Bay Area Police Owe Protesters $1 Million

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Alameda County and the city of Oakland agreed to pay more than $1 million to protesters arrested during a Nov. 5, 2010, demonstration that started after a court sentenced a white transit cop to two years in jail for shooting an unarmed black man.
     U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson gave preliminary approval to the settlement on June 13. The National Lawyers Guild announced Monday that the city and county agreed to a $1.025 million total payout. A final approval hearing is scheduled for Sept. 9.
     The protesters claimed in a class action filed in 2011 that police from Oakland and Alameda County did not order the crowd to disperse before closing of all means of exit and conducting mass arrests in the vicinity of 6th Avenue and East 17th and 18th streets near downtown Oakland. They allege that protesters, including legal observers, were left handcuffed in the street for an excessive period of time and then held for up to 24 hours in overcrowded holding cells, all of which they contend violated their civil rights.
     According to the announcement, the Oakland Police Department and the Alameda Sheriff’s Department have agreed to implement “expedited procedures for processing and releasing people arrested at demonstrations.”
     The demonstrators converged on downtown Oakland on November 5, 2010 to protest the two-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter given to Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police Officer Johannes Mehserle for killing unarmed BART passenger Oscar Grant early on New Year’s Day in 2009.
     The plaintiffs were part of a splinter group of protesters who tried to march to the Fruitvale BART Station in East Oakland where Grant was killed after the initial rally concluded, according to the suit.
     They claim police forced them down a side street, penned them in without any means of exit, and arrested the lot.
     The white transit policeman, Johannes Mehserle, had said he thought he was using a Taser to control Grant on a train platform – not his pistol – and shot and killed Grant as others looked on.
     The plaintiffs were represented by Rachel Lederman of San Francisco’s Rachel Lederman & Alexsis C. Beach, Attorneys at Law.

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