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Oakland gets extra day to prep for Mehserle verdict

July 6, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A delay in the murder trial of a former BART officer Johannes Mehserle because of an ill juror gives Oakland city officials another day to prepare for the possibility of demonstrations following the verdict.

A meeting was held Tuesday morning at the Oakland Office of Emergency Services at 16th and Martin Luther King. As they have been doing in the past weeks, high ranking officials from the California Highway Patrol along with the police and fire departments sat down to analyze data and develop plans to keep residents and businesses in Oakland safe.

"An extra day to bring in all the different resources together," said Deputy Fire Chief Mark Hoffman said. "We are analyzing data and we're further developing plans that I feel we've done a pretty good job developing, but I'll always take a little extra time."

One corporation that participated in Tuesday's security discussions was Amtrak. The railroad station located at Jack London Square is just a few blocks from the downtown area. Amtrak is working with local law enforcement to ensure the safety of passengers.

"We're prepared that there will be some people that are not oriented that way and we're going to be in a good position to address it," Hoffmann told ABC7.

Businesses were in a holding pattern Tuesday. Some storefronts are displaying a picture of Oscar Grant, hoping the display of the victim's image will keep any civil disturbances from impacting their business. At the Hotel Oakland, the maintenance supervisor has purchased dozens of sheets of plywood to protect the building and the hundreds of vulnerable people who spend so much of their time there.

"Well, we average, in the hotel itself, which is senior housing, we average about 400 people," said maintenance superintendent Ken von Behren. "And then, in the adult daycare, they have probably close to 200 people in there, and we need to protect them."

The Oakland Unified School District, concerned about summer school students and staff, has sent a memo to parents and community members to work with police and transit agencies to increase security around flashpoints, be prepared as they would in the case of a natural disaster, and instruct middle and high school students people to choose peaceful protest as a way of expressing their feelings.

One group, the General Assembly for Justice for Oscar Grant, has vowed to rally peacefully on the day of the verdict. But on Tuesday, members expressed their outrage that some council members are preparing a city-sponsored rally on the same day, same time and same location outside City Hall.

The group calls it a political diversion against their rally.

"People have had 18 months in order to try to heal the community and try to outreach to the family, and that has not happened. So, that's a problem," said Tracey Bell-Borden.

"But, if they do tear up property, this property is something that can be replaced the next day. Life cannot be replaced," Jabari Shaw said.

Five community centers will be open in Oakland on the day the verdict is read for anyone who wants to react to the verdict and speak their piece.


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