First of Its Kind BART Shooting Rally On Tap

By NBC Bay Area
|  Monday, Jul 19, 2010  |  Updated 8:47 AM PDT
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We will soon find out if a pro-Mehserle rally planned in Walnut Creek Monday afternoon will live up to the minor-hype its gained since an unidentified woman announced it on Facebook.

The rally is in support of Johannes Mehserle, a former BART police officer convicted of involuntary manslaughter for  fatally shooting Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale BART station on Jan. 1, 2009.

The organizer remains anonymous, but Walnut Creek police confirmed someone officially applied for a permit to hold a rally at the courthouse.  Over the weekend the organizers, still remaining publicly silent, released the following statement: Contrary to what has been portrayed in the media, this rally is not about dividing communities, inciding a race war or a political debate.

"This has been a tragic incident for all sides. We are just hoping that these folks get a chance to express themselves in a peaceful, quiet manner," Walnut Creek Mayor Sue Rainey said Saturday.

On Facebook the rally is called, "In Support of Johannes Mehserle and L.E.O. (law enforcement officers) Rally."  It is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the parking lot of the  Walnut Creek courthouse at 640 Ygnacio Valley Road.  It goes on to say the event is meant "to show our support for Johannes, his family, and our law enforcement  officers. This was a tragic mistake that occurred while on active duty."
     
Mehserle admitted in court that Mehserle shot and  killed Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward resident, but said the shooting was  accidental. He claimed he meant to use his Taser on Grant, but  fired his service weapon by mistake.
     
The Facebook group says, "Enough is enough. It's time to stop throwing our officers under the bus. It's time to step up and support Johannes and our officers and take a stand."

Last week, Walnut Creek police Chief Joel Bryden said his police department has plans in place to ensure that the rally remains peaceful. No one knows how many people will turn out.   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."

The Facebook page for Monday's rally says, "This rally is NOT  about inciting violence, destruction, intolerance, hatred, racism, riots or  to upset the Grant family...People who support law enforcement and Johannes  have just as much right to rally together with other believers to have their  voices heard and support one another."

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

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