More than 100 protesters gathered Thursday on multiple platforms in San Francisco BART stations to put the spotlight back on the killing of Oscar Grant III on New Year’s Day 2009.
BART spokesman Linton Johnson said the protest had ended by about 6:40 p.m. He said the protest only caused minimal delays and that no stations were closed due to demonstrators.
One protester was arrested for obstructing the movement of a train and delaying it, Johnson said.
The protest started around 3:30 p.m. at the Embarcadero station platform where BART police lined the edge of the tracks while demonstrators gathered on a section of the platform chanted, “No more silence, stop police violence!” A few of the protesters attempted to verbally confront police, but the officers did not respond.
Protesters then jumped on a train, followed closely by police, where they continued to chant and pound on the train walls. The group, which filled four or five cars, then exited at the Montgomery station where some protesters hopped up on the benches and a brass band played to accompany their chanting.
Most of the protesters then hopped on another train and exited at the Civic Center station, where they continued chanting on the platform, “How can they protect and serve us? BART police just make me nervous!”
The majority of BART passengers looked surprised to see the protesters, some whipping out phone cameras to snap pictures. Some chose to ignore them, and others chanted along.
BART passenger Sissy Silva, a San Francisco resident, said she’s unfamiliar with the incident involving Oscar Grant, but said she was glad to see protesters out. “I see the police acting extremely above the law, more often than not,” Silva said.
Protesters were careful to allow passengers on and off the trains when they were in transit.
Hannibal Shakur of the group Oakland for Justice said earlier that the group’s demands include that BART fire one of its police officers, Tony Pirone, who was involved in the incident that led to the death of 22-year-old Grant at the Fruitvale BART station.
Former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle, 28, has been charged with murder for Grant’s death. His attorney has said that Mehserle believed he was firing his Taser gun when he shot and killed the unarmed Hayward resident. Mehserle resigned a week after the shooting.
The case has been moved to Los Angeles County and Mehserle’s trial is scheduled to begin June 1. Shakur said today’s protest is meant to inform the public about what he said is BART’s continued mismanagement of the incident.