Opposing Rallies in Walnut Creek over Mehserle Verdict

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WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (AP) _ A rally in support of the former transit police officer convicted of killing an unarmed man took place in Walnut Creek, and the gathering drew  just as many opponents.

About three dozen supporters of Johannes Mehserle gathered outside the courthouse Monday afternoon. On the other side of metal barriers supporters of Mehserle’s victim, Oscar Grant convened.

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The protest was peaceful, though police say they were prepared for possible clashes. The shouting between the two sides was vicious, but there were not any reports of people coming into contact with each other.

The courthouse closed Monday afternoon as a precaution.

It’s an unusual public show of support for Mehserle, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting Grant in an Oakland train station in 2009. Organizers say they believe the shooting was accidental and that the verdict was fair.

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