BART board drops Black Friday 14 restitution request 

Audience members protest a proposed restitution for the so-called Black Friday 14 demonstrators at a prior BART board meeting. - MIKE KOOZMIN/S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • mike koozmin/s.f. examiner file photo
  • Audience members protest a proposed restitution for the so-called Black Friday 14 demonstrators at a prior BART board meeting.

A divided BART Board of Directors asked Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley Thursday to continue prosecuting 14 protesters who shut down the West Oakland BART station for several hours the day after Thanksgiving but asked her not to seek restitution from them.

The board's 5-4 vote came at the end of an unruly two-hour meeting at which 34 of 35 speakers who addressed the board asked it to urge O'Malley to dismiss the charges against the so-called "Black Friday 14." The protesters chained themselves to two trains at the West Oakland station during the Nov. 28 action, shutting down BART service for more than three hours.

The protest was one of many in the Bay Area and across the nation responding to several highly publicized incidents last year in which white police officers killed unarmed black men and boys and weren't charged for their actions.

BART directors Rebecca Saltzman and Tom Radulovich urged the board to ask the District Attorney's Office to drop both the misdemeanor charge against the 14 protesters of trespassing on railroad property and a request for up to $5,000 each in restitution, for a total of $70,000.

But the board majority, acting after a 10-minute recess was called because protesters continuously interrupted board members who were trying to speak, voted instead to approve a substitute motion authored by Joel Keller and seconded by Nick Josefowitz that asks prosecutors to retain the charges but drop the restitution demand.

Saltzman, Radulovich, Board President Thomas Blalock and Zakhary Mallett voted against the substitute motion.

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