Free Johannes Mehserle Now

Free Johannes Mehserle Now

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I’m joining the Free Johannes Mehserle movement. They should let him out as soon as possible. I’m tired of this charade wrapped inside a shenanigan, enveloped by pretense and fueled by hypocrisy.

Tomorrow, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry will hear a bail motion from the lawyers for the convicted-killer cop Johannes Mehserle. Mehserle, an ex-transit police officer, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the cowardly act of shooting the unarmed Oscar Grant in the back on New Year’s Day 2009 on a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train platform in Oakland.

Anyone with any knowledge of police-involved shootings – especially ones involving unarmed young black men – knows that usually these cases are never tried. The officers walk away with not even a slap on the wrist.  Cell phone videos of the killing posted on social networking sites provoked community outrage and forced the Alameda County DA to prosecute Mehserle.

Mehserle was sentenced to two years in prison for the crime, some weeks back. He will probably only do seven months because of credit for time served. The Los Angeles jury believed his defense line that it was an accident.

I had my hopes up that justice would be served. I had the same hope in 1992 when Rodney King’s videotaped beating ushered in the digital reality age. The mantra “We got ‘em now,” rushed back into my consciousness like a long lost echo that got louder and louder every time I pressed the play button on YouTube and heard the distinctive POP that signaled the end of Oscar Grant’s life as he lay on his stomach, pleading for his life.

I had temporarily forgotten the lesson that an all-white Simi Valley jury taught me more than two decades ago.

The life of a young black man is not worth a plum nickel in America.

If only the police thought this way it would be easier to muster up righteous anger and channel Huey Newton and Bobby Seale and the movement against police brutality and for human rights they founded in West Oakland 40 years ago. But the 80 or so homicides in Oakland this year let you know that the police might be the least of our problems. I’m more likely to be killed by someone who looks just like me (male and African-American) than by an officer, and the perpetrator would have a good chance of getting off. Oakland’s rate for solving murders is less than 40 percent.

So, why should anyone expect Mehserle to go to jail just for killing a black man? No other officer in California history had ever been brought to trial, let alone convicted of such an offense. In our universe shooting a black man is not a crime, especially for the police.

The circus that has surrounded this case: the trial being moved to Los Angeles, the protests, dubious claims of rioting and mayhem played up by the media, competing message boats floating in the bay during the baseball playoffs – “Free Mehserle” and “Justice for Oscar Grant” -- all have frayed my senses to the point of apathy. The only thing that will clear the smoke in the mirror is letting this coward out now.

He should be free to deal with whatever humanity he has left, he should be free to play with his toddler son and enjoy his family and friends. He is not a criminal, he is a scoundrel and his soul is on the line. As usual the black community and Oscar Grant’s family will have to depend on divine supernatural karma to come to Mehserle and his supporters and maybe that already happened when Lovelle Mixon, just weeks after the Grant shooting, smoked five Oakland Police officers after a traffic stop in East Oakland, four died.

These two cases are two sides of the same cosmic coin. They play together in my mind like Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. I can’t count on a jury or society to give me justice against those that would harm me. I have to depend on the God that my ancestors prayed to during our long sojourn in human bondage. And that justice can come unexpectedly and shockingly. We have no other recourse. This is our burden as Africans in America, and I have submitted to our lot in life. My pain will end and Mehserle’s will begin once he is let free.