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.”

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

  1. Rebecca, you should have voted to make the protesters have to face the consequences of their disrupting our public transportation. You were elected to help us riders who use BART, not encourage more disruptions of our system.


  2. Fine them or make them do community service. If they don't punish them in some way they WILL keep doing it!


  3. It's outrageous to cry racism or compare this effort to the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955. Hundreds of thousands of people who are deeply sympathetic to the cause of police and government abuses have been more than inconvenienced by disruptions in public transportation, freeways, rail lines and more. The people who arrogantly have held up public transportation should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If not, they will surely do it again.


  4. The BART protest was wrong and the protesters should be man or woman enough to face the consequences for their actions that caused harm to so many black, brown, white, yellow, etc. lives. What about the people who couldn't get home to feed their families, take the medication they needed, get to work, go to the bathroom, had low blood sugar? You don't make converts to your cause, whether worthy or not, by pissing people off. BART should prosecute these anarchists who disrupted this vital lifeline for thousands.


  5. Someone please explain to me how disrupting the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people contributes anything positive to the dialogue.


  6. The action took place when many people were going to work, to and from the airport, etc. Hundreds were trapped on trains. There is no constitutional right to bring public transportation to a halt. The protesters got their high-profile moment and now they need to face the consequences.


  7. People missed needed Dr. appointments and were late to work because of this thoughtless action by a few. It wasn't the Bay Area that should be punished for crimes in Missouri and New York. I missed an appointment and had to wait weeks to get another one. Go to New York City and Ferguson to protest.


  8. Actually, Rosa Parks did not shut down the Montgomery bus system through civil disobedience. The NAACP called for a boycott of the bus line. Nobody jumped in front of, or chained themselves to the bus. They were against segregation, not public transportation.

    The protestors should call for a boycott of the BART system. Let the people vote with their transit dollars.


  9. The action took place when many people were going to work, to and from the airport, etc. Hundreds were trapped on trains. There is no constitutional right to bring public transportation to a halt. The protesters got their high-profile moment and now they need to face the consequences.


  10. The action took place on the Friday after Thanksgiving when schools were closed. No “lives were destroyed” by the protesters, just by police and BART. Take a deep breath, check the facts, and let's respect free speech and Constitutional rights.


  11. Rebecca kind of put her foot in her mouth with that Rosa Parks remark. Kind of dumb to make that statement.


  12. I don't know about vandalism, but it sure was destructive and had nothing to do with Ferguson or New York. It cost the taxpayers in Alameda County a lot of time and money over thoughtless actions of a few. What about the mothers and fathers who couldn't get home in time to pick up their kids from day care or take care of their latch key kids? They had nothing to do with Ferguson or New York and might be appalled at what happened in those incidences. What gives you the right to destroy their lives. Go to New York and Ferguson to protest instead of hurting those who had nothing to do with those events.


  13. 12:27: where was the vandalism on Bart? This article refers to the BART demonstration. As far as vandalism in the streets, those involved were clearly outside agitators; who saw the opportunity to create mayhem. The same can be said about the Occupy Oakland demonstration. It is unwise to clump the action of a few with the many


  14. What the protesters did had nothing to do with Ferguson or New York City. It was vandalism pure and simple and hurt people who had nothing to do with injustice in those two cities. They should be punished for their inappropriate action.


  15. Civil disobedience, in the case of the West Oakland BART protestors, as well as that of Rosa Parks, usually invokes the idea of the social contract. Thus protestors accept the burden of legal consequences for their breaking of laws, however bad the laws may be. Protestors going through the legal system gives them an opportunity to relate person-to-person in a productive way with those in the system who may benefit from consciousness-raising.

    Seems to me that community service and restorative justice principles might help consciousness-raising all around. Oakland has in the past given lip-service to restorative justice. Now city hall has a opportunity. Will city hall take it?


  16. This country and this county get sicker by the day. No vision in the leadership so the responses do not serve the evolution of the community. Nancy O'Malley will do whatever gets her the most political endorsements. As a district attorney she's for hire. For a new direction we need new leadership, but how can we get it when anyone who challenges gets indicted?


  17. This is not a fine. Victims of crimes are constitutionally guaranteed the right to recovery of restitution for damages from the crime. BART will have to justify the calculations to a judge. The money for costs to the BART system clearly go to the BART system.


  18. Wow does BART want more protests? They should go to Twitter School so they could read what the country thinks of them. Clearly they don't know history, not even their own.Someone should ask Ms. Salzman if she remembers Oscar Grant.


  19. this is odd. Is there an historical precedent for a public agency to impose a fine on protesters? also, how was the 70,000 fine calculated? In addition, If this money is somehow paid, where will it go? and how will it be used? Community service is far more sensible. The Rosa Parks comparison demonstrates a lack of historical context.


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