Opinion: Should the Merserle Trial be Moved out of Oakland? Yes!

Ryan A. Simon

posted to Laney Tower website 1/18/10 @ 7:03 PM PST

This event, and this issue, is a charged one to say the least, on that I think we can all agree. I find serious flaws in both Laney College teacher Chris Weidenbach’s piece, as well as its commentators. They both reflect deep bias on behalf of on the one hand former BART officer Johannes Merserle, and on the other shooting victim Oscar Grant. The reality is that neither man should be lionized. One is a BART officer guilty of at the very least poor judgment, another, a young man with a troubled and far from ideal past. Mel, the last commentator is barely worth responding to but I will just say it is not radical leftist that hurt Oakland but those who lie to themselves about its problems: a city strapped talent in leadership and education which has served its citizens poorly for decades.

As far as the article goes, Mr. Weidenbach negates his own argument that the trial should stay in Oakland when he writes that:

Judge Morris Jacobson’s decision to move the trial seemed to be based mainly on the notion that large and/or vigorous protests near the courthouse could severely intimidate jurors as they physically entered and exited the courthouse.

No doubt Mr. Weidenbach saw the “protests” which were actually more like riots in which many community businesses were the victims of uncontrolled anger by anarchistic participants. Of course “the killer” could be denied a fair trial guaranteed to him under the law, the jury pool is drawn from a community rightly angered by years of police misconduct. And it is for that very reason that the trial has been moved to a county reflecting Alameda’s ethnic composition: Los Angeles. If one has been paying attention, one of new Oakland police chief Anthony Batts main focal points is something he engaged in this very week, when he disciplined police officers involved in a shooting for bad judgement. As far as the delay in time, the author may be right that this trial has been delayed too long, and Reginald might be right that he is a killer, but this is still a country under a constitution and any accused should have the right to a fair trial. In this case that means moving it.

2 Responses to “Opinion: Should the Merserle Trial be Moved out of Oakland? Yes!”
  1. Reginald James says:

    Rereading this post, I understand your premise now. That is the point at which I should have responded, opposed to attacking you.I refer to the the Oscar Grant protests (night of Jan. 7 specifically) as the "Oscar Grant Rebellion, not a riot. While the carefully crafted media focused on the African Braid shop "attacked" by "rioters" they neglected to state that Black people own none of these buildings. In fact, while many businesses (entertainment) have opened in the last two years downtown, most of the Black night spots have been closed down.I'm suggesting that the rebellion was a result of these feelings of a lack of ownership and identification with "the system." People were in the streets for justice because they didn't believe they could get in from the DA or the courtroom. As for Mehserle getting a fair trial, I'd ask: Since the LA County Judge presiding over the Mehserle case was the same one presided over the Rampart Scandal, can Oscar Grant's family expect a fair trial of the man who killed their child?

    • bravesirryan says:

      Good point about the Judge presiding over the Mehserle case in LA, we can only hope the jury will do their job away from the Oakland spotlight.
      As for the “‘Oscar Grant rebellion’ that was a result of these feelings of a lack of ownership and identification with ‘the system.'” I can understand the anger and yet violence and destruction in this case still cannot be justified. There are too many more productive expressions of anger demonstrated over the years. From Gandhi to Dr. King, leaders have shown that active non-violent, not passive, civil disobedience have produced results.

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