Protesters hold moving demonstration on BART

April 8, 2010 7:10:00 PM PDT
BART commuters were forced to dodge protesters at different stations in San Francisco Thursday afternoon. The demonstrators wanted to refocus attention on the 2009 New Year's Day killing of 22-year-old Oscar Grant by a BART police officer at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland.

About 150 demonstrators protested at San Francisco's Embarcadero BART Station because they want the agency to take more action in the wake of the New Year's Day shooting. Service slowed down about 10-12 minutes during the commute hours.

By 6 p.m. protesters jumped on BART cars and headed as far west as Civic Center, then getting off at each stop on their way back, so that embarking and unloading quickly is what put BART service behind of schedule. They chose a Thursday because that was the day Grant was shot and killed at the Fruitvale Station.

Many of the protesters were students on spring break. The protesters insisted they were protesting peacefully.

"We're not here to be violent. We're not here to be destructive. We're here peacefully. We will remain peaceful, and we are a peaceful organization. All we want is peace. It is BART police that are responsible for violence and that is what we are addressing here today," says Hannibal Shakur from the Oakland For Justice protest group.

The protesters want the BART police agency disbanded and Officer Tony Pirone fired for allegedly beating Grant before he was shot.

There was a heavy BART police presence and demonstrators did confront them verbally. Some of the protesters did board BART trains and went to the Montgomery Street station, disembarked, and came back to the Embarcadero station.

The riding protest caused many of the train doors to not be able to close and so one shoving match developed and one of the demonstrators was arrested.

"What's ironic is that as a result of what happened on Jan. 1, officers have gone through a lot more training to deal with situations like these in a better way. So, obviously nothing can bring back that tragedy of the death of Oscar Grant, but we can make some good out of it and we are," said BART's Chief Spokesperson Linton Johnson.

Officer Johannes Mehserle is charged with the killing and his trial is expected to start in early June.


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