Thursday, July 08, 2010

Thoughts on a verdict

The verdict has come in for Johannes Mehserle, the fomer BART cop. Many wanted Mehserle to be convicted of murder as they believed that Mehserle had intent to murder Oscar Grant. Mehserle is white & Grant was black. Mehserle has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter, which means that he did not intend to murder anyone.

The fear that is now pervading the airwaves is that riots will occur.

It is my hope that what we witnessed in 1992 with the L.A. riots will not occur in Oakland.

I admit to being conflicted. On the one hand, probably the naive parts of me, being a middle-class white woman is to believe that Mehserle did not intend to murder Oscar Grant. I have a sense of wanting to trust police. My husband - not so much. This is because I have only once experienced mistreatment by the police - although I believe this had more to do with the officer's ineptness than with anything else.

I've not had to raise my sons' to fear the police because of the color of their skin. I worry more about my older son's temper when it comes to his interaction with police than the fact that color of his skin color alone may determine the outcome.

All of this being said, I have friends who are parents of young, black men and I have taught at a school that is composed of mostly African American and Hispanic students. In conversations with my friends and my students, they have or have been raised on how to act when police are involved. They are taught this at an early age as a matter of survival.

Oscar Grant is the victim in this horrific story. He may have used bad judgment when all of this started to go down. It does not excuse the fact that he was shot in the back by a police officer who was running high on adrenaline. I do not think Mehserle meant to shoot Oscar Grant and his actions will no doubt haunt him for the rest of his life.

Violence should not beget violence. I hope for peace in Oakland.

1 comment:

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

This is one of those heartbreaking no-win situations. That said, I watched the officer's testimony and he was either telling the truth or a phenomenal actor. I have to believe it was the former.