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Three charged in Oakland riot

Jan. 10, 2009 at 12:37 PM

OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Three men have been charged for their alleged roles in this week's racially charged riot in Oakland, Calif., authorities say.

Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff formally charged Andrew Lewis, Cleveland Valrey Jr. and Lee Y. Pang Friday for crimes they allegedly committed during Wednesday's demonstration called to protest the New Year's Day shooting death of an unarmed young black man by a transit police officer, the Oakland Tribune reported.

Lewis, 20, said the shooting of 22-year-old Oscar Grant III in the back was adequate reason for rioters' rampage. Grant was fatally wounded as he lay on his stomach at a train platform where police had ordered several riders to the ground following a dispute among riders on a train.

"It was for a cause," said Lewis, who was charged with misdemeanor vandalism and felony cocaine possession Friday. "The brother got his life took. Somebody got to pay."

Valrey, 30, another of the nearly 120 people detained during the fracas, was charged with felony arson for allegedly setting a garbage can on fire.

Pang, 28, was charged with two firearm possession charges for allegedly carrying two semi-automatic handguns.

Orloff told the Tribune no decision had been made whether to file criminal charges against Johannes Mehserle, 27, the transit officer responsible for Grant's death who resigned after the shooting.

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