Pro-Mehserle Rally Loud, But Calm

By NBC Bay Area
|  Monday, Jul 19, 2010  |  Updated 5:51 PM PDT
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BART Shooting Case in Pictures

Jodi Hernandez

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Demonstrators Square-Off at Pro-Mehserle Rally

Protesters showed up in Walnut Creek Monday to show support for the former BART officer who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

RAW VIDEO: Pro-Mehserle Rally

A rally supporting the former BART officer in Walnut Creek Monday.
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Dozens of people holding signs that said things like, "Mehserle is not a Monster" and "Mercy for Mehserle" rallied outside the Walnut Creek courthouse Monday afternoon in a first-of-its-kind pro-Johannes Mehserle rally. 

A smaller group was also on hand holding signs that read "Justice for Oscar Grant."  The two sides were separated by a concrete ledge that give Mehserle supporters the literal higher ground.

Police in riot gear were also out in large numbers in and around the courthouse, but the two sides stayed separate for the most part other than a few verbal arguments.   Police closed nearby Ygnacio Valley Road as a precaution.

There was a lot of shouting, but the event stayed peaceful.

Helicopter video about the courthouse showed a couple hundred people in the courthouse parking lot.

Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter on July 8 for  the fatal shooting of Grant at the Fruitvale  BART station in Oakland on Jan. 1, 2009.

Laura Davis said she came to the rally because "no one ever  supports the law enforcement side."  Davis, a Concord resident, said her husband is a police officer.
     
She said she thinks the verdict was fair and doesn't agree with some of the counter-protesters' shouts that the pro-Mehserle rally, as well as the shooting, was racially motivated.
     
"I don't think this has anything to do with race," she said.

One counter-protester, who said his name was Reggie but declined  to give his last name, told Bay City News, "I'm just trying to understand their signs, one says 'Free Mehserle,' that's like saying F-you.

The Walnut Creek  branch of Contra Costa County Superior Court closed early because of the rally.  A few other businesses also closed early.  Their owners said they didn't want to take any chances that a rally or the counter rally got out of hand.

Last week, Walnut Creek police Chief Joel Bryden said his police department would ensure that the rally remains peaceful.  Bryden said he did not know why the person choose to hold the event in Walnut Creek.  He said, "In cases like this we plan for the worst and hope for  the best."

During pro-Oscar Grant protests in Oakland the night of the verdict, 78 people were arrested and several businesses were damaged and looted.

Walnut Creek police Lt. Steve Skinner said no arrests were made Monday.

 He said rallies like this are rare in Walnut Creek. The last  similar gathering was when the city hosted debates in 2006 before Gov. Arnold  Schwarzenegger was re-elected.

Mehserle is scheduled to be sentenced in November.
 

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