Why focus on BART specifically?

People in this movement often ask, "Why should we be protesting at BART?" They correctly point out that the murder of Oscar Grant III has revealed a big picture, it has shown us far more than just the truth about one man's murder at the hands of a brutal BART police force. The video has also exposed the BART administration cover-up, the corruption of DA Tom Orloff, and a leadership vacuum in elected officials at every level of our government. More than that, the truth behind police executions has been revealed, and they happen on a regular basis by all sorts of police, and that continue to happen because there is a systemic mechanism to cover it up, deny all justice, and continue as if everything is normal and good, business as usual.

No Justice No BART knows that our movement is not just about the BART police. However, based on our strategy for achieving our demands, we believe that protesting at BART is a good place to make a stand...

Because BART is a good tactical opportunity:
  • The media and the public can't ignore a protest at BART. Large numbers of people are exposed to our movement when we protest at BART.
  • We can assume that the police will be scared of any potential demonstrations and will disrupt service themselves by shutting down BART stations or stopping trains in response to our demonstrations. We have already seen this at all of the Oakland mobilizations. However, unlike downtown Oakland, there is a big economic price to pay if BART service is disrupted and so the police can't lockdown BART without the Bay Area economy suffering.
  • BART doesn't really have a big police department or experience handling demonstrations, so it will be a difficult task for them to handle mass demonstrations on BART.
  • BART police behavior will be especially scrutinized at demonstrations, and stations are well lit so that cameras will help us keep them accountable.
  • BART already has a severe budget crisis, and they will be forced to pay for policing protests at BART. This adds to the pressure on BART.
Because BART is a good strategic opportunity:
  • Protesting at BART doesnt mean our demands are only about BART. BART is a state agency and the sheer economic importance of transit means we can use BART to leverage demands aimed at the DA, and state and local officials as well. For example, if we want to target Oakland, we can protest outside Oakland stations. If we want the state to pay attention, we can have a sit-in to take over the platform at Embarcadero, which would have system-wide effects for BART service.
  • The BART board is scared, which means they are listening. Our protests and presence at their meetings have frightened them and they have consented to meetings with community representatives and agreed to hold public forums. That's a good start, and we need to keep the pressure on to make sure they come through on what we've won so far.
  • Three brave BART directors have broken ranks to demand that BART Police Chief Gee be fired or step down. Two are trying to get rid of Dorothy Dugger, the unelected civillian manager in charge of the Police. The pressure is on and people on the board are beginning to give way. So we have potential allies here, and cracks in the facade to exploit.
  • Because the BART board is scared and divided right now, we should take advantage of that vulnerability because it increases our chances of winning something real, sooner. Our movement needs to build momentum through victories, because victories energize the many people who have lost hope, and inspire them to reactivate and get involved.
  • We need to step it up. DA Tom Orloff is only prosecuting the murder case against Johannes Mehserle because the demonstrations of January 7th forced him to. But he's not moving forward with arresting Officer Tony Pirone for his role in assaulting and being an accomplice to the murder of Oscar Grant, because since that information came out, we our mobilizations have not scared them enough. So to win the rest of the demands, the important policy stuff, we are going to need to mobilize something big and disruptive. A failure to make systemic change as a result of this murder will be a failure to stop the next police murder.
Because BART is good messaging:
  • People inherently understand that BART is guilty of the specific injustice perpetrated on Oscar Grant III.
  • BART officers other than Mehserle commited serious crimes on January 1st. And BART's response to the murder of Oscar Grant was shameful. All of this is well documented, and we have no accountability for anything other than Mehserle yet. So if we let our mobilazations move past this too fast, and switch the focus before we get action on that, its harder to message the demands for specific justice and accountability related to BART.
  • We need to be getting brutal history, the systemic corruption of the BART police in the spotlight. Also, forcing BART to handle our protests drives the message home that BART is not capable of, nor should they be running a police department.
  • We refuse to condemn the Oakland rebellion, or the targeting of the OPD and Oakland City Hall, and we acknowledge that Oakland is part of our problem. We know that the mass mobilizations in Oakland and the rebellion won us the only justice that we have seen thus far. That said, targeting BART offers a change of pace, a different tactic with a big potential, for a campaign of focused militant action that is disruptive yet does not damage property, and still achieves results. This is attractive in terms of messaging, coalition building, sustainability, and potential for escalation.
  • We know that BART is going to make some changes. But if we don't keep the pressure on history will be written as if all of those changes came from BART's and not us. We need to make sure that history records that the people won the change they demanded by organizing. This is important in the bigger picture because we want to reactivate people and get them involved in this movement as we go forward (and there's a lot left to do). It will help to have concrete victories along the way to point to.