BART Director: ‘Rosa Parks did not shut down an entire transit system for hours’

BART Board Director Rebecca Salztman

BART BOARD OF DIRECTORS | When activist protesting on the West Oakland BART station platform chained themselves to a train the day after Thanksgiving, their civil disobedience shut down service from the East Bay to San Francisco for two hours.

The transit agency’s police force now wants $70,000 in restitution for the act. However, BART’s General Manager Grace Crunican said Wednesday the 14 protesters charged with misdemeanor that day should instead perform community service.

The protesters have yet to appear in court and their fate rest with Alameda County Distict Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s office.

The demonstration was part of the Black Lives Matter movement that followed non-indictments against police officers in Ferguson, Mo. and New York City.

Meanwhile, East Bay BART District 3 Board Director Rebecca Saltzman, who represents stations in El Cerrito, Berkeley and San Leandro, among others, agrees with Crunican. In a posting on Facebook, Saltzman wrote:

For the past week I have been in conversations with BART staff about the charges and particularly the $70,000 restitution component. I appreciate that BART General Manager Grace Crunican and Police Chief Kenton Rainey recently reached out to Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley about the pending charges and expressed interest in pursuing community service and restorative justice programs. I think that this is an appropriate path to pursue in lieu of financial restitution.

But, then things got weird when Saltzman referenced the Black Friday protesters on Twitter with Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks.

UPDATE: Saltzman later apologized for the statement on Twitter.

Saltman told the East Bay Citizen Thursday afternoon that she regrets the tweet. “I do know the history. I do see the difference,” she said of the Montgomery bus boycott sparked by Parks’ act of civil disobedience. “Those were protests over the racist policies of a bus system.”

She added, though, when it comes to the Black Friday demonstration at the West Oakland station, “BART riders impacted did not necessarily have anything to do with what they were protesting.”

The District 3 director says she stands by her statement today on restitution. “We can’t just let people shut down BART all the time.”

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