Last November, protesters now known as the “Black Friday 14” were charged with criminal offenses and assessed fines totaling $70,000 for actions including chaining themselves to BART trains in West Oakland–offenses for which other “Black Lives Matter” activist groups are now petitioning to have charges and fines dropped.
On November 28, demonstrators chose to shut down the BART system–echoing outrage over the 2009 killing of Oscar Grant by a BART Officer–as a protest against the deaths of black suspects at the hands of police across the nation.
Fourteen of those involved in chaining themselves to BART trains that day and shutting down transportation for thousands of BART passengers were arrested. These are the “Black Friday 14.”
Groups referring to themselves as Black Lives Matter and the Black Out Collective initiated a Colorofchange.org petition drive that has garnered over 4,300 of their 5,000-signature goal. The petition requests that the BART criminal complaint be withdrawn and that $70,000 in fines be suspended. The petition also calls on supporters to ““Sign the petition, then take a selfie of yourself holding a sign that says, “Not one dime” or “We’ve already paid with our lives” and tweet it to @SFBart on Twitter.”
Professional community organizer and “Black Friday 14” member Karissa Lewis tweeted on December 30, “#BlackFriday14 appeared in court today… Bart the “victim” is seeking 70,000 dollars “restitution” from us..#Girlbye #whichsideareyouon?”
Lewis is a Senior Field Organizer for the CTWO (Center for Third World Organizing). Her CTWO staff profile states, “She has organized around issues ranging from gentrification to environmental racism, gang injunctions and police brutality.” Since her release she has tweeted out several instances of “Black Brunch” protests in which activists march into restaurants chanting and reciting the names of black people allegedly killed by “the police, security officer or self appointed vigilante.”
Black Out Collective, one of the two groups that initiated the “Black Friday 14” petition maps out a formula for #BlackBrunch activism on their website.
BART General Manager Grace Crunican released a statement in response to the “Black Friday 14” petition that affirmed the “rights of free expression” as well as the criminal actions of the “Black Friday 14.” Crunican said, “The group chained themselves to trains at West Oakland and closed down the BART system for hours, creating mobility problems for thousands of people who rely on public transportation to get to work or to vital appointments. The act was intentional and potentially dangerous to our passengers. BART police had no choice but to arrest 14 protesters in the incident.”
The statement concluded, “As a public agency fully funded by riders and tax payers, we must never lose sight of the agency’s mission to provide public transportation to the citizens we serve.”
Breitbart News has reported on a similar campaign underway in St. Louis, Missouri for the release of accused arsonist and burglar Joshua Williams, a widely known activist in the Ferguson/Black Lives Matter movement.
Two days after Christmas, protesters again marched in St. Louis, but this time with tape covering their mouths. The activist organization “Ferguson Action” summoned its network of protesters for a morning rally, invoking the call to #FreeJosh, “RIGHT NOW (SATURDAY): 10AM at St. Louis County Justice Center (100 S. Central, 63105) to #FreeJosh, 18 y/o targeted by the cops pic.twitter.com/PpBDAPLF11.”
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana