Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley finally dropped criminal charges against the Black Friday 14 after a year of public pressure and several mass demonstrations.
The Black Lives Matter protestors had chained themselves to a BART train at the West Oakland station on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, last year to “draw attention to the war on Black lives in the Bay Area,” according to a statement released at the time by the group.
Instead of going through with the convictions, both parties agreed to a “restorative justice process” in which the activists acknowledged the impact of their actions to public transportation.
“We acknowledge that the BART protest on Friday Nov. 28, 2014 conveyed an important message,” said the statement that the 14 protesters agreed to sign. “The method in which it was carried out impacted the Bay Area and was a violation of the statue governing the safe and efficient operation of public transportation.”
The settlement was mediated by civil rights attorney Eva Paterson, president of Equal Justice Society, who had pushed hard for DA O’Malley to drop the charges and started a petition that was widely circulated.
Many observers were shocked that O’Malley refused to end seeking criminal convictions even after the BART board had decided not to press charges against the protestors.
As a result of her inaction, labor unions representing thousands of union workers across the Bay Area pulled their support for O’Malley, and the Alameda Labor Council decided against giving the district attorney an award she was supposed to receive.
The Pastors of Oakland also called for the charges to be dropped.
A number of demonstrations in the last few months have demanded that the district attorney drop the charges.
In November, alone there were three large protests leading up to the one-year anniversary of the Black Friday action. Union leaders occupied O’Malley’s office during a Fight for 15 minimum wage protest.
Cultural activist organizations building an altar for slain Blacks and 14 interfaith leaders were arrested after holding a sit-in at the Oakland courthouse.
“Our criminal case is over, but the war on Black lives remains,” Black Lives Matter’s Bay Area chapter said in a press release.
“On the shoulders of our ancestors and with support of Asians for Black Lives, Bay Area Solidarity Action Team, and broad coalition of legal, faith, labor, and social justice allies — we will keep fighting for all Black lives.”