In July, Johannes Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 22 year-old, unarmed African-American commuter Oscar Grant. The incident occurred at the Fruitvale train station in Oakland, on January 1, 2009.  Mehserle, a white police officer for the BART railway in the San Francisco Bay Area, appeared in the courtroom today to learn his sentencing. Around 1pm Pacific time, the judge called for Mehserle to be imprisoned for 2 years with probation. The 292 days he already served will count towards that time period.

Merhsele had requested a new trial, which Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry did not grant. Before the sentencing, 5 members of the family spoke to the court. Grant’s mother, Wanda, begged that the max sentence of 14 years be given. Upon hearing the verdict, some of Grant’s friends stormed out of the room, as family members stepped out, clearly upset. Protesters outside the L.A. courtroom chanted “The whole damn system is guilty, guilty!”

The streets of downtown Oakland were teeming with media members this morning, eager to capture the response to the sentencing. Outside city hall, people gathered, awaiting the news. After the guilty verdict was delivered in July of this year, isolated instances of rioting were documented. However, the majority of the several hundred people who were protesting did so peacefully. Seventy-eight people were arrested in Oakland that night. Such precedence has police officers bracing for the possibility of violent activities again tonight.

The Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to human rights in Oakland, made a statement on their website this morning. In it, Jakada Imani said, “Justice for Oscar Grant and for the thousands of other victims of police brutality is not about one man nor one sentence. To me, justice for Oscar Grant and his family can only be brought through the fundamental transformation of the systems that aren’t just for all. There must be transformation of the system that hired, trained, and armed Mehserle.”

The case has brought police brutality and institutional racism back to a national discussion, but only time will tell how Oakland and the nation will respond to today’s sentence.



November 6th

Very sad when people like Plaxico Burress who accidentally shoots himself in the foot get's 2 years and Mesherle accidentally shoots and kills Oscar Grant and get's 2 years (with time served)! Something is defenitely wrong with our justice system!

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