Hundreds gather to protest release of former BART police officer

Some stores boarded up their windows in anticipation of rioting.
Jeffrey Joh/Staff
Some stores boarded up their windows in anticipation of rioting.

Protesters have gathered in Downtown Oakland to protest the release of former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle, who was convicted of killing Oscar Grant III and has served 11 months for his crime.

A Los Angeles jury convicted Mehserle in July 2010 of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Oscar Grant III, who was shot and killed at the Fruitvale BART station on Jan. 1, 2009. Throughout the case, Mehserle has claimed he thought he was reaching for his taser and not his gun when the incident occurred.

In November 2010, following a racially charged case that sparked riots and protests in Oakland, Mehserle was sentenced to two years in prison — the minimum amount of time that can be served for someone convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

But on Friday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry ruled that Mehserle’s good behavior, coupled with the time he had spent in custody while he awaited trial, ruled him eligible for release. Thus, Perry ruled that sometime on Monday, Mehserle will be released from the Los Angeles County Jail.

On Sunday, a group of about 150 people gathered at the Fruitvale BART station at 3 p.m. to protest Mehserle’s release. From there, the group — which grew to about 200 people — marched peacefully along International Boulevard to Downtown Oakland, according to major media outlets.

Beginning at approximately 5 p.m., protesters had gathered in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in Downtown Oakland to continue the protest, and as of press time there had been one report of Oakland police having detained two protesters near International Boulevard and 2nd Avenue. Police suspect the pair vandalized some buildings in town, according to major media outlets.

AC Transit has rerouted numerous bus lines in the area because of traffic delays being caused by the group of marchers, according to major media outlets.

 

Katie Nelson is an assistant news editor.