Oakland: Stay Calm - NBC Bay Area

Oakland: Stay Calm

No riots expected after Mehserle sentencing



    Oakland: Stay Calm
    Mike Anderson
    Police arrest a protester during the riots in downtown Oakland, California, on July 8, 2010 after BART cop Johannes Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Oscar Grant III. (Photo by Mike Anderson)

    Oakland faces possible riots as developments in a high-tension case came down Friday, but the city is telling people to stay cool.

    In a letter sent to local businesses and residents Wednesday, City Administrator Dan Lindheim asks people not to panic when sentencing in the Johannes Mehserle case comes down.

    The former BART cop shot and killed passenger Oscar Grant III on New Year's Day 2009. Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter on July 8, which resulted in a peaceful rally during the day and major riots and clashes with police at night.

    Eighty people were arrested during the protests in July when rioters damaged cop cars, set fires and looted local stores. Many of them were not Oakland residents.

    Mehserle was sentenced to two years on Friday, but Lindheim has an optimistic outlook.

    "We are not urging businesses to close on Friday," he says. "Instead, we advise that you use common sense precautions and convey a sense of calm to your employees and customers."

    The letter also tells residents that the Oakland Police Department doesn't expect any large demonstrations, but will be "responding appropriately if personal safety and/or property are at risk."

    People are already expected to be downtown Friday night for Oakland's First Friday Art Walk and a sold-out show at the Fox Theater. BART and AC Transit plan to have trains and buses operating normally.

    For updates on the situation, go to oaklandnet.com, call (510) 444-CITY or follow @oaklandpoliceca on Twitter. You can also check out nbcbayarea.com for the latest coverage.