This afternoon, the verdict of involuntary manslaughter* came down in the case involving the killing of BART passenger Oscar Grant by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle. When Grant (an unarmed black man) was shot in the back, while lying on the BART platform (by a white police officer), there was an explosion of anger that tore through Oakland.
And now, we're bracing for this, again. Since the verdict was announced, the skies have been roaring with the sound of police helicopters.
I was at a hardware store after the verdict came in, and the gentleman who helped me had to un-barricade the front section of the store so that I could get my canning jars. Shop keepers are bracing for violence and vandalism.
Everyone not protesting is holding their collective breath.
My quiet little neighborhood is just over a mile from where the shooting took place, but aside from the helicopter noise, everything is quiet. I imagine that every family is discussing this case as they eat dinner, and I'm sure that there's frustration with the verdict. (In fact, that a police officer was found guilty at all is quite notable.)
I fervently hope that the frustration and anger incurred by this case will be channeled towards something constructive, not destructive.
*According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "Jurors were given four options when the original panel began deliberations Friday. They could have convicted Mehserle, 28, of second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter, or they could have acquitted him.
The involuntary manslaughter verdict indicates that jurors concluded that Mehserle did not intend to kill the 22-year-old Grant but had been criminally negligent when he drew his gun. The former officer testified that he had mistaken the pistol for his Taser as he sought to subdue Grant following a fight on a BART train, a shooting that was captured on video by five other riders."