BART cop Mehserle gets 2 years (minimum possible sentence) for shooting unarmed man in the back


A judge in Los Angeles today sentenced 28-year-old Johannes Mehserle (shown at left), former BART transit officer, to two years in prison for shooting an unarmed man on an Oakland train platform. Oscar Grant, 22 years old, (shown at right) died.

A number of witness cellphone videos circulated online shortly after the incident, and were used in the court hearings.

Two years was the minimum sentence Mehserle could have received for the involuntary manslaughter conviction. The trial had been moved to LA over concerns about the extensive media coverage of the killing in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Let's hope Oakland stays non-violent tonight. Oakland-based Youth Radio has some excellent coverage of the Oscar Grant story.

More on today's sentencing: NPR, LA Times, SF Chronicle, Oakland Tribune. The SF Appeal is liveblogging whatever unfolds with protests tonight.


  1. Repulsive. Absolutely REPULSIVE. For killing an unarmed human being lying on their belly this creep will serve less time than a thief. If he’d robbed the victim’s house he would have faced more time.

    Additionally, he’s getting “credit” for time served. He could be out on the streets again in 7 months.

    Michael Vick did more time. An African-American life is apparently worth less than that of an animal according to our court system. SICKENING.

  2. Actually, he technically might get out in 73-219 days if I understand it correctly.

    Given the credit of 292 makes this much shorter. Do they count the 292 days before or after the half time served? If it’s before, he’ll serve approx 219 days, or just about 7 months. If it’s after, he’ll serve just over two months.

    Either way, pretty despicable for what he did.

  3. That is absolutely incredible. No matter how badly a cop fucks someone over the worst they get from the justice system is the least possible punishment. It’s no wonder cops tends to act like the law doesn’t apply to them.

  4. I think the minimum sentence possible was probation.

    Interesting story in the SF Bay Guardian. Points out that Mehserle’s defense was paid for by a California police lobbying association, which also fouled up a citizens’ review board proposal for BART cops.

    1. RTFA, the minimum sentence under CA state sentencing guidelines for this class of manslaughter is 2 years.

        1. I believe the situation is thus: the minimum sentence is two years, but given time served he could have been released on parole.

          1. I think “Probation” and “Parole” is being thrown around a bit too loosely.

            The difference between probation and parole is that probation is handed down by a judge (a guaranteed “parole”), while parole requires you to stand before a bunch of bureaucrats in jail/prison and justify why they should let you out early.

            And some good info on “involuntary manslaughter” in CA:


            This sentencing was a message to all cops: If you shoot somebody, just claim that you had intended to use your Taser, but instead “accidentally” used your gun.

            And one would think that a cop would have to release the safety on a gun in order to use it, thus knowing that they were holding a gun and not a Taser. Unless the procedure to release the safety on a handgun and a Taser is exactly the same. This should prompt citizens to start collecting signatures for a proposition that would ensure that “non-lethal” weapons would have to have significant physical and procedural differences from their “lethal” counterparts. Anybody up to the task? ACLU maybe?

          2. Firstly a technical note to #25 there is no “safety” in the way you describe it on the weapon issued to Mehserle (SIG Sauer P226).

            Regardless of that the taser and the firearm look and feel different. If you are awake, alert, unpressured and focused it’s impossible to mistake the two. Back in the real world though it can happen easily enough (blue on blue incidents, people driving the wrong way down the free-way, trying to get into the wrong house/car all happen when people who don’t fit one or more of the categories above screw up). Whether it did (or can be proven not to have happened) is a matter for a jury.

            Can anyone help me understand why when the jury found him guilty on the gun enhancement charge the judge appears to have decided they were wrong?

    2. “Mehserle’s defense was paid for by a California police lobbying association”

      Why shouldn’t they have paid for his defense? He was on duty when this happened. That’s the whole point of a union, it protects you personally against things that happen on the job. The Guardian is *really* reaching by calling that a scandal.

      I hate police brutality and abuse of power as much as anyone, but honestly this just seems like an accident. A horrible, horrible accident. But watching that video, do you really think he wanted to shoot that guy? In front of like 20 people, many of whom had cameras out? Really???

      And furthermore does this really have to made into a race issue? Just because a white person shoots a black person doesn’t mean race was a factor. Given an absence of proof that it was racially motivated (and there isn’t any that I know of), the only factor should be whether or not the shooting was an accident, and I gather they concluded it was.

      On a side note, I happened to be listening to the SF police scanner today and the dispatcher cleared the air to announce the verdict. I’ve never heard news mentioned over a police scanner before.

      1. I dont care if it was an accident. If someone killed someone you loved by putting a gun to their back and blasting a hole in it would you be so sympathetic? This young man had not done anything but cooperate with these officers and for his obedience he gets MURDERED. There was no need for a taser or a gun to be pulled out on this young man. There is no EXCUSE. This same officer had just attacked an unarmed black man just weeks earlier that’s why it a race issue.

  5. Words fail me. You can sell a few grams of pot and get a longer sentence than he got for shooting an unarmed man in the back- an unarmed man who was laying on the ground, restrained by other officers. And if not for the cellphone evidence, he never would have even faced a trial, let alone been convicted.

    The police can and do act with impunity because they know that they will never, ever be punished like a regular citizen would be.

  6. No surprises, right? An officer of the law, in performance of his duties, does something cataclysmically stupid and criminal and yet gets the shortest possible sentence.

    One hand washes the other. T’was ever thus. . .

  7. ‘pologies to Antinous and the other moderators but I believe this must be said: THE FUCKING C***S TREAT US LIKE PRICKS (Flux of pink indians)
    Utter bullshit.

  8. Gee – so if I MURDER someone in CA, I can do less than two years? Or do you have to be a cop to get away with it?

  9. There have been riots following almost every other part of the murder and trial. I don’t see why there wouldn’t be any tonight.
    Our office evacuated around 12:30 today. I didn’t go in knowing we were supposed to leave when the sentence was annouced. Leaving last night, it was clear that business owners were expecting the worst. No one was boarding up anything after the verdict was read. Last night it seemed like everyone was boarding up their windows and doors.
    This wasn’t just but randomly breaking into small businesses in downtown and uptown Oakland doesn’t do anything to address injustice.

    1. “No justice, no peace”

      I think it is inevitable that this verdict will lead to violence. If nothing else, another Christopher Monfort is probably out there feeling inspired.

  10. One hand washes the other.

    That’s not a hand. And that repetitive motion ain’t washing.

  11. How is this “involuntary manslaughter”?

    I had thought that was a term reserved for matters of negligence, not for assault with a deadly weapon? Even if you permit the argument that he confused his pistol for his taser, as flimsy as it is, does a taser not count as a deadly weapon? Imagine another “non-lethal” weapon had been used in place of a taser, such as a police truncheon. Would that change the legal ruling?

    Or imagine if the positions of officer and civilian were reversed? If a civilian armed with any of the above weapons (pistol, taser, truncheon) assaulted and killed an officer, would that be ruled as involuntary manslaughter?

    How much does motive and obligation weigh into the situation? It could potentially be argued that the officer in question was merely performing the duties of his station, but does that change how voluntary his actions themselves are? In the inverted scenario, say a civilian assaulting an officer with proper motive, would the ruling remain unchanged?

    ~D. Walker

    1. Voluntary manslaughter and murder require that you have an intent or awareness of killing before you “pull the trigger” – whatever the fatal act is. While it is possible to kill someone with a taser, or pepper spray or mace, it’s so unlikely that using it “normally” would pretty much preclude someone being convicted of intending to kill with it. If the jury had believed he pulled the gun on purpose, disbelieving his testimony that it was an accident, they’d have convicted him of murder or voluntary manslaughter.

      Involuntary manslaughter involves some form of inexcusable neglegence. Whether grabbing the gun when you thought you had the taser was excusable or not was up to the jury to decide – and they decided not. If it’s not excusable then the killing is involuntary manslaughter.

      If you ever legitimately face a police officer with a nonlethal weapon and turn out to have grabbed a pistol by mistake, the law is the same here. People do shoot police every few years and get off with self defense claims – sometimes because police really do go over the line and start trying to really murder people, also in confusing homeowner self defense situations (the reason police are taught to announce themselves before entering? They have no legal protection or defense if homeowner who had no way of knowing it was police coming in shoots them…). If you heard a nose in your hallway at home in the middle of the night, grabbed your taser, saw a dark shadow down the hall with a gun without hearing them ID themselves as a cop, shot them with the taser, and it turned out you’d grabbed your Glock by accident? Same thing as here, at worst.

      1. Is Involuntary Manslaughter a felony? In most (all?) states, being a felon means you aren’t allowed to own a gun. Which, in this case especially, I think would be a very good thing.

  12. I’m sure I’ll get flamed for this, but as someone in the Bay Area, riding through Fruitvale station both ways 6 days a week, I watched the clips over and over on the nightly news, and I know from personal experience the poor training of BART police…. they usually don’t make the cut elsewhere, or were removed from the force elsewhere, ya know?

    My point being, I kinda think there is some truth to his defense. I don’t think he meant to pull his gun, but that the habit was ingrained already to reach for the gun, not the recently issued taser that he received very little training on. I feel bad for everyone involved– including Mehserle. The whole thing is terrible. Grant shouldn’t have died, Mehserle shouldn’t have shot, but those thing happened, and I think 400 years of racism in America and police brutality make it impossible in the eyes of many for a white policeman to kill a black man in a terrible mistake. It “must” be racism, it “must” be police brutality. And I can’t even say any of that out loud, because then I’m “one of them.”

    1. A lot of you are missing the significance of the “racism” argument.

      A system that allows people like Mehserle and others (whether they are unusually dumb or susceptible to panic on the job, or just don’t care enough about mistaking a gun for a taser, or are actively trying to shoot black people, to be in a position where they can kill people and spread terror (because that is the effect of allowing cops to do this), then it is a racist system.

      The fact that Grant’s death, and the others before him, are apparently considered not serious enough to warrant an overhaul of the system that hands people like Mehserle a gun, is proof of racism. Our society as a whole, and the cops in particular, are not upset about what happened to remake the institution of policing. So his death is acceptable to the system. That belittling of the value of his life, especially when weighed against the value of Mehserle’s life as shown by the enormous amount of effort put into preserving his ability to enjoy life (not even just into preserving his life), is a racist evaluation.

  13. Not that I’m an expert or even somebody whose opinion you should necessarily take for granted by anybody, but I see it like this:

    Murder requires premeditation; essentially Mehserle needed to have meant to kill Grant for murder to apply. Whether he reached for the wrong weapon or not (a defense I don’t buy for a second – tasers and guns are holstered on opposite hips for a reason) from the cell phone video, Mehserle was honestly astounded when his gun went off.

    I read it like this: Mehserle was confronted with a young, struggling man who refused to still himself and pulled his gun thinking that threatening him with it would have given him pause; in the course of this, the gun went off and Grant was killed.

    I don’t for one second think that threatening somebody with a gun is smart, legal, defensible, justifiable or even sane. But I also don’t believe that Mehserle pulled his weapon with the intent to kill. I think he’s a fool, a criminal, and an idiot, but that seems to be manslaughter, not murder.

    But here’s the thing. California law, so far as I understand it, allows for the addition of a number of years to a criminal sentence if a gun is involved, 5-7 years I believe. So while I don’t think Mehserle was guilty of murder, he sure as hell was guilty of a gun crime. The fact that those 5-7 years WEREN’T tacked onto Mehserle’s sentence is the truly fucked up part.

    There was an opportunity for some sense of logic to prevail here. Now all we’re left with is hypocrisy and a senseless death.

    1. Jack, I get what you’re saying, but if you think that he intentionally pulled his gun rather than the taser then this is 2nd degree murder. He was convicted of manslaughter because of the “I thought it was my taser” defense.

      I also don’t agree that his reaction was one of, “oh sh*t, what just happened? I didn’t mean to pull the trigger.” It could just have easily been an, “oh sh*t, I really let my emotions to take over. What the f*ck have I done?” look.

      Degree cheat sheet:
      1st degree- preplanned with intent
      2nd degree- unplanned but with malice
      3rd manslaughter- unplanned, no intent but oops.

  14. I still fail to see how a taser pistol can be confused with an officer’s side arm. From what I have seen of the models of each used it should be obvious from the feel of the grip in one’s hands.

    And if that cop couldn’t tell the difference he shouldn’t have been on active duty.

    The sentencing sends a horrible message. The value of the life of someone with darker than lily white skin is of low value…

    Man, and I really expect better of California of all places.

    1. I’m no lawyer, but I’d fully expect him to (if he serves even one day) to be in protective custody. Otherwise, they’d be throwing him to the wolves.

      In other news, living in Fruitvale, where Oscar was killed, it was pretty strange driving by the Bart station to see roughly 40 cops in riot gear standing around looking bored.

      What surprises me the most about this is how a racial precedent didn’t seem to be a part of this case. Granted, you can’t prove that Mehserle was a bigot necessarily, but “killing an unarmed black man” is practically an American catchphrase. Is it really unacceptable to introduce “race panic” into the prosecution?

      I mean, “gay panic” has been used as a defense in the past, I could easily imagine a newbie rent-a-cop being intimidated by race and have that be a justifiable angle.

      1. Is it really unacceptable to introduce “race panic” into the prosecution? I mean, “gay panic” has been used as a defense in the past, I could easily imagine a newbie rent-a-cop being intimidated by race and have that be a justifiable angle.

        The trouble with ‘gay panic’ as a defense is that gays are about fifteen trillion times more likely to be harmed by straights than vice versa.

        For ‘race panic’, see above.

        1. Right, but I’m saying that unarmed black men are fifteen trillion times more likely to be shot by a white cop than the other way around, too.

          My point is if any sort of “panic” can be introduced as a defense, why can’t the same panic be introduced by the prosecution?

  15. I wonder- if *I* accidentally shot a police offer who was handcuffed and face down on the ground, would *I* get off with a 2 year sentence? Even if I claimed I was just trying to Taser him?

    No, I’d be charged with murder, and I’d do every single minute of my 50-years-to-life sentence.

  16. “If you heard a nose in your hallway at home in the middle of the night, grabbed your taser, saw a dark shadow down the hall with a gun without hearing them ID themselves as a cop, shot them with the taser, and it turned out you’d grabbed your Glock by accident? Same thing as here, at worst.”

    Really? Seriously- if you think that you could do that and get off with a 2-year sentence, you’re out of your mind. There are laws for us (civilians) and laws for them (police). Guess which ones are enforced with vigor?

  17. “And one would think that a cop would have to release the safety on a gun in order to use it, thus knowing that they were holding a gun and not a Taser.”

    No. Glocks don’t have a traditional safety that needs to be manually manipulated. I carry a Glock every day (I have a CCP) and what Glocks use is a small, spring-loaded release bar located in the trigger itself. Unless it’s depressed the trigger can’t move back. Putting your finger on the trigger and pulling back depresses the bar, unlocking the trigger.

  18. Ah, sorry I wasn’t trying to be anti-union, I am actually very pro-union (full disclosure: I sit on the management side of the table for six different unions. Five of those unions are great and I believe we are able to run a better organization because of them. They also give me a glimmer of hope for the future of our middle class.)

    I was more trying to comment on how the power of their organization, and the levity it gives them, which happens to be titled a union, though we could call it a police organization, allows them protection from the law and any financial impacts of their decisions are paid for by an outside group rather than from within the group. There’s no unaccountability anywhere.

  19. The cop should get 50 to life! 2 yrs is a joke. Our system needs to chance to give the power back to the people! enough of this BS Justice system. Some cops let there badge go to their head.

  20. Let’s hope Oakland stays non-violent tonight.

    Perhaps you meant “submissive.”

    Non-violence was already vetoed by Mehserle when he pulled his trigger.

  21. Well, that’s it. The precedent’s set.

    I’m not real keen to be on the receiving end of any “accidents” so I suggest we all start lobbying to make tasers and pistols look and feel as different as possible. Perhaps we could also color code the tasers chartreuse and the pistols fuchsia.
    Perhaps an audible warning could be issued by the respective holsters (For example, “You have grabbed [weapon A] not to be confused with [weapon B]” etc.
    Maybe the spectators could equip their smart phones with apps that use augmented reality to label the weapons on the officers being filmed. Bystanders could then show the screen to the officers and alert them, “Officer, I think you may have mistakenly equipped the wrong item.”

    … and the like.

  22. Whether this cop confused a pistol for a Taser is immaterial. There was no reason for him to draw a Taser. None. The victim was face down, handcuffed and surrounded by police. He was not a ‘danger’ to anyone. The cop pulled a weapon on a restrained victim. That alone should have gotten him two years. The fact that he pulled a lethal weapon and then killed the man means he should have been jailed for at least 20 years. This must be repeated: There was no reason to draw a Taser. None.

  23. In the early morning hours of October 3, 2009, Pensacola Police officer Jerald Ard used his police cruiser to run over and kill 17-year-old Victor Steen.
    One year later, Officer Ard is back in uniform, patrolling our streets, walks free, and is entrusted with police powers.
    Video: White cop chasing down black kid and even shoots tazer out of car window while driving but ends up running over the citizen lodging and dragging him underneath the cruiser…

  24. This wan’t manslaughter, it was an execution.

    And going by the legnth of the ‘sentence’, a state-approved execution.

  25. So what was the defence?

    “accidental discharge”… in which case…. so why didn’t he go for the taser?

    or “accidental not-taser” in which case….. cops train extensively for grabbing the correct thing from their belt without looking all the time, and keep lethal and non-lethal weapons no where near each other. I was watching a show about the Vancouver police. This is like day 1 training where talking about here – always put everything in the same spot every time and know where everything is in your sleep.

    The DA asleep at the wheel or what?

  26. Was just reading about a Virginia man who got sentenced to 5 years for shooting a dog. This country man, I don’t know how black people don’t go completely mad.

  27. I was in Oakland last night. Aside from a massive parade of cops patrolling the area and scaring the public, it stayed relatively peaceful.

  28. I still dont understand the ruling.

    I assume that bay area police officers undergo some sort of training. How can a trained law enforcement professional mistake a pistol for a taser? The idea that anyone with a modicum of training could confuse the two would be laughable if it not result in a death.

    If I was the dead man’s family, I would be suing the police department into the stone age for negligence, as apparently their inadequate training lead directly to the death.

  29. when he was shot, Oscar Gran III was held down by two men. he wasn’t a threat to anyone except the BART timetable. with three men restraining him, Grant would have been a problem for maybe ten minutes. then he’d have been tired out and hauled away to jail. but cops are told to handle situations as quickly as possible regardless of human nature. so instead of patiently waiting for him to tire, this murder pushed the issues.
    this isn’t a case of racism, it’s a case of treating humans like pieces of rubbish in the way of the smooth operation of machines. the technocrats and their goons treat everyone like this.

  30. Look at the photo of the shooter. He doesn’t look right to me. Something about his expression, his eyes.. Something’s missing up there. It’s not just that he looks “half-bright” or dumb, he looks like there’s seriously something missing in his brain.

    Looking at him, I think he’d be a failure at any other profession except BART cop.

    1. You’re kidding me! You can infer the contents of a person’s soul with a glance, huh?

      Mehserle doesn’t look right? It looks like something’s missing? It’s a mug shot! Oscar Grant was a felon, too! What if instead of a picture of Grant holding his baby there was a mugshot of him? Or instead of a mugshot of Mehserle there was a picture of he and his wife smiling?

  31. Though it’s unlikely, I hope they put him in general population. Even one year of general population for a killer cop should be enough.

  32. This incident is all kinds of wrong and we can never learn the absolute truth. However, I personally am on the fence about whether or not Mehserle intended to kill Grant. So many factors need to be considered: his training, history of violence, potential confusion in the heat of the moment. But what makes me wonder about Mehserle’s intent more than anything is the birth of his first child THE DAY AFTER the incident.

    I can’t believe Mehserle would have thought: “Gee, I’m about to have my first child! What could possibly make this day any better? Oh yeah, I’ll shoot this guy in front of twenty people and claim it was an accident!” Additionally, since this incident, his wife, child and parents have had to move because of death threats. Furthermore, Mehserle apparently placed in the top five of his class academically at the Napa Valley Police Academy. Assuming he wasn’t in a class of clowns, that should indicate that he’s smart enough to realize the potential repercussions of what would likely be claimed a hate crime. Maybe he’s a hateful, uncaring psychopath. But maybe it was a truly tragic accident.

  33. A correction: Grant wasn’t handcuffed, but he was prostrate on the ground with his hands behind his back.

  34. As Tetsubo said, there was no justification for drawing any weapon whatsoever, and the debate about whether he would have been able to tell he was drawing a gun rather than a taser is pretty irrelevant.

    I’m hearing some people doubt the claims of racism or the influence of a racist system because there’s no way to tell if Mehserle’s actions were influenced by racial prejudice. However, people aren’t claiming that Mehserle shot Grant because he (Grant) was black so much as that the stereotype of black men as being violent and uncontrollable, combined with the overall devaluation of black people in our society means that police officers can literally get away with murder — consider the recent shooting of John T. Williams in Seattle, for which the officer has so far only gotten paid leave (!). Even in this case, with a very lenient sentence, I believe Mehserle would have gotten off much more easily if it wasn’t for public outrage.

  35. It appears likely Herr Mehserle won’t serve enough time to qualify this as a felony conviction, so will he be able to sue for his job back?

  36. I feel it is generally a waste of time to focus too much on specific events or individuals when the whole system has abuse designed into it.

    Police, and other government bodies, provides a place where a person with a sociopathic personality can exist without seeking help, where they can regularly engage in criminal behavior and know that they will not only avoid punishment by society but indeed be paid for it.

    A monopoly on violence is a very dangerous thing to allow.

    Look up the term “excited delerium.” It is the cause of death of many people who mysteriously die in police custody, while they are being gang-tackled, beaten, electrocuted, etc. but apparently no one is clever enough to figure out just how they died, so – cause of death is the mysterious “excited delerium”.

    1. A “monopoly on violence” sounds really frightening, but so is an “open market of violence”. The important thing in either cases would be to insure the purveyors are accountable.

  37. “two years in prison for shooting an unarmed man …”

    Dead. He shot him dead. Were it the other way around, it’d be called ‘murder’ – not ‘shooting’. Two years for ‘shooting’ means he’s jailed for excess enthusiasm and clueing too many people to the game.

    And so the Dixiefication of the US continues.

  38. The most incredible thing about the sentencing to me is that the judge overturned the jury’s verdict and threw out the more serious charge of using a firearm in the commission of a crime (the charge that carried the harshest sentence of 14 years). Because Mehserle claims he “thought” he was using a taser instead of a gun, the judge now feels the gun charge was not appropriate, and his instructions to the jury were apparently misunderstood.

    There is no question that a gun was used to kill Oscar Grant, but because the killer did not intend to use a gun, he is to be forgiven for making such a tragic mistake?

    From what I saw in yesterday’s newspapers, there is now a movement afoot to have Judge Robert Perry removed from the bench, both for misleading the jury (if you believe his explanation) or for waiting five months to throw out the verdict after it was delivered to the court.

    1. “There is no question that a gun was used to kill Oscar Grant, but because the killer did not intend to use a gun, he is to be forgiven for making such a tragic mistake?”

      Accidents are treated differently under the law that intentional acts.

      If you killed someone with your car unintentionally you probably wouldn’t get any jail time at all, but if you did so for the express purpose of causing harm you’d be charged with murder.

      1. If you killed someone with your car unintentionally you probably wouldn’t get any jail time at all

        Where do you live? It sounds a lot different from where I live.

  39. If Oakland had burned to the ground, it would no longer be permissible for police to shoot unarmed, handcuffed men in the back in full view of the citizenry.

    Which is more important? A city, or a way of life?

    1. Believe it or not, violent riots don’t always result in a net benefit for society. I was living in Oakland when my neighbors’ homes, cars and businesses got trashed in the wake of the initial shooting, mostly by people from other neighborhoods. Try telling those property owners that the real problem is that protesters didn’t do enough damage.

      I don’t question that the Mehserle verdict is a travesty of justice, but anyone who thinks that destruction of private property is the appropriate response should demonstrate their convictions by starting with their own homes. “Collateral damage” is a bullshit excuse worthy of Tim McVeigh.

      1. I’m sorry to hear you and your neighbors were harmed to no purpose. Half-assed, violent protests that don’t result in positive social change are clearly a bad thing.

        I don’t think Christian terrorism such as McVeigh’s is really comparable to riots triggered by state sponsorship of police brutality, though.

        1. Despite rumors to the contrary McVeigh’s act of mass murder wasn’t in the name of religion, it was his sick idea of an anti-government protest in response to the violent raid which resulted in the deaths of dozens of civilians in Waco two years earlier. In my mind that is indeed comparable to “burning down a city as a protest against police brutality.” Ever know of a city that burned down without taking a bunch of innocent people with it?

          Maybe it’s just because I’ve been through two of these things now (I also lived in L.A. during the Rodney King thing) but in my experience “trashing your own neighborhood and beating up innocent people” is one of the ugliest, least productive ways of creating positive social change.

          1. First let me say you are right about the riots; indiscriminate destruction and violence towards innocents is not something I want to recommend or condone. It’s a terrible thing. Personally, though, I believe it is one of the predictable consequences of a corrupt justice system, and I believe that when good people do not effectively oppose corruption and injustice such consquences are inevitable. It would be far better for the entire population to take to the streets in massive non-violent protests, but since the lotos-eaters aren’t going to do that, I guess cities will have to burn before something changes. I’m not saying it’s desirable, I’m saying it is what will happen when a system is so corrupt cops can get away with murdering unarmed captives. I think it will happen with increasing frequency and severity until the system is reformed.

            As for the off-topic bit, McVeigh was a Christian extremist who, according to the FBI, plotted with other Christian extremists to commit an act of terrorism. The Waco compound that the US government destroyed in a bungled raid was a heavily armed Christian extremist camp. McVeigh was involved with several of the many Christian terrorist organizations in the US, such as Elohim City in Oklahoma, the Order, and Christian Identity. If you think that’s equivalent to poor people rioting in response to police brutality, we’ll have to remain in disagreement.

          2. I’m glad you’re not actually advocating riots. However I’m still going to have to contest that last claim:

            McVeigh was an extremist who was raised as a (Catholic) Christian, that doesn’t make him a “Christian Extremist.” He hadn’t attended any church for years before the bombing and described himself as an agnostic in a letter to the Buffalo News. His beef with the government wasn’t that they raided a religious compound, it was that they staged a deadly raid against private citizens who (in McVeigh’s view) just wanted to be left alone. I mean, what kind of religious extremist makes no mention of God or religion in his own manifesto?

            Regarding the riots vs. terrorism thing: I agree that a planned act of terrorism is a little different than an unplanned riot but any willful destruction of innocent life to make a political point pretty much falls under the same umbrella for me. And that includes when governments do it.

          3. McVeigh was an extremist who was raised as a (Catholic) Christian, that doesn’t make him a “Christian Extremist.”

            No, but hanging out with Christian Identity sure does, and asking for a Catholic chaplain the night before his execution for blowing up innocent children kind of takes the wind out of his “agnostic” PR claims.

            But let’s let it rest from here; we aren’t convincing each other, and I can certainly respect your opinion even if I don’t share it.

  40. The ‘funny’ thing is that some people think that the police is not above the “Law”. If this were the reverse… jeasch….

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