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Riots in Oakland

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(07-08) 19:50 PDT Oakland -- Word of the Johannes Mehserle involuntary manslaughter verdict utterly transformed downtown Oakland in a matter of hours from a quiet enclave of office workers into a crush of more than 1,000 angry protesters, some of whom briefly skirmished with police.

As night fell, sporadic conflicts were quelled quickly. Mayor Ron Dellums and others called for nonviolence, and throughout the afternoon most of the rage from those who thought the verdict was too light was confined to loudspeakers and animated conversations on the asphalt.


The confrontations were quick: At about 5:30 p.m., protesters surrounded police officers at 13th and Broadway and at 12th and Broadway, pelting officers with rocks and bottles and pulling down police barricades. Police quelled the disturbances quickly.

A large, angry mob then formed and blocked a bus near 12th and Broadway. When a police car rolled in to move the protesters out of the way, the car was surrounded, and as it backed up it apparently ran over a woman's leg by mistake. The woman, who in her 20s and reportedly deaf, fell to the ground and lay in the crosswalk surrounded by a crowd. She was later able to stand up.

The standoff between police and protesters intensified moments later as riot police lined up at 11th and Broadway. Officers in riot gear blocked the street as members of the crowd yelled and swore.

Nearby, in front of City Hall, a separate group of ministers and community leaders set up their own event with loudspeakers.

Public gatherings also took place at five community centers throughout Oakland designated as "speakout centers" where people could vent their feelings. The mood was often hostile.

About 100 people at Youth UpRising, one of the speakout centers, watched Oscar Grant's uncle Cephus Johnson on television saying that he felt the family had "been slapped in the face by this system that has denied us true justice."

To some, the words appeared to invite outrage, perhaps violence.

"Damn," said Youth UpRising Director Olis Simmons, "He just opened the door. Kicked it open. I don't think he meant to but he did it."

Back downtown, another relative of Grant's - his grandfather - appealed for calm.

"Please let's keep peace," grandfather Oscar Grant, 65, said on a loudspeaker at the intersection of 14th and Broadway. "I know what went on down there was wrong. Please don't tear up the Bay Area.

"Don't dishonor my grandson's death by tearing up Oakland. I know the verdict was wrong."

Early in the afternoon, when word spilled out around 2:30 p.m. that a verdict would be read at 4 p.m., Oakland experienced an exodus just a few ticks short of panic.

Downtown streets suddenly flooded with people rushing out of their workplaces to go home. BART trains streaming in and out of downtown were jammed, and nearby Interstates 880 and 980 filled.

At the downtown federal building, announcements were made over loudspeakers to tell workers to go home. At many of the big businesses throughout the area, internal e-mails and other notices went out advising the same.


By 2:30 p.m., police had blocked off 11th and Clay streets and other key intersections with cars and barricades. Argus, the Oakland police helicopter that had been grounded due to budget cuts unless there was an emergency, was buzzing in the air.

A dozen people sat on barstools in stunned silence watching television at the Pacific Coast Brewery in downtown Oakland when the verdict was read. One man booed.

"Oh, that's bad," said Ivan Davis, 43, of Oakland, who is African American. "That's bad."


Across the bay in San Francisco, police fanned out downtown by foot, motorcycle and cruisers as the streets jammed with cars trying to get out of town.

Several businesses on Powell Street, including Walgreens, boarded up windows as commute hour began. At the International Wholesale Jeweler shop security guard Malcolm Otis said he was barricading his glass because "We think he's going to walk, and it's gonna be hell."


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I was in downtown L.A. during the King riots. It was some pretty scary stuff.

I think the verdict was B/S. There is no reason he should have even been using the taser

though I don't buy that story either.

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I am watching KRON and the OPD just gave a briefing. Apparently, they are arresting outside agitators, dressed in black, that are trying to inflame the incident. Mayor Dellums is pleased that folks were able to get together without destroying their community. Meanwhile, the reporters are painting a different story.

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Well, I'm going to play devil's advocate here for one reason: Future police safety.

Had the courts thrown the book at this guy, every cop in the city (possibly the state/nation) would be second-guessing his actions during a crime. While I do feel some officers do indeed use excessive force at times or jump the gun, we also don't need cops who hesitate in a life & death scenario.

This kid was unarmed and what happened was complete BS. The cop should have gotten a stiffer sentence, so don't think I don't believe otherwise... I'm just saying, I can see possibly why a lesser conviction might be necessary...


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I dont know, I think its plausible to think he had mistaken his taser for his gun. Lets put this in perspective, hes in a crowded area with hundreds of witness and he pulls out a gun and shoots him in the back.

Too often when a cop kills a black men people see nothing but rage and reason takes a hike. I just have a hard time thinking he intentionally shot the man in the back with all those witnesses.

Edited by _Simpson_

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I think it was a good call on the verdict. What person purposely shoots someone in the back with something like 50 witnesses.

Also take into consideration that these are cops in a racially charged city, there already walking on eggshells.

Unfortunately they will probably give him the 16 years due to the blind public outrage.

Edited by _Simpson_

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Also take into consideration that these are cops in a racially charged city, there already walking on eggshells.

Unfortunately they will probably give him the 16 years due to the blind public outrage.

I've looked around and it looks like most areas have a max of two years. He's served most of that already.

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