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Fruitvale BART protest ends without arrests

A lively protest at Bay Area Rapid Transit’s Fruitvale station in Oakland on March 5 drew around 50 protesters, who blocked the turnstiles at the station while chanting slogans such as “No More Stolen Lives,” “Boycott BART” and “No Justice! No Peace! No Racist Police!”

The crowd protested the New Year’s Day killing of an unarmed passenger at the Fruitvale station, and BART’s subsequent response to the incident after train passengers caught it on tape. 22-year-old Oscar Grant III was shot in the back by BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle, who is now awaiting trial for murder.

The activist group “No Justice No BART” organized the event, calling for a complete shutdown of the station from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Law enforcement ramped up its presence in response, many standing guard around Fruitvale Village and some dressed in riot gear within the station to prevent protesters from entering.

Organizers criticized such measures, calling them police “scare tactics,” and said that despite its small size, the crowd would still make a difference.

Some handed out signs, reading materials and flyers to those present.

Two BART officers dressed in yellow vests guided customers into a sidegate into the station, while those coming off the trains exited through the back to avoid the protesters.

Mills senior Rebecca Woodbury, who is active in the Oakland chapter of Copwatch, called for student participation in the protest in a student newspost on Thursday, including links to flyers and webpages for No Justice No BART. The group had written to plan ahead for transportation because organizers expected BART trains would bypass the station during peak commute hours.

But transit district spokesman Linton Johnson told KTVU that trains continued to arrive at the platform throughout the protest.

The protest ended peacefully around 5:45 p.m., before police detained a young man near the station for riding his bicycle without a helmet, according to the California Beat.

The group plans to hold another protest event on March 19 at the Rockridge BART station, also at 4 p.m.