If you want to find out what's happening on the streets of Oakland around the rioting fears, there are few better people to talk to than Oakland cab drivers. On Saturday night, one cab driver (who did not want to be identified by cab service provider or name), did agree to this video above as we talked about what he heard people saying as they rode his cab.
"Everybody's talking about it," he said. "I don't know. Some people are saying that a lot of people left town. You know this guy was saying 'I knew a lot of cool white people that's left town. They're not racist or anything but they just don't want things to go down, you know, while they're here. You know there are people who think it's gonna be just like the Rodney King time again, you know?
I responded that I could not see Johannes Mehserle walking free on acquittal, save for a hung jury. Of the four possible outcomes, it seems that second-degree murder most fits what happened. But of course, that's the logical outcome of an incident that has no basis in logic to begin with.
From the way BART Police mishandled the fighting incident on that 2009 New Year's Day morning to BART's own communications errors and other problems, not to mention Johannes Mehserle's in appropriate use of any weapon, even a Taser, nothing about the Oscar Grant / Johannes Mehserle makes sense.
Thus the fear of a weird jury outcome and a big riot.
The Oakland Cab Driver said that some people he talked to are concerned that even if Mehserle is punished, the sentence will be too light. He also blames the media because the idea of a riot is "in everybody's head."
Not only that, the same person who produced 11 graffiti tags around Lake Merritt a week ago, with messages threatening the life of Johannes Mehserle, is at it again. This time, he or she has posted another message near the corner of Grand Avenue and Euclid Avenue in Oakland's Adams Point District as of this writing.
What's going to happen is anyone's guess. But Mayor Ron Dellums and Oakland officials have taken steps to promote civic unity as the city awaits the verdict.
There's also a small campaign starting called "Love not Blood for the streets of Oakland," that features a poster of the same name and seen at local cafes around town. For more information, and to share how you plan to spread the love, send an email to email@example.com.