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Bay Area train service restored after Ferguson protest shutdown

Bay Area train service restored after Ferguson protest shutdown
A group of protesters chant "Black lives matter" outside the West Oakland BART train station. Fourteen protesters were arrested after they formed a human chain on the platform. (Laura A. Oda / Oakland Tribune)

Train service was restored hours after protesters demonstrating against the Ferguson, Mo. grand jury decision shut down Bay Area Rapid Transit system Friday by chaining themselves to trains in Oakland.

The protest started about 10:30 a.m. when 15 to 25 protesters walked onto the platforms at the West Oakland station and chained themselves together, and then to the east- and westbound trains, said BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost.

The action led to major delays, she said.

Other demonstrators led chants at the station’s entrance. The group appeared to be part of a nationwide movement under the social media hashtag #BlackLivesMatter that has grown in visibility since the Ferguson decision.

A protest in St. Louis clogged a mall during the Black Friday morning shopping rush, and earlier this week another group clogged the 101 Freeway near downtown L.A. during peak pre-Thanksgiving travel time.

It took BART police about 90 minutes Friday to begin making arrests. Authorities had to remove a handle bar from one train so they could free a protester and take him into custody. Several arrests followed, and by 1 p.m., both sides of the station’s platforms were cleared and the entire train system was up and running, Trost said.

Police arrested the demonstrators for various offenses, but mainly for obstruction of train movements, she said.

Earlier this week, a grand jury voted not to indict white police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed young black man, in August. The decision has led to protests in numerous cities across the country.  Oakland has been the scene of some of the most violent and intense demonstrations.

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