Last Friday, I found myself trapped on BART in San Francisco, listening to an announcement that train traffic was
suspended due to “civil insurrection.” An hour earlier, a group of 14 people at the W. Oakland BART station had hung a
banner that read “Black Lives Matter” —slogan of those who condemned the grand jury decision to refuse to try officer
Darren Wilson, for killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.
The protesters walked into a BART car and locked themselves to safety rails with cables and u-locks, then to each other,
forming a human chain onto the platform. The train couldn’t leave. Their goal was to shut BART for 4-1/2 hours — the time
Michael Brown’s body lay in the street. They lasted an hour and a half; police disassembled part of the car to remove them.
Who were these people? I wondered. Then I learned one of the BART occupiers — Alicia Garza, an organizer with the
National Domestic Workers Alliance— had devised the slogan “Black Lives Matter,” with two other organizers: Patrisse
Cullors and Opal Tometi. I had to know more. I was in luck. Garza and Cullors made time to talk.
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