Oakland residents upset over Mehserle rally

July 16, 2010 12:27:31 AM PDT
One week ago, the streets of Oakland were boiling with anger. Anger over the verdict against Johannes Mehserle, the former BART officer convicted of involuntary manslaughter. There is still anger in Oakland about the verdict but also about an event planned for next week.

What a difference a week can make, on the surface at least. Downtown Oakland this week had no demonstrators in sight, but even at a blues concert, Oscar Grant weighed heavily.

"The heart of the white people will never change. They're going to stay the same. I can't say that for every white person, but the evil ones," said Oakland resident Stephanie Brown.

Brown was talking about a rally to support Johannes Mehserle in Walnut Creek, next Monday -- nor was she alone.

"We are not trying to have a mix-up with ignorant policemen that support murderers, but we do plan to pay attention to it," said Gerald Sanders.

Sanders attended a meeting in a rented club on Thursday night. His Oakland Assembly For Justice for Oscar Grant is upset with the verdict and also with Mehserle's attorney for trying to reduce the sentence.

"He's a pig supporting a pig. Let's get this right. That man, Mehserle, shot an unarmed citizen on the ground, on his stomach. He needs to go to prison," said Sanders.

Next Monday's meeting has its own Facebook page and more than 100 people have now said they will attend, but not all support Mehserle. Oakland resident Benjamine Miller-Mills RSVP'd out of curiosity.

"I want to go to this rally because I believe in freedom of speech and I want to be educated by what Mehserle's people have to say. I want to learn and to start a dialogue in which we can actually begin to resolve this conflict," said Miller-Mills.

It is an issue that continues to stew long after the shooting, the trial, and verdict. Oakland will not let this go, apparently, for a very long time.

"We will never let it go. What do you mean, let it go? Boy, you all are really silly. We don't let murder go of that type. We'll let it go when it stops happening," said Sanders.


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