Looks like the father and un-remorseful police supporters of the killer cop Johannnes Mehserle who killed an unarmed Oscar Grant in front of hundreds New Years morning 2009 will not let up. According to Indy Bay the father and Mehserle’s brother have hung huge ‘Free Mehserle‘ banners from their Yacht in the McCovey Cove which is right outside of AT&T Park where the SF Giants play.
The other night the Yacht and sign made national attention and enraged the community which quickly responded by sending out boats carrying signs calling for Justice 4 Oscar Grant. Yesterday we talked about this on our Hard Knock Radio show and learned from our guests that when folks holding the Oscar Grant banners showed up, Mehserle’s dad tried to run his boat into their smaller craft.
What’s at stake here is that Mehserle who is facing involuntary manslaughter charges is scheduled to be sentenced November 5th. The verdict is seen by many as unfair and way too soft for a guy who has a history of violence both on and off the force. Many feel that Mehserle is literally getting away with murder. The fact that every single police union in California petitioned the California Assembly in support in addition to funding his defense where expert witnesses were being paid 50 and 60 thousand dollars a pop sent a clear message. The police although paid by tax payer dollars are not in step with many of the communities they serve.
There’s a reason why so many people of all backgrounds have taken to the streets in support of Grant. First, what took place that fateful night was egregious. Racial epithets being hurled at Grant moments before he was shot, police falsifying reports to cover up the incident, the men on the platform forced to sit there for handcuffed hours after Grant was killed was inexcusable. The fact that there were no police officers holding press conferences assuring the public what took place was wrong brought up painful memories for many who have been victim or witnesses police misconduct.
As was pointed out during our interview with organizers Rachel Jackson, Jack Bryson and Jack Heyman of the Longshoremen’s Union it should be remembered that since the late 70s over 10 thousand people have been killed by police. Bryson pointed out the overwhelming majority Black and Brown men.
Since the verdict, the police and cops-can-do-no-wrong Mehserle supporters have held all sorts of rallies around the Bay Area in an attempt to influence the sentencing judge. The rallies are held as a way to show that the public backs Mehserle and believes his story that he accidentally grabbed his taser as opposed to a gun.
Most of these rallies have been held in the suburbs 20-30 miles outside of Oakland where Mehserle did his dirty deed. I guess they wouldn’t find a supportive crowd in this neck of the woods which again, should show you just how disconnected things are between the police and communities they serve.
It’s interesting to note that the police have adopted many of the tactics and populus slogans used by activists to bring attention to political prisoners. At these often sparsely attended rallies, you will see signs that read ‘Justice 4 Johannes Mehserle‘, ‘Free Johannes‘ even the ‘The System is broken Free Mehserle‘ Organizers present the story as if Mehserle is the victim, even though he’s the one who did the killing and has yet to personally apologize to the family including Grant’s 4-year-old daughter.
The stunt with the Yacht is pulled from the direct action playbook of activists who often find themselves shut out by mainstream media and resort to hanging banners in public spaces as a way to bring attention to a cause. What’s sad here is that the police already have tight relationships with the media. We saw that during the day of the verdict where reporters were mainstream reporters were embedded along with the police while everyone else including scores of independent journalists were threatened with arrests, even after show department issued press passes. The police had created a second tier of passes.
Grant supporters are not sitting back and allowing this to go unchallenged. In addition to dispatching boats of their own, there are a plans by the Longshoremen’s Union to shut down the port of Oakland this Saturday. As Jack Heyman pointed out, many of his members could relate to the Grant killing. They have sons and daughters who have been mistreated by the police. Many of his members have found themselves being hemmed up. Heyman pointed out that when their union was forming there were striking members shot by the police. Heyman wrote a great article explaining why the Longshoremen’s Union will be shutting things down this weekend in support of Oscar Grant. Justice for Oscar Grant! Jail for Killer Cops! Longshore To Shutdown All Bay Area Ports
There will be a big rally in support of Oscar Grant this Saturday at 12 noon in front of Oakland City Hall. Perhaps folks should show up with signs that read ‘Fry Mehserle’ instead of ‘Free Mehserle‘
written by Davey D