Saturday, February 7, 2009

And he’s off…

This time, hopefully, he won’t go as far.

Johannes Mehserle, the accused former Bay Area Transit Officer who shot and killed Hayward resident Oscar Grant III on New Year’s Day, made bail Friday afternoon.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson one week ago set bail at $3 million. Although Jacobson said he was forced to set bail according to state law, he placed it at an amount he said he felt would deter the former officer from skipping town if he is able to raise the money. Mehserle was arrested Jan. 13 following an “escape” to Douglas County, about 15 miles south of Carson City in northwestern Nevada. In part, he feared his life.

During an evening march and protest in downtown Oakland Friday, the word of and anger over Mehserle’s freedom quickly grew. Grant’s family, through their lawyer, also voiced concern over his meeting the bail they, too, had hoped would be denied.

Now, I in no way condone what the disgraced former BART officer has done and feel he should be treated like any Regular Joe and be convicted of the crime we all have seen he committed. However, as much as everyone wants to see Mehserle behind bars – particularly, a radical few who have pushed the limits of peaceful protesting – the man does have the same rights of any criminal.

Yes, Mehserle found the means to raise the 10 percent bond unlike many other prisoners. The fact that he was a law enforcement representative who may have taken his authority way too far is disheartening. The reality that Mehserle is white and Grant was black, perpetuating the theory that racism is still alive in America, promotes lively discussion and accusations in the case. But acting violent and ignorant over the situation only adds fuel to their fire.

Continue the peaceful protests. Keep public attention on the wrongs of this case. Voice opinions, and facts, that will bring police brutality to an end. But allow justice to be served.

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