Mayor calls for calm in Oakland, Calif.

Jan. 30, 2009 at 11:20 PM
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OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Oakland, Calif., Mayor Ron Dellums called for calm Friday following erroneous reports that the suspect in the shooting of an unarmed man had been freed on bail.

Johannes Mehserle, 27, a former Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer, pleaded not guilty to a murder charge this month in the New Year's Day shooting death of Oscar Grant III at an Oakland BART station. A large crowd gathered Friday at an Oakland courthouse where Mehserle had a bail hearing.

Oakland police arrested at least 10 people and clubbed several others during confrontations with protesters after it was announced in court that bail had been set at $3 million. A rear window was smashed in a police cruiser and some merchants near the scene of the protests closed early Friday, the Oakland Tribune said.

Dellums announced just before 5 p.m. PST that Mehserle had posted bail and had been released, but the mayor retracted the statement an hour later, the Tribune reported.

"The important thing to remember is that the wheels of justice are now in motion," Dellums said. "Johannes Mehserle was charged with murder. He will receive due process under the law, and this process will run its course. In the meantime, I am calling for peace in our streets."

Dellums called for Oakland residents to "treat each other and our city with respect and dignity while the outcome of this case is determined by judge and jury."

The New Year's Day shooting, which came during an apparent scuffle, led to protests in the Bay Area after cell-phone videos showed what appeared to be the officer shooting Grant in the back. Protests turned violent Jan. 7 and 14.

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