Oakland Braces for Possible Riots
Many of the businesses in Downtown Oakland boarded up their store fronts this afternoon in anticipation of a potential verdict in the Johannes Mersehle murder trial. Mersehle, a white BART police officer is being tried for the murder of black Oscar Grant. Grant was shot in the back while laying face down at a Fruitvale BART station in the early morning of last New Year’s Day.
The jury in the case went into deliberation this afternoon. If the jury does not announce a verdict today they will reconvene to deliberate on Tuesday after the 4th of July Holiday weekend.
Downtown Oakland was pretty quiet earlier this afternoon. A few men were selling Oscar Grant signs and t-shirts on the corner of 14th and Broadway where protestors are expected to gather after the verdict. In addition to many of the stores downtown being boarded up, many of the stores also had signs in their windows in support of Oscar Grant.
Over the last few days local community and business leaders have been urging people in Oakland to remain calm and respond peacefully to any verdict that is announced.
In 2009 riots erupted in Oakland in response to the shooting. Oakland PD have been training for riots recently and it is reported that several other Bay Area police departments and the National Guard are on standby in case Oakland PD needs help after a verdict is announced.