OAKLAND (AP) — Hundreds of dock workers said they plan to shut down several ports Saturday in support of the unarmed man killed by a BART Police officer in Oakland nearly 22 months ago.
Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union said they want the maximum 14-year prison sentence for Johannes Mehserle. He is scheduled to be sentenced in two weeks in Los Angeles.
The former transit officer was convicted in July of involuntary manslaughter for the New Year’s Day 2009 shooting death of Oscar Grant on an Oakland train station platform.
Longshoreman Jack Heyman, a member of the union’s local executive board, said no cargo will be loaded or unloaded from ships or trucks at ports across the Bay Area.
“All ports in the Bay Area will be shut down to protest the atrocity of Johannes Mehserle killing Oscar Grant,” Heyman said. “We intend to send a message loud and clear to the powers that be. Cops have to go to jail when they commit a crime just like anyone else.”
Union workers said they received permission from the Pacific Maritime Association to move their monthly “stop work” meeting from Thursday to Saturday.
Marilyn Sandifur, a spokeswoman for the Port of Oakland, said she does not expect the protest to significantly affect cargo operations.
“We will see what happens when millions of dollars of cargo remain idle,” said Heyman, who estimates some 4,000 dock workers will not be working for eight hours on Saturday.
The 1,300-member union decided to hold the rally after a meeting with Grant’s uncle and Jack Bryson, whose sons were with Grant when he was killed.
Since Mehserle’s conviction, several rallies have been held supporting him.
A sailboat with an American flag and a “Free Johannes Mehserle” banner, organized by his father, has plied waters outside the San Francisco Giants baseball stadium and shown during nationally televised playoff games.
At least two boats featuring banners mentioning Grant also have appeared nearby.
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