlines just before the verdict was announced. Personally, I think I did some risk/reward calculations and got the numbers right.

Another crowd is gathering at the Fruitvale BART station where the murder took place a year and a half ago, about equidistant to the south of my neighborhood as City Hall is to the north of me. My expectation is the crowds will disperse and people who want to riot will move a few blocks away from where the cops are and do some property damage. This is the typical pattern.

I am sick in my heart the system worked this badly. I will wear black for a week to mourn not just the loss of Oscar Grant's life, but also because our chance to believe in anything approaching impartial justice is dead as well.

4 comments:

Abu Scooter said...

When I heard that the trial had moved to the Southland, I figured the case might be doomed. I mean, SoCal juries did such a great job handling the likes of O.J. Simpson, Rodney King and, for that matter, Phil Spector. Not.

Supposedly, we're to take comfort in the fact that an active cop got convicted for anything at all. Bull. This verdict is wrong, and everyone knows it.

namastenancy said...

There are apparently trash can fires and they are looting Footlocker:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/twitter/topics/contributor?q=actionnewssf

I just hope it doesn't get worse. Trashing Oakland won't bring him back and it won't solve our justice issues either. But then, I don't know what will. I wish I had an answer. No, better yet - I wish I had a solution for a better system with justice for both black and white and brown and maybe even ET if he can't call home.

no_slappz said...

you wrote:

Mehserle said in the trial he thought Grant was armed. Grant wasn't.

That comment made me think about Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman and how OJ planned her murder and got Ron as a bonus.

Then I thought about the 3,000 unarmed occupants of the World Trade Center.

He said he thought he had his taser in his hand. The weapons are on different holsters, have different weights and fire differently.

OJ and his attorneys claimed Nicole and Ron were murdered by Colombian drug dealers. At least Mehserle's fiction was a possibility.

In the heat of passion, Mehserle murdered Grant. It wasn't pre-meditated...The state did not put forward a competent prosecution. I don't blame the jury.

That's a relief.

A competent prosecution couldn't bring Oscar Grant back to life, but they could have saved some major property damage in Oakland this evening.

I see. So you understand that blacks riot when a white defendant is convicted of a lesser crime if the victim is black.

Good to know you can accurately profile a substantial segment of the Oakland community.

Because Mehserle was found guilty, because he could get fourteen years, I don't believe Oakland will be in flames tonight.

Brings me back to the 1991 Crown Heights riot in Brooklyn when blacks tore up the neighborhood and murdered Yankel Rosenbaum, who was visiting from Australia.

The action in Oakland also reminds me of the aftermath of OJ's acquittal. Whites were outraged to the point of writing angry letters to every newspaper in the country.

True, the letters expressed disgust, disbelief, despair and disappointment. Yes, the language was harsh. The upset was felt all across the country. In response, some might say the letters showed the worst side of white America.

Matty Boy said...

no-slappz, you got one comment. Don't try for two. If you want to write something unrelated, put it on your blog where NO ONE WILL READ IT. You are not welcome to use my superior popularity to spread your crap.

Clear?