*In Oakland (CA), over 150 people were arrested when protests over the sentencing of a former police officer for the shooting death of an unarmed black man turned confrontational.
The rally, which came after a Los Angeles judge sentenced Johannes Mehserle to two years in prison for involuntary manslaughter, ended with police taking unruly demonstrators into custody for trespassing, unlawful assembly, disturbing the peace and vandalism, according to reports.
Police in riot gear had tried to stop several hundred people from marching into a residential area, declaring unlawful assembly, and the crowed became unruly.
An Oakland police spokesman said 152 people were arrested, including 7 juveniles, mostly for unlawful assembly. He said further charges could follow a review of videotapes taken of the incident.
Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said in a written statement he was disappointed that what began peacefully got out of control.
Batts said a few protesters pelted officers with rocks and bottles, tore down fences and broke car windows. One officer had his gun and holster taken from him, he said.
“I want to be clear that people have a right to assemble, a right to protest and a right to free speech,” Batts said. “But people do not havea right to tear the city up. Oakland already has a lot of pain, and it’s not fair. This city has been torn up too many times.”
Video of the January 1, 2009, shooting of 22-year-old Oscar Grant by Mehserle, who is white, sparked a night of rioting later that month and civil unrest erupted again in July after the former Oakland transit officer was cleared of murder charges.
Prosecutors in the racially charged trial, which was moved to Los Angeles because of pretrial publicity, had portrayed the killing as the intentional act of a rogue cop, and sought a 14-year prison term for Mehserle.
Mehserle, 28, testified during the trial that he mistakenly drew his gun instead of an electric Taser when he shot Grant while grappling with him during a scuffle at a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) rail station.
The jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter, meaning they thought he lacked the intent to kill but nevertheless engaged in conduct so grossly negligent that he should be held criminally responsible.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry ordered Mehserle to serve two years in state prison, minus 292 days fortime already served and other credits, and dismissed a “sentencing enhancement” for the use of a gun during the commission of a crime.
“I well understand that my decision today will not be well received by many people,” Perry said during the court hearing. “I’m sorry for that. But please remember I did my best.”
Watch raw footage from the protest: