Following a quiet Thanksgiving Day in Oakland, protest-wise, a group of 20 to 25 Ferguson-related protesters managed to chain themselves together and chain themselves to two BART trains at West Oakland Station, shutting down the station and halting all transbay BART service starting around 10:30 a.m. Friday. BART spokesperson Alicia Trost said "activities are happening on both platforms" and BART was "encouraging passengers to seek alternative means of transportation" throughout the morning. Just after noon a team of BART and Oakland police as well as Fire Department personnel succeeded in removing and arresting all protesters, and train service was able to resume.
The small number of protesters formed lines across each BART platform, their arms and linked hands covered with plastic sheaths reading "Black Lives Matter," with one person chained to passenger handrails on the inside of each train, holding train doors open. The demonstration caused systemwide delays since West Oakland is the funnel through which all but one BART lines run. Another group of around 100 protesters rallied outside the station throughout the morning.
The group aligned themselves with a nationwide Blackout Black Friday demonstration in which protesters are trying to disrupt today's retail frenzy to call further attention to Monday's grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri.
BART deployed representatives to surrounding BART stations encouraging stranded passengers to take AC Transit buses, the O or NL lines, between the Transbay Terminal and Oakland. BART service within San Francisco and between points in the East Bay continued throughout the incident, but trains were turned back at various points because West Oakland was fully shut down.
This protest followed three nights of unrest, marches, vandalism, and looting across downtown and West Oakland earlier this week. On both Monday and Tuesday nights protesters in large groups briefly shut down freeways in different parts of the city in a continued demonstration against the shooting of unarmed civilians by police.
KTVU's John Sasaki shows how police were able to clear the stuck trains at each platform by removing the passenger handrail to which protesters had chained themselves inside the trains.
While West Oakland station remained closed until 1 p.m. Friday, train service in both directions through the Transbay Tube resumed by 12:15, and Trost said that full service had resumed without delays as of 1:50 p.m.
BART Police reported that 14 people were arrested for disrupting train service and other offenses though the overall protest appeared to be largely peaceful. Trost says that officers gave protesters multiple dispersal warnings before making any arrests.
As NBC Bay Area reports, protest organizers said they hoped to shut down BART service for four hours the same length of time that Michael Brown lay dead on the street in Ferguson after being fatally shot by police officer Darren Wilson in August.
This post has been updated throughout.