Unfortunately, Oscar Grant is still dead, and unlike Mehserle, won’t have to go through the tragedy of having to rebuild his life with the help of well-connected colleagues that can get him a job in "either sales or business."
Due to the classification of being a non-violent felon, Mehserle could walk free in the next few weeks after serving less than one calendar year of his prison sentence.
In Oakland and in Los Angeles, where Mehserle’s trial took place and he is currently being held, reaction to the news of Mehserle’s classification was met with shock and anger among activists and observers of the case.
“I don’t know how much more violent you can get than killing someone!” said Tiah Starr, an organizer with the October 22nd Coalition against Police Brutality, one of the founding organizations of the Los Angeles Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant.
“It’s insane that he only did a year in jail and Oscar Grant is dead … it just makes no sense to me,” said Starr.
Sheilagh Polk, a former Los Angeles resident who moved to Oakland four years ago, felt that the charge of involuntary manslaughter never should have been an option. “Mehserle … should have been convicted of second degree murder; he pulled out his gun, cocked it, pulled the trigger and executed an unarmed, young Black man with full confidence that he would get away with it. And he did,” she said.
Davey D, a journalist and 20-year resident of the Bay Area, felt that the non-violent designation was just one more indicator of the justice system’s failure to work for African Americans. “At the end of the day, this is just a repudiation of Black life,” he said. “That’s what this all boils down to – the verdict, the picking of the jury, the sentencing – this is all a refusal to acknowledge and see Black life as something that is valuable.”
-SF Bay View