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Mehserle Supporters Face Opposition at Protest

Mehserle Supporters Face Opposition at Protest

Supporters of former BART Officer Johannes Mehserle clash with anti-police demonstrators in Walnut Creek, Calif. Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 shooting death of Oscar J. Grant III on a train platform in Oakland.

San Francisco Chronicle via YellowBrix

July 20, 2010

WALNUT CREEK, CA – Supporters of a white former BART officer convicted of involuntary manslaughter for killing an unarmed black passenger squared off against anti-police protesters Monday in a noisy demonstration that closed a suburban commuter thoroughfare and brought a massive police presence.

The demonstration in this upscale, predominantly white suburb a short distance from Oakland began as a rally to express sympathy for Johannes Mehserle, who is behind bars as he awaits sentencing.

Demonstrators who said they were retired officers or had friends and family in law enforcement gathered in a courthouse parking lot with signs that read “Mercy for Mehserle,” “Jail Criminals, Not Police” and “If U Don’t Like Police Officers, Next Time You Need Help, Call a Meth Head.”

Counter-demonstrators on the sidewalk spilled into the street and eventually outnumbered the officer’s supporters. Some carried signs that read"Kill the Killer Mehserle, “Remember Rodney King” and “Justice for Oscar Grant.”

Oscar J. Grant III, 22, was shot on New Year’s Day 2009 as he lay face-down on a BART station platform. Mehserle, 28, testified he mistakenly grabbed his firearm instead of an electric Taser during a struggle with Grant, and that the shooting was a tragic accident.



The pro- and anti-Mehserle demonstrators yelled at each other and engaged in dueling chants. When police in riot gear marched down the street and lined up in front of the demonstration, the predominantly white pro-Mehserle crowd clapped and cheered. The racially diverse counter-protesters booed.

Bob and Sharon Reading, both retirees, said they attended the rally to ask for compassion for Mehserle and his family.

“He made a tragic mistake,” said Bob Reading, 73, a retired sheriff’s captain who is white. “If it weren’t a racial thing, he probably would have gotten 20 to 30 days’ suspension and that would have been it.”

Adimu Madyun, 37, an African American filmmaker who traveled from Oakland to join the counter-protest, said those rallying for Mehserle were motivated by race.

“This is all racial,” he said. “If Mehserle was black, they wouldn’t be out here protesting this.”

Reading countered that he would have come for a black officer too. “They wouldn’t be here if the victim was white,” he snapped.

The pro-Mehserle rally was organized on Facebook. Supporters said they chose Walnut Creek because it was centrally located. Mehserle lived in an adjoining community.

Laura Castillo, 45, a pro-Mehserle demonstrator, said she hoped he would “walk.” She defended the idea of a rally for the former officer. Pointing to the other crowd, she asked: “Why do they get to speak if we don’t?”

About 150 police officers from Walnut Creek, four other cities and the Contra Costa Sheriffs Department were called in to monitor the demonstration, which drew about 300 people. There were no arrests.

Mehserle is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 5 in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Involuntary manslaughter carries a sentence of two to four years in prison, but a sentencing enhancement for using a gun means Mehserle faces an additional three to 10 years.

  • Meangreen01_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Just another pointless article...

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50


    almost 4 years ago


    This was a demonstration, and not a riot. EVERYONE in this country gets to demonstate for their own causes and reasons, and this one was peaceful, from start to finish. Thumbs up to the pro-Mehserle crowd for conducting themselves within the parameters of the law !! The proof of this is no arrests were made. The pro-Grant crowd can't make the same claim, can they ?!?!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago

    Well... I don't belong to either crowd.
    This guy made a bad mistake that did result in an accident which caused lost of life (even that of a criminal).
    In the other hand, the "anti-Mehserle" rioting trash are full of crap, since there is no way to prove he intentionally killed the convict...
    No rating
    No opinion (other than above-stated)
    And... Go home everyone... Justice has been served...!

  • Pic-0246_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    i think the media is partially to blame for this. everytime this case was brought up it was always the white officer shot the unarmed black man. why did they have to bring that specific issue up every single time? they couldnt say it just once and leave it at that? i think by this time we know the officer is white and the offender was black

  • Evgeni_nabokov_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Good show of support at the rally , Then folks had to mess things up... Anger always clouds judgment

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    While I have my opinion on the incident that led to Mehserle's arrest, rallies like this just kill me, especially when race becomes an issue. I don't see why race should be an issue to anyone anymore. Let's not forget WE HAVE A BLACK PRESIDENT! Stop with the bigotry.

  • Images_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Always good to see Police Support.

  • Blade_runner_4_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    If Oscar Grant had lived he would have a beer with Mehserle and the President on the lawn of the White House.

  • 1979_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Exactly guys. This was a peaceful showing of support and sympathy with no violence or looting. Those in support actually cheered when LE showed up to preserve the peace while those opposed booed! What happened to the idea that now that we have a black President their will be no more bigotry? This in nothing more than an excuse for black bigots and criminals to break the law.

  • Mandy_and_me_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Adimu Madyun said “This is all racial,” he said. “If Mehserle was black, they wouldn’t be out here protesting this.” Well Mr Madyun if Oscar Grant were white YOU wouldn't be out there either so shut your pie hole.

  • Blade_runner_4_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    "About 150 police officers from Walnut Creek, four other cities and the Contra Costa Sheriffs Department were called in to monitor the demonstration, which drew about 300 people. There were no arrests."

    Imagine that. No one looted a Foot Locker at the Pro-Mehserle rally. Too bad these people didn't show their support before the trial.

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