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NLG Criticizes Mehserle Verdict As Gross Injustice
by via NLG
Thursday Jul 8th, 2010 6:45 PM
Calls On Law Enforcement to Respect Civil Liberties As Community Reacts
For Immediate Release July 8, 2010

Oakland—The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLGSF) condemns the involuntary manslaughter verdict in the criminal case against former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle. The trial judge, Robert Perry, acted inappropriately by allowing irrelevant information about the victim, Oscar Grant, before the jury.

“The verdict is a painful example of what we already know, the criminal justice system treats white, police officers with deference and poor people of color with hostility,” said Carlos Villarreal, NLGSF Executive Director. “It is shameful that irrelevant aspects of Grant’s past were put before the jury and troubling that the jury included no African Americans.”

There has been much attention on the potential for violence in the aftermath of this verdict, and the NLGSF is also concerned with the potential for violence. “We are extremely concerned with the possibility that law enforcement will treat any street actions, with or without vandalism, as an excuse to violate the rights of civilians in potentially violent ways,” said Teague Briscoe, NLGSF President.

Last year, Oakland police made a number of arrests of activists and journalists during uprisings in response to Grant’s killing and the lack of response from the District Attorney and other authorities. Roughly 100 individuals were arrested with fewer than a dozen ultimately prosecuted, mostly for minor offenses. Most of those were ultimately dropped. Despite the claims of the Oakland Police Department, the vast majority of the arrestees were from Oakland and surrounding Bay Area.

The NLGSF has a history of opposing police violence and regularly sends legal observers to political actions and protests throughout the Bay Area. The organization has hundreds of trained legal observers who are on call and prepared to monitor the actions of law enforcement. Criminal defense and civil liberties lawyers are also on call.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by revolutionNOW
Thursday Jul 8th, 2010 6:59 PM
This goes beyond racial issues; the police attack and kill whites too. Yes, I know race definitely has a role to play, but it is more about class than anything else. That and the fact that the police view all non-police as either criminals or potential criminals. They have a very "us vs. them" mentality. We should perhaps adopt the same mentality and remind ourselves of one very important fact:

"There are more of us than there are of them"

We have that much in our favor.

I sincerely try to advocate for peaceful resistance, but I am disheartened enough lately to say that the "authorities" know peaceful tactics and thus know how to fight peaceful tactics. Perhaps it's time to fight fire with fire...?

When these incidents happen on a daily basis nationwide, we can no longer sit idle and buy the official line that "it's an isolated incident". We can no longer allow peaceful demonstrators to be violently attacked by heavily armed thugs. We can no longer allow police infiltration, acting as "agents provocateurs", to incite riots at otherwise peaceful demonstrations as a pretext to attack (G20 is a prime example). Basically, the police are giving us all the finger and asking us "oh yeah? And what are you gonna do about it?" as they point weapons at our heads. They are out of control, and this sad miscarriage of justice not only proves it, but worsens the problem: the police now effectively have a blank check to murder, rape and pillage with impunity.

I'd really like to know what people think... HOW can we deal with this non-violently when the only language the police understand is violence? Ghandi's non-violent approach may have worked in the 1940s and maybe even in the 1960s. But it doesn't appeart to be working in the 21st century when the police understand how to deal with non-violent tactics and manage to silence us.

Opinions? How do we solve this problem?

by Sappho
(hollyharps [at] Friday Jul 9th, 2010 2:40 AM
You can always spot the infiltrators. They are the ones who propose violence. You can spot the agents provocateur, because they initiate violence and destruction. Violence and destruction play into the authorities' hands. This has been true since Haymarket. Not only is violence met with disproportionate force, but it becomes an excuse to brand people domestic terrorists. Let's not be our own worst enemies.
by White and outraged
Friday Jul 9th, 2010 6:17 AM
Whenever you walk by cop, look them in the eye and say "Oscar Grant". They can't arrest us all.
by White and outraged
Friday Jul 9th, 2010 6:49 AM
Take the protests to the rich suburbs and urban areas- Marin County, Pacific Heights, Burlingame, etc. Organize!
Take it to where they think they are safe.