Oakland BART police officer Johannes Mehserle fired a single shot in Oscar Grant's back and proceeded to handcuff him as he lay down in his own blood. What made this case so important is the overwhelming amount of evidence that was take by bystanders at the time. Although the police made every effort to confiscate any footage that would incriminate them and sweep yet another brutal case under the carpet, footage spread all over the internet and made the mainstream media. Riots ensued in the following days in Oakland and the police were unable to control the situation, forcing the Mayor and District Attorney to arrest and charge Mehserle.
Today Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and not 2nd degree murder, or 1st degree murder as many would have desired. Portlanders mobilised at short notice to speak out against the police and the fresh verdict, marching to Martin Luther King Boulevard from the park shouting, "ACAB - All coppers are bastards" amongst other terms. The police were all over the scene, monitoring beforehand from afar as people gathered for the event. A number of windows were smashed at a Bank of America on Martin Luther King Blvd. and at Portland Community College - Cascades Campus. At all times the police urged the protesters to move on to the sidewalk or they would be arrested whilst two bike cops led the plethora of police cars.
At one point I was threatened with arrest for taking a picture in the street and was told to move immediately away from the scene. It seems that press freedom is not on the cards for the police here, and this is an important issue if people are to know what is really going on in their local town or community. (See Vol. XXX, Issue 2 of The Portland Alliance for an article relating to Fortune 500 corporations owning all American Wire services).
Oakland is now in the eyes of America for the wrong reasons at a time when budget cuts in California will see many loose their jobs on the Oakland police force. The verdict today is another loss for communities against the police and the brutal tactics they choose to employ in the line of duty.
The protesters split up fairly rapidly at the end and at least 3 arrests were made.