Vigil Held to Remember Slain BART Passenger

Grant family says event was "a day of celebration, not demonstration."

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    It has been one year since a BART police officer shot and killed Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale BART station -- but friends and family of the young man say it feels like yesterday.

    Friday afternoon, about 100 people joined the Grant family at the transit station-- bringing flowers, artwork, and candles to peacefully remember Grant's life.

    Grant's uncle, Cephus Johnson, told NBC Bay Area News that although revisiting the Fruitvale Station is challenging for the family, the vigil served a broader purpose for the community.

    "For me, it was important to support other young men on that [BART] platform," said Johnson. "To embrace them with love and to help them face the issues that have been troubling them in their own lives."

    Grant's mother echoed that sentiment, calling the event "a day of celebration, not demonstration" that would serve as "a peaceful day to remember Oscar and the others who have been lost to violence."

    The vigil was held following a relatively incident-free night for BART -- a stark contrast to last year's holiday, when former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed Grant after responding to reports of a fight on a train.

    BART carried about 87,800 passengers between 8 p.m. Thursday and 3 a.m. today, and carried about 302,800 passengers throughout the day, according to agency officials.

    Many of the passengers were traveling to the annual fireworks show at San Francisco's Embarcadero, where BART used a "skip-stop" schedule for the first time to alleviate overcrowding at its nearby station.

    Starting at 8 p.m., trains on different lines skipped either the Embarcadero or Montgomery stations to allow the crowd to split evenly between the two stations, resulting in faster boarding times and less crowded platforms.

    BART also assigned about 150 police officers, nearly 50 percent more than previous years, to patrol the system during the holiday.

    San Francisco and Oakland police officers and deputies from the San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa County sheriff's departments also assisted near the stations during the evening.

    There were a few isolated incidents on the system, but no arrests were made.

    BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger said in a statement that she was happy that this holiday turned out well for the agency.

    "We couldn't be more pleased at how this New Year's Eve turned out," Dugger said.

    She thanked "our customers for continuing to put their faith in us to get them around the Bay Area quickly and safely."

    BART police Commander Daniel Hartwig said in a statement that, despite the few minor incidents, "New Year's Eve 2009 was one of the smoothest I have ever seen in my nearly three decades at BART."