After protests in Oakland and San Francisco drew thousands on Nov. 24 and 25, the Bay Area erupted again on Black Friday, Nov. 28, to demand justice for Mike Brown.
In Oakland, an action was announced to shut down the Bay Area Rapid Transit system at the West Oakland station, for four hours and 28 minutes, the amount of time Mike Brown’s body was left in the street in Ferguson. The BART station connects Oakland and San Francisco, and shutting it down could potentially cripple much of the Bay Area transit system.
At 11:30 a.m., 20 protesters chained themselves to a train while other protesters filled the station wearing shirts saying “Black Lives Matter” and unfurled a banner visible from the street reading the same. All non-protesters were evacuated from the station. The non-chained protesters finally left the station making the “hands up, don’t shoot” salute.
Unable to figure out how to remove a lock around one protester’s neck, the cops ultimately removed the metal pole the protester was chained to and took him away with the heavy pole dangling from his neck. The chained protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter” as they were arrested. The transit system was stalled for an hour and 15 minutes by the action.
In San Francisco, hundreds of protesters gathered at Justin Herman Plaza, once the site of the Occupy SF encampment, at 6 p.m. to attend a well-publicized march to Union Square, the center of San Francisco’s shopping district. The plan was to “photo bomb” the unveiling of the Macy’s Christmas tree with signs demanding justice for Mike Brown.
The peaceful, orderly march began at 7, and followed a previously announced route to Union Square. There were chants demanding justice not only for Mike Brown but for Andy Lopez, Alan Blueford and Alex Nieto, all young men of color murdered by cops in the Bay Area. Many drivers honked in solidarity and pedestrians gave thumbs-up.
The shopping district was filled with holiday shoppers, many of whom initially seemed supportive of the peaceful protest. The marchers arrived at Union Square and found the established path blocked by riot cops. This reporter witnessed shopping family members separated from one another and pleading with the cops to simply let them cross the police line in order to reunite. The cops callously ignored their requests.
The protesters changed their course and tried to enter the square from another direction, but the cops blocked that path as well. This street was narrow and filled with glass storefronts. For about 20 minutes, protesters chanted, “Let us march!” and “This is a peaceful protest!” as the cops ignored them. Eventually, after a window was broken, the cops attacked members of the crowd, throwing down an African-American man and bloodying his mouth.
The majority of the protesters left the shopping district, reconvened and marched down Market street. The protest continued for several more hours, with the march taking its message of rage to the Castro, Mission and Potrero districts of the city, a distance of over five miles.