People asked city council to disarm BART PD

January 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
In Oakland, people enraged about the shooting of Oscar Grant appealed to the city council Tuesday night. They're asking it to pass a resolution to support disarming the BART police force.

It's a quieter demonstration than what we've seen protesting the killing of Oscar Grant, but the passion remains.

"Clearly, there's a huge and deeply-felt amount of rage and anger around this racist execution," said Yvette Felarca, from By Any Means Necessary.

And now these activists want to disarm BART Police.

"I don't feel safe going to BART now," said another protester.

"If BART Police didn't have guns, Oscar Grant may very well be alive today," said Felarca.

BART Director Tom Radulovich says it's possible.

"On the one hand, Tasers might work, but if we feel like there is a need for armed response, would we lengthen response times or could be create more chaos calling a lot more police forces with all different levels and abilities and training in responding?" said Radulovich.

The BART Board is the agency that could actually disarm its police, but the Oakland City Council is being asked to put pressure on BART. The response is mixed.

"They are a real police force that probably does need to carry arms in order to protect the general public," said Pat Kernighan, from the Oakland City Council.

"I also think we should look at training and use of force policies, as well," said Rebecca Kaplan, from the Oakland City Council.

Since the item wasn't on the agenda, the council didn't discuss it Tuesday night, prompting an outburst from a Black Panther in the crowd.

"When you see what happens in downtown Oakland get worse, then you going to be talking about it," said the Black Panther member.

The BART Board of Directors says it will hold a public meeting to talk about how the police department should be run. We can expect an announcement about when by the end of the week.