Oakland Reacts to Verdict in Oscar Grant Murder Trial

Crowds gathering in downtown Oakland to protest the Oscar Grant murder trial verdict are expressing anger at a justice system they say continues to fail communities of color.
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Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

By Youth Radio Editor

OAKLAND-- Crowds gathering in downtown Oakland to protest the Oscar Grant murder trial verdict are expressing anger at a justice system they say continues to fail communities of color.

One group involved in the protest is the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary, and a post-verdict email from them outlines what they're calling on Oaklanders to demand, including "The maximum sentence for killer cop Johannes Mehserle", jail for Officers Pirone and Domenici, and "massive funding to Oakland for education and jobs for Oakland's black, Latina/o, Asian, and poor and working-class white youth."

Reginald James, a teacher at the Oakland Freedom School, said of the scene after the verdict, "It's a media circus -- they're trying to capitalize off others' pain. See someone crying, go take their photo." He said when the verdict came down, "People were paralyzed. Some people didn't know what to expect, some were surprised, for some people it kinda confirmed what's already been implied in the mainstream press. I cant even get a sandwich downtown right now because people expected acquittal or involuntary manslaughter, which would lead people to revert to property damage or violence."

Youth Radio videographer Haldun Morgan was at Oakland City Center after the verdict was announced. He said a police line was being set up on 11th Street between Clay and Broadway, and there were also fire trucks, police SUVs, and six or seven unmarked police cars. Morgan overheard a conversation between two men, one saying the killing was parallel to a lynching. Morgan saw several people passing out "Violence is Not Justice" flyers. He also witnessed an incident in which a young woman was hit by a police car.

"The police pulled up with a van and unmarked car while a bus was being surrounded," reported Morgan. "The police started to back up and hit a woman who was in the streets. Someone said she recently found out she was deaf. The woman was on the ground and a group of activists came to her aid. People started to surround the police car, and some folks were throwing bottles and kicking the police cars. Riot police showed up and a group of activists went and confronted the police. A young man on the megaphone was asking if they could take a police report, and a young woman who was recording was trying to ask if they could go help the lady who had been hit. There was no response from the police and then the woman confronting the police called 911 anf tried to make a report." Another witness told Youth Radio that the victim's ankle was grazed and that friends helped her leave the scene.

Mayor Ron Dellums emphasized the attention that the case has drawn. "The tragic reality... is that this is not the first young African American male that's lost his life in this kind of tragedy....Many people have died here and around the country, but they end up being... a statistic in a newspaper." He said what's different in this case is that modern technology helped to document and transmit the incident to mass audiences.

We'll bring you more details as we get them.

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