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by Peter Moskos

July 10, 2010

Quote of the Day

From a man surveying the damage, as quoted in the Oakland Tribune, "Wow. And here I thought Oakland was crappy before."

Letter From Mehserle

Mehserle hand wrote this letter. I'll retype it in its entirety:
July 4, 2010
Please try to get this message to the public:


I don't know what the jury in the case is going to decide, but I hope those who hate me and those who understand that I never intended to shoot Oscar Grant will listen to this message.

I have and will continue to live everyday of my life knowing that Mr. Grant should not have been shot. i know a daughter has lost a father and a mother has lost a son. It saddens me knowing that my actions cost Mr. Grant his life. No words can express how truly sorry I am.

I hoped to talk to Ms. Johnson and Ms. Mesa in the days following this terrible event, but death threats toward my nearly-born son, my friends and family resulted in no communication occuring. I hope the day will come when anger will give way to a dialogue.

For now, and forever I will live, breathe, sleep, and not sleep with the memory of Mr. Grant screaming "you shot me" and me putting my hands on the bullet wound thinking the pressure would help while I kept telling him "you'll be okay." I tried to tell myself that maybe this shot would not be so serious, but I recall how sick I felt when Mr. Grant stopped talking, closed eyes, and seemed to change his breathing.

I don't expect that I can ever convince some individuals how sorry I am for the death of Mr. Grant, but I would not feel right if I didn't explain my thoughts as I wait for a decision by the jury.

--Johannes Merserle
7 - 4 - 2010

July 9, 2010

Looting in Oakland

Reports of "Massive Looting." And pics of looting a Foot Locker!

Kind of surprises me a bit (I know... nothing should surprise me) because the cop was led off in handcuffs. It wasn't like he walked off a free man.

But then what does looting have to do with justice?

Whatever your "cause" is, looting will not help it (notable exception: you need water and food after you're abandoned in your flooded city). And the lasting damage of looting can last decades. If you look for it, scars of looting from the 1960s is still visible in parts of Brooklyn and more so in Baltimore's Eastern District. And it's 30 years later. Crazy.

Enjoy the shoes. You sure stuck it to The Man!


More on Mehserle

Motorcop has a great post on the conviction of Mehserle.

Reading the definitions of the charges he faced, there's no legal way Mehserle should have been convicted of a greater charge.

And you know, I don't hold Mehserle's strange conduct in the days after the shooting against him (mind you, I also don't hold his actions as a shining example of what to do). How should somebody react after making a horrible mistake and killing a person? I have no idea.

I don't know what I would do. I would think about my job, my life, and my freedom. And as a cop, I would also know that no good comes from talking without a lawyer. I don't say this to get sympathy for the guy, but it's more than an understatement to say it was a very tough time in his life. I think it's very safe to say, in hindsight, that Mehserle doesn't seem to perform at his best under stress and pressure.

July 8, 2010

Mehserle Convicted of involuntary Manslaughter

This is the officer who shot and killed Oscar Grant on the BART train platform.

He could be been convicted of the more serious charges of Voluntary Manslaughter or Murder. He also could have been acquitted. I didn't follow the trial, but this seems about right to me.

I certainly believe it's much more likely that Merhserle meant to Taser Grant and made a horrible and lethal mistake more than I believe that he just decided to become a cold-blooded killer and kill somebody in front of a big crowd.

Merhserle faces two to four years in prison.

For what it's worth, back in January I wrote this:
So let's just say that the police officer is put on trial and says, "I plead no contest. I didn't mean to do it. But I did. All I remember was that there was a large crowd yelling and a man was struggling. Next thing I know I hear a gunshot and look down and discover it was my gun. I didn't ever realize I was holding my gun. I feel terrible for the victim and his family. I'm sorry. I beg the court's mercy."

What should happen to the police officer? What is appropriate justice in a case like this?
That basically became his defense. The Oakland Tribune reports:
"I didn't think I had my gun," Mehserle said last week as his face turned red and his lips started quivering. "I heard the pop. It wasn't very loud. It wasn't like a gunshot. And then I remember thinking, What went wrong with my Taser?

"I remember looking at my gun in my right hand," Mehserle said as he broke down in sobs. "I didn't know what to think. It just shouldn't have been there."
So I guess the answer is conviction for involuntary manslaughter and two to four years.

July 4, 2010

When, in the course of human events...

Happy 4th of July!

Might I recommend you conduct a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence tonight? It's become our tradition. And a good tradition it is. And the more drunk you are, the more you'll capture the true spirit of our Founding Father (man, those boys could drink!).

It's good to remember what a monumental and daring concept it was to declare independence from The Mighty British Empire. And it's always good to remember and continue to strive toward the more noble ideals our country was founded on.

If you're short on time or attention span, the first two paragraphs and the last one are the meat of the declaration. But really, just read it all. It's not too long. And people really did risk their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor so you could fire up the grill and watch baseball (And yes, it's OK to smirk when you come to the part about "merciless Indian savages"!)

July 1, 2010

Tax the Rich

Why? Because they've got the money. And more and more of it. And the system is rigged in their favor. And it's becoming more and more rigged. SocioBlog explains more.

Right Wing Lies (IV)

Perhaps The Onion says it best. It often does.