June 18, 2010
OAKLAND, Calif. — On Thursday, a Bay Area anarchist group promised action when the verdict comes down in the murder trial of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle.
Oakland police said they’ll be ready no matter what sort of trouble breaks out on the street. On Friday they’ll begin training for possible civil unrest that could arise after the verdict is announced.
Law enforcement officers will be coming to West Oakland from across the Bay Area to get ready for the possibility of a repeat of the rioting early January of last year in response to the killing of Oscar Grant.
Rioters in Oakland did thousands of dollars in damage to businesses and police and personal vehicles and more than 100 people were arrested.
“We’re going to need everybody’s help for this situation, if it ends up in the worst case scenario,” said Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason.
Police officials said after the verdict is released, they will encourage people to engage in peaceful protest.
“But when you start picking up rocks and you start burning vehicles and breaking out windows, that’s where we’re going to put a stop to it,” said Thomason.
Which is what Friday’s training will focus on: tactics in crowd control and suppressing riots.
“I’m pessimistic about what’s going to happen. People are already terribly upset,” said El Tyna McCree, the owner of a store on 17th Street called Underground Treasures.
Mccree said her shop sustained little damage in the riots, but she admitted she got out just in time.
“As Mayor Dellums said the next day at the press conference, ‘If you hadn’t gotten out of there, they would have come in and you would have never made it out of your store,'” said McCree. “Because they were headed right at anything that was open.”
Across the street at Temple Tattoo, two big windows were smashed out.
Owner Freddy Corbin said he was not so much worried about more vandalism as he was about Oscar Grant’s relatives and the city’s police department.
“I’m concerned more for his family and what they’re going through. And I do tattoo a lot of the Oakland Police Department. I think there’s a lot of great guys on Oakland’s force, and I just wish everybody the best and hope there’s no violence,” said Corbin. .
Oakland Police said as soon as the jury gets the Mehserle case, the city will go on alert and the department will be ready to deploy officers anywhere they’re needed.