In the eyes of many protesters, activists and seasons scholars who have seen this all before, it happened again: a white police officer caught in some egregious act of violence against a minority, usually an African American, who gets away with either no punishment or an extraordinarily light one. In this case the white officer was embodied by Johannes Mehserle, the Bay Area Rapid Transit cop who shot and killed Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old African American, while he was face down on a train platform on New Year’s morning of 2009. A jury yesterday returned a verdict of guilty on an involuntary manslaughter charge against Mehserle, which carries a possible sentence of 5 – 14 years, a verdict that will be viewed as far too lenient by those same protesters and activists who have seen it all before. How can we permanently repair the frayed relationship between minority communities and the police officers who patrol their neighborhoods?
Bret Burkhart, anchor & reporter for KGO Radio in San Francisco & Oakland
Cethus Johnson, Oscar Grant’s Uncle
Chief Jim McDonnell, Chief of the Long Beach Police Department & President of the California Peace Officers Association
Eddie Glaude, professor of religion & African American studies at Princeton University