There’s an old saying ‘The best defense is a strong offense‘. It applied in sports. We see it in politics. We see it used by lawyers especially in rape trials where they go all out to destroy a victim’s character to protect their client-who is accused of doing the rape. In recent days we now see it with the police as they seek to re-tool a grossly tarnished image where the shooting death of an unarmed Oscar Grant has been a main spark point.
Yesterday Bay Area residents who had organized and rallied tirelessly for Justice for Oscar Grant were shocked to learn that a rally is being planned this Monday in Walnut Creek for the convicted killer of Oscar Grant Johannes Mehserle. It came a day after Mehserle’s lawyer Michael Rains bristled at the rejection of his client’s ‘apology’ letter and accused the Grants of being ‘mean spirited’ . That enraged hundreds of people who felt the Mehserle camp was insensitive and disingenuous especially since the letter was written to the public and not to the Grants.
Here’s the notice that was sent out:
RALLY IN SUPPORT OF FORMER BART COP JOHANNES MEHSERLE
by MR. MAYOR on JULY 13, 2010 ·
Hundreds of people are expected to attend a rally on Monday, July 19th at the Walnut Creek Courthouse to show their support for Johannes Mehserle, the former BART cop who was recently found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for killing an unarmed man named Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day in 2009.
The group coordinating the rally had the following to say on their Facebook page….
Anyone who supports Johannes and our Law Enforcement Officers may attend. This is a peaceful rally to show our support for Johannes and the injustices he is experiencing.
The rally is from 2pm-7pm on Monday July 19th at the Walnut Creek Courthouse on Ygnacio Valley Road.
Interesting to note when the rally was first announced here’s how it read…
“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. ITS TIME TO STOP THROWING OUR OFFICERS UNDER THE BUS. ITS TIME TO STEP UP AND SUPPORT JOHANNES AND OUR OFFICERS AND TAKE A STAND. OSCAR GRANT WAS RESISTING ARREST. JOHANNES MEHSERLE TOLD THE TRUTH!”
Obviously the pressure was too much so they pulled it down and tried to switch it up to the more inoculated Rally for Mehserle and Law Enforcement Officers (LEO). This comes on the heels of cops raising money for Mehserle’s defense which no doubt allowed him to afford expert witnesses who were paid 65K and 50k for testimony that refuted the dozens of videos and explained that Mehserle was not properly trained to use his taser.
Well known anti-police brutality lawyer John Burris who is working with the Grant family told the San Jose Mercury news..he was not surprised such a rally would be held.
“There are individuals who support Mehserle and support police in general & and that’s just part of & the split in this country, those who don’t really understand the actions of the police in the African American community,” Burris said.
Many feel this rally is not only an attempt to booster the sagging image of law enforcement but also a way to show support, generate news and get Mehserle’s sentenced reduced. Thus far local news station KGO (ABC affiliate) has signed up to be in attendance.
What’s missing are good officers to speak out and say No-What Mehserle did was wrong.. We do have the report from NOBLE (National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives) to BART that shows the serious flaws in the way the police department was run and the Meyer Naves Report which shows the negligence of officers, but in spite of those findings and a conviction, there are many who feel Mehserle was done an injustice and they intend to support. That’s a huge disconnect
Why Walnut Creek? The suburb which is 25 miles west of San Francisco is home to a lot of Neilson Boxes which determine television ratings. That’s why you always see a reporter doing the whether, some feel good story or interviewing a local politician from that area. It’s good for ratings. Any smart organizer knows if you do a rally there, almost all TV media will show up, so expect this event, even it draws 10 people to get massive coverage on local Bay Area stations come Monday. Already almost every news station is announcing this..
While the Grant family is processing a rally held in support of the cop who killed their son, almost on cue, Fox news Glenn Beck who all but ignored this case opened his mouth and weighed in. He accused the Department of Justice which is looking into this case of being racist. This no doubt will get everyone ginned up and ready to rally behind Mehserle no matter how glaring the evidence.
Adding to this push back from police is the recent announcement that one of the officers involved in the Sean Bell incident in which the unarmed groom to be was shot dead in a hail of 50 bullets, is suing the Bell estate.
According to the NY Post
A cop involved in the fatal shooting of Sean Bell on his wedding day is now suing the dead man’s estate — claiming Bell drunkenly assaulted and badly injured him with a car right before the hail of police gunfire that brought the unarmed man down.
Police Officer Michael Carey’s lawsuit says Bell was boozed-up when he got behind the wheel of the car after his bachelor party on Nov. 25, 2006, and also claims the doomed groom failed to wear glasses or contact lenses despite having poor eyesight.
Carey’s allegations are contained in a Brooklyn federal counter-claim filed last week in response to a wrongful-death lawsuit being pursued by Bell’s fiancée, Nicole Paultre Bell, against him and the other four cops involved.
In the future expect to hear and see more of these types of pushback. Expect to see lawsuits, countersuits and police support rallies. What’s interesting to note is that while cops can sue us as individuals we can’t sue them back. We can sue the city or municipality and hold them liable, but no money from any lawsuit will come out of their pocket. You can also expect to see more outspoken punditry rush to their defense and push their key talking points. It might be a national figure like a Glenn Beck or a local on air personality who works for an outlet that has a cozy relationship with the police where they are embedded which is what we saw at the recent Grant verdict rally or where they have business interests. In other words an urban station in a big market will seek favor from the police to make sure they can continue to host night clubs and do shows in their respective jurisdictions.
In recent years we seen everyone from Steve Harvey to Clear Channel hosts DJ Kaos and DJ Sylli Asz on KATZ in St Louis get censored or fired for talking about the police after phone calls were made. In the case of Steve Harvey, he got on the air in Los Angeles and went off about the negligence of police officers who ‘mistakenly’ shot a Halloween party goer who was wearing a cowboy outfit for having a gun. According to news anchor Harrison Chastang of KPOO Radio who first reported the story, Harvey heavily criticized the police as he should’ve, but then returned to the airwaves the next day to apologize, claiming he was not a ‘police critic’. It was reported that phone calls were made by then LA Police Chief Bernard Parks to Radio One the parent company to shut him up.
In the case of Kaos and Sylli Asz, they were accused of making light of a recent police killing. They were initially suspended, but that wasn’t enough, the police pressured Clear Channel and they were later fired. many may say that was appropriate, but contrast that with the police officers who routinely post up insensitive material on a website called the Domelights in Philadelphia where racial epithets are hurled and victims of police brutality are made fun of. It got so out of hand Black officers in the department wound up suing.. To date none of the officers who post up have been fired.
Where does this leave us? Victims of police brutality are now faced with the added hardship of a shrewd PR war. At a recent meeting in support of Oscar Grant it was noted that in the age of technology and informations new strategies and tactics have been developed. It was suggested that we up our game because the police, media and everyone had upped theirs. What that entails is still work in progress. The police are obviously honing in on PR and image repair.
An activist and spoken word artist named Ner City is trying dialogue.. I encourage folks to take a look at his piece