Friday, July 2, 2010

Mehserle Trial: Waiting for the Verdict

The jury is out on Johannes Mehserle's trial in L.A. for the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant on New Year's Eve 2009. In Mehserle's tearful testimony, he explained that he had confused his taser with a gun.

I don't know whether the change in venue from Oakland to L.A. has indeed been successful in guaranteeing less of a political context; here in the Bay Area, the trial is closely followed by the media and seen as a microcosm of race/police relations in Oakland. In this broader context, and based on past experiences, a variety of community organizations in Oakland call for nonviolence upon announcement of the verdict, whatever it may be. I particularly like this statement from the ACLU of Northern California, which acknowledges that, as in any situation of this genre, it takes two to tango, and calls not only to residents to keep their calm but also to the police to maintain restraint when reacting to riots.

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