February 5th, Oakland ,CA
Last night, the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, the elected body of local Democrats who determine the political direction of Alameda County, one of the most progressive counties in the US, voted unanimously to endorse a resolution put forward by the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club-authored by club communications director Jack Kurzweil and submitted by the club’s local politics coordinator and elected ACDCC delegate, Pamela Drake-demanding that the BART Board and the District Attorney’s office drop all charges against “the Black Friday 14” who used non-violent civil disobedience to shut down the BART system for a number of hours on November 28th of last year.
The resolution reads in part, “On Black Friday, November 28, 2014, in response to a call to action from the Black community of Ferguson, MO, a team of 14 members of the #BlackLivesMatter network, dubbed the Black Friday 14, joined hundreds of thousands of others nationwide using civil disobedience to protest a discriminatory pattern of police and vigilante violence that has taken too many Black lives — including, most recently, the lives of Michael Brown, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson, Antonio Martin, and Eric Garner.”
A spirited discussion preceded the passage of the resolution in which it was noted that other mostly White groups, have shut BART down for a time but that this group of highly disciplined, well organized African-American protestors had “the book thrown at them” for a similar-but more peaceful-demonstration in what seemed like an effort by BART’s GM and its police chief to chill the expression of peaceful civil disobedience. This action was seen by many as a warning to the Black community that disrupting the system will bring swift and severe punishment.
That same day there was a court hearing on the BART protest during which a peaceful protest was also held, and some confusion remains as to whether BART has backed off its demand for an expensive restitution scheme from the protestors amounting to a total of $70,000. The BART GM Grace Crunican has reportedly called for “community service” in lieu of the former demand for restitution, but according to the Black Friday 14’s lawyer, Walter Riley, well-known Oakland civil rights attorney, the restitution demand cannot come off the table unless the charges are dropped.
Alameda County School Board Member, Marlon McWilson remarked that community service would wrongly connote that a crime had been committed by the protestors while others suggested that organizing for social justice is itself a community service and should be lauded whether or not one agrees with the tactic used. The group asserted that the non-violent nature of the action, which called attention to the crimes that continue to be committed against Black people all over the country, should be honored by the community.
Finally the resolution reads that the ACDCC “calls upon District Attorney Nancy O’Malley to immediately and unconditionally cease all efforts to penalize members of #BlackLivesMatter for their actions of non-violent civil disobedience on November 28, 2014; and
Be it Further Resolved:
That the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee calls upon the BART Board of Directors to join in this appeal to District Attorney O’Malley.”
Contact: Pamela Drake, firstname.lastname@example.org