The aftershocks of Mehserle/Grant: rebuilding trust between police & the minority communities they serve
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?