San Francisco

#Blackout Black Friday Protest Shuts Down BART

Protesters shut  BART down on Friday, hoping to block passage and shopping for four hours - the time 18-year-old Michael Brown's corpse lay in the street in Ferguson after a police officer fatally shot him this summer.

However, the transbay service at the West Oakland station heading to San Francisco was halted for about two hours, resuming full service about 1 p.m., according to BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost.

BART Police Lt. Lance Haight said officers had arrested 14 people for interfering with the railway system.

Beginning at 10:45 a.m., Trost said about 20 people had chained themselves - or used duct tape to bind their arms together -  on the platforms, and she urged commuters to find alternative transportation. About 100 others sang and chanted outside. The protesters were African-American; they asked anyone who wasn't not to particpate. Several in the community feel that the protests earlier in the week were co-opted by a pocketful of young, white anarchists who took over downtown Oakland by looting stores.

Many typically ditch their cars to head to San Francisco from Oakland on BART to get the best Black Friday deals - a situation of which the protesters were keenly aware. Other protests to decry the Ferguson decision, and also the low-wages of many retail workers were held across the country, from New York to Missouri. BART set up bus bridges to get people where they needed to go, and there was limited service during the protest, though trains for a while were not stopping at West Oakland.

One woman, Emani Alyce, sent out a steady stream of photos and videos on Twitter from the BART station, saying that there were "all these beautiful black people out her to support the shut down! #Oakland #Ferguson #BlackLivesMatter. Rasheed and Shabbaz, a member the, tweeted: "Rise up! #Shutitdown Oakland is the peoples town." 

Protests have have been held every day around the country and in Oakland since Monday, when a grand jury decided that Darren Wilson, a white police officer, shouldn't be charged with a crime, after killing Brown, who was African American, on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri. Friday's action at BART showed a stark contrast from the late-night protests held earlier in the week in downtown Oakland and the Temescal district, where handfuls of activists decided to loot stores and trash buildings to make their point.

Before noon, BART police were seen taking some people off the train and asking them to leave on their own. One young man wrapped a bike lock around his neck and he was dressed in a #BlackLivesMatter black hoodie. Outside the station, women in white skirts danced to a pulsing drum beat. Someone set out a table of pink candles and oranges.

The civil action drew mixed reactions. Jose Eddie Palomares wrote on Facebook: "Yeah other people's lives matter too. A lot of people can't get to work because of these people including me."

Zinia Gangopadhyay responded: "This is a peaceful protest. It only works if people are inconvenienced and take notice. Finding another way to get to work can't be harder than feeling life your life doesn't matter."

Oakland resident Sonja Reed said she waited at the West Oakland BART station for more than an hour today while trying to get to San Francisco to go shopping.

But Reed said she didn't mind the delay, because shares the protesters' frustrations.

"I just wish we could be heard. Instead of tearing our city up, I wish we could learn do something so we can be heard and make a change," Reed said.

"Police are killing black people," she said. "What do we do so we don't have to worry about this?"

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