Hundreds rioted on the streets of downtown Oakland yesterday after white former police officer Johannes Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant, an unarmed black man, on a train platform.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bUSo1p66a0]
The involuntary manslaughter charge comes with a maximum sentence of four years in prison. Many in the Oakland area expected a much harsher conviction for Mehserle. He could have been found guilty for voluntary manslaughter or second-degree murder, but the jury found him criminally negligent.
The shooting, which took place on a Bay Area Rapid Transit platform, had been captured on a cell-phone video camera and widely distributed online. Some demonstrators complained of bias against African-Americans in the legal system and police abuse. There were no African-Americans on the jury.
Rioters broke the windows of a downtown Foot Locker and various other stores. There were around 50 arrests and the tally was climbing as the night came to a close.