Police arrest protesters chained to BART trains in West Oakland

WEST OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The West Oakland BART station reopened after a protest at the station ended in more than a dozen arrests and prompted system-wide BART delays on Friday.

PHOTOS: Protesters shut down West Oakland BART station

Trost said BART police first received a report of the protest at the West Oakland station around 10:30 a.m. The demonstration shut down the station along with train service between the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco and the West Oakland station.

The station reopened a short time before 1 p.m., but residual system-wide delays of about 10 to 15 minutes persisted as of 1:50 p.m.

Numerous posts on Twitter linked the protests to "Blackout Black Friday," a nationwide campaign to protest the August fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri police Officer Darren Wilson and a grand jury's decision earlier this week not to indict Wilson.

A group of demonstrators on the West Oakland BART station platform around noon could be heard chanting, "Black lives matter!" and about 100 more rallied outside the station.

They did it in a matter of minutes. Two teams of black-clad demonstrators armed with chains and heavy bike locks managed to shut down a good portion of the BART system by locking themselves to two trains at the West Oakland BART station.

"It's a very thick chain, but my ancestors were in chains worse than this so this is nothing," Ronnishia Johnson said.

"We're especially sending this message today on Black Friday when we're trying to purposely interrupt commerce," Mollie Costello said.

When it became clear the demonstrators weren't moving, the passengers on a Dublin-bound train were evacuated.

"I'm trying to get home to Livermore, they need to move. I mean it's sad that he lost his life, but I have things I have to do," Jason James said.

"I believe the message, but I think it should be done in a different way," Larry Feigenbaum said.

BART police gave several dispersal orders before moving in to arrest those in the human chains.

"Once we separated the person from the train by taking off the piece of the train that they were chained to, we took the entire group off the chain," BART police Lt. Lance Haight said.

There were 14 demonstrators in all, with seven on each side who were eventually cuffed and led away, but not before shutting down the station and much of the system for more than two hours.

"I think the protest is a good thing, but they're going about it in the wrong way. I would protest the courthouse," Sonia Reed said.

Those arrested were booked on charges of interfering with the railway operation and trespassing.

BART employees were quick to help people stranded at San Francisco's Embarcadero BART station.

The West Oakland station is just a short ride to downtown San Francisco. Shutting it down cut off any access to and from the city and those coming from San Francisco International Airport were also affected.

BART passengers ABC7 News spoke with were irritated and annoyed.

Barbara Lovick spent Thanksgiving with friends in San Francisco and was trying to get back to Sacramento by taking BART then Amtrak. "I'm going to miss my train, so it will put me behind about an hour. I'm not terribly affected, but still it's inconvenient," she said.

"Ridiculous, ridiculous, ridiculous because there could be a medical emergency and somebody would be on a train to get to a hospital or something," Jerry Reed said.

Fortunately, because of the long Thanksgiving break, few people were taking BART Friday.

A few passengers decided to catch a bus instead and walked to the Transbay Terminal.

Some, like Oakland resident Aquis Bryant were furious when they found out that protesters had chained themselves together to bring attention to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. "Why am I being punished? I didn't kill Michael Brown, go hold up the police officer that killed Michael Brown," he said.

Even those who support the protesters were put out. "I'm with them. As a human being you understand why they are protesting, but impeding people to go to work is not the best way of doing it," Leandro Banchero said.
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