COSTA MESA — Brandon Mebane remembers the baseball cards.
The Chargers defensive tackle was seven years old when riots engulfed his native Los Angeles in 1992. The police beating of Rodney King and the subsequent acquittal of those officers had lit a powder keg — one filled over decades by the the 1965 Watts riots, by City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, by the killing of Latasha Harlins.
But in the aftermath of the King riots, officers began patrolling South L.A. When they saw children like Mebane playing in front yards, they pulled over, popped the trunk and handed out sheets of Dodgers cards. A small gesture, perhaps — but a start, nonetheless.
“That was a way for them to connect with the community,” Mebane said Friday at the Chargers’ practice facility. “I thought that was actually a good thing, and years later, that kind of went away.
“I think the relationship with the police is, they’re in an environment where they don’t know. The first thing they see is danger. So I think the thing they need to understand is, if you’re in this community, you have to get to know the people who are in the community. That’s where a lot of the issues come up.”
Mebane was one of six Chargers to kneel or sit during the national anthem this past Sunday at StubHub Center — part of a wave of protests that rippled across the league. Whether or not he will do so again this weekend is unclear. The Chargers held a 20-minute meeting on Friday morning, and settled on standing during the anthem with locked arms for a second straight week.
What Mebane and a handful of his teammates did is the latest extension of a movement sparked by then-49ers quarterback Colin…