Johannes Mehserle, the BART cop who shot Oscar Grant to death in 2009, quietly slipped past reporters and protesters as he was released from jail at midnight. And despite high emotions, the protesters in downtown Oakland remained peaceful -- for a change.
The Examiner reports that on Sunday afternoon, more than 300 people had gathered in the streets of downtown Oakland, marching with a mock coffin, and holding signs reading "216 days is not enough." The signs were referring to Mehserle's early release from jail. He had served 11 months of his two-year sentence after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
Stores along Broadway in downtown Oakland had already learned their lesson from previous Oscar Grant protests, which quickly turned into mayhem. So in anticipation of looting and fires, most of them boarded up their businesses.
But it doesn't appear they needed to.
According to media outlets, the demonstrators kept their cool. The attorney representing Grant's family in the case consistently reminded the crowds to "remain peaceful."
Businesses were trashed during a massive rally in downtown Oakland after a jury convicted Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter rather than murder. Mehserle shot and killed Grant on New Year's Day in 2009 as he lay face down on the BART platform at the Fruitvale station. Mehserle insisted that he meant to reach for his Taser, but instead grabbed his gun and shot Grant in the back.
Mehserle had already served 146 days in jail by the time he was sentenced on Nov. 5. He then served another 216 days behind bars. The court decided the combined days in jail, plus credit for good conduct, was enough reason to release the 29-year-old early.
He will remain on parole, although there's been no word on where he might live.
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