Workers Vanguard No. 1061
6 February 2015
Drop All Charges Against Black Friday 14!
(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)
We print below a letter from the Partisan Defense Committee protesting the charges against 14 black activists who were arrested for temporarily stopping Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) trains at the West Oakland station. The action was part of nationwide protests on Black Friday against the non-indictment of the Ferguson cop who gunned down Michael Brown in broad daylight.
Hundreds, including representatives of the unions that organize BART workers, came out to a BART Board of Directors meeting on January 22 to demand that the charges be dropped. A supporter of the PDC read from a letter he had sent to the San Francisco Chronicle. Exposing BART management’s cynical claim that by going after the protesters they were protecting riders from “potentially dangerous actions,” the letter pointed to the coldblooded execution of a 22-year-old black man, Oscar Grant, by a BART cop on New Year’s Day 2009. It also raised the death of two of management’s own scabs, killed by a scab-operated train during the bosses’ offensive against the 2013 BART strike.
The Black Friday 14 are calling for people to rally outside their next court appearance—scheduled for 8:15 a.m. on February 4, at 661 Washington St. in Oakland—as well as at the February 12 BART Board of Directors meeting.
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The Partisan Defense Committee demands an end to the vindictive prosecution of the Black Friday 14 who are being dragged through the court for participating in a November 28 protest at the West Oakland BART Station against police killings of black people. Outrageously, in addition to the charges of criminal trespass, these protesters also face having to pay up to $70,000 in “retribution” to BART management.
Tens of thousands of people across the U.S. have rallied in opposition to racist cop terror. Like the state’s witchhunt against demonstrators in New York City, the transparent purpose of the charges against the Black Friday 14 is an attempt to intimidate and silence any protest against rampant police repression. We demand that all the charges be dropped as well as efforts to extort tens of thousands of dollars in payment to BART management.