City leaders prepare for Mehserle verdict

City leaders on both sides of the bay are trying to provide residents with ways to vent both before and after a verdict.
July 7, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
City leaders on both sides of the bay are trying to provide residents with ways to vent both before and after a verdict.

City Hall at 14th and Broadway in downtown Oakland was hit by violent protesting shortly after Oscar Grant was killed last year. When the verdict comes down, this same area is expected to be the site of some rallying, but hopefully not of a violent nature.

Last year, angry protestors smashed windows and trashed dozens of businesses out of frustration after Grant was killed on BART's Fruitvale platform.

With the verdict on its way, this year some businesses are choosing to board up, preparing for the worst. But community leaders have been working to get out a message of peaceful demonstration.

Oakland City Council met on Tuesday night to discuss outreach plans to keep the community calm and one step will be to open "speak-out centers" where people will be able to vent their feelings.

"I think you see anger in the city, but I also think people are committed in taking the energy and anger and working together positively for justice," Oakland Vice Mayor Jean Quan said.

"I certainly hope that this community that I am a part of, the city of Oakland, don't have any outside agitators that don't have a commitment to the city," Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid said.

Across the bay in San Francisco, Police Chief George Gascon and community and religious leaders also called for peace. Gascon announced that all officers are on standby ready, even though the city has never had any violent protesting over the Mehselre-Grant shooting.

This week "Be Heard, Teach Peace" events are being held at community centers, where people can write messages about the case on huge banners.

Also in both San Francisco and Oakland, "Community Engagement Centers" will open soon after the verdict, so people can express their feelings about the verdict.


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