Call it a riot. Call it a protest. For the Oakland Police Department and 31 other police agencies involved in crowd control on the night former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle was sentenced to prison for fatally shooting an unarmed black man, it's going to be called a lawsuit.
A group of demonstrators corraled by police on the night of Nov. 4 were arrested without a warning to disperse and spent a night in Alameda County jail without ever being charged with a crime, according to attorney Rachel Lederman. Some of the 150 protesters arrested were held on a bus for up to six hours where they were forced to urinate on themselves for a lack of bathrooms, according to the Bay Area News Group.
Lederman has filed claims, which precede a lawsuit, against 32 police agencies involved in crowd control activities the night Mehserle was sentenced to prison for killing Oscar Grant on New Year's Day 2009, including the Oakland Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Alameda County Sheriff's Department, and the San Francisco Police Department.
Riots also broke out in Oakland in July 2010, when Mehserle was convicted of manslaughter, not murder, for mistaking his firearm for his Taser.
Representatives from the outside police agencies assisting Oakland on Nov. 4 say that their officers were not under their control, and any decisions to arrest people was made by the Oakland Police Department. An Oakland Police Department spokeswoman said that the extensive media coverage would have already revealed any police misconduct.